Caring for a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach
Newsflash: most dogs go bananas for food (hey, don’t we all?) But while some hounds can chow down every last table scrap, leftover and dog food brand around, others just can’t seem to stomach it (literally). If your little fur ball suffers from vomiting, excessive gas, soft or loose stools, a fussy appetite, and can’t tolerate dietary changes, he may have a sensitive tummy. Thankfully, with the correct application (and a good dose of persistence), you can restore a little harmony to his digestive system, keeping his insides running smoothly and quietly!
To get to the bottom of your dog’s sensitive stomach, you need to become an ingredient sleuth. If you’re feeding your pooch a diet of unhealthy titbits and takeaways, stop. Firstly, dogs aren’t walking bins. And secondly, this behaviour could be making your furry friend sick (and probably, a little plumper too). You should also keep your eagle eye on your mutt and ensure he isn’t sneaking into the food waste or any other treasure trove of ‘goodies’ that could throw his digestive system into disarray. If your little pal’s stomach is still distressed after a few days without his usual diet of treats galore and bin remnants, then it’s time to examine the very contents of his dog’s dinner.
Every canine is an individual, so there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy to fix digestive woes. Indeed, there are a several aspects of dog nutrition that could be the culprit. It’s worth taking the time to trial certain foods to see if they jive with your pooch. You might not nail it off the bat, but it’s definitely worth persisting.
Potential dietary stressors:
- Fibre source
- Protein source
- Fat content
- Adequate minerals and vitamins
- Quality of ingredients
Like us, some dogs need an extra hit of fibre in their diet to ‘move things along’. Beetroot pulp, inulin and psyllium are fantastic fibre sources that will deliver good faecal quality. In addition to scouting for these ingredients in dog food formulas, speak to your vet about more creative ways to up your pooch’s fibre intake.
Some hounds just don’t fair well with certain proteins, so it could be time to switch things up. If your furry friend is eating a lamb-based diet, for instance, try feeding him a different protein source, such as beef, chicken or fish, to see if that resolves the issue.
A diet that’s laden with too much fat is harder to digest than one high in carbohydrates or protein. So when you’re next perusing the pet food aisle to buy your dog’s kibble, examine the ingredient list and check if ‘fats’ and ‘oil’ are ranked in the first four ingredients. If they are, this may indicate the formula’s fat content could be too much for your pal’s stomach to handle. Instead, try to find a food that boasts a lower fat percentage and assess if that’s more conducive to your pet’s digestive system.
Adequate minerals and vitamins
Most commercial pet food contains the buzzwords ‘complete’ and ‘well-balanced’, advertising the fact they have adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins needed for teeth-to-tail nourishment. However, if you’re feeding your little fur ball a homemade diet, it’s possible his digestive chaos could stem from a nutrient deficiency. To ensure you’re not barking up the wrong tree, speak to your vet about your culinary creations, and determine if they have all the necessary ingredients to meet your pet’s digestive needs. For peace of mind, you could add a high-strength multivitamin and omega-3 supplement to his diet – a power duo that will plug any dietary gaps and lay a strong foundation for optimal health.
Quality of ingredients
When it comes to supporting your companion’s digestive system, quality really matters because dogs struggle to digest low quality food. But gauging the quality of dog food formulas can be a tricky business. Since labels aren’t legally allowed to publish the grade of the ingredients, owners are left to make judgements based on price, marketing claims, or new research. One helpful way to determine if a pet food is all it’s cracked up to be is by examining the clinical studies performed on certain brands. Opt for a formula that outstrips its competitors statistically, and don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer yourself if you have further questions.
Finding high-quality food
Thanks to the advent of the Internet, you’re never a click or two away from a blog, forum or social media post singing the praises of certain dog food products. Unsurprisingly, such advice isn’t always grounded in solid science, so you need to approach it with caution. For that reason, the best place to start your quest to find an appropriate dog food is with your vet, who may be able to suggest a few brands and warn you about culprit ingredients to steer clear of. Bottom line: remain sceptical when searching for the best dog food for digestive problems. If a brand is professing to sell a miracle formula that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Take it slow. If your pooch wolfs down his food, he’ll ingest a lot of air, which could trigger an upset stomach. Instead, divide meals into smaller portions and feed your pal throughout the day.
Always choose a pet food formula that suits your dog’s stage of life – be it ‘puppy’, ‘adult’ or ‘senior’.
Be consistent. A sudden change in pet food can irritate your dog’s digestive system. If you need to adjust his diet, always go about it slowly: gradually combine greater portions of the new food with his old food.
Speak to your vet. They know best, after all. In the unlikely event dietary changes can’t resolve your companion’s digestive problem, consult your vet to discuss other options.
Take home message
Finding the correct diet to cater for your canine’s sensitive stomach will take time – not to mention a great deal of patience. And it’s very possible you’ll have to transition your pooch through several different foods before you hit the jackpot. Don’t get discouraged or lose hope. Sure, it will require trial and error, but it will be worth it. And remember, your vet is always there to help too.
PDSA. (2018). Your dog’s diet. Available online: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/your-dogs-diet
Pets4Homes. (2018). Special diets and veterinary diets for dogs. Available online: https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/special-diets-and-veterinary-diets-for-dogs.html
Pets4Homes. (2018). How to care for a dog with an upset stomach. Available online: https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/how-to-care-for-a-dog-with-a-stomach-upset.html