Pet owners want what's best for their pups’ health and wellness. So when you notice that your dog seems to be suffering from digestive problems, you want to get to the bottom of the issue.
Any time your dog exhibits a troubling change in behavior, it's a good idea to schedule an appointment with a trusted vet. After all, stomach issues can be a sign of underlying health conditions that may require treatment.
However, if your dog is simply suffering from a sensitive stomach, there are steps you can take to help your canine companion feel better. This may include ditching your pup's current food for a limited ingredient dog food and trying some proven home remedies for digestive troubles.
Not sure where to begin when it comes to addressing your dog's sensitive stomach? We've got you covered.
How To Know If Your Dog Has a Sensitive Stomach
It's not uncommon for puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs to suffer from symptoms of a sensitive stomach. A dog can be born with a sensitive stomach (some breeds are more prone to this than others), or the condition can develop over time. The most common symptoms of a sensitive stomach in dogs include:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Excessive gas/flatulence
Often, these symptoms will occur immediately after eating.
Dog breeds that are prone to pancreatitis may also suffer from gastrointestinal problems, as this condition can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. Any dog can develop pancreatitis, but the breeds that are most prone to it include:
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Scottish Terrier
- Lhasa Apso
- German Shepherds
- Standard Poodles
General Guidelines for Feeding Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs
Seeing your dog suffer from sensitive stomach symptoms can be difficult, but there are some best practices you can follow to help your canine companion.
Make Diet Transitions Gradually
Dogs with digestive issues may have very specific nutrition needs, so you might be tempted to experiment with their diets. However, it's important to make dietary changes gradually to avoid worsening stomach issues. For example, don't switch your dog to a new food abruptly; instead, gradually mix in more and more of the new food to your dog's old food — making the transition over the course of a week or two.
Avoid High-Fat and Spicy Foods
Spicy foods and foods high in fat can worsen a dog's tummy troubles, so avoid these whenever possible. According to Dr. Leilani Alvarez of NYC's Animal Medical Center, pet parents should stick with foods with a low fat content of less than 25%. This is especially important for dogs with pancreatitis, as fat is even harder to digest with this condition.
Examples of food sources with higher fat content include cheese, milk, butter, sausages, and high-fat meats like pork belly and bacon.
Reduce Dairy Intake
Dairy is a common culprit when it comes to triggering symptoms of sensitive stomachs in dogs. This may be due to a lack of the enzyme that breaks down lactose, which can lead to sensitivity. If your dog shows signs of a sensitive stomach, try reducing their consumption of dairy products like milk, eggs, and butter (don’t forget to check their treats!).
Resist Feeding Them Human Food (But Human Grade Pet Food Is Great!)
As tempting as it may be to sneak your dog a few bites of your own meals, it's best to ignore those puppy-dog eyes and resist offering human food to dogs — especially those with sensitive stomachs. All too often, human foods contain ingredients that can further aggravate symptoms.
Specifically, anything that’s been cooked and prepared with spices meant for human consumption should be avoided. Natural foods like plain greek yogurt, antioxidant-rich blueberries or raw sweet potato slices can still be used as natural pet food toppers or treats. (And of course, a human grade pet food diet is still encouraged!)
How To Reduce Your Dog's Digestive Sensitivity
Integrating a rotational diet is a common way to alleviate any dog's digestive sensitivities. Specifically, this refers to a holistic feeding approach where you occasionally (switch up your dog's food. This might mean switching to a different protein source or even changing the type of food you're offering (wet dog food, dry dog food, or freeze-dried dog food). The idea here is that changing up food "resets" a dog's digestive system, allowing the bacteria in your dog's gut to adjust and, thus, strengthening the microbiome.
To learn more about how to start rotational feeding, read this article.
In addition to trying a rotational diet, you may also be able to reduce your dog's stomach sensitivity by integrating prebiotics and probiotics — as well as by gently steaming food to improve digestibility. Likewise, rotating some fresh-cooked foods (such as sweet potato, turkey, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts) into your dog's diet can be beneficial, so long as these fresh foods are limited to about 10% of your pup's daily intake.
