Your pup may be suffering from an upset or sensitive stomach if you must frequently assess their poop and concoct elaborate homemade recipes to keep messy digestive issues from occurring at inconvenient times. Unfortunately, most dogs experience gastrointestinal (GI) upset during their lifetime, which can range from minor and temporary upset to chronic GI disorders. By understanding your dog’s digestive health and determining their discomfort source, you can help ensure they receive safe, effective, and targeted treatment, as well as appropriate ongoing support.
While our Ollie team can provide tips and strategies to nurture and protect your pup’s GI system, this article is not intended to be a substitute for veterinary diagnosis or advice. Always speak to your veterinarian before altering your dog’s diet.
Sensitive stomach isn’t a medical term or condition, but a good descriptor for generalized digestive (i.e., GI) distress. While some GI signs, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are impossible to ignore, other digestive upset indicators may be more subtle. According to Pet Food Advisor, such signs may include:
Any combination of these signs can signal an abnormality in your pup’s digestive tract and merit a close look at their diet and overall health. Recurring GI fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea can have serious health consequences, including dehydration, and may signal an underlying health issue such as inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal blockage, or cancer. If your dog is experiencing frequent GI issues, seek prompt veterinary care.
Not all digestive issues are created equal, but all of them suggest that something is upsetting your pup’s intestinal balance. While a sensitive stomach can occur for potentially hundreds of reasons, consider the most common causes why your dog may end up in the digestive doghouse.
Stress and nervousness can make dogs feel queasy. This happens when stress triggers the fight-or-flight response and slows digestive function. Common stress-inducing events include adoption, routine changes, veterinary visits, shifts in the family dynamic (i.e., arrival or loss of a human or fellow pet), boarding, relocating, or being surrendered to a shelter.
Inappropriate foods (e.g., table scraps) or a sudden diet change can overwhelm your dog’s digestive tract. If your pooch loves to counter surf or rummage through the trash, they may suffer unpleasant GI consequences. Likewise, switching your pup’s food cold turkey can throw their intestines for a loop.
If you adopted your dog from a shelter, or they previously experienced poor nutrition because of neglect or illness, they may have underdeveloped gut flora (i.e., healthy bacteria). As a result, your pooch may struggle to absorb necessary nutrients.
Dogs are susceptible to numerous stomach bugs. These generally short-term viral or bacterial illnesses can be contagious. Virus transmission is most common in areas where dogs gather in high numbers, such as doggie daycare facilities and dog parks, and occurs through direct contact with infected dogs (e.g., nose-to-nose or nose-to-hind end) or their stool. If your pup isn’t feeling well, or one of their four-legged friends is sick, keep your dog at home to avoid transmitting or contracting illness.
Parasites, such as intestinal worms and single-celled protozoa, can cause digestive issues and harm your dog’s ability to absorb nutrients. Although puppies most commonly contract intestinal parasites, adult dogs can also contract infection. Contact your veterinarian if your pup is experiencing chronic diarrhea, or you see spaghetti- or rice-shaped worms in their vomit or stool.
Undiagnosed food allergies or dietary intolerances can cause chronic digestive upset and may appear at any time in your dog’s life, no matter how long they’ve eaten a certain food. If your veterinarian suspects your pooch has a food allergy or sensitivity, they can help you create a systematic plan (i.e., elimination diet) to identify the offending ingredient. This process can be lengthy and requires some trial-and-error as you remove specific ingredients from your pet’s diet for a certain period. To prevent your dog from experiencing a nutritional deficiency, an elimination diet should be conducted under veterinary supervision.
The Ollie team always recommends consulting your veterinarian regarding your dog’s diet, we also believe in the power of fresh whole foods and their ability to build, sustain, and repair your pup’s health. However, with so many dog food and product options, knowing how to support your dog’s digestion can be difficult whether they are healthy or exhibiting illness signs. Consider feeding your dog these diet options:
Bland diets are not intended for long-term use. If your pup’s condition doesn’t improve within a few days, schedule an appointment or recheck with your veterinarian. They will perform additional diagnostic testing, supplemental probiotics, or a diet change to be able to diagnose and resolve your dog’s digestive issues.
To learn more about supporting your pet’s digestive health or selecting a sensitive stomach dog food, check out our Ollie blog, or visit Pet Food Advisor for additional resources and dog food reviews. Once you’ve completed some research, combine that information with your veterinarian’s recommendations to select the best food for your dog.
Change is never easy, especially when introducing new foods to a sensitive pup. Although you may be eager to make the switch and end carpet staining and messy poop, a slow and steady approach is the best way to ease your dog’s delicate digestive tract by providing them with a new and healthier diet. If you rush your dog’s diet transition, you may mistakenly assume your pup has a sensitive stomach when in reality they are healthy. During an ideal food transition, you will blend increasing amounts of the new food with your pup’s current diet. Follow these steps:
Monitor your pup’s responses (e.g., behavior, digestive signs) at every step to ensure the diet change succeeds. Consider these steps as suggestions, not hard-and-fast rules. Sensitive dogs may require a more gradual transition time, remaining at each stage for a longer period than suggested here. If your pet experiences worsening signs or refuses to eat, take a step back, and contact your veterinarian.
Our Ollie team knows a thing or two about pleasing pups’ bellies! Our fresh whole food recipes are designed with your pup’s complete health and taste buds in mind. Each Ollie recipe is specially designed for maximum digestion ease and nutrient and vitamin absorption, featuring many of the gut-friendly ingredients described earlier, such as fiber-filled pumpkin and sweet potato. Speaking of fiber, adding Ollie nutrition to your pet’s bowl means smaller, less frequent stools! This is because highly digestible, human-grade food nourishes your dog, rather than fertilizing your lawn.
Ollie’s own Director of Food, Bridget Meadows, sums it up best when she explains that “less processed, whole foods can be properly digested, allowing nutrients to be directly absorbed.” When you feed your pet Ollie whole food, you can be confident that they are receiving optimal nutrition to keep their belly happy, gut moving, and tail wagging.
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