Is Rover chomping on the grass again? He could have an upset stomach — it’s time to give him some ginger ale! Or is it?
Ginger ale, a carbonated drink invented in Ireland in the 1800s, has a long tradition of use as a calmative for upset stomachs.
Ginger has been used as a digestive for centuries, and science has proven it contains many chemicals that among other benefits calms nausea and fights inflammation.
Because the flavor of raw ginger can be too strong, many prefer to take it in milder forms like ginger ale, and this drink is often recommended for dogs as well.
So, can Rover benefit from a dose of ginger or ginger ale?
In general, ginger is good for your dog. But not as ginger ale. Ginger ale is a sweet soda-type drink, and while sodas aren’t toxic to dogs, they contain unhealthy amounts of sugar. The carbonation can also give your dog gas, making its tummy even more uncomfortable.
Also, make sure not to confuse ginger ale with ginger beer.
Ginger ale is made by mixing ginger-flavored syrup with carbonated water, while ginger beer is made by fermenting ginger with sugar and yeast before combining it with carbonated water.
There are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic ginger beers. Alcoholic ginger beer contains ethanol, which is very harmful to dogs, while the non-alcoholic type is a soda and has the same issues as ginger ale for dogs.
If your dog is showing signs of an upset stomach, you can give him ginger in the form of fresh ginger in his food, ginger tea, or a bone broth infused with some ginger instead of ginger ale.
What Can I Give Dogs with an Upset Stomach?
Since we’re talking about ginger ale, which is often recommended for upset stomach in dogs, let’s talk about recognizing canine dyspepsia and what you can do about it.
If Rover is chewing grass, you can bet he’s feeling wonky in his tummy.
Other signs of upset stomach in dogs include loss of appetite, depression, drinking less water, unusual gassiness, gulping as if trying to gulp down a burp or vomit, and licking the air or random objects.
A dyspeptic dog may also vomit or have diarrhea.
If you can’t or don’t want to call a vet immediately, you can try a home remedy for your dog. Home remedies for dogs with upset stomachs include:
- Ice. You can give your dog crushed ice or ice chips, this helps Rover take in water in regulated quantities that’s easier to keep down when his tummy is upset.
- Yogurt. You can mix a little plain, unsweetened yogurt in your dog’s food, the probiotic bacteria in it will help ease its tummy. Avoid giving dogs flavored yogurts, as they can contain unhealthy amounts of sugar, and never give dogs grape-flavored yogurt.
- Bone broth. You can boil down bone-in cuts of beef, pork, or chicken until the meat comes off. Strain the fluid, and let your dog drink it warm. If you have ginger on hand, you can add some too.
- Ginger Tea. Ginger tea is even better for stomach trouble than solid ginger, as it’s easier to take, less likely to give dogs heartburn, and warm fluid is a tummy-soother on its own. Boil peeled slices of ginger in water, about 1 tablespoon ginger per cup of water. Let the liquid cool, then let Rover drink it, warm if possible. You can also sweeten it with a little honey. Have a cup yourself, it’s good!
- Small quantities of plain boiled rice and boiled skinless, boneless chicken breast, in 3:1 proportion. Don’t add any onion or garlic, oils, fats, salt, or other seasonings. Remember you’re boiling the chicken just to make it bacteria-free and easily digested, not to feed a human gourmet.
- Sweet potatoes. Small quantities of peeled, plain boiled sweet potatoes are vitamin-packed, filling, and easy to digest. However, they may give some dogs increased gas.
- Bananas. Bananas are easily digested, packed with vitamins, and help a sick dog regain energy.
- Pedialyte. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, you can help it rehydrate and recover lost essential minerals by letting it drink this children’s rehydration drink.
- Gatorade. As a last resort, and if you can’t get Pedialyte, you can substitute diluted Gatorade to rehydrate your dog. Mix it with water in 1:1 proportion. Make sure not to give grape-flavored Gatorade.
- Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, or Pepcid can be used to treat canine diarrhea. However, make sure to check with your veterinarian first, and check the medicine’s literature. Drug companies occasionally change the formulation of their products, so what’s safe for dogs as of this article’s writing may not be so in the future.
When your dog show signs of having an upset stomach, observe it carefully. If you have a rectal thermometer, try to take its temperature.
If your dog fails to respond to your home remedies, or shows increasing discomfort, vomits or has diarrhea more than twice, has blood or foreign objects in their vomit or stool, or has ingested a harmful substance like chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.
Also, discourage your dog from eating grass. Lawns are often sprayed with chemical fertilizers or pesticides and also get dosed with other environmental pollutants from passing vehicles and such, so the grass could be coated with harmful chemicals.
What Drinks are Unsafe for Dogs?
Going back to drinks, let’s talk about beverages you shouldn’t share with your dog.
While dogs can consume most of our foods, never forget that their digestive systems and biochemistry are different enough from ours that they can react badly to stuff we enjoy.
This also applies to beverages, especially stimulants like coffee and tea, and commercial juices and sodas. If you ever need to rehydrate your dog, say during a walk-in hot weather, make sure you only offer Rover something that’s safe for him to drink.
Here’s a list of beverages you must never share with your pooch:
- Any drinks containing Xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener that can be found in some diet or sugar-free colas, energy drinks, and juices, and is highly toxic to dogs. It can cause critically low blood sugar levels and liver failure in dogs. Because Xylitol is not an artificial product, it can be found in some drinks labeled ‘naturally sweetened.’ Always check the ingredients before sharing any food or drink with your dog.
