Sensitive stomach in dogs

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Dogs are omnivores, meaning they are designed to live on a diet containing both meat and vegetables. Their broad-ranging palate and their ability to gulp down large amounts in one sitting (thanks to an extremely stretchy stomach) earn dogs a bit of a gluttonous reputation. However, whilst most dogs can guzzle almost any food (or even non-food!) that comes across their path with no problem, others can be more sensitive.

What is a sensitive stomach in dogs?

Just like in people, an episode of flatulence or diarrhoea can be triggered off in some dogs if something doesn’t agree with them. We call this ‘sensitive stomach’. Here, we’re talking about a mild upset of the digestive system, which can range from a gurgling gut and nasty niffs from the rear end right through to sickness and diarrhoea.

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Your dog’s digestive system is crucial in making sure all of the nutrients from their food can be absorbed and used. With this in mind, it’s important to pick up on any clues that it’s not firing on all cylinders and to know what can be done about it, keep reading for everything you need to know.

What causes a sensitive stomach in dogs?

Some pups are just unlucky and are born with an inherited form of a sensitive stomach. This condition can also pop up unexpectedly at any age.

Have you changed your dog’s diet recently? If this set off an attack of tummy trouble, then your dog is likely to have a sensitive stomach. A bout of over-indulgence can be another cause of an upset stomach.

Worms, bacterial infection and motion sickness during travel can all result in symptoms of stomach upset. However, once these are ruled out, it’s important to distinguish between a temporary problem with an obvious cause and one that persists and to get treatment where necessary.

Signs and symptoms of a sensitive stomach in dogs

The classic signs of a sensitive stomach include intermittent loose stools or diarrhoea, nausea (you can tell your dog feels sick if they’re not eating or if they’re licking their lips and swallowing a lot) and excessive wind. There may be blood in the stools and your dog might vomit. Sometimes when a dog has eaten a food that triggers their sensitive stomach, they’ll be less active and possibly reluctant to go for a walk. The odd self-limiting episode of wind or loose stools is part and parcel of a dog’s life but if the symptoms become chronic (long-term) and you notice weight loss, get your dog checked over by their vet.

This chart will help you understand and explain your dog's stools to a veterinary professional.

The symptoms of sensitive stomach can be similar to those seen in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)colitis (inflammation of the colon), gastroenteritis (infection of the digestive system) and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas, an organ involved in fat digestion), so it’s important to note the frequency and types of symptoms as this will help the vet with diagnosis.

Did you know that a sensitive stomach can spark off itchy skin in dogs? Look out for lots of scratching, areas of hair loss and sore, dry skin. In light coloured dogs, reddish-brown marks on the face known as tear stains are also a sign of irritated skin, which may be linked to a dietary sensitivity.

How to treat a sensitive stomach in dogs

The first port of call when seeing to a sensitive stomach is to look at what’s going in it. Cut out table scraps and treats and make sure your dog isn’t filling their belly from bins or other sources of stomach-churning delights such as a litter tray or the garden. Once you’ve got their snacking under control, turn your attention to the main meal.

Here’s a checklist you can go through to help with diet choice for a dog with sensitive stomach:

  1. An easily digestible diet with moderate fat content cuts down on work for their digestive system

  2. A diet with a restricted ingredients list is a good idea as it narrows down the search for the culprit component

  3. Certain proteins can be a problem for some dogs, so it makes sense to go with a single protein source diet to help with elimination

  4. Grains have been known to cause an inflammatory reaction in the digestive system so selecting grain-free recipes can be beneficial

  5. Choose minimally processed, high-quality food that’s free from artificial additives

  6. Look for nutritionally complete and balanced products to ensure your dog is supplied with all the nutrients they need in the right amounts

Try tackling their griping gut with one of our pure and natural diets that ticks all these boxes. We use ingredients like parsnip and apple to provide fibre for good digestion as well as egg, an easily digestible protein source to help get your dog’s stomach back to full working order.

Dog won’t eat? They may need a little extra tempting if they’re feeling ‘ruff’ but you still need to keep their diet plain and simple.

If your dog is prone to wolfing down their food, try dividing their meal up into smaller portions for a gentler impact on their digestive system and to help prevent bloating. Finding what works for your dog can take time and patience-once you find something they tolerate, stick at it as it may take a few weeks to get symptoms under control. Some vets may even recommend probiotics to reduce the number of bad bacteria which will make stomach upsets less likely.

What is the best dog food for sensitive stomachs?

The best dog food for sensitive stomachs will be highly-digestible and low in fat. Highly digestible ingredients are easy to digest and provide more nutrients for the volume of food. Low fat is important because fat is one of the hardest things for dogs to digest. (And eating too much can cause pancreatitis.) Similarly, a dog’s short digestive tract makes it difficult for them to digest grain, and they can have an inflammatory effect on the gut. A grain-free diet can help alleviate some cases of stomach sensitivity.

Dinners of sensitive stomach dog food should contain natural ingredients that aren’t likely to cause GI issues. Ultra-processed food like kibble (dry dog food) is not very digestible and may contain artificial additives that can irritate your dog’s stomach. Plus, the long list of ingredients makes finding the culprit causing the sensitivity difficult.

Dr Andy Miller MRCVS says, “Dogs with a sensitive stomach can be tricky to manage. It’s therefore important to keep your dog’s diet regular, without adding variety in the way of leftovers, to avoid upsets. Pure’s range of recipes are gentle on digestion, whilst containing a minimal number of fresh ingredients least likely to cause a flare-up.”

Pure can make a paw-fect sensitive stomach dog food as we offer grain-free recipes and natural ingredients. Plus, our ingredients list is always short to prevent the risk of flare-ups and ensure you always know exactly what your pooch is eating. Your dog’s plan is paw-sonalised to them, so it will always be tailored to suit any allergies, sensitivities, or conditions they might have.

Pure has helped a pack of pups say goodbye to their tummy troubles, including Alfie and Timmy. These best fur-iends were fussy and had very sensitive stomachs. Not only did Pure help their stomachs settle, but it also provided them with paw-fectly balanced nutrition to keep them healthy and help to prevent future irritation.

Tell us more about your pooch today and we can recommend the paw-fect personalised food for your dog.