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How to Help Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs

Mealtime is the highlight of every dog’s day, isn’t it? Treat time is a close second: the distinctive rattle of a treat bag or jar can bring a dog from a sound sleep into instant wagging overdrive. But for dogs with sensitive stomachs, mealtime can be problematic.

When a churning belly follows those wonderful meals instead of a contented nap, a big chunk of happiness is subtracted from your dog’s life — and yours. Excessive gas, occasional vomiting, and intermittent loose stools are three common indicators that your pup has eaten something that isn’t sitting well in their tummy.

If you suspect your dog’s periodic discomfort is due to their diet, you may feel a bit lost about what the next best step should be.

Don’t worry. You aren’t alone.

A little dachshund named Chauncey and his sensitive stomach was the original inspiration behind Pampered Pets USA treats. Chauncey belonged to the family of founder and CEO Nancy Anne Volin, back in the 90s. He was quite the finicky pup, with a temperamental stomach as well. Nancy Anne headed to the kitchen to bake up a simple, wholesome and tasty treat that Chauncy could enjoy. Soon she was on a decades-long canine culinary adventure to help dogs with sensitive stomachs!

Is my dog allergic?

We are sometimes quick to blame food allergies for our pets’ bad reaction to certain foods. Instead, some dogs simply have a hard time digesting certain ingredients. A 2016 study states that only 1% to 2% of dogs experience true immune system food allergies.

Actual canine food allergies are often a reaction to a specific protein source, for example beef, chicken or egg. In addition to stomach upset or diarrhea, an allergic dog may exhibit other signs, like skin and ear infections. If your veterinarian suspects your dog is allergic to a food, they will probably suggest an “elimination trial.” That usually means prescribing a hypo-allergenic food and cutting out all other foods and treats. There are also blood tests that may help identify the culprit.

Or maybe it’s food intolerance?

Food intolerance is an adverse reaction that generally doesn’t involve the immune system. For example, some dogs can’t drink cow or goat milk because they lack the enzyme to digest lactose. (Just to confuse things a bit, a dog can also be allergic to dairy, which is different from being simply lactose intolerant).  A diet with too much fat can also be quite difficult for some dogs to digest,

Lack of fiber can cause also diarrhea.  Fiber helps promote digestive health, in part by absorbing excess water in the stool to avoid diarrhea and by keeping the stool softer to help prevent constipation. If your dog’s food isn’t providing enough fiber, you may have heard that adding 1-4 tablespoons of pumpkin to your dog’s meals can help with loose stools. Plain canned pumpkin is fiber-rich and contains vitamins A, C, and E as well as potassium and iron. Some dogs find it quite tasty as well. Be certain to feed only plain pumpkin, not pie filling. Pie filling contains additional ingredients and could also contain the sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Diarrhea can be a also sign of something other than lack of fiber. Be sure to have a chat with your veterinarian before adding pumpkin to your dog’s meal every single day.

Is my dog just eating too fast?

If your dog seems to inhale every meal, it’s possible that any subsequent vomiting or bloat is due to gagging or swallowing too much air along with the food. Spreading your dog’s food out in a muffin pan or cookie sheet might help.  Or try purchasing a puzzle feeder to slow things down.

Should I change my dog’s food?

Simplify, simplify, simplify. We are often tempted to slip our dog little extras.  Our pets might get the fatty pieces of meat from the table, give them the leftover milk from our cereal bowl, or a variety of impulsively purchased dog treats. But for dogs with sensitive stomachs, these extra snacks could be the culprit.  Before switching foods, cut out the scraps and extras to see if they are the cause of tummy aches or loose stools.

Changing diets may help, however veterinarians are also concerned that some new pet diets with exotic formulas may contribute to heart disease. Your veterinarian can be a huge help here. An office visit probably won’t be needed if you are just calling to ask for a recommendation of a good quality commercial dog diet. Your veterinary clinic will also be able to give you heads up if the digestive issue you describe sounds like something more serious. With your vet’s food recommendation as a starting point, you’ll probably spend a lot less money switching randomly from brand to brand. If your dog still experiences discomfort on a different diet, a thorough veterinary exam is in order.

Transition food gradually to avoid additional upset when changing brands. Add a little more of the new food into your dog’s previous chow daily, over approximately a week. The AKC recommends the following diet transition.

  • 1st Day: 25% new diet and 75% old diet.
  • 3rd Day: 50% new diet and 50% old diet.
  • 5th Day: 75% new diet and 25% old diet.
  • 7th Day: 100% new diet.

Prescription diets are available from your veterinarian. Keep your vet in the loop on your dog-diet journey. They can let you know when the best option might not be available on a pet store shelf.

Could something besides food intolerance or allergy be causing my dog’s symptoms?

If your pup repeatedly vomits or has ongoing diarrhea, or if the illness comes on suddenly and violently, something more than an reaction to dog food or treats could be the cause. Gastrointestinal upset can be a sign of other serious health issues or toxic exposure. These are just a few:

Give your veterinarian a call if your dog’s symptoms came on quite suddenly or if problems continue without improvement.  You’ll also want to call the vet if there is blood in the vomit or stool, or if your dog is lethargic or stops eating.

Can I still feed packaged dog treats to dogs with sensitive stomachs?

If your dog is on an elimination diet through your veterinarian, cut out all treats entirely and feed only the food your vet has prescribed.

For dogs with a sensitive tummy and no veterinary restrictions, you’ll want to be sure their treats are tempting to their nose and soft on their stomach. With her own dog Chauncy as her inspiration, Nancy Anne created her line of Pampered Pets USA treats with high-quality, wholesome ingredients. She wanted even dogs with sensitive stomachs to be able to enjoy an extra-special reward. Pampered Pets USA treats are made with no wheat or corn, no artificial flavor or colors, and no added salt or preservatives. They use oatmeal as a base so they’re gentler on your pup’s system.

For dogs with chronic digestive issues, let your veterinarian be your guide. If they have recommended you cut certain ingredients from your dog’s diet, share each treat’s full list of ingredients with your vet. You can find ours on the back of our packaging or by scrolling down on the product pages and clicking “product ingredients.”

Dog treats add moments of sheer joy to a dog’s life and are also an invaluable training aid. At Pampered Pets USA, we’ve done our very best to make our entire line of treats and chews simple and wholesome, to help keep tummies quiet and tails wagging!

 At Pampered Pets USA, we know you consider your pet to be part of the family and want nothing but the best for them. We are here to provide you with accurate and updated information that will help you give your furry friend a healthy and happy life.

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