Dog Food for a Sensitive Stomach

You probably have a picture in your mind of what a dog can eat and it looks like the contents of a trash can, right? There are bones, meat, random veggies, not to mention their dog food.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not the garbage disposals that popular culture has made them out to be and some have a very sensitive stomach. Eating anything beyond special dog food may cause them to vomit or have diarrhea.

The Different Types of Dog Food

There are a few different types of dog food and the two main categories are prescription and non prescription diets. Each of these comes in canned and dry food formulations, although some specific diets are only available in one of these forms.

Dog foods come in a variety of proteins, with the most common being chicken, beef, lamb or fish. More novel diets include duck, rabbit, venison, soy and even kangaroo. These foods may also have different carbohydrate sources from wheat and corn, to rice or potatoes. Some foods have a multitude of these different ingredients which can make it exceptionally hard to determine what to feed your dog.

Of the prescription diets there are hydrolyzed proteins where the proteins are broken down into tiny components, so they do not trigger allergies. There are also other novel protein diets. You will also find specially formulated bland diets, which may also contain special components such as a proprietary blend known as zeolite in Royal Canin’s prescription gastrointestinal diets.

How to Tell if Your Dog has a Sensitive Stomach

The most common sign of your dog having a sensitive stomach would be evidence of a gastrointestinal problem, namely vomiting or diarrhea. Other signs that your pup may have an upset tummy include his stomach gurgling and making noises or excessive farting. As funny as that might sound, it can be an indication that food is not being readily digested and too much is ending up in the large bowel, where it gets fermented by resident bacteria.

Talking With Your Veterinarian About Options

If you are noticing any of these symptoms with your dog, such as vomiting or flatulence, you should discuss it with your veterinarian. They can help you assess what you are feeding your dog and if it could be causing an issue. If you are feeding a high energy food to a dog that lays around all day, it might be too high in protein and carbohydrates, leading to excessive gas.

Your veterinarian is the person best capable of helping you pick a dog food for your furry family member. They can help you find a “complete and balanced” pet food. This is a designation by the American Association of Feed Control Officials. A meal must be complete and balanced for the specific life stage your dog is in. Your dog’s activity level may also contribute to what your vet recommends. A hunting dog is going to need more calories than a Yorkie who spends her days on her owner’s couch.

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Types of Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Different brands of dog food have different diets designed for sensitive stomachs. The first class is made up of bland diets. These are sometimes fed for life, but are more commonly fed for short periods of time to allow your pooch’s stomach to recover from the food that has been causing an imbalance. These types of foods include Purina EN and Hill’s i/d.

Another category of foods for dogs with a sensitive stomach are novel protein or hydrolyzed diets. These have been specially formulated to avoid some things that commonly upset dogs’ stomachs, such as chicken as a protein source. Rarely, grains will be the cause of food sensitivity in dogs, so make sure you discuss it with your veterinarian before you elect a grain-free food. Some have been linked to heart disease.

Some dog foods have formulations designed for sensitive stomachs. These are often combined with diets for sensitive skin because many dogs that have a food sensitivity also have skin issues. These are often available over the counter as opposed to being a prescription diet.

Some people want to cook for their dogs. Chicken and rice, unflavored yogurt and other foods are all considered bland, but they may not be balanced for your dog to eat. Talk to your veterinarian or have a veterinary nutritionist formulate a diet for you if you want to cook for your pet, that way you ensure they get all of the nutrients they need.

Things to Avoid in Dog Food

There are a few different components in dog foods that can make the difference between whether your dog has a normal stool or can keep the diet down. The biggest factor is protein. Try to stick to a diet with a single protein source, especially if your pet is having a problem. Too much fat can also cause issues for your dog’s digestion.

Fiber can help regulate your dog’s gut. Good sources of fiber include beet pulp. Your veterinarian may suggest adding fiber to your dog’s food if they are having a little bit of softer stool.

Changing Your Dog’s Diet

Whenever you change your pooch’s diet, you want to make the transition gradually. You should make the change over the course of a week or two, slowly changing the ratio of old food to new food. For example, start by giving your pet a meal of 90% old and 10% new for a day or two before increasing it to 80% old and 20% new.

Especially when you are changing foods, you will want to limit the treats and foods that you give, to just your old and new food. Mixing things up too much is a sure way to give your pup an upset stomach. Too many treats are also apt to upset your dog’s digestion, just like it can do with you.

In Summary

Different dogs respond to the same food in different ways. Some are extra sensitive and develop vomiting or diarrhea in response to something they eat. While you can try to change your dog’s food on your own, it is always important to discuss possible changes with your veterinarian who can help you pick a good food for your pup.