Can Pregnancy in Dogs Cause Upset Stomach?
This question makes perfectly sense if one thinks about how pregnant women develop morning sickness. In dogs, morning sickness may not show the same way as it shows in humans; however, that doesn't mean it doesn't take place. An upset stomach may also be seen later on as the pregnant dog gets closer to labor. Following are causes of upset stomach in pregnant dogs.
Pregnant Dog Morning Sickness
As mentioned, dogs may get something similar to morning sickness in humans. Right around three weeks of gestation, many pregnant dogs may experience some loss of appetite that lasts for about a week, and nausea and a mild case of vomiting may accompany this period of appetite loss, explains Johnny D. Hoskins, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in internal medicine. Occasionally, some pregnant dogs may show this decrease in appetite throughout the pregnancy.
Pregnant Dog Dietary Changes
Another time when pregnant dogs may develop an upset stomach is when their diet is changed. This is often seen when the dog is shifted to a puppy food or a food made for pregnancy and lactation too rapidly. When diet is changed too quickly, it can predispose the pregnant dog to digestive problems. To prevent an upset stomach, it's best to shift the food gradually over the course of 7 to 10 days.
Pregnant Dog Onset of Labor
Finally, when nearing labor, some pregnant dogs will develop an upset stomach. This occurs because of all the pushing and the pressure of the contractions on the stomach which are enough to make the make the pregnant dog vomit. Not all though will vomit. Most pregnant dogs nearing delivery though will simply go off food around 24 to 48 hours before delivering.
A Word of Caution
Determining pregnancy for sure in dogs is not an easy task. There are different conditions that may make a dog look pregnant. For instance, according to VCA Animal Hospital, around 4 to 9 weeks after heat, some dogs develop false pregnancy, which causes them to look pregnant when they are not. The affected dog may develop enlarged mammary glands, lethargy, periodic vomiting, reduced appetite and fluid retention. Some behaviors may also mimic pregnancy, causing the dog to start nesting or even show signs of false labor.
Around the same time frame, between 4 to 8 weeks after the last heat, female dogs may also develop symptoms of pyometra, a potentially life threatening condition, seen in intact dogs. Affected dogs may appear pregnant, as fluid accumulates in their abdomen and they may also develop loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.
The Bottom Line
Pregnant dogs may develop an upset stomach in the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy, but they also can develop it from rapid dietary changes or a day or two before the onset of labor. Unless pregnancy is diagnosed by a vet, a dog with a false pregnancy or affected by pyometra may appear pregnant too.
Differentiating a dog who is pregnant from a dog who is having a false pregnancy, or worse, a dog with pyometra can be arduous for dog owners, and the only way to know for sure if by visiting the vet. Only through diagnostic tests can the vet rule out or confirm pregnancy and determine if there's a chance the dog may pyometra. If your dog is pregnant, or you assume is pregnant and develops an upset stomach accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, please see your vet.