THE EXPERTS’ ADVICE: A GUIDE TO YOUR DOG’S SENSITIVE STOMACH AND DIGESTIVE HEALTH

You’ll have heard that we’ve been busy refreshing our Natural Health Support range. That’s Simply Gentle (perfect for a dog’s sensitive stomach!), Lean & Tasty and Joints & Coat. Not forgetting our brand-new recipe, Healthy Heart, designed to support your dog’s heart muscle function and help them thrive.

Sara, our Nutritionist, has refreshed each recipe to address a specific health issue, and Christian, the Vet, has given them the seal of approval based on what’s best for your dog’s health.

We sat down with them both to get a better understanding of the health issues that these recipes support.

First up, we’re looking at dogs’ poor digestive health and sensitive stomachs.

What is poor digestive health?

The digestive system is the collective name for all the organs used when taking in and processing food. It can be divided into four main categories:

  • Digestion
  • Absorption of nutrients
  • Movement through the digestive tract
  • Going to the toilet

Good digestive health for your dog means that all of these things are ticking along nicely, and there’s no pain, discomfort or any issues in general.

However, sometimes things can go wrong, leading to poor digestive health. This means your dog is having a hard time processing food and eliminating waste. It can cause frequent discomfort, gas, diarrhoea and sickness.

Put simply, it’s pretty much the same type of things humans go through if we have an upset stomach.

How do dogs develop poor digestive health?

It may be reassuring to know that some of the causes behind a dog’s sensitive stomach are quite common.

“Gastroenteritis is a very common gastrointestinal disorder manifesting as sickness and/or diarrhoea and affects most dogs during their lifetime. Causes include consuming rubbish, animal faeces or a dead animal, a sudden – rather than gradual – change in diet, or food allergies and intolerances, with prevalence tending to increase during summer months.”

Sara, our Nutritionist

The good news is that you can help prevent your dog’s upset stomach by keeping any changes to their diet gradual and keeping an eye on what they’re picking up while out playing or on a walk. By avoiding pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites and worms, your dog’s more likely to avoid any digestive discomfort.

There are also certain foods that may be fine for us humans but can disrupt a dog’s digestive health, such as grapes, garlic and chocolate. Similarly, if your dog eats lots of grass, they could experience an upset stomach as this can cause non-life-threatening discomfort. Find out which human foods are suitable, and more importantly which aren’t, in this article from the Animal Trust.

Food allergies can also cause a sensitive stomach.

“Food allergies are where a dog’s immune system reacts to something in the diet. Pretty much any food ingredient can cause an allergy, although some are more common than others. It may show as vomiting and/or diarrhoea. In some cases, dogs develop skin and ear problems too, such as ear infections and itchy, red skin, especially over the head and feet.”

Christian, the Vet

How can I spot a problem with my dog’s digestive health?

These are the most common signs of digestive issues in dogs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive gas (including a rumbling stomach or burping)
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Disinterest in their food
  • Bloating

“Persistent vomiting and/or diarrhoea should be investigated by a vet to ensure there is no other underlying cause.”

Sara, our Nutritionist

Yellow Labrador with Butcher's Simply Gentle recipes

Signs of a dog’s sensitive stomach

Digestive issues can also cause abdominal pain which can be spotted if your dog is whining, pacing and getting into abnormal postures like stretching their forelimbs forward, with their chest on the floor and back legs raised.

There are also a number of symptoms that could be life-threatening, so if your dog is experiencing any of the below, you should take them to a vet immediately:

– Excessive shaking or panting

– Dry heaving

– Severe dehydration

– Vomiting liquids

Your dog’s digestive disturbances paired with other symptoms can mean different things (for instance with a food allergy where their skin may also become itchy). If you think that could be the case, take a trip to the vets to get them looked over so you can hone in on the specific issue.

What can I do to help my dog’s sensitive stomach?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help your four-legged friend if they have a sensitive stomach or experience any digestive problems.

Cutting down on treats is a quick and simple solution.

“Good digestive health means being aware of your dog’s needs in terms of its food. It is much harder to do if you are feeding lots of treats, other foods and titbits.

If your dog is regularly having diarrhoea or skin problems, you should cut out all treats and snacks, and just feed them one type of food for 2-3 weeks to see if the problem settles down.

You should discuss with your vet any recurrent ear or skin problems, or sickness and diarrhoea which is not responding to a change in diet in case they are symptoms of something else.”

Christian, the Vet

Simply Gentle Icon Set

How do I prevent a sensitive stomach?

Keeping a close eye on their habits and behaviours and stepping in if they look like they’re about to take a bite of something they shouldn’t can also help.

And, as with most things, prevention is better than cure. If your dog is consistently eating 100% complete and balanced meals, it’ll be going a long way to help keep any digestive issues at bay.

Our Simply Gentle recipes have been specially created by Sara and come Vet recommended to help dogs with sensitive stomachs. The icons adjacent describe each ingredient and the benefit to your dog’s digestive health.

To find out more about our highly digestible (and really tasty) Simply Gentle recipes, click here.

“Depending on the cause, gastrointestinal upset can be avoided, or incidence reduced by watching what your dog scavenges when outside, gradually switching to new diets over a period of 7 to 10 days – or at your dog’s own pace – and avoiding diets which contain ingredients that you know your dog has a dietary sensitivity to.”

Sara, our Nutritionist

Developed by Nutritionists, Vet Recommended: Sara, our Nutritionist, and Christian, the Vet

Meet The Experts

Sara, our Nutritionist, has 13 years’ experience as a Pet Nutritionist and a degree in Animal Science. Not to mention, she’s a proud pet parent to Mae the Cocker Spaniel.

Christian has been a Vet for over 30 years and has worked alongside the RSPCA and Police. He’s, of course, a fellow dog lover; his four-legged friend is a Labrador named Willow.

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