Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Dogs Get Stomach Bugs? Vet-Verified Facts & FAQ

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by Dogster Team

sick overweight dog lying on the floor

Can Dogs Get Stomach Bugs? Vet-Verified Facts & FAQ


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

So, you come home to find your pup lethargic and not acting themselves. After a few moments, you notice they are dry heaving overtop your favorite rug. They were fine this morning so what could have happened in between?

Did they eat something they shouldn’t? Do they have a virus? Do they have some type of tummy bug? In this article, we are going to go over some gastrointestinal problems in dogs so you can understand better.

Dogster divider_v3_NEW_MAY_24_

Dogs Can Get Stomach Bugs

Dogs can get all kinds of different bacteria, viruses, and general upset from spoiled food items and the environment. Anything our dog ingests has the potential to upset them if they have sensitives, allergies—or they just ate something that shouldn’t be in the belly.

Different stomach upsets may have similar signs, making it hard to figure out what bug you’re dealing with.

beagle dog sick sad on bed
Image Credit: Iryna Imago, Shutterstock

What Is Gastroenteritis? 7 Possible Causes

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It can have several causes, so it is merely a sign of an underlying condition. It can cause a series of signs, but usually the most obvious are vomiting are diarrhea.

While tummy upset can stem from a variety of issues—here are a few major reasons.

1. Bacteria

Bacteria can get into the gut via consumption or ingestion. Certain bacteria are harmless while others, like Salmonella, cause gastroenteritis. Raw food is one such source of bad bacteria1. These microscopic troublesome critters can really wreak havoc on the system. Usually, bacteria infections require antibiotics to get your dog’s body back in order although sometimes a combination of the immune system and healthy gut bacteria can resolve the issue.

2. Viruses

Viruses are living organisms that infiltrate your dog’s system and cause overall upset. Many stomach bugs are viruses and generally must run their course. Antibiotics usually don’t work for viruses. Instead, they often have to run their course with supportive care as needed. Canine parvovirus and canine enteric coronavirus are two viruses that cause gastrointestinal upset, with parvovirus being much more serious and potentially deadly.

Sick and unhealthy yellow Labrador Retriever dog coughing in a park or Kennel cough symptom
Image Credit: Dhanoo Surasarang, Shutterstock

3. Parasites

We are advised to treat our dogs for parasites for a reason—they are a real problem. Intestinal worms can cause gastroenteritis. It is imperative that we treat our dogs with regular parasite prevention—ridding them of ticks, fleas, and worms. You can get these treatments online or at your vet or local shelter. Some of them may differ in effectiveness, so make sure to check reviews and ask for recommendations.

Other parasites, like Giardia, are not covered by parasite prevention and can be picked up in the environment. In these cases, fecal testing and appropriate veterinary treatment are needed to clear the infection.

4. Medications

If your dog is on a new medication, some can absolutely cause some stomach upset. Often these medications can be hard on the system. If you are concerned, you can read the side effects on the bottle or call your vet for advice.

5. New Foods

If you have introduced new foods to your dog’s diet and notice some major stomach problems, it might be the food. Switching foods too quickly or introducing new food to a sensitive pup can trigger systemic reactions.

Make sure you transition food slowly to avoid any stomach upsets. Dogs’ healthy gut bacteria adapt to new food, and it may take a week to transition most dogs properly2. If your dog seems sensitive, go slower. If they don’t recover, discontinue the new recipe and consult your vet.

Sick Rhodesian ridgeback dog not eating
Image Credit: Zontica, Shutterstock

6. Ingestion of Spoiled Material

Clearly, if your dog eats spoiled food, they won’t be feeling too hot. Say they got into the trash or snatched up a fly-covered piece of food on the sidewalk during an evening stroll—they might have some GI upset later.

Spoiled food can contain mold or toxins that can make your dog seriously sick. Some examples include botulinum, mycotoxins, and aflatoxins. The way it affects your dog’s system can depend on the amount consumed, their age, and overall health status.

7. Food Allergies

What is interesting is that allergies are not all sneezes and snotty noses. They can also manifest as gastrointestinal upset—particularly when they relate to food. If it seems like your pup’s tummy is always gurgling and such, it might be a reaction to food.

If you suspect that your dog might have food allergies, keep in mind that you might have to go through extensive food trials to uncover the reason. Your vet might be able to perform allergy tests to find the trigger, too.Dogster divider_v3_NEW_MAY_24_

Can People Get Stomach Bugs from Dogs?

Humans can get some infectious diseases from their pets. These transmissible pathogens are called zoonotic diseases. Luckily, this is very rare, but it is something to consider when your pup is feeling ill.

Transmissible Diseases Between People and Pets

Our dogs can share all sorts of wonderful things with us—but one not-so-wonderful thing is a string of gastrointestinal bacteria.


Dogs can carry Campylobacter, which is a genus of bacteria. It is highly contagious and can easily infect not only people but also other animals—including cats. Typically, it is passed through fecal matter particles.

dachshund sick dog vet
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock


Leptospirosis is a terrible bacterial infection that can greatly impact dogs and people alike. It is generally passed through urine, drinking contaminated water, or exposure to contaminated soil.


Salmonella is a very common bacteria that is transmitted through contaminated food and surfaces. Dogs usually get salmonella by eating contaminated feces or meat and can pass it along to humans.Dogster divider_v3_NEW_MAY_24_


So, yes, our dogs can get a stomach bug just like us. Some of them are transmissible to humans while others are species-specific. If you think your dog might have a stomach bug, you should make them a vet appointment.

While it could be something super easy to fix or something that might pass, dehydration is real. So, even in the best-case scenario, they need some supportive care!

Featured Image Credit: Taps Das, Shutterstock

PangoVet Image Speak With A Vet Online

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.