A Chihuahua’s bad stomach is often a sign that indicates an issue in the way your tummy processes food. It is so common that almost every other individual we know of has somehow experienced having tummy aches at some point in their life.
It is also too familiar that even our dogs experience it. The good thing is that most upset stomach incidents don’t require serious medical attention.
Most of the time, the symptoms resolve on their own and do so rather quickly, too. For dogs, the usual method of addressing an upset stomach is mulching on the grass. However, it doesn’t always work or the pooch may not really feel like wanting to chew on grass. So what do we do? Here are some tips to cure your dog’s upset stomach. That is, instead of automatically reaching for a tablet of Pepcid or even Pepto-Bismol.
Keep Your Pooch Well Hydrated
One of the most common manifestations of an upset stomach is loose, watery stools. This is the same with humans. Aside from the rumbling in your tummy, you will also feel as if the sphincter in your anus is not closing tight enough to prevent the exit of loose, watery stools. The same is true with canine stomach upsets. Unfortunately, not only is your pooch losing water, it is also losing plenty of electrolytes, particularly acids from the stomach. This can lead to fluid and electrolyte abnormalities.
Technically, there are two fundamental issues that can occur with diarrhea secondary to an upset stomach. This includes the following.
Dehydration occurs because of the rapid transit of digested (or, in this case, partially digested) food through the gut. You see, when we eat (that includes our dogs), the food passes through several regions of the gastrointestinal tract. From the mouth, dog food is partially broken down to make it a lot easier to be passed down. That’s through the esophagus where it enters the canine stomach.
The stomach is a very acidic environment filled with gastric fluid made up of hydrochloric acid and several more super acidic substances. It is acidic to ensure that any kind of food will be ‘melted’ or broken down a lot easier.
Once food has been ‘melted’ it is now called chyme. That’s a mulchy, gooey glob made of digested food and digestive juices. Chyme is then pushed towards the small intestines. First, through the duodenum, where additional digestive enzymes start getting mixed to further break down the proteins into amino acids and fats into fatty acids. The chyme is then pushed further down the tube. That is through the jejunum and the ileum, where it connects to the large intestines or the colon.
Dehydration Cheat Sheet
The colon is where water from the chyme is reabsorbed into the system. The amount of water reabsorbed depends on the speed of the chyme passing through it. The faster it moves, the less reabsorbed water and the more watery the stool passes through the anus. Conversely, the slower the movement of the chyme, the more water is reabsorbed into the blood vessels lining the colon.
By the way, water is not the only thing that is reabsorbed in the colon. Nutrients and other essential substances that are still present in the chyme are reabsorbed, too.
In essence, if your pooch has an upset stomach, the movement of the chyme from the stomach through the small intestines and colon is relatively fast. This means insufficient water is being drawn back into the system. This is what can cause dehydration.
Dehydration can be manifested by a variety of clinical signs and symptoms. Typically it starts with increased thirst before you start noticing changes in the quality of your dog’s mucus membranes. There can also be a very fast heart rate, sunken eyes, and even very little urine being passed.
If the dehydration is not corrected immediately, it can lead to the complete absence of urine production. A high-speed yet feeble pulse and substantially low blood pressure. If dehydration worsens to levels greater than 10 percent of your dog’s weight, death can ensue secondary to circulatory collapse or failure.
In addition to the loss of water, diarrhea can also lead to a loss of electrolytes. This includes sodium chloride, potassium, and bicarbonate. Loss of bicarbonate through the stool can lead to metabolic acidosis.
Very rapid and very deep respirations characterize that to compensate for the loss of bicarbonate. This is done by inducing respiratory alkalosis and bringing the serum pH back to more normal levels. There is also increased vomiting. Typically, the kidneys compensate by producing more bicarbonate.
On the other hand, potassium losses in the watery stool can have severe consequences. That’s because potassium is one of two principal electrolytes needed to propagate an action potential across the cell membrane. If there is excessive loss of potassium, this can lead to generalized muscle weakness, paralytic ileus, and even cardiac arrhythmias. They can adversely affect the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
Because diarrhea has the potential to cause both dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in your dog, it is thus, crucial to give your pooch fluids that are not only pure water but also contain essential electrolytes. Most veterinarians would recommend giving your pooch Pedialyte, an oral rehydration salt solution that is typically given to young children who experience mild to moderate diarrhea.
There are also packets of powdered oral rehydration salts that you can mix with your puppy’s water. You can ask your veterinarian about the dosage recommendations of these preparations, although current guidelines dictate that you need to give such solutions after every episode of passing water stools.
However, do take note that if your pooch’s condition doesn’t improve quickly enough, often within the first 24 hours, don’t tempt fate by continuing to treat the dehydration yourself. It is crucial to bring your dog to your veterinarian. He may have to begin administering aggressive fluid resuscitation through intravenous infusions.
The cause of diarrhea will also have to be determined since there are a lot of potential causes and not just because your pooch ate something bad.
Dehydration can progress very rapidly and often without warning. While you can keep your pooch fully hydrated, it is equally important to remain vigilant throughout the experience until you can be sure your pet dog is clear of any threat to its life.
Monitor Your Dog’s Core Body Temperature
There’s a reason why it is vital to take and monitor your dog’s body temperature every time it shows signs of an upset stomach.
Increased body temperature
An increase in body temperature can mean a lot of things. However, when taken within the context of an upset stomach, it can lead you to a potential cause of your dog’s gastric issues. Fever or hyperthermia is considered one of the cardinals or telltale signs of inflammation or, more specifically, an infection.
