The Virtues of Pumpkin and Yogurt for Doggy Digestive Ills

by Borderstan.com October 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm 27,612 6 Comments

"Borderstan""Tori Tyree"

Canned pumpkin (not raw!) can help when your dog has an upset stomach. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tori Tyree. Questions? Leave a comment or email Tori at [email protected]. Her column on pets runs biweekly.

Dogs get upset stomachs for any number of reasons. Growth spurts, stress, and eating rawhide or too many treats will cause digestive problems. So will picking up chicken bones on 14th Street NW in front of Popeye’s, “McDonald’s dog food” , the moon, or squirrels  tormenting them from the outside window sill. The list goes on and on.

Usually an upset stomach is not a huge reason to be concerned. However, since we live in the city and have to deal with the repercussions in public places —  getting a dog’s digestive system back to normal quickly is really important!

Some people will immediately see their vet and end up feeding a bland prescription diet — or even ask for prescription medicine. Unless the dog is having digestive issues for weeks at a time, this doesn’t have to be the way to go. In a lot of cases, it’s not a good idea to give your dog a prescription drug — you are putting chemicals into your dog’s system when he really just needs a little time to reset and get back to normal.

Now, a little disclaimer: Some dogs genuinely have digestive issues that need medicine. I’m simply suggesting that you try other methods first before you grab the chemical solution. This is one of the most common dog problems today, and it has one of the easiest solutions.

Has Anything Changed?

The first question I ask when a dog starts having problems is, “Has anything changed?”

Is the food different or was it purchased from some place new? I just had a client who’s dog had been randomly throwing up and had some loose stools — but was his normal energetic self. What was wrong?

The answer to the dog’s upset stomach ended up being simple. The owner had bought the same brand of food that she always had bought. But, she had purchased it from a different store and the bag of food had been sitting on the shelf too long. Once she stopped feeding that food, everything went back to normal. Note: I always tell people to check the expiration date, especially if you are shopping at a large “super store.”

Canned Pumpkin, Yogurt and My Reset Program

At the first sign of digestive distress I begin a reset program that goes as follows.

Eliminate all treats, including rawhide and bones.

Fast the dog for one meal. You may feed broth and a small amount of boiled brown rice, but that’s all. I promise it won’t kill him (or you), even if he gives you those eyes!

Next two meals. The next two meals should be boiled chicken (with broth) and rice. Top this off with canned pumpkin. Now that it’s fall and Thanksgiving is approaching, I head to the store and stock up on canned pumpkin for the year! I use about a tablespoon for each 40 lbs. of dog.

At this point your dog should be closer to normal. If so, you can continue on to the next step. If not, stay with this plan for one more day. If the dog is still having problems, take them in to see the vet. If at any point during  this process your dog is lethargic or won’t eat at all, then go to the vet. This is really only a fix for dogs that are otherwise healthy and energetic.

Third meal. The third meal you will begin adding in one-half of his regular dog food to a mix with rice and broth. You should add in plain yogurt. Greek yogurt is best because it has more probiotics in it than regular yogurt; you are trying to add digestive enzymes into your dogs system. I usually keep a tablespoon of yogurt in each feeding for the next week.

If he reverts back to having an upset stomach, eliminate the food you have been feeding regularly. There is obviously something that does not agree with your dog’s body and it’s time to make a change. Keep your base of chicken and rice, and begin slowly adding a new food into the mix. This process should only take four or five days. Feeding a dog just a little more than chicken and rice for any length of time is not a good idea either because they are missing essential vitamins and minerals that will keep them healthy.

In a week’s time (or less ) your dog should be back to normal without any of the prescriptions or expensive bland dog food diets.

  • Kathleen

    Our 35 lb puggle gets gastro upset A LOT this is usually accompanied with nausea and vomiting. We’ve tried many different foods over the course of his three years and finally stopped when he had much less complications with Fresh Pet Select Beef. He’s still gets an upset tummy from time to time so we’ve been looking for healthier alternatives. It doesn’t seem as though we have truly found a food for him that eliminates this all together. I feel horrible for him. I could go on and on about our journey with him, but that could take forever. Bottom line is he’s licking at the air gagging and vomited the other day. He seems to be feeling a little better but not all the way so I wanted to try this to see if we could help him reach that goal. Our little guy could afford to lose some of the weight ideally he should be closer to about 26 lbs. NOW my question. How much rice and how much broth should I feed him. He eats in the morning between 6 and 7am and evening at about 5-6pm. I don’t want to over feed him as he is very food driven and cause more of an upset stomach because he’s eaten too much nor do I want to starve the little guy either. I made a Beef bone marrow broth no chicken added. I have organic brown rice that I’ve made him. Now I’d just like to double check on the proportions I should be feeding him for both. Thanks so much. love your post

    • lexi61

      feed a NON GMO diet such as natural balance – GMO’S are POISON and most all name brand ( grocery store bought foods ) are GMO LADEN . shop via internet or pet food shop for NON GMO ( ORGANIC ) DOG FOOD . seeds of death gmo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6OxbpLwEjQ

