Dogs develop sensitive stomachs for several reasons such as food allergy, gastrointestinal disease, parasites, eating spoiled or toxic foods, pancreatic disease, sensitivity to certain diets, and infection. Once your dog starts to pass gas, get diarrhea, having problems moving bowel, or seems lethargic and unenergetic, see a vet as soon as possible.
Most of these conditions are temporary and can be addressed with a change in diet and food. If the cause for the sensitive stomach is food allergy, the challenge is pinpointing the food responsible. On the other certain food allergies develop over time and experts say the usual foods that can cause allergies are wheat, dairy and beef. These are protein-rich foods that have a lower digestible ratio so a shift away will bring relief to your dog.
Some dogs develop a sensitivity to carbohydrates usually after a bout with gastrointestinal disease or there is a sudden change in their diet. The surprising fact is that dogs don’t need carbs! This was proven by the National Research Council when they did a study on canine diets. Dogs need protein and fats but they can live without corn, rice, potatoes, and wheat.
In spite of this fact, today’s average dry dog food contains up to 74% carbs! Before you get upset, the study only determined that dogs don’t need it but that it is safe to eat so dog food companies add it in because it brings down their costs and prices, improves shelf life, is easily bought, and is necessary to make kibble.
When carbs were first added to dry dog food, it only constituted 14% of the diet but over the years the percentage kept increasing. Unfortunately, dog food manufacturers do not indicate how much carbohydrates go into their product so the only way to reduce carb intake while allowing your dog to continue eating dry dog food is to opt for the protein-based foods.
Food for a Stomach-Sensitive Dog
Once you have simplified the diet – including cutting back on giving him (or her) table scraps, start studying dog food labels. You need to look for food that has high digestible protein, about 15% of fat, vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and beta carotene, and fiber, ( soluble and insoluble).
Any changes in the brand or quantity should be done gradually. If you are going to switch brand, mix the old and the new for about 7 days, increasing the ratio of new brand with the old brand as you go along.
There are special dog food for dogs with sensitive stomachs. They are usually high in protein, grain-free, and have fewer ingredients indicating a higher quality of dog food.
Other Tips of Feeding Your Dog with a Sensitive Stomach
- Stick to small meals. Dogs have a tendency to eat and swallow fast which causes them to ingest more air than is necessary. By feeding them smaller meals more frequently, you not only give them a chance to digest better but also less risk for gas.
- Start a diet journal but also make space for observations on poop, gas, and general physical manifestations (sleepy, energetic, no appetite, etc.)
- If you are going to change food brands, buy small packs first to make sure your dog will eat the new food
- Confine your dog to one corner so if there is any mess, it’s easy to clean up
Finally, keep dog indoors until feeling better and don’t forget to give it some TLC. Patting your dog and talking to him (or her) will help calm him down and show him how much you love him.