Pets can’t tell us they’re suffering, but the signs of stomach issues are obvious: flatulence, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or constipation. Happily, there are natural remedies that offer relief for pets.
What to do if your cat or dog vomits or has diarrhea
Stomach upset is a form of inflammation, so an anti-inflammatory, grain-free diet is the first line of defense against indigestion. Make sure fresh, clean water is available at all times to keep your pet hydrated. Don’t overfeed your dog or cat, as eating too much food can lead to stomach issues, just as it does in people. If your pet has chronic flatulence, for example, think about what may be causing it. Did you treat your pet to cheese? Many dogs react to these foods the same way lactose-intolerant people do, so eliminating dairy is a good idea.
At the first sign of stomach issues, the best thing to feed a pet is … nothing. “Don’t give your dog or cat food for 12 hours,” advises Diane Snyder, DVM, who practices at Reservoir Veterinary Hospital in Shokan, N.Y. “Offer them ice chips to keep them hydrated while they get back to their regular routine. This brief fast allows the digestive tract to calm down.” Do let dogs and cats munch on grass; pets who have access to grassy spaces will instinctively graze on the green stuff when they feel queasy. “Animals eat grass to make themselves throw up,” Snyder explains. “If your urban dog or indoor cat doesn’t have access to grassy outdoor space, they might start munching on house plants. It’s easy to prevent this by cultivating a container of wheatgrass indoors so pets can help themselves to nature’s great green digestive aid anytime, day or night. (For cats, fresh wheatgrass also helps prevent hairballs.)
Safe Vegetables for Cats and Dogs
Sweet potato, squash, and pumpkin purée are soothing to dogs suffering digestive upset. The fiber in these veggies is what does the trick, and every dog I’ve known has loved the taste. (Cats, being highly motivated by protein, are generally not good candidates for this remedy.)
Vegetables that are safe to share with dogs and cats include leafy greens, broccoli, squash, and sweet potatoes, preferably boiled, steamed, roasted, and/or puréed.
Coconut Oil & Probiotics for Dogs and Cats
Coconut oil promotes regularity and digestive health. I recommend that big dogs be given a teaspoon of coconut oil every day, while smaller dogs and cats get a quarter to a half teaspoon daily. It’s also great for cleaning pets’ teeth and freshening breath.
Probiotics are also excellent for digestion. Look for one that’s formulated for animals. However, if a pet is taking an antibiotic, never give the probiotic at the same time, as they will, in effect, cancel each other out.
Snyder also recommends slippery elm in capsule form (combine the capsule contents with food), and colloidal silver, administered by squirting directly into the mouth. Following package directions, give medium to large dogs half the human dose, and one quarter the human dose for cats or small dogs.
More Ways To Improve Your Pet’s Digestive Health
See Treating Diarrhea in Dogs for additional tips on dog digestive problems, including how food-grade diatomaceous earth can help treat diarrhea and why timing exercise is everything for healthy digestion.