- Any drinks containing grape juice. Grapes, raisins, and grape juice contain a still-unknown toxin for dogs that can cause death through kidney failure.
- Any drinks containing alcohol. Ethanol severely affects canine central nervous systems and can result in depressed respiration, coma, and death in large doses.
- Any drinks containing caffeine. Coffee in any form, chocolate, colas, energy drinks, and tea all contain caffeine. Caffeine affects dogs much more strongly than it affects us, causing agitation, dangerously increased heart rate and blood pressure, arrhythmia, and even seizures and tremors in large doses.
- Any drinks containing chocolate. Aside from caffeine, chocolate drinks contain theobromine which is an even more serious threat to dogs than caffeine. Theobromine can cause agitation, tremors, and seizures in dogs, and even lead to death.
- As a rule of thumb, any sweetened commercial drink is likely to have too much sugar for your dog’s health. Excess sugar can give dogs obesity, dental problems, and diabetes. Dogs evolved to have a sweet tooth just like us because their ancestors were opportunistic fruit eaters, so sweet and sweet-smelling foods and drinks are attractive to them.
Can Dogs Drink Fruit Juice?
Except for grape juice, most commercially available fruit juices are not toxic to dogs. However, most of these products also contain too much sugar for dogs. Sugar-free versions may contain Xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs.
However, fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, and when served cold they’re incredibly refreshing in hot weather. You can share small quantities of fresh, homemade fruit juice with your dog, preferably before you add any sugar.
Also, fruit juice contains little fiber. To get the maximum value of fruit for your dog, give it slices of solid fruit instead.
As a rule, you should peel the fruit and remove the seeds, and if it has a tough core like apples do, remove that as well to prevent choking. Apples can be given to dogs skin-on, however, as the skins help the dog’s dental health.
You can also give fruit to dogs in the form of frozen treats, either whole or mashed fruits frozen in water. This gives them something cold, refreshing, and nutritious to chew on, relieving both heat and boredom. It’s perfect for hot summer days especially if you can’t go out.
When giving dogs fruit, always make sure you’ve completely removed the seeds, as the seeds of many fruits can present choking hazards or contain a toxin that’s released when chewed.
Be especially careful with the seeds of apples, peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, and nectarines, as these contain a cyanide-producing compound called amygdalin, and avocado pits, which contain a toxin called persin.
Can Dogs Drink Soda?
Unless it’s an emergency like being stuck in the desert, dogs should never be allowed to drink any kind of soda. Many sodas contain high concentrations of caffeine, which is highly toxic to dogs. Most sodas contain unhealthy amounts of sugar for a dog.
Lastly, the carbonation of sodas can give dogs gas and bloating.
Can Dogs Drink Sparkling Water?
Sparkling water is carbonated water, and like sodas the carbon dioxide gas in the drink can give dogs gas and bloating. You should only give a dog sparkling water if it really needs fluid and there’s nothing else available.
Can Dogs Drink Coconut Water?
Coconut water is the clear fluid found inside the inner shells of young coconuts.
Also sold as ‘buko juice’ in some Asian stores, this is a highly refreshing, nutritious, and electrolyte-packed drink.
Dogs can be given small quantities of coconut water in diluted form. In pure form, its potassium content can be more than what dogs can safely metabolize.
Do not confuse coconut water with coconut milk, which is a milky fluid made by pressing grated coconut meat with water. Coconut milk is high in fats and oils, and in large quantities may give dogs upset stomachs. You can give your dog small amounts of unsweetened coconut milk.
Can Dogs Drink Tea?
Tea contains caffeine, which is toxic to dogs. Even though most teas have far lower caffeine concentrations than coffee, it’s still best to avoid giving tea to your dog. Even if your dog is English.
Herbal teas, however, like mint, chamomile, and the above-mentioned ginger, can be good for a dog in moderation.
Can Dogs Drink Milk
While some dogs can take milk without any ill effects, many are lactose-intolerant as adults, and some may develop allergies to cow’s milk.
Milk is thus an iffy beverage for dogs at best. Instead of milk, you can give your dog small quantities of yogurt, which Rover can digest more easily.
Can Dogs Drink Bubble Tea?
The now-popular Asian dessert drink called milk tea, bubble tea, or boba tea is made with a combination of tea, milk, a flavored syrup, and ‘pearls’ made of tapioca or sago palm starch.
Because it’s sweet, dogs may be attracted to it, and dogs may also enjoy eating the pearls. However, this drink is problematic for dogs on four counts.
First, it contains milk, which can give dogs digestive problems.
Second, it contains tea, and if it’s a strong tea it can contain enough caffeine to harm a dog.
Third, it’s a sweet drink, and so has unhealthy amounts of sugar for a dog.
Fourth, the starchy pearls can give dogs a stomachache, or if undigested, an intestinal blockage. The pearls can also be choking hazards, particularly for smaller breeds.
In Southeast Asia, you may still find bubble tea pearls made using sago palm starch, as the sago palm is native to the region.
While you may have read of the toxicity of sago palms for dogs, the pearls do not contain the toxin. Elsewhere in the world, bubble tea pearls are made of cassava starch, which is more easily available than sago palm starch.
This is manufactured in a way that completely eliminates the cyanide naturally found in cassava.
Because dogs’ bodies function differently enough from ours that they can have problems with stuff we normally eat or drink, you should always be aware of potentially harmful ingredients before sharing anything with your dog.
At the end of the day, unless there’s a medical reason to give him anything else the healthiest, safest drink for Rover is still unadulterated, sub-room temperature dihydrogen oxide. Or in plain English, cool, clean water.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.