Fever should be considered a sign and not a disease. For one, it means that your dog’s immune system is mounting an effective defense trying to fight the invading microorganisms by increasing the temperature of the dog’s body.
There, where it will be pretty difficult for the germs to thrive. It may not kill the germs, but the increase in body temperature is an organism’s way of making life more difficult for germs. So, again, fever is a sign and not a disease. That being said, it should alarm you to the presence of something wrong with your dog.
Decreased body temperature
A reduction in your dog’s body temperature is often interpreted as a sign of an impending hypovolemic shock. Of course, this is not the only reason why dogs can go hypothermic. But, when taken in the context of diarrhea, especially with severe dehydration, it simply means less circulating blood volume in your dog’s body.
It should be noted that blood carries heat. If an organism dies, it turns cold because blood is no longer circulating. Of course, this is an oversimplification of the obvious. But, the point is that, with severe dehydration, there is less blood circulating throughout the dog’s body. This leads to what is called hypovolemic shock. And a reduction in the body temperature is one of the classical signs of shock.
Measuring the temperature of our puppies is not that different from taking the temperature of our kids or ourselves. However, owing to several anatomical differences, there are specific routes of measurement that are considered a big no-no in canine thermal assessment. For one, measuring their temperature via the rectal way is considered to be the safest and the most accurate.
Doing this to humans is not only gross but is also considered unsafe, especially if you’re talking about kids. For dogs, using the tympanic or ear thermometer will not give you a very accurate measurement. However, it is more convenient and delivers speedy results. You cannot take the temperature measurement of a dog using an infrared forehead scanner since its body is virtually covered in hair. You cannot use its armpit, too, for precisely the same reason.
As for the measurements, you need to stay within the normal range of about 101OF to 102.5OF, although this range can already be considered a fever in humans. If the temperature reading exceeds 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, you should already view this as fever. If the temperature is lower than 99 degrees Fahrenheit, it is already considered hypothermia. Regardless of whether your puppy has hyper- or hypo-thermic, it is essential to bring it to the vet as soon as possible. This is to determine the actual cause of this thermal variation in your canine pet.
Analyze Your Dog’s Immediate 3-Day Feeding History
Among humans, one of the most essential assessment activities, whenever a patient has an upset stomach is to make a dietary recall of the immediate 24 hours and the last three days. Technically, it is a lot easier to recall what you have eaten in the past 24 hours than in the previous three days.
Unfortunately, if the cause of the stomach upset is a microorganism, it usually takes more than three days before you can see any sign. However, toxins and other gastric irritants can almost always produce an instant reaction, typically within several hours after their introduction in the stomach and small bowels.
Making a dietary recall among dogs can be challenging, especially if your dog happens to venture outside the home, too. If it is restricted to its kennel, then determining what it ate should be relatively easy; unless it happened to eat a cockroach, it pounced on when the creature passed by your dog’s crate. Dogs are known to be very curious.
And as such, whenever they are outside the home, they tend to ‘try’ out almost anything they can sniff their noses into. They may ingest mushrooms and flowers that may not be harmful to us but may contain harmful toxins to dogs. Your trash is also an excellent source of a possible gastric irritant. So, you might want to become the detective you’ve always wanted to be to help ensure you get to the bottom of what’s causing your pooch’s upset stomach.
Give Your Pooch Some Natural Home Remedies
In addition to the oral rehydration salts solution and rice-based probiotics that we have already mentioned above, there are a few other remedies that you can provide to your dog that is suffering from an upset stomach. As always, your dog may react differently to these methodologies and as such you would want to seek your vet’s opinion about giving these home remedies to your pooch.
Baby food, especially banana variant
Everyone in the medical community knows that banana is rich in potassium which can help address the potassium losses in diarrhea. This can also help return control to the colon, reducing the intensity and severity of diarrhea. The smooth consistency of baby food in banana variant should help make it easy for your dog to take.
Boiled rice and unseasoned chicken
We mentioned above that experts actually recommend the giving of boiled rice to a dog with a sick tummy. But giving plain boiled rice may not really be palatable to your pooch. One way to address this is by adding a few slices of boiled chicken without any added seasonings, not even salt.
This is to help minimize further gastric irritation. If you put spices or any form of seasoning on your dog’s chicken, there’s a chance it will only upset its stomach even more. If your pet dog isn’t drinking enough water, add extra water to the mixture to make it more liquid.
Whatever it is that you may want to give to your pooch, avoid anything that is greasy. It’s not that this is irritating to your dog’s tummy, but because of the somewhat compromised state of the small intestines, the various pancreatic lipases that are supposed to dissolve fat may not work properly because of the relatively fast transit time of chyme. As such, your dog will be passing not only watery stools but also oily feces.
What is crucial is for you to make sure your pup gets plenty of water. This is where wet or canned dog food can help. Because these are naturally more palatable and come with as much as 80 percent moisture, you can bet that you’re addressing your dog’s need for sufficient hydration at a time when it is most vulnerable to the ill effects of dehydration. Again, if you’re not sure, you can always talk to your vet about the various remedies that you can observe.
Curing your dog’s upset stomach requires an understanding of its possible consequences. Once this has fully sunk in, you can institute measures to help address the issue and prevent further complications. As always, when in doubt, you should never hesitate to talk to your vet because he can help you and your dog more than you can imagine.