Some dogs, like some people, have digestive systems that are easily upset or irritated — they have “sensitive stomach.” Even the smallest change in the diet, whether it’s to food or treats, can lead to digestive discomfort for these dogs.
How do you know if your dog has a sensitive stomach?
There are signs and symptoms that will tell you if your dog’s stomach is the sensitive type. And with help from your veterinarian, you’ll know if those signs mean your dog has an easily irritated digestive system or a more serious condition.
Symptoms of a sensitive stomach
“Sensitive stomach” is a vague phrase that’s often used to describe mild intestinal upset in dogs. The signs are easy — although unpleasant — to recognize:
- Occasional vomiting
- Recurring, but intermittent, loose stools
- Excessive, nasty-smelling gas (flatus)
Your dog can have one or all these signs if he or she has a sensitive stomach. But if any of the symptoms are severe, you’ll want to have your veterinarian evaluate your canine companion. Diarrhea, gas and vomiting can occur for many different reasons, and you’ll want your veterinarian to rule out other medical reasons for your dog’s symptoms before assuming your canine companion simply has a sensitive stomach.
Dogs vomit from time to time, especially since they use their noses and mouths to explore the world. (And honestly, some dogs are walking garbage disposals!) Yes, watching your dog vomit can be distressing. Just remember that vomiting is one of the body’s defenses against eating something inappropriate or harmful. Depending on what’s in your dog’s vomit, you may be able to monitor him or her at home, or you may need to seek veterinary care. Ditto the trip to the veterinarian if your dog exhibits ongoing vomiting that’s accompanied by diarrhea or inactivity (lethargy).
Recurring, but intermittent, loose stools
As gross and unpleasant as it sounds, you need to know what your dog’s stool looks like. Details about the consistency, amount, color, frequency and even the smell of your dog’s feces can provide important clues about what’s going on in your dog’s digestive tract. You might even see foreign material (like pieces of a toy), adult intestinal parasites, mucus or blood. In other words, be prepared to describe your dog’s bowel movements when your veterinarian or veterinary technician or nurse asks.
Excessive, nasty-smelling gas (flatus)
Like people, dogs can experience episodes of excessive flatus from time to time. Dogs with sensitive stomachs, however, tend to be prone to excessive gas that’s stinky — even capable of clearing a room. Excessive gas often has dietary causes, such as an abrupt switch of foods or treats, a diet that doesn’t agree with the dog’s digestive system, dietary indiscretion or a food made with low-quality ingredients. But increased flatulence is also associated with a number of health conditions. If your dog seems gassier than usual, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Should you rethink your dog food?
If your otherwise-healthy dog has unexplained vomiting, loose stools or gas that resolves quickly, he or she may have a sensitive stomach. Talk with your veterinarian about whether your dog would benefit from a sensitive stomach formula such as Diamond CARE Sensitive Stomach Formula for Adult Dogs. Specialty diets such as those formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs are made from high-quality, easily digested ingredients. They also contain moderate amounts of fat and a balance of soluble and insoluble fibers.
Any time you’re worried about your best friend’s health, you should give your veterinarian a call for some quick advice. If your veterinarian isn’t available, a veterinary technician or nurse can help you determine whether to schedule an appointment. Of course, it never hurts to err on the side of caution and have your veterinarian evaluate your dog.
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