Food and Ingredients That Support Healthy Digestion
If you're thinking about switching your dog's food to alleviate stomach issues, there are some specific ingredients you may want to look for that can support healthy digestion.
If your dog suffers from loose stools, adding fiber can be a great way to improve firmness. Fiber can also be beneficial for dogs because it can help pups feel fuller while eating, which may help reduce overeating and subsequent stomach upset. Great sources of fiber for dogs include pumpkin, kale, flaxseed, and apples. Psylium husk is another excellent source of fiber that is a little less digestible but can help improve stool firmness.
White, Lean Meats
White meats such as chicken, turkey, and fish are palatable to dogs and tend to have a low fat content, making them great for pups with digestive issues. As an added bonus, these meats are also a great source of lean and digestible protein.
Grains are often a great source of fiber and carbohydrates for dogs, though not all are created equal. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you may want to stick with white rice, which does not have an outer layer and is easier to digest. Other sources of grains and healthy carbs to consider include brown rice, oats, whole wheat, and even ancient grains like millet and quinoa.
Wet Food or Dehydrated Food (When Rehydrated)
Wet food is often easier for dogs with sensitive stomachs to digest because of its high moisture content. Specifically, with wet food or dehydrated foods that are high-in-moisture once rehydrated, dogs don't have to draw from their body's water reserves to digest it.
However, this isn't to say that all kibble is difficult for dogs to digest; some are specifically crafted with high-quality ingredients to be minimally processed and thus easier to digest — even for dogs prone to tummy troubles. Additionally, many pet owners add water, bone broth or other pet hydration supplements to their pet’s kibble to provide additional moisture that helps with digestibility.
6 Selections From The Honest Kitchen for Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs
If your dog suffers from tummy troubles or food allergies, it may be time to switch to a different food. Ultimately, it's best to consult with your veterinarian for specific food recommendations based on your dog's life stage, nutritional needs, breed, and overall health. Your vet may recommend, for example, a prescription diet or a hypoallergenic recipe.
However, there are some foods from The Honest Kitchen that tend to help pups with food sensitivities and digestive issues.
1) Dehydrated Whole Grain Chicken
Our Dehydrated Whole Grain Chicken dog food is made with free-range chicken as its first ingredient (no chicken meal here!), offering the flavor your dog craves while delivering a low-fat and easily digestible lean protein source. For your convenience, this recipe is gently dehydrated, so you can simply add water to moisten the food to your dog's liking prior to serving. Our gentle dehydration process helps to maintain nutrients while maximizing flavor, making this a tantalizing dog food.
2) Dehydrated Whole Grain Beef
If you're looking for dog food with savory beef as its main ingredient, The Honest Kitchen's Dehydrated Whole Grain Beef recipe is a great place to start. Although beef does tend to have a slightly higher fat content, the dehydrated nature of this recipe makes it easier for dogs to digest when water is added prior to serving. Likewise, dogs with sensitive stomachs may benefit from fibrous ingredients like dried apples and potatoes — as well as grains like organic oats, flaxseed, and barley.
3) Dehydrated Whole Grain Turkey
Our Dehydrated Whole Grain Turkey recipe is another popular go-to for pet parents whose dogs are suffering from digestive issues. The main ingredient in this food is cage-free turkey, which is very low in fat and thus easy on dogs' stomachs. Meanwhile, dogs will enjoy digestible grains in the form of organic oats and flaxseed, while potatoes and apples offer additional fiber.
4) Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Supplement
Created specifically with the needs of sensitive stomachs in mind, our Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Supplement is a top choice for supporting digestive health. Specifically, this supplement contains herbs like slippery elm, fennel, and plantain to soothe the gastrointestinal tract while supporting stool consistency. This is also a great choice for dogs suffering from gas — and it's gentle enough to be fed daily (or simply as needed) to boost your dog's overall bowel health.
5) Instant Goat's Milk With Probiotics
Probiotics and probiotics are key to soothing sensitive stomachs and supporting healthy digestion. Our Instant Goat's Milk is a daily booster specifically developed with a boost of 1.25 billion active probiotics and highly digestible dehydrated goat's milk to support digestion. This booster is great for dogs of all life stages, though it's often recommended for puppies suffering from stomach issues.
