What is the best food for dogs with sensitive stomach?

Not all dogs are born with a tough gut that can chew on and digest everything. It’s quite common for many dog breeds, small puppies, and older dogs to encounter a sensitive stomach.

Dog bile is stronger than humans when it comes to digesting food and your dog’s digestive system can normally look after itself. The sensitive stomach can be attributed to the lack of a balanced diet and nutrition.

Is a Sensitive Stomach in Dogs Common?

The sensitive stomach is known as Gastrointestinal (GI) upset. It is the most common form of digestive issues faced by canines. The early signs of GI upset include intermittent vomiting; loose stools, bloating, and passing excessive gas can be caused by a variety of things.

Some dogs develop digestive issues because their diet either contains too much fat or lacks sufficient fiber. In other cases, digestive issues may signal the presence of an underlying disorder, such as pancreatitis, bacterial overgrowth or intestinal parasites.

Most dogs suffer from a sensitive stomach because of indigestion caused by improper diet. An improper dog diet is defined by the intake of a type of protein, insufficient fiber, and excess fat. Unknown to most pet owners, commercial food can cause indigestions in few cases. The majority of canine food allergy cases involve a reaction to the protein source, such as chicken, beef or egg.

Symptoms of a sensitive stomach

The signs of GI remain visibly present. To find out if your dog is suffering from the sensitive stomach, check out for these early signs.

  • Dehydration (dry/tacky/pale gums, low skin elasticity)
  • Painful, distended, or hard belly
  • Retching, trying to vomit, or difficulty defecating
  • The appearance of blood in vomit, urine, or feces
  • Lethargy

When you start noticing these serious symptoms, you should immediately call your vet or take your dog to the nearest pet hospital. The symptoms include:

a. Vomiting

Vomiting isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but if it shows up with other symptoms such as bile vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea, then you should be gravely concerned. In most cases, yellow foam in the vomit indicates that the dog's stomach is relatively empty of food.

Bilious vomiting syndrome may occur when your dog hasn’t eaten in a while or if it has consumed an abnormally large amount of fatty foods.

b. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common sign of a sensitive stomach. Loose stool can be a sign of a sensitive stomach, particularly if there was a recent change in diet. Although this isn’t a major cause of concern, if diarrhea becomes persistent, then you must look into your dog’s diet. It’s time to consult your vet and change diet, pattern, or brand of food for your dog.

c. Gas

Dogs suffering from GI often pass gas. Dogs can have flatulence from gulping air when they eat, from a gastrointestinal illness or from eating too fast. To prevent this, you can use an elevated feeder while feeding. Take your dog out for a walk soon after eating if gas is an issue. Avoid certain foods that can cause gas. Soybeans, peas, beans, milk products, high-fat diets, and spicy foods are all commonly associated with flatulence in dogs.

d. Eating grass

The grass is a natural remedy for an upset stomach. A dog may consume grass to improve digestion, treat intestinal worms, or fulfill some unmet nutritional needs. Although a popularly hold though, not every dog vomit after eating grass. Less than 25% of dogs who eat grass vomit regularly after grazing.

Experts believe that dogs need roughage in their diets and grass serves as a good source of fiber.

Is Your Dog’s Food to Blame for Their Sensitive Stomach?

Gastrointestinal upset has a lot to do with your dog’s diet. Common dietary culprits for indigestion in dogs include the type of protein, insufficient fiber, and excess fat. A balanced diet is most important when it comes to a dog’s health.

You should avoid feeding your dog human food. You must prevent them from eating from table scrapes, dustbin, and kitchen residue.

Food to Avoid

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate and caffeine
  • Citrus
  • coconut
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Milk and dairy
  • Onions and garlic
  • Eggs and undercooked meat
  • Salty food
  • Xylitol

Puppies, older dogs, and certain dog breeds are prone to get a sensitive stomach after eating allergic foods such as chicken, beef or egg.

Most of the time, the ingredients in the food such as commercial food or canned food can cause upset stomachs. Food intolerance is common in dogs when you introduce a new brand of food. Avoid feeding dry food to your dog or based the entire diet on the over-processed canned food. 

How to treat sensitive stomachs in dogs?

Here is how you can treat a sensitive stomach in dogs.

i. Try a Bland Diet as a Short-Term Fix

Switching to a bland diet may be the best option to help resolve your dog’s immediate digestive issues as a short-term fix. A bland diet may include boiled and plain chicken and rice. A small amount of canned pumpkin may help resolve diarrhea.

