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Two dogs can look very similar, but every dog owner knows that no two dogs are the same. This quickly becomes evident both in terms of personality, but also with physical aspects such as digestion and dietary needs. Some dogs have very sensitive stomachs, just like some humans, and the smallest irritant or altercation to their regular feeding schedule could cause an upset tummy and loose stool.
For the owner of dogs with delicate stomachs, it can be a constant struggle to keep the pup happy and feeling good, without driving yourself crazy in the process, and finding the right hypoallergenic food can seem close to impossible.
Don’t worry! There are a few things you can do to make life easier for that fur-friend with a sensitive digestive tract, and it is good to educate yourself regarding your options.
Signs of a Sensitive Stomach
The signs of a dog having a sensitive stomach are many and diverse, and you often need to know your dog to pick up on the signs that are less obvious. Loose stool is a clear sign of an upset tummy, and while it could be temporal since dogs eat pretty much all they can get their paws on when out and about, a reoccurring issue is a sign of a food sensitivity or a sensitive stomach.
It is always important to be vigilant of small changes in your pet’s behavior and overall well-being and to voice concerns with your trusted veterinarian. Your dog might need to be put on dog food for dogs with sensitive stomachs, or there might be other things you can do make life easier for your pup.
A dog’s stool should be firm and their bowel movements somewhat predictable, and while the occasional diversion from this is considered normal, however, if it seems to be more of a rule than an exception for your dog – then it’s time to start looking for potential solutions. It is one of the most telling signs of a sensitive stomach, and everyone knows that an upset tummy can make you feel both low, uncomfortable and tired, which is not something you should want your pup to go through.
Another sign is a lack of appetite. While there are picky eaters who won’t eat simply because they don’t like the food, because they are not hungry and so on, some fussy eaters may be skipping meals because they are not feeling good, or because eating makes their stomach ache.
Persistent stomach issues are not considered normal and they could be a sign of something more severe, so you should always consult your pup’s veterinarian before taking any further action. Once you have ruled out serious health concerns, you can go on to explore your options as a concerned pet parent, to see what can be done to help your pooch.
Skin problems like rashes and itchy skin is another, subtler, sign of a dietary concern. Perhaps your four-legged friend has a dull and dry coat, itches or licks excessively, or maybe he or she shows signs of redness in the armpits and other areas with exposed skin? This could be an allergy (food allergy, environmental allergy or contact allergy), or it could be some other type of sensitivity to the food and treats they consume. Sensitive stomachs can be noticed in many different ways, and in the end what matters the most is that you pay attention to your pets’ behavior and health.
For dogs with sensitive stomachs, the most important thing is to make sure that they don’t eat things they find on the ground during walks, which can be a struggle, but it is essential in the strive to help the digestive tract work the way that it should. Try to interrupt if your dogs if you spot them eating grass or – worse – something unidentified lying on the ground, as this could cause stomach upset even in dogs with strong stomachs.
The easiest way to prevent this is by always using a leash, as it can be difficult to reach your pup in time when he or she roams freely. A leash will help control what your pup has access to during walks, and if you want to give them more freedom without losing control – use a quality extendible leash.
Perhaps it seems like an extreme measure, but it may be necessary if your dog has a habit of munching on everything that he (or she) comes across when out. Otherwise just make sure you keep a close eye on your best fur friend and consider teaching a drop-it command to avoid having to struggle with prying their jaws open.
Feeding no table scraps is the next item on the list, and it is not hard to figure out why. Prepared human food has too much salt, oil, condiments, and seasoning for a dog, and while some pups can eat table scraps without ever showing a sign of an upset tummy – it is not recommended. Keep your dog on a strict dog food diet, and avoid changing food brands if possible, since this is known as another irritant. If you need to make a diet change, it should be done slowly and over a time period, to help your pup adjust.
Some dogs have a habit of eating too fast, which results in them ingesting air, potentially causing stomach pain and discomfort. Feed small portions at a time or invest in a slow-feed bowl that forces your dog to slow down the pace. You can find a slow-feed bowl in select pet stores, or online for a bigger selection.
Snacks & Treats
Another potential cause of stomach upset could be feeding different types of treats or treats in general. To lower the risk of upsetting your pup’s belly, stick to one type of treatment that your dog seems able to handle, and avoid switching too often. You might also want to say ‘No thank you’ when someone offers your fur baby a treat or carry your preferred treats with you so that you can use those instead.
Natural treats are usually the best way to go, so try and look for dried meat, vegetables or all-natural treats without artificial ingredients and unnecessary fillers. You can also make your own snacks, by drying meats and veggies in the oven, if you are unsure of what is in your regular treats, or if you are having trouble finding a healthy high-quality snack for your dog. Poor-quality snacks and treats are not good for any dog, but for those with sensitive stomachs – it can quickly become a cause of stomach pain and general unhappiness.
If your dog accepts it, you could also use their kibble as treats (remember to reduce the dog’s food portions accordingly if lots of treats are given) to restrict what he or she eats in a day, without having to skip rewarding good- and desired behavior.
Consider putting your dog’s daily food portion into a bag, and feed smaller portions throughout the day, alternatively feed a reduced portion in the morning, one at night and use the rest as treats. This will be difficult, however, if your dog eats wet food rather than kibble, but for dogs with sensitive stomachs, you always want to make sure not to switch and mix too much.
Feeding the Right Dog Food
No matter how you twist and turn things, there are few things as important as the food you are giving your dog. Veterinarians and experts will often recommend that dogs are strictly fed dog food, with no table scraps or other things mixed in, but for this to work – it needs to be a high-quality dog food that provides your pup with all necessary nutrients. Imagine if you had to eat the same thing every day, for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you want it to be nutritious enough to keep you strong, energetic and healthy?
Food allergies in dogs are common and can be another cause of stomach problems and digestive issues. Before you do anything else, have a look at the ingredients’ list of your dog’s food package, to make sure you are providing them with a diet that is beneficial for them. It is not hard to learn what to look for (such as a high protein content from quality meat sources) and what to avoid (fillers and artificial flavors, colors and preservatives), and your dog will thank you.
Fiber is known to aid with loose stool and upset stomachs, so you want a dog food with a high fiber content! Examples of ingredients that are rich in fiber are (but are not limited to) pumpkin, barley, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, apples, and you can read more about each item online to develop a deeper understanding.
Also check if your dog food has enough vitamins and minerals, as well as prebiotics for digestive aid! You can provide additional supplements if needed or top your best fur friend’s kibble with a spoon of canned pumpkin once a day to see if there is any improvement in their health and digestion.
There are specific food products for dogs with sensitive stomachs, and they are usually milder and possibly with limited ingredients, to avoid exposing your pet to too many ingredients. A quality wet- or dry dog food for sensitive stomachs saves you the trouble of having to do the research yourself, as the recipe has already been adapted to dogs with special dietary needs. Just be sure to research the product you are considering, to make sure it has the nutrients your dog needs to thrive.
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