What to Do if Your Pet Has an Upset Tummy

What to Do if Your Pet Has an Upset Tummy

One of the most common complaints we see in dogs that visit our veterinary practice is diarrhoea. If your pet is also vomiting ring your vet for advice.

Large intestinal diarrhoea

Large intestinal diarrhoea is far more common in dogs. This can be up to ten times per day but usually fewer and in large amounts and can have mucous and fresh blood in it.

Small intestinal diarrhoea

Small intestinal diarrhoea is more what we think of as the “runs” and your dog will go more then ten times per day.  

What causes diarrhoea?

The primary reasons for large bowel diarrhoea are dietary indiscretion (eating something unusual which causes the intestines to become inflamed; or Giardia (a protozoan); Campylobacter bacterium; or inflammatory bowel disease - IBD.

Treating dogs with diarrhoea

If your dog is less than six months old or older than eight years old then I would recommend you call your vet for advice on the day the diarrhoea starts. If your pet’s upset stomach isn’t too bad we usually suggest you:
  • Don’t feed him for 12 hours
  • Then feed him a small portion of skinless chicken and boiled rice
If your dog gradually improves you can then return to gradually reintroducing his normal diet over a period of two or three days. If he doesn’t improve give your vet a call to make an appointment. Take a sample of the diarrhoea with you when you take your dog in for his appointment. Your vet will take the history and perform a full clinical exam and diagnose if your dog has small intestinal or large intestinal diarrhoea.

Giardia in dogs

Giardia is a protozoan like an amoeba. It is very common in Central London where my practices are in Notting Hill and Barons Court. It is transmitted by humans, cats, dogs and foxes, and easily be picked up. It is so common we do a ten-minute in-house test to see if a dog has it so we can immediately start treatment with antiparasitics or antibiotics. 

If further testing is needed

If a dog doesn’t improve we may send off a sample to the lab for bacterial culture. Sometimes we ask for a three-day pooled faecal sample so that we can look for pathogens which may not be shed every day. If all the faecal tests come back normal, at this stage we may advise blood tests to check for infections, pancreatic, liver and intestinal problems.
Most cases of diarrhoea are easily treated and some will get better by switching to feeding your dog only bland food. If your dog is young, fit and healthy and doesn’t seem dull or depressed I would recommend you try bland food for 24 hours before ringing the vet. Obviously though, ALWAYS call your vet for advice if you’re unsure. All vets would rather be called early then be presented with a dog who has been ill for several days.

Treating cats

Cats are less prone to dietary indiscretion through eating something they shouldn’t. We tend to recommend cats are seen earlier after the onset of diarrhoea. So, if your cat is suffering from diarrhoea contact your vet.
Enjoy your pets.

Emma the Vet

Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet