How to Feed a Dog With a Sensitive Stomach

Updated on August 13, 2019
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I've kept dogs, cats, birds, lizards, rodents of all sorts, and even a ball python.

How to feed a dog with a sensitive stomach.
How to feed a dog with a sensitive stomach.

Lots of dogs have sensitive stomachs, including mine. Trying to help, I did a good deal of research because I wanted to know all the theories. Some of my conclusions are going to sound extremely familiar to you - you might have heard of this or that point dozens of time. But since repeat actions make perfection, let’s look through the essentials of dog feeding with some updates and explanations extracted from my experience.

3 Types of Food to Avoid for Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs

Yes, it is always nice to treat your pet with a piece of chocolate and see it wriggle his tail in an enthusiastic and thankful way. Unfortunately, that is exactly the sort of pleasure that kills him, literally. You can’t expect your dog’s body to function in the same way as yours does; that’s why some food that you find perfectly okay are not good with your dog’s stomach:

1. Chocolate

It seems like a dog’s stomach is unable to metabolize theobromine. This particular alkaloid is dangerous for us, humans, when consumed in big quantities but you’d have to eat tons of chocolate to poison yourself (such a sweet way to die, yes). For dogs, it’s different. As little as 50 grams of milk chocolate is a great challenge for a small dog; dark chocolate is even more toxic. I’m not saying that one bar will kill your pet on the spot but it will have a lot of unpleasant effects, some of them being long-term.

Possible solution: Choose a safe treat to make up for chocolate-free diet. Look for snacks designed for dogs with a sensitive stomach. Some of them are soft and chewy, so it will look like a perfect imitation of eating chocolate – a beef- or turkey-flavored chocolate, though!

2. Fatty Foods

Sometimes you open up a can of dog food and see everything covered with fat – but who cares, it’s fine! Actually, it’s not. If the dog has certain stomach problems, this kind of food is difficult to digest for its stomach and even may lead to inflammation of the pancreas. The problem is that the dog cannot explain where exactly it feels pain, so the problem can go one step too far before you realize something is really wrong.

Possible solution: first of all, try to scrape the fat off and only then give the food to the dog. It doesn’t give great pleasure to do it but there is nothing to be done. Secondly, opt for chicken or turkey as main ingredients in the canned food – they are considerably less fatty.

Fatty food is no good for a dog.
Fatty food is no good for a dog.

3. Gluten

Lots of dogs have no problem digesting gluten, but if you see those characteristic symptoms of indigestion and diarrhea, you probably should revise your dog’s diet and exclude everything that contains wheat and other cereal grains. The tricky thing is that some dogs have a delayed allergic reaction when they eat food containing cereal grains, so you can live for ages without knowing the reason of your dog’s frustration and weight loss.

Possible solution: Being gluten sensitive does not make the dog starve as there are lots of ways to replace flour in most dog treat recipes. You will find grain-free dog food options provided by various manufactures, and they are worth trying as a possible solution. These types of food do not contain soy, either, which is important for some dogs’ diet.

Plan B: try to bake these gluten free dog buscuits to treat your pet:

Which unhealthy food is most loved by your dog?

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How to Change Your Dog’s Eating Habits

It is hardly possible to explain to your pet why the way you feed him has changed – it may cause some uncertainty in your relationship but you have to be persistent. Fortunately, dogs establish new habits rather fast (which is not the cats’ case, I assure you), so you are likely to achieve your goal in a more or less painless way.

1. Watch for "Illegal" Food Consumption

Pay attention to your dog’s attempts to find food “illegally” – that is, not from your all-knowing master’s hands. Be watchful while walking your dog: apart from the risk of eating something from the ground, the dog can be given a treat which he’d better not eat (children from next door are nice but their enthusiasm about your “cutie” is a phantom menace, you know).

Possible solution: make sure that you have some healthy treats like the above-mentioned flavored snacks in your pocket while walking your dog. Tell your family not to give anything that may cause indigestion or table scraps (salt, spices, sugar and a lot more can do no good to your dog as well as fried food).

2. Don't Rush Meals

Make sure your dog is not in a hurry while he eats. Food carvings make your dog eat faster than it is reasonable and, as a result, more air is swallowed and the food is not chewed properly. Remember the rule of all diets ever created on this planet: eat slowly, chew the food more, live long and prosper. This is relevant to your dog as well, though it seems rather tricky to get this message across to your four-legged companion.

Possible solution: Although two or three meals a day seem to be okay for some dogs, your sensitive-stomached friend is more likely to profit from split meals. Feed the pet five or six times a day with smaller meals and make sure the dog feel safe and secure while eating.

3. Remain Vigilant

Make sure your dog receives all the nutrients. If you see that your dog feels a bit unhappy and doesn’t show much enthusiasm when you start rattling dishes, perhaps it is low on something that used to be present in the previous dietary pattern. Sure enough, the dangerous food that is the main suspect for causing your dog’s stomach problems must be excluded from the diet immediately. As for the rest, look for substitutes – there is hardly anything that cannot be substituted successfully.

Possible solution: If you had been feeding your dog gluten products or fish and then realized it was no good for him, try to find something that may taste alike. Substitute grain products with those containing potato or rice flour. If fish is pronounced guilty for causing allergic response, removing it from the dog’s diet can turn it low on Omega 3 acids. Opt for Omega 3 supplements designed for allergy prone dogs.

And this is it! I will be very happy indeed if you found this information useful. It is hard to give advice for particular cases from another side of the screen but, at least, now you have some foundation to build your reasoning on. Good luck and take care of your sensitive-stomached friend!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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