Probiotic which is usually offered as a powder or liquid supplement can be added to your dog’s food. Probiotics can help to restore healthy bacteria in the intestine in order to improve digestive function. Add a tablespoon of plain, unsweetened yogurt to the food.  This helps soothe the stomach, replace healthy bacteria in the gut, and it can even stimulate the appetite.

ii. Consider Switching to a Dog Food That’s Made for Sensitive Stomachs

For dogs with a sensitive stomach, you should increase the food item rich in fiber while decreasing the use of excessive fat and protein. Have plenty of fiber ingredients, such as psyllium or beet pulp, to help firm up loose stools. It contains low amounts of fat and protein, which is helpful because fat can be difficult for many dogs to digest. Add probiotics to promote beneficial bacteria in the gut

iii. Switch to a reliable brand of food

The food label should state that the diet meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrition standards. These guidelines ensure that the diet was developed under expert supervision and tested to ensure the accuracy, safety, and quality of ingredients.

Ensure to check the label that indicates that the food is nutritionally complete for your dog’s life stage and contains appropriate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fat, vitamins and minerals.

iv. Try an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is a prescription diet that is specifically formulated for pets with food allergies. The prescription diet is recommended by your veterinarian.

Most owners try to resolve sensitive stomach by introducing a new diet. Although in many cases the change in the diet improves the digestive issues, the symptoms can somehow persist even after several different diets are attempted. This could be a case of food allergy.

Most dietary trials last eight weeks to allow digestive inflammation and infections to resolve. All other foods and treats are discontinued during the trial to avoid accidental exposure to an allergen. This includes table scraps, which should not be fed to dogs in general.

After the trial is complete, your veterinarian may recommend switching back to the old diet to see if symptoms return, or to a different diet for long-term maintenance.

 

Urban Pet Hospital & Resort is a premier veterinary in Des Moines specializing in pet medical care, pet diet, surgery, therapy, boarding, and training. Get in touch with our expert DVMs for the best advice on pet care service in Des Moines.

Vitamin D Toxicity in Pets

The pet food brands made into the news lately. The excess nutrients found in the popular dog food brands recently stirred the debate on keeping a closer look at the pet food contents.

The report submitted by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) suggests that several popular brands of dog food have 70x the safe levels of Vitamin D which could kill dogs. Although it is rare, it is noteworthy to understand how it can adversely affect your pets.

Vitamin D Toxicity

Vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of excess calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia) which can cause various physical and mental ailments such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, or even kidney failure and death.

The homemade and raw meals lack Vitamin D, hence, most pet food brands added extra Vitamin D to compensate the homemade meal. At least 11 different labels or dog food brands were asked to recall their products by FDA.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Toxicity

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Dark tarry feces containing blood
  • Presence of blood in vomit
  • Loss of weight
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremor
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive drooling

Cholecalciferol & Vitamin D3

Cholecalciferol, also known as Vitamin D3 is a type of Vitamin D which is naturally produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight. It’s also found in some human and pet foods or is taken as a dietary supplement.

It is important for the absorption of calcium from the stomach and for the functioning of calcium in the entire body. Cholecalciferol is used as a treatment or to prevent health conditions caused by a lack of vitamin D, especially skin and bone conditions.

Exposure

Taking 60,000 international units (IU) a day of Vitamin D for a longer period of time has been shown to cause Vitamin toxicity.

Cholecalciferol based rodenticides

Anti-coagulant Rodenticides commonly consist of Cholecalciferol. Concentration is typically 0.075% or 750ppm which equates to about 23mg/ounce of rodenticide. The clinical signs of toxicity are noted at > 0.5mg/kg of cholecalciferol ingestion, therefore a 44-pound dog would need to eat less than 1/2 ounce to cause toxicity.

Vitamin D Supplements

The intake of Vitamin D supplement is common in most pet food brands. Pet owners choose to add Vitamin D to their regular meal to compensate for its lack of nutrients. Multivitamins contain a relatively small amount of Vitamin D, hence, toxicity from multivitamin ingestion is rare. Primary Vitamin D supplements contain a large amount of cholecalciferol which raises the concern of toxicity.

Vitamin D Analogs

There are multiple Vitamin D analogs approved for use in humans which is included in psoriasis creams used for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism, doxercalciferol, or Hectoral which is used for the reduction of pTH (Parathyroid hormone). Dogs tend to lick the skin where the cream is being applied. The routinely licking of skin can cause toxicity.

Pet Food Contamination

Several commercially available pet foods have been known to contain Vitamin D as the major nutrient content. The over-supplementation of Vitamin D can lead to toxicity.

Treatment

Decontamination is the major treatment for Vitamin D toxicity. Within the last 4-6 hours of ingestion, vomiting should be induced with apomorphine at 0.03-0.04mg/kg IV. Hydrogen peroxide can be administered at a dose of 2.2ml/kg, with a maximum of 45ml, repeated once.

Hydrogen peroxide should be avoided in the case of cats as they are more susceptible to adverse effects. In cats, vomiting can be attempted with either xylazine at 0.44mg/kg IM or dexmedetomidine at 10mcg/kg IM.