    • Apple

      I know you posted this a long time ago and maybe you have resolved the issue, but I thought I would add a thought or two as I am researching a few issues for my lab and came across this. Based on what you wrote, it looks like he is going approx. 12 hrs between meals and this may be causing some of the upset. It does with my dog so my vet suggested giving him part of his food or something else to eat right before bed so he doesn’t wake up burpy and hungry. She said the licking of paws/legs is a sign of an upset stomach, so if yours does this, it could be why. Also, you can substitute or add canned pumpkin, as suggested above as a filler and also a low calorie substitute for other food. My dogs eat raw, so I can’t comment on proportions of other foods, but I do know that when they (rarely) get diarrhea, my vet said you must fast completely (no broth, no anything!) for 24 hrs from the point of occurrence and then slowing introduce the food back in a few tablespoons at a time over several hours. I have tried not doing the fast this long and it really doesn’t work any other way. Also, recently I have been giving my dogs a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt and that seems to help some with digestion issues as it has a lot of good probiotics. You may want to introduce slowly, but chances are your dog will like the taste.

      • Kathleen

        You know what I can’t believe I never thought about how long he is going between meals and that possibly being part of the problem. That would explain why he eats at the pace that he does as well. He most certainly does lick at his paws, legs, and the air frequently. I knew licking at the air was a sign of nausea, but did not know licking of the paws and legs were as well. We’ve most certainly have thought of switching him to a raw diet, but it makes me nervous at the thought not feeding him properly (necessary vitamins and nutrients). We were/are feeding him Fresh Pet Select Beef refrigerator roll food. He’s done best on that food compared to any other food he’s been on, but still has too many periods of gastro upset. He is constantly licking at his butt because he has such a hard time releasing his glands properly, so we find ourselves, and the vet having to release it for him. We were told that some dogs just have a hard time and because we feed him soft food it too can add to the issue. We do add pumpkin to his food occasionally perhaps less than we should be. I know it can act as both a stool softener/ laxative and as a stool hardener to aid in the regulation of his bathroom habits. He most certainly does LOVE yogurt. But are these foods that’s you can give to them daily? After his recent protest to eating his food and vomiting I made him a fresh batch of organic rice and he seemed to be feeling better after eating that. It was just rice no broth as I didn’t have any made and it does take awhile to make from bones. I do not give him the already made broths in the store too much salt and who knows what else. I’d rather not take the chance with his sensitive stomach. Back on topic, after his last protest, I was researching foods for sensitive stomachs and a lot of people seemed to have luck with Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets, so, we are in the process of switching him to that food. When we switch his food it is NEVER a 5 to 7 day process it is a weeks to months process. 75/25 for about 2 weeks then 50/50 for about two weeks as long as the switch isn’t accompanied with any regurgitation/vomiting, diarrhea, etc. if that occurs we backtrack to the 75/25 and restart the process all over again. If he does well then we continue to climb the switching process until we’ve achieved the 100% switch. The Vet and we believe he has a hard time processing certain proteins and chicken products, etc. so the Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet, we’re doing lamb and brown rice, is the only food that I’ve found so far that doesn’t have chicken additives to it. It is 100% chicken free and he seems to be making the switch pretty good. We have also eliminated all treats except the occasional L.I.T. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats lamb and brown rice to match his other food. As well as NB LID sweet potato and fish kibbles here and there as treats. He also gets pumpkin. I will pick him up some Greek yogurt. As I’ve said I am interested in a raw diet, but during the summer time we like to hike and find it more difficult to bring along refrigerated foods so were kind of excited at the idea of having dry kibble to throw in the pack. But the biggest is making a mistake how much to feed, what to feed and him getting the proper nutrition that accompanies the raw diet. I’ve looked up sites, but find a lot of the information to be confusing and information contradicting other persons or sites information. etc. I’d hate to add to his stomach problems because of my confusion or lack of knowledge on a particular topic. I’ve head it can help with stomach gastro issues plus skin and coat as well as allergies, etc. but just like so many others just don’t know where or how to start I suppose. Thanks for the information. There were a few Ahhhhh moments for sure. Thanks 🙂

        • Apple

          I go to a holistic vet, so that cuts down on trying to do a lot of internet research that comes up with conflicting info. I have two dogs now and my previous dog ate raw (we usually feed less than the stated amount) and have done great on that. If you buy a prepared product, you really don’t have to worry about missing vitamins, etc. THe protein source does matter, though, as my dog does better on say, turkey, than beef, and fat and protein content will differ too. I hear you with the travel and refrigeration and some brands sell a freeze dried product that would be good for travel but I have two large dogs so it doesn’t work for me cost wise. Pumpkin is def. supposed to help firm up the stool so the glands express themselves. One of my dogs drags himself sometimes and the vet has checked and it isn’t his glands – he just has an itch! My vet has also suggested, though I haven’t tried, adding a digestive aid to his food. There is a company called Aunt Jeni’s that sells this on line or Amazon. Good luck.

  • Arun Patil

    Hie my 2 months old german shepard has got gastro and she keeps on crying all of a sudden and even my 16 months old lab has got gastro
    I have been taking them to the vet but nothings helping can u pls help me and sugges me what should i do i am in a lot of stress because of this
    I need a bit of your help .


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