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    How to Feed a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Some dogs are blessed with iron stomachs, while others are not so fortunate. For pet parents of a dog with a sensitive stomach, finding the remedy begins with understanding the symptoms and potential causes. 

    Sensitive Stomach Symptoms 

    Classic signs that your dog has a troubled tummy are regular vomiting, loose stools and frequent flatulence. Many home cures are available for a dog with a sensitive stomach, but consult your veterinarian before taking action. An upset belly can also be a sign of a serious health condition, such as: 

    • Pancreatitis
    • Bacterial/viral infection 
    • Intestinal parasites

    Once your vet has ruled out these issues, ask for a recommendation for the best dog food for a sensitive stomach or a digestion supplement.

    Rule Out Irritating Items

    Not every dog has a stomach of steel, so the first step is to eliminate treats and table scraps that can cause an upset stomach. It’s also a good idea to:

    • Be aware of any pet food recalls.
    • Buy dog food that is appropriate for your dog’s life stage.
    • Dog-proof your home to safeguard against curious canines.
      • Put lids on trash cans and recycling bins.
      • Keep bathroom doors and toilet bowls shut to discourage your dog from using the bathroom as a drinking fountain.  
      • Limit access to “treat-filled” litter boxes.

    Sensitive Stomach Dietary Causes

    Diet is a common culprit for stomach troubles in dogs. Some issues involve:

    • Protein: Allergies to protein are common and can result in an upset stomach, rashes and itchy skin. The best dog foods for sensitive stomachs and skin commonly use “novel” proteins, which are new proteins your dog hasn't eaten before.
    • Carbohydrates: Some dogs are sensitive to carbohydrates, so grain-free food provides a solution. The best grain-free dog foods for sensitive stomachs include nutrient-rich ingredients such as pumpkin, potatoes, peas or “novel” grains (grains that are not currently part of your dog's diet).
    • Fiber: Fiber can help reduce instances of diarrhea and constipation. Ingredients such as pumpkin, green beans and sweet potato in dog food are a common way to add fiber to your dog’s diet.
    • Fat: Dogs have a difficult time digesting fat, and high-fat diets can cause stomach issues. Check the ingredients in your dog’s food and avoid particularly fatty protein sources. 
    • Vitamins and minerals: Most commercial dog foods have the right amount of vitamins and minerals, but dogs dining on home-cooked foods can fall short of meeting their nutritional needs. If you're playing personal chef to your four-legged friend, make sure you're serving up a balanced diet. 
    • Quality: Higher-quality food with fewer processed ingredients and no artificial additives can ease stomach issues.

    Sensitive Stomach Dog Food

    Feeding your pup sensitive stomach dog food—food specially formulated for delicate dog bellies—is one step you can take to ease digestive issues. Sensitive stomach dog foods, like Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach dog food, are made with top-shelf and highly digestible ingredients, so they’re easy on troubled tummies. Sensitive stomach dog treats are also available. 

    What to Feed Dog with Upset Stomach 

    Raw Dog Food

    A raw dog food diet is a meal plan intended to mimic the way your dog’s ancestors ate. Potential benefits of a raw food diet for dogs include: 

    • Shinier coats
    • Healthier skin
    • Cleaner teeth
    • Improved energy levels
    • Smaller stools

    Keep in mind, a raw food diet is time consuming and has potential health risks, such as: 

    • Exposure to bacteria in raw meat
    • Chance of an unbalanced diet 
    • Injuries from whole bones

    A raw dog food diet for beginners should include muscle meat, bones, organs, vegetables and fruits. Freeze-dried raw dog food has gained popularity for its convenience and nutrient-dense ingredients. 

    Home-Cooked Dog Food

    Some dog owners find that a home-cooked diet provides the best dog food for a sensitive stomach. Preparing home-cooked dog food and homemade treats makes it easy to avoid allergens and the potential health risks of a raw diet. If you’re going to become your pet’s personal chef, work with your vet to develop a meal plan that ensures that they receive all the nutrients they need. You may find that for your lifestyle and your dog's unique situation, the availability and variety of pre-made dog foods designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs perfectly fit your needs.

    Transitioning Your Dog's Diet

    Healing a sensitive stomach takes time, so talk to your vet to determine the best way to transition your dog to a new food. In general, you’ll want to start slowly with a nine-to-one ratio of current food to new food and gradually increase the percentage of new food over 10 days.

    It’s common to encounter a dog with a belly better suited to rubs than digestion. Work with your vet and patiently tinker with their diet, and you’ll have a happy, healthy hound on your hands in no time.