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Upset Stomach

Upset Stomach Issues with the Poodle

cute black Poodle sitting
Photo courtesy of owner: Dorothy Meneely


The Poodle breed in general, including Toy, Miniature and Standard, is prone to digestive problems. This manifests itself either through abnormal bowel movements - which can be diarrhea or constipation - and/or with vomiting.

This section is going to look at all of the signs and symptoms of an upset stomach, possible causes and steps that you can take from home to help your Poodle with an upset stomach.

IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In regard to digestive issues, this does not necessarily mean that the issue is IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), though it may be and many of the signs and symptoms may make it appear to be. 

This includes:

-Stomach cramps (Most canines that are suffering from discomfort will seek out a place to retreat and may not want to be touched.
 If pain is severe, a dog may snap at his owners even if this is completely out-of-place behavior.)

-Bloating - Bloating can occur due to gases in the digestive tract, however with the Poodle one must always be mindful of the possibility of bloat. 

-Flatulence - While all dogs (and humans) have some flatulence, when a Poodle has an upset stomach, he will pass gas quiet frequently and the smell may be quite harsh.

-Mucus in the stool - Mucus that you may see in bowel movements is actually a thick, liquid substance that is created in the intestines - it helps to lubricate the colon and move things along - but when a dog has an upset tummy, a sometimes substantial amount of this is expelled along with the feces.

-Diarrhea - To be classified as diarrhea, stools are either very frequent (2 or 3 times more than normal) or very wet - which includes anything from loose stools to liquid feces. A normal, healthy stool will be a consistency that resembles dough; if you were to pick it up, it would stay in one piece yet be pliable.

-Constipation - While IBS can cause diarrhea with some Poodles, it can cause constipation with others. For those Poodles that have chronic stomach upset, there may be a change back and forth from both conditions. In general, a dog should have a health bowel movement 2 to 3 times per day. With many, the act of eating triggers the movement. Yet, Poodles with constipation issues will strain, have very hard stools and/or have infrequent stools (1 every 3 days for example).

While only a veterinarian can diagnose true IBS, if a Poodle has all or most of the above symptoms, than IBS is a probable cause.

If your Poodle has 1 or 2 of the above signs, this points to stomach problems, however this does not automatically mean that the puppy or dog has IBS.  

Quick Changes in Food

One of the top causes of stomach upset is a quick change in main meals or the addition of an ingredient (usually a snack) that was not previously given.

If there has recently (within 12 hours) been a change to what a Poodle has eaten, removing this item from the diet and then treating symptoms as listed ahead usually resolves things. 

If you wish to switch the main course, do so gradually over the course of 3 to 4 weeks.  This is done by starting off with 75:25 ratio of 'old' to new . Be sure to mix it and blend it together well. Every week, increase new food by 25% while decreasing the older one.

Vomiting as Part of Upset Stomach Issues

Aside from bloating, gas, mucus, diarrhea and constipation, a Poodle may be struggling with an upset stomach may vomit. Even more than digestion issues, it is throwing up that brings up a red flag to owners that their Poodle is having tummy troubles.

Usually, if vomiting is acute - is a one-time occurrence or happens for 1 day - this can often be attributed to a fast moving stomach bug, ingestion of spoiled food or eating when slightly under heat stress.

However, if vomiting is chronic - an ongoing problem - it is time to look to triggers so that issues can be resolved (more ahead)

Other Signs of Tummy Issues

- Some Poodles may have a moderate to severe upset stomach, but will not actually vomit. However, these Poodles may dry heave, spittle up just a bit of food or have a reluctance to eat as normal - either not eating as often during the day or just nibbling at food and not eating as much as usual.

- A Poodle may be less active, wanting to rest instead of going out for a walk, etc.

- There may be audible gurgling noises emanating from the stomach area

How to Treat Upset Stomach Problems at Home

1) It should first be noted that for any Poodle - but particularly for puppies of all varieties and for Toy Poodles of any age:

-Dehydration due to vomiting and/or diarrhea

-Imbalance of electrolytes due to vomiting and/or diarrhea

-Low blood sugar levels due to inadequate nutrition

Can all lead to serious medical issues that will require professional veterinary treatment. 

Therefore, if your Poodle seems overly weak, is dehydrated but will not drink, diarrhea and/or vomiting last for more than 2 days or has any other signs that are troubling, play it safe and bring your Poodle to the vet ASAP.

With moderate to severe stomach pain, the cause may be something that needs veterinary care including: Parvo, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, giardia and more.

