Pet Preparedness: Diarrhea and Tummy Troubles

Pet Preparedness: Diarrhea and Tummy Troubles

When our pets have an upset stomach, we as pet parents have a strong urge to provide them with relief from their discomfort. Unfortunately, many owners don’t know what they can do to help their furry friend feel better, even though we’d move mountains for our pets if we could. As a veterinary-operated business, Wellnergy Pets is here to help guide you in the right direction. June is Pet Preparedness Month, and we want to help keep you prepared for the unexpected. Continue reading for tips on how to stay prepared and to recognize upset stomachs in pets, and how best to ease their tummy troubles.

Clinical Signs of an Upset Stomach

Gastritis, gastroenteritis, pancreatitis - there are many veterinary medical terms that are used to characterize an upset stomach in pets. This can be quite intimidating for pet owners. Although it will take a visit to the veterinarian and a physical examination to reach these official diagnoses, some of the most common clinical symptoms that characterize these illnesses are vomiting, diarrhea, and / or loss of appetite. Not surprisingly, these symptoms are very similar to what humans experience; we tend to stay away from food when we are feeling any discomfort in our stomach, and - let’s admit it - even we have bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. The same goes for our furry companions when they have an upset stomach: if they are feeling unwell, it’s likely that we may observe these same symptoms.

Other signs of an upset stomach can include dehydration, lethargy, and pale or tacky mucous membranes., or gums. More specifically, when your pet has episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, this may result in dehydration, which is commonly associated with marked tiredness and pale or sticky gums. By contrast, a healthy, hydrated pet will have good energy levels, food and water retention, and pink and moist mucus membranes. It’s important to closely monitor these signs in your pet, as severe dehydration can be fatal if ignored. It is important to note that if any of these symptoms are severe (fainting, difficulty breathing, painful abdomen, excessive vomiting or diarrhea, bloody vomitus or stool, yellow gums or eyes), you must bring your pet to a veterinarian right away, as this may be a medical emergency. 


When we are having tummy troubles, we usually say to ourselves, “It must have been something I ate,” and the blame usually goes to one of the meals that we may have just enjoyed. Although we may have enjoyed it while we were eating, we instantly regret it as soon as our stomachs start to feel painful or uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, the same can go for our furry friends. Although they may have enjoyed the piece of table food that we gave them (or that they sneakily stole while we weren’t looking), they won’t be enjoying the very possible vomiting or diarrhea that may follow.

Why do pets often get an upset stomach following a piece of table food? To put it simply, the food that we prepare for ourselves is often too fatty, salty and / or nutritionally imbalanced for our pets, and consumption of such foods may result in the dreaded bowel movements discussed above. Remember: our bodies and metabolisms aren’t entirely the same as our pets’, and their nutritional requirements and tolerances vary widely from ours. While we understand that our pets can be hard to resist (they’re part of the family, after all!), we recommend against sharing human food with pets, except for a few exceptions in moderation, such as fruit and vegetables with all potentially toxic seeds, peels and cores removed.

Some other reasons your pet may be experiencing an upset stomach include, but are not limited to: 

  • Underlying illnesses. If your pet has been diagnosed with illnesses affecting the internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, or pancreas (among many others), this may result in an upset stomach. In these situations, a consultation with your veterinarian should always be prioritized.

  • Gastrointestinal parasites or viruses. Some of the most common parasites that cause upset stomach are roundworms, tapeworms, coccidia and giardia. Viruses such as parvo virus, distemper, coronavirus, feline calicivirus and feline panleukopenia can also result in vomiting and diarrhea. It is important to make routine visits to your veterinarian to test for such parasites and viruses, and to treat them accordingly.

  •  Food allergies and / or sudden dietary changes. It is not uncommon for pets to have allergies to certain foods. In fact, the proteins that cause the most allergies in pets are beef and chicken. Additionally, an upset stomach may occur if a pet’s diet changes too drastically.

  • Stress. Tummy troubles may occur if a pet is experiencing a stressful situation, such as overstimulation from a new or changing environment, meeting new people or animals, enduring long car rides, or anything that may make the pet feel uncomfortable.

  • Toxicities. When a pet ingests or consumes a substance that is harmful to their body, such as theobromine found in chocolate or xylitol found in many human snacks, serious gastric upset is often the result. Leaving human medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, at a reachable distance also poses a high risk of toxicity to pets.

What to Do

Rest assured, as scary as these medical terms and symptoms are, there are many things that we as pet owners can do at home to help our pets feel better if their symptoms are mild, as discussed above. If we can pinpoint the cause of the pet’s upset stomach by identifying the specific stressor, we can alleviate their discomfort. While unseasoned boiled chicken and rice is a common go-to for many pet owners, the following are alternative examples of what we can do to help our pets ease their tummy troubles:

  • No more table food. As tempting as it may be to share our food with our furry companions, it is important to remember that many of our foods may be harmful to them. It is best to refrain from offering them table scraps, and instead replace them with treats formulated specifically for them.

  • Change their diet. If you suspect your pet may be allergic to the protein source of their food (such as chicken or beef), try to slowly switch their food to another protein source. For example, if beef is the protein source of your pet’s current diet, transition them into a pet food whose primary source of protein is different, such as salmon or lamb. It is important to transition them slowly, as a drastic change in their diet can lead to upset stomach.

  • Remove your pet from stress. If you know what causes stress in your pet, remove them from the stressor to avoid gastrointestinal upset. For example, if your pet struggles to stay calm in loud or crowded environments, avoid exposing them to such situations.

  • Over-the-counter medications. We understand that it takes a lot of time and effort to bring your pets to a veterinarian. That’s why Wellnergy Pets has formulated OTC products that will help support your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Our Anti-Diarrhea and Probiotics both help to alleviate upset stomachs in pets - no prescription needed. Likewise, deworming your pets with OTC products every 6 months can help in the prevention of gastrointestinal parasites.

Diarrhea Remedy Combo Wellnergy Pets

  • Go to the vet. While we recommend getting yearly check-ups for your pet, it is best to bring your pet straight to the vet if signs of an upset stomach persist or are severe. Your veterinarian may be able to identify an underlying illness or exposure to a toxic substance that may require more attention. The earlier a disease is identified, the better it is for your pet. Leaving human medications and potentially toxic substances out of reach will also help prevent harm to your pet. Bring your pet to a veterinarian right away if it has bloody stool or vomitus, has yellow eyes or gums, is in immense pain or is severely lethargic, as this may be a medical emergency.

While there are many things that can cause an upset stomach in our pets, preparedness is one of the most valuable assets that we can have as pet owners. As long as we know what warning signs to look for and how to best respond to them, we can be prepared to help our pets through even the most unexpected of tummy troubles. Dr. Z and his team at Wellnergy Pets are ready to equip you with the necessary remedies to be and stay prepared!

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