The best part? All you have to do is add a little water to hydrate this booster before pouring over kibble, mixing it into your pet’s deyhdrated food or serving on its own as a special treat.
6) Dehydrated Whole Grain Fish & Oat
Wild-caught white fish is the main ingredient in this Dehydrated Whole Grain Fish & Oat recipe, which is low in fat and easy on your dog's sensitive digestive system. Meanwhile, fibrous potatoes and pumpkin — combined with digestible grains like organic barley, organic oats, and flaxseed.
At-Home Remedies To Alleviate Sensitive Stomachs
In addition to choosing the right sensitive stomach dog food to support your pup's digestive health, there are some at-home remedies you may also want to try to alleviate upset stomach symptoms.
Boiled White Rice and Chicken
One of the best human foods you can serve your dog is boiled rice and chicken. If you've talked to your vet about your dog's sensitive stomach before, there's a good chance they've already recommended this option. This combination is ideal for a dog's gut health because it contains easily digestible grains (white rice) while still providing the lean, low-fat, and digestible protein your dog needs to thrive.
Zucchini is rich in fiber, which can help add bulk to stools. Meanwhile, it remains relatively bland and easy for dogs with upset stomachs to digest. The most important thing to remember when feeding your dog zucchini is to introduce it slowly and to ensure that it is cooked prior to feeding. Raw zucchini can be too difficult for dogs to digest, but gently boiling or steaming it can help.
Pumpkin is another food that is often recommended for dogs prone to stomach issues. That's because it's a great source of digestible fiber, so it can soothe a dog's tummy while helping to bulk up stools and reduce instances of diarrhea. It also has a low glycemic index, so it can be easily absorbed without worrying about sugar spikes.
If you decide to try pumpkin with your dog, opt for 100% canned pumpkin with no additives or sugar. Be careful not to buy canned pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sweeteners and will likely do more harm than good.
Sweet potato is another food that's loaded with healthy fiber and vitamins to support your dog's health and wellness. Plus, many dogs love the taste of sweet potato. Just be sure to cook sweet potatoes before offering them to your dog, as raw versions can be very difficult to chew and digest (and could even lead to intestinal blockage). Baking or boiling are great ways to cook sweet potatoes, softening them and making them easier (and more enjoyable) for your dog to consume.
In small amounts, ginger can also be beneficial to dogs suffering from sensitive stomach symptoms. This is because ginger root contains gingerol and shogaol, compounds found to aid digestion. You can add small amounts of ginger root to your dog's diet, though supplements are also available.
Just be sure to feed ginger in moderation; the general rule is no more than 1/16th of a teaspoon per pound of your dog's body weight. This equates to about a quarter teaspoon (at most) for small breeds and three-quarters of a teaspoon for large breeds.
As an herbal supplement, chamomile is an anti-inflammatory that can effectively treat inflammation-related stomach problems. It can be given in the form of tea, powder, or liquid. Supplements are also available to make giving chamomile to dogs easier. Be sure to consult with your vet before adding chamomile to your dog's diet, as too much of this ingredient can be toxic. With this in mind, it's important to stick to the precise dosage that your vet recommends.
Soothe Your Dog's Stomach With Human Grade Pet Food From The Honest Kitchen
Switching to the best dog food for your pup's sensitive stomach can make all the difference in digestive health. In addition to choosing the best food, implementing a rotational diet and taking other proactive measures to support your dog's immune system can help your dog lead a happier and healthier life.
At The Honest Kitchen, we take great pride in the high quality, human grade wet, dehydrated and dry food that we offer for dogs at all life stages. Our human grade dog food is developed with veterinary nutritionists to be free of artificial flavors, by-products, artificial preservatives, and fillers — so you can always feel good about what you're feeding your beloved pup. Shop our selection of human grade dog food today and see the difference for yourself.
*Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet's veterinarian or other healthcare professional for specific guidance on this topic.