Stomach Upset in Dogs: How to Treat them with Acupressure

There are dozens of causes for stomach upsets in your dog. A proper diagnosis by your veterinarian is important to select the right therapy. Acupressure, however, can soothe minor stomach upsets or can be used to enhance conventional veterinary treatment strategies.

Causes for Stomach Upsets in Dogs

There are multiple causes for an upset stomach. The most common is the ingestion of a different diet or spoiled foods. However, other causes are ingestion of foreign material (a piece of cloth, bone, or toy), toxic plants, chemicals, and irritation from drugs like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other not well-defined causes of stomach upsets or gastritis in dogs and cats are infectious, bacterial, and viral causes. Unless our pets are seen eating the irritative agent, gastritis is a presumptive diagnosis based on symptoms, history, and the exam performed by your veterinarian. Gastrointestinal upsets are one of the primary reasons dogs see the vet.

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It is a form of manual stimulation used to promote healing processes, relax tense muscles, and alleviate pain. When the dog is treated regularly acupressure can play an important role in supporting treatments & medications prescribed by your vet & acupuncturist.

Acupressure Points to Treat a Stomach Upset in Dogs

This selection of points is useful to enhance veterinary treatment strategies that alleviate gastritis symptoms. It also prevents recurring sickness in dogs who are prone to gastritis.

For more detailed information on massage techniques and how to localize the pressure points please visit my helpful and illustrated guide on acupressure.

  • LI 11 – just below the elbow joint, cranial to an easily palpable bony prominence.
  • PC 06 – 2 cun proximal to the carpal joint between the tendons.
  • SP 06 – 3 cun proximal to the hock joint, on the caudal aspect of the tibia (bone).
  • ST 36 – just distal to the knee joint, on the cranial border of the leg.
pressure points dog sore stomach

LI 11 & PC 06

What can I do to help improve symptoms of an Upset Stomach?

Because gastritis is a diagnosis of exclusion and signs could be suggestive of many disorders, is important to notify your veterinarian and have your pet be seen. You may also monitor your pet at home, withhold food for few hours, and if your pet’s condition worsens or does not improve in 1 to 2 days, diagnostic tests like an x-ray, bloodwork and fecal examinations will be necessary. Is important to have water available all the time. 

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Home Remedies for Gastritis in Dogs

If your pet is not drinking any water at all, it is important to have him or her be seen at a veterinary clinic within the day as dehydration can occur if vomit is recurrent. If your pet drinks the water and does not vomit, you may start feeding small amounts of food:

  • Low-fat food like commercial veterinary diet (e.g. Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low Fat or Hills i/d)
  • Boiled white rice and white chicken with no seasoning.

After eating or drinking water, if your dog does not vomit during the day then it’s mild gastritis. Continue the low-fat diet for 5-7 days. You may then transition slowly to the regular diet. This means mixing the regular food with the low-fat diet in a 5 to 7-day transition (see image). One-quarter the original food and three-quarter of the bowl with the low-fat diet then every 2 days continue changing it until at the end of the week is just the original/regular diet.

When to See the Vet?

If you suspect your dog may have swallowed something like a toy, bone or any other item that might obstruct the intestines please take him to the vet. The same goes for the consumption of any toxic plant or chocolate.

You may also call your veterinarian to ask about the anti-acid dose for your pet. Now if your pet continues to vomit, it is time to pay a visit to your veterinarian for anti-vomiting and anti-nausea medication with fluid supplementation if is dehydrated. In case your dog continues to vomit after eating, then it is time to pay a visit to your veterinarian for anti-vomiting and anti-nausea medication with fluid supplementation if is dehydrated. 

Further Recommendations

  • Reduce activity level and stress as long as symptoms persist.
  • Small amounts of food every couple of hours make it easier for the stomach to digest
  • Do not withhold food and wait if you have a young pet (3 weeks to 11 months of age) or an older pet (7 years to 15 years) before seeing the vet.
  • Allow food to warm up if taken straight from the fridge.
  • Avoid drinking cold water.
  • Light and easily digestible diets are recommended during episodes of gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Discuss your pet’s parasite control to see if everything is up to date

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– Felix

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