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Dog Upset Stomach Symptoms

Boston terrier mix lying on tile floor

According to Nationwide, an upset stomach is one of the most common ailments among dogs. More often than not, these gastrointestinal problems are not very serious and the issue resolves on its own. However, if the symptoms persist for too long (more than 24 hours), it is highly recommended to consult your vet.

Symptoms of Upset Stomach in Dogs

Talking about symptoms, Vomiting and Diarrhea are the most obvious signs of an upset stomach in dogs. In addition to them, some other (lesser-known) signs can also indicate the illness. Some of these symptoms are discussed below.

  • Drooling
  • Lip Licking and Smacking
  • Eating Grass
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Audible Gurgling
  • Burping
  • Excessive Passing of Gas
  • Restlessness and Lethargy


Head portrait of Chesapeake Bay Retriever drooling

As we know, dogs drool when their salivary glands produce an excessive amount of saliva. In the case of an upset stomach, hyper-salvation helps in protecting the throat and mouth from the acidic vomit. The alkaline nature of saliva helps in neutralizing the effect of the acid.

Having said that, nausea is not the only reason for drooling. Some dog breeds may drool significantly even when they are healthy. For instance, Great Danes and Bloodhounds are particularly notorious for drooling. These canines can produce buckets of saliva when they are nauseous.   

Lip Licking

It is another preventative measure that is linked with the overproduction of saliva. When there is an increase in salvation, some dogs try to keep themselves clean by licking and smacking their lips. This sign is generally not associated with an upset stomach in dogs because most of them start to drool. Although lip-smacking is not a major symptom of tummy troubles, it is a useful sign for several other diseases.    

Loss of Appetite

Close up of full dog food bowl with dog  laying next to it.

When a dog is suffering from an upset stomach, the instincts tell him/her to give the stomach some rest. If the canine keeps eating more food, things would turn from bad to worse. Consequently, the recovery will take more time.

This decision of avoiding the food is dependent on a hormone called ‘ghrelin’. Nicknamed as the “hunger hormone”, ghrelin is produced by the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. It controls the appetite of canines by stimulating or suppressing different neurons.

Sometimes, new dog parents might ignore this behavior by assuming that the dog’s tummy is full. It is not an advisable thing to do because the long-term loss of appetite could be caused by an underlying problem. Therefore, you should always consult your vet if the dog is not eating properly.  

Is my dog healthy? Check out our post How to Tell If Your Dog is Healthy to learn more.

Eating Grass

The relationship between dogs eating grass and vomiting is always debatable. Some people believe that grass is harmful to a dog’s stomach and eating it leads to vomiting. Alternatively, other dog parents claim that their canine tends to consume grass when he/she is sick.

Over the years, it has been observed that both these theories are correct. Some dogs do like to eat grass but their sensitive digestive system doesn’t approve this type of diet. Therefore, they may vomit to eliminate grass from their system. On the other hand, some sick dogs eat grass as it helps them to get rid of nausea through vomiting.

Audible Gurgling

Black and tan dog laying in dog bed

Gurgling is the name given to the sounds that are produced when food passes through the digestive tract. The medical name for this condition is ‘borborygmus’. Although it is normal to hear occasional gurgling, repetitive sounds indicate that the dog is suffering from indigestion.

Several reasons can account for an upset stomach, like a dietary change or eating something indigestible. Sometimes, these stomach noises are produced due to the passage of gas around the intestines.    


Burps are a normal part of digestion for dogs. Many canines like to eat very fast and in the process, they ingest a lot of air. Burping is the natural way of removing this gas. However, excessive burping is something that you should never ignore because it could be an indication of gastritis.

In this condition, the acid of the stomach is responsible for the burping. In some cases, the dogs may vomit in addition to burps. This is a clear sign that the food is coming back up rather than following the normal path.

Veterinarians believe that there could be some serious reasons (organ failure, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.) for this condition. Therefore, it is advised to visit your vet if your pup shows these symptoms.

Passing of Gas

portrait of Dachshund with surprised look on face on grey background

Just like burping, the passing of gas is also a normal condition for most dogs. The consumption of highly fermentable fiber and indigestible carbohydrates is what causes flatus. The bacterial fermentation of these components produces these gases that are then expelled from the canine’s system.

Although it is a natural process, excessive passing of gas could be a symptom of underlying trouble. Frequent dietary change is one of the most common reasons for this problem. Similarly, the presence of parasites and protozoans in the gastrointestinal tract can also lead to excess flatulence.  

Restlessness or Lethargy

An upset stomach can make many dogs uncomfortable and restless. They may lie down and try to change different positions in an attempt to find some peace. It is quite possible that the tightening of the belly muscles may lead to severe abdomen pain. Similarly, you may notice that your pup is trying to vomit but couldn’t succeed.

In contrast to that, some canines feel so tired that they reduce their activities. Likewise, intestinal pain can also limit the movement of your pup. Therefore, it is important to observe your dog closely because both, restlessness and lethargy, are dangerous.     

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