What to give a dog for vomiting? Here's what you should (and shouldn't) do to soothe your pet's upset stomach.

A nasty stomach bug can be a pain for dogs and their owners. If your pup is vomiting or experiencing stomach issues, it can be difficult to figure out why and how to make it stop.

A trip to the veterinarian isn't always in order, however. At-home care is possible and even pretty simple for a mild upset stomach.

To find out the best remedies, and how to tell when it's time to visit a medical professional, USA Today spoke with Petco's chief veterinarian, Dr. Whitney Miller. Here's what she had to say.

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What to give a dog for an upset stomach

When speaking to Dr. Miller on the phone, she informed me that one of her colleagues was dealing with a sick puppy at home. The puppy in question is reportedly known to eat just about anything around the house– socks, toys, you name it. This is, if not the number one reason dogs get an upset stomach, then the number two reason, Dr. Miller tells us. Having spent many years in emergency pet care, she has seen no shortage of pets with upset stomachs after eating something they should not have.

"Dogs express themselves through their GI tract," Miller says. The list of reasons your pet might be throwing up or have an upset stomach is a mile long, and oftentimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint it.

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A 'bland' diet is best

Unless there is an acute episode (i.e. ingesting a sock or your child's Lego), then the usual course of treatment is withholding food and water for 12 to 24 hours, Miller says. This can help to bring a stop to the symptoms.

Water can slowly be reintroduced, then a bland diet. Several of the large dog food manufacturers make therapeutic, bland diets, Dr. Miller notes. So, if you are looking for a store-bought option you can probably find something on the shelf or at your vet's office.

As for the dog owners who want to offer their sick pup a home-cooked meal, Miller recommends boiled chicken and rice: plain, without any spices.

That baseline recommendation sometimes requires a little nuance. With young puppies (under three months) and with dogs who have pre-existing health issues, depriving them of food and water might backfire. Best practice is to start with just a few hours and see if they improve. If not, it's time for a visit to the vet.

Small breed dogs in particular tend to be at higher risk for hypoglycemia if they don't eat every four to six hours, Miller explains. If your dog is diabetic and vomiting, go to the vet right away, she says, because their insulin could be getting low.

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When should I worry?

If your pet is older, you also might want to be more cautious, Miller advises. An upset tummy could be a sign of a bigger health issue.

"Seeing blood in the vomit or the stool is usually an indication that you need to go to the vet," she says, or if you're seeing them vomit up fabric or anything else they might have eaten that was causing an obstruction.

Is there medication for a dog's upset stomach?

"There’s definitely some over-the-counter support remedies that can help dogs that either have a chronic, mild upset tummy or have an acute issue," Dr. Miller says, describing medications similar to Kaopectate for humans. That doesn't mean you should give them actual Kaopectate, or any human medications, especially Pepto-Bismol, Dr. Miller warns.

There are also natural remedies.

Depending on the initial cause, diets that are higher in fiber can also help dogs that have GI issues. "The thing that pet parents have to be willing to test and learn if they have a chronic GI pet is, which one works for my pet?" Dr. Miller explains.

As for a timeline, if your dog continues to vomit or has significant stomach trouble for more than 24 hours, it's usually time to be seen by a professional. You don't want them to face more serious health issues like dehydration.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What to give a dog for an upset stomach: Expert tips for treatment at home