Your dog has an upset stomach, some bloating from stomach gas and you want to help. The problem is that most people don’t know what is safe for dogs. No worries, if you are one of those people, we’ll cover what is safe and we’ll talk about the underlying issues.
First, Are Tums Okay?
Tums can be used for a mild to moderately upset stomach in dogs. It can be difficult to get them to take the Tums, so it depends upon your dog as to how it will work in your case. It will help with heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach issues. The active ingredient in Tums is calcium carbonate. It helps specifically to reduce stomach acid. If your dog is requiring calcium supplement, you should speak to your veterinarian about their diet.
Some foods are not balanced and complete for dogs and supplementing their diet is a good idea. Other dogs might have an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.
When one mineral, like calcium, is too low, we often find that potassium will be off as well because the two are dependent upon each other in the body. When things like this happen it can indicate that there is an underlying issue causing imbalances in the body.
Your veterinarian can run some tests and do a CBC (complete blood count), sometimes called a Blood Panel, and tell you exactly what is high and what is low. This panel is part of a puzzle that will lead them to what could be the problem.
Until you see your vet, or in the case of a very random issue that resulted from food your dog has eat that may have upset his stomach, like citrus, Tums will be fine to remedy the situation.
Chronic Stomach Issues Can Be Signs of Other Problems
There are many things that affect the stomach. Sometimes these things involve the intestines as well. Diseases that impact the stomach and intestines are quite common in dogs. Non-infectious diseases include those which are bacterial, viral, and parasitic are very common. This includes worm infestations, Giardia which is spread from drinking tainted water, and simple illnesses that are cleared with medication.
Other, more serious issues, could be bloat, cancer, and bowel obstructions. These will often result in surgery and can result in death. Bowel obstructions are very common in young dogs who eat things that they shouldn’t and these things swell in the stomach and then clog the intestinal tract. This can cause serious issues, including loss of blood flow to sections of the bowels. The back-up from the blockage causes bile to accumulate in the gut and vomiting bile as a result. This can be dangerous to the tissues of the throat and a total blockage that is left untreated can kill the animal.
Let’s talk about some of these issues in more detail.
- Bacterial Infections – Leptospirosis is the most common bacterial infection in dogs. It is a bacterial infection and is caused by bacteria that both dogs and humans can get. A dog with Leptospirosis will have a fever and be lethargic. There will be vomiting and redness of mucous membranes – the area around the eyes.
- Viral infections – Canine parvovirus is incredibly contagious. It typically shows itself as vomiting, watery diarrhea that can have blood, and lack of appetite. Some dogs will also refuse water and this is what makes the infection deadly. Parvo is a killer and it is very wise to have your dog vaccinated against this.
- Parasitic Infections – This includes worm infestations. Dogs with pinworms and roundworm infestations will sometimes pass live worms from their rectum and in their stools. Vomiting is common and sometimes there will be visible worms in the vomit. Tapeworm is also very common to dogs and will cause weight loss and anemia. Tapeworms will also shed in the stool and continue to spread to other animals. Many of these worms will also pass to humans.
- Bloat – This is a serious issue in dogs, especially large breed dogs, that take in too much air when they eat or get stomach gas from the food they consume. When the stomach expands from gas, it looks like a balloon. It can actually flip over inside the body cavity. This twists the intestines and results in blood loss to the bowels. This is a serious issue that can cause death within hours. Even with surgery to repair the gut torsion, there is a large chance that a section of the bowel will need to be removed – resectioned.
Keep your eyes open for symptoms of underlying issues. If you see worms or eggs in the stool, roundworms may be the problem. Small pieces of matter that look like grains of rice, stuck in the fur near the rectum are sections of tapeworms that have dried in the open air. Over-the-counter worming pills are available and your dog will feel better in 24-48 hours. Be wary to pick stools up from your yard promptly as the will shed many worms and eggs after a worming treatment.
Watch a dog that won’t stay down, even when obviously tired. Whining, pacing, drooling, pale gums, dry heaving, dark vomit, panting and digging at their stomachs are all signs of stomach pain and very serious issues. You should never hesitate to take your dog to the vet if there is any combination of the above symptoms. A dog with bloat can die within hours.
Parvo needs to be treated very quickly as the illness progresses very fast. Many puppies die from parvo each year. Vaccinate them as soon as you can, typically the first shots can be done at 6 to 8 weeks of age. Make sure that the mother is vaccinated before getting pregnant. She will give some immunity to her babies through the colostrum in her milk, which is passed in the first days of nursing.
It’s also a wonderful idea to make sure that you feed the mother extra portions of food while she is gestational. As her puppies are developing she will need more nutrition to replace all the minerals and vitamins that are going to their health and development.
If your dog doesn’t have one of these issues and the stomach issues remain chronic, it’s time to have the vet run a blood panel that will tell you if there are any potential markers for cancer. This will show in elevations of white blood cells and other markers that they are trained to look for.
There are treatments for cancer if it is caught early enough. Dogs can undergo chemotherapy and other medicinal treatments for cancer and sometimes they can beat the disease. At the very least, your veterinarian can help you to keep your dog as well as possible for the longest amount of time. When and if cancer proves to be too much for your dog to fight, your veterinarian will help you make decisions for end of life transition for your dog.
Pay attention to your dog. You won’t know if they have an upset stomach if you don’t watch them and pay attention to their behavior patterns. If they are sick, they cannot come to you and tell you. In fact, dogs have a natural instinct to hide it when they are ill. If you hear them wretching in another room, get up and investigate. Don’t rush in, that will frighten them thinking they are doing something wrong. You will also end up with a trail of vomit rather than one spot. If you have carpet, this is especially awful to clean.
If your dog has less energy and isn’t showing any interest in normal play activities, perhaps lost interest in tennis balls and this is highly suspicious, check their gums. Are they pale? Take them to the veterinarian and have them checked. Do this as quickly as possible. Time can be the difference between an animal making a full recovery or a more sad outcome.
If you pay attention to your best friend and companion, they will also enjoy good health. Do regular wormings and you won’t have that issue to deal with. Keep your yard picked up daily as well. This helps to keep bacteria and worms from spreading and stop reinfestations.
Feed your dog a healthy diet, see that vaccinations are done regularly and be your dog’s advocate when they are sick. This will help to ensure that your dog is a valued member of the family for many years to come.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.