Severe bloating should never be overlooked as it may be Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (commonly known as bloat or killer bloat). It can be fatal if not treated immediately and owners should never second guess their decision to seek vet care immediately since this is a life threatening health condition.

Other signs of bloat - aside from a distorted stomach - may include drooling, agitation, vomiting and/or refusal to drink water.

This affects Standard Poodles most often, however owners of any variety Poodle should be aware of the possibility. 
2) With an upset stomach, the first thing that you are going to want to do, is allow the stomach - and digestive system- to rest. 

-With a severe upset stomach, refrain from giving your Poodle food for 8 to 10 hours. The only exception to this is puppies under 3 months and Toys under 6 months.

-With a mild to moderate stomach, immediately switch to a bland diet that will be easy on both the stomach and intestines.

In cases where it is appropriate to switch to a bland diet to calm the stomach down, the best recipe for upset stomach is the most simple: White rice (boiled, plain, no extra seasoning) and de-boned, no-skin, white breast chicken meat (boiled, plain, no extra seasoning). You will want the ration of rice to chicken to be 4:1. In other words, 75% rice and 25% chicken. Be sure to dice the chicken into very small pieces.
Poodle at park tied to bench
Beaux, 3 years old
Photo courtesy of owner: Ann Paris
The rice works well to absorb extra stomach acid and both rice and chicken are known to be easy on the digestive system, which allows everything to rest and recover.

This simple but nutritious meal is given for 2 to 3 days, with either a change to home cooked food or a slow, gradual return to regular food.

- In cases of vomiting yellow liquid (sometimes with foam), this is a matter of stomach bile. This happens when a Poodle's stomach becomes upset due to being completely empty. Even if you believe that you are feeding your Poodle on a good schedule, the sign of vomiting yellow stomach bile means that it is time to offer smaller, but more frequent meals. Some Poodles simply need to have something in their stomachs most of the time and changing from 2 meals to 3 or adding more snacks (but smaller meals) can allow the puppy or dog to maintain a healthy weight while keeping the stomach satisfied.
3)  During the time of stomach woes, you can offer a tablespoon of either plain, white yogurt or plain cottage cheese. A does is even 3 to 5 times per day, 1 to 4 hours apart. Both work to sooth an irritated stomach and intestines.  

4) For Poodles that are suffering from upset stomach AND diarrhea, plain, unseasoned and unsweetened pumpkin also works well. Dosing is as follows: Toy Poodle = 1 teaspoon every 2 to 3 hours. Miniature Poodle or Standard puppy= 2 teaspoons every 2 to 3 hours. Adult sized Standard Poodle= 3 tablespoons every 2 to 3 hours.
5) You may wonder if it is okay to give Immodium A/D (loperamide) or Pepto Bismal (Loperamide) to your Poodle. 

Only with vet approval should this be given and there are some good reasons why:

- A dog may have a sensitivity to these ingredients

- It can interfere/ react with other medications

- Poodles weighing less than 30 lbs. (9 kg) are susceptible to accidental overdosing

- It may stop the expulsion of diarrhea, when it may actually be needed to clear out bacteria and germs out of the body
6)  If you suspect that your Poodle is dehydrated (not drinking water, pale gums and/or lips, weakness, etc.) it is alright and actually recommended to give your puppy or dog Pedialyte other electrolyte solution for 1 to 2 days while you wait to see if things improve.

Help for Chronic Upset Stomach

The most common reason for a Poodle to have ongoing stomach problems is a food intolerance - which is different than a food allergy. Intolerance to certain ingredients can upset both the stomach and the digestive tract. The most common source of these types of ingredients is manufactured dog food that contains: Artificial coloring, chemical preservatives and/or fillers.

With this said, even a high quality food may contain an ingredient that triggers stomach problems. If you feel comfortable with what you are feeding your Poodle, you may wish to stay with the brand, but change the variety. For example, lamb to fish or fish to chicken.

It is overstated that dogs are allergic to grain, since the majority are not…however if cheap dog food ingredients are ruled out and the main protein source is changed without results, switching to a grain free variety may be just the trick.

*** If you are not sure which brands of food and/or snacks are recommended for the Poodle breed, you may wish to look to 'Food' in the Poodle Specialty Shoppe.

A Final Note

If a Poodle has a very sudden upset stomach, look to any recent changes or triggers that may include: a dose of heartworm medication, a vaccination, other newly prescribed medications, etc. and alert your puppy or dog's vet immediately as medicines may be causing an adverse reaction.
See Also: Poodle is Eating Poop - Reasons why a Poodle will display coprophagia and steps to stop it.
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