How to Feed Dogs with Digestive Sensitivities

How to Feed Dogs with Digestive Sensitivities
by Samantha Randall of TopDogTips.com

Just like us, our dogs will sometimes go through problems related to digestion. Not only that, but canines are also very exposed to digestive and gastrointestinal disorders.  As a result, our animals will experience pain and discomfort due to a number of intestinal and stomach problems associated with the food that they eat.

Most digestive disorders in dogs are due to issues with absorption or digestion of food, or any alteration in the passage of food going through the dog’s digestive system. On top of that, bodies of dogs with gastrointestinal disorders may go through electrolyte and acid imbalances, dehydration, and malnutrition. Needless to say, it is important that your pet should be able to ingest the right nutrients from the food that he eats to get energy and repair tissues.

Common Types of Digestive Disorders in Dogs

There are many types of digestive disorders that will affect a dog. Some of these might need the help of your vet, while others (like I discovered from my own experience with pets) are caused not only due to food intake but also due to food allergies, infections, lack of digestive enzymes, and intolerance to specific dog foods.

The breed of your dog may also be a factor when it comes to digestive disorders and stomach sensitivities. For example, some breeds like German Shepherds, Collies and Golden Retrievers are far more prone to digestive conditions than other breeds. These issues can include:

  • Acute gastroenteritis – infection or inflammation of the dog’s intestines and the stomach, caused by eating rancid and spoiled food (usually meats), swallowing foreign objects, eating toxic plants outdoors, consuming people food that’s high in fats, presence of internal parasites in the dog’s stomach and generally eating substances that should not be in a dog’s food
  • Colitis – very common for dogs under 5 years old. It is characterized by chronic and acute inflammation of the colon membrane and usually caused by parasites, food alteration, allergies, or polyps and tumors
  • Constipation – results from a lack of exercise, eating indigestible objects, dehydration, and not consuming enough fiber
  • Diarrhea – most often caused by the presence of internal parasites, stomach related infections, stress, eating table scraps and spoiled foods that we would usually throw away, eating garbage from your trash bins, and (rarely) due to malfunction of certain organs in the canine’s body
  • Malabsorption of small intestine – inflammation of the dog’s small intestine can lead to frequent diarrhea and loss of weight of your Fido, but this condition is fairly rare
  • Pancreatitis – infection or inflammation of the pancreas caused most likely by eating foods that are rich in fat; sometimes it occurs due to trauma or can be related to certain diseases in dogs

How To Know If Your Dog Has Stomach Sensitivities

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out if your dog has stomach issues – usually, it’s pretty obvious. However, do look out for these surefire symptoms which may tell you that your Fido has stomach sensitivities:

  • occasional or frequent vomiting
  • excessive flatulence
  • nausea
  • indigestion characterized by excessive belching
  • bloating
  • irregular and loose stools
  • heartburn

The Impact of Nutrition

As I have personally found out, stomach problems with your dog can be a very serious issue on many different levels, and very often requires taking him to the vet for laboratory testing in order to determine the real culprit. However, you may be able to avoid a trip to the vet if you are aware of how to feed your dog in order to deal with his digestive sensitivities and prevent this condition from becoming much worse.

Digestive disorders in dogs are unfortunately very common, mostly because we can’t always monitor what our dogs do or eat every minute of the day. They can be eliminated within a few days, however, simply by adjusting your pup’s diet and ensuring he consumes the right dog food. There are several approaches on feeding dogs the way they’re supposed to be fed.

The best way to start dealing with this problem is eliminating all improper foods or anything else in the house that your dog may consume without your supervision. Even though there are many causes to dog’s digestive problems, the improper diet is the first one on the list. You should be a lot stricter with what you give your pooch to eat, as well as the way you feed him and the timing of his meals.

Adding supplements to your dog’s food, like the Good Digestion Formula or Daily Health Support supplement from PranaPets, is also a great way to help promote digestion. Adding probiotics and prebiotics is another easy way to help aid in digestion.

Some Tips and Tricks for Dog Stomach’s Sensitivities

You’ll need to start with a lot of care and attention to your dog’s diet, and follow certain guidelines. Here’s what I did for my dog with a sensitive stomach:

  1. Read all about food allergies of dogs.  Allergies are one of the most common sources of stomach sensitivities, and there are plenty of resources to learn more on this issue.
  2. Teach your dog not to take dog treats or any other foods from strangers, and if you can, avoid putting him in those situations in the first place.
  3. Find several dog food options that work for your Fido’s sensitive stomach. There are a few brands out there specifically formulated for feeding dogs that have digestive disorders, food allergies and sensitive stomachs.
  4. Try a trial and error approach to filter out foods that cause tummy problems in your dog. When you feed your Fido, carefully observe which items trigger different symptoms of digestive or gastrointestinal disorders in him. Give it at least a couple of days to see the result, and then switch.
  5. Even though there’s no conclusive evidence that additives in some commercial dog food brands can trigger allergies and different symptoms of stomach disorders, it is a good idea to carefully read the label first and avoid dog foods that have a ton of unnecessary additives.
  6. Carbohydrates are not necessarily all bad for your dogs but it’s better to keep them at the minimum. As we all know, our dog’s ancestors only needed 10% carbohydrates in their diet and survived mostly on fats and protein. Sadly, today, a large majority of commercially available dog foods are made with 30%-70% carbohydrates, which can often cause a lot of digestive issues in dogs.
  7. Don’t forget that your dog also requires for his diet to be rich in minerals, vitamins, fiber, and anti-oxidants (not just protein, fat and carbs). Pay attention to dog food labels and supplement, if needed. Also, keep in mind that raw fruits and vegetables offer many of these nutrients naturally.
  8. Do plenty of research on specific dog food brands, study their labels to see if all the ingredients and macronutrients fit your specific dog, and make sure that the one you choose is a well rated brand that other dog owners have found to work.
  9. For better tracking of your pooch’s food intake, I also recommend keeping a doggy food journal. It will be your reference guide and will help you determine what’s making your dog’s condition better or worse.
  10. While you’re still trying to fight your dog’s food allergies and stomach sensitivities, schedule regular appointments with your vet and review that same food journal with a veterinarian for the best advice.
  11. Dogs love to eat peanut butter; however, not all nuts are created equal. Here’s what you should not feed to your dog, especially if he has stomach issues:
    1. Almonds – not easily digested by dogs and cause stomach upset
    2. Walnuts – have some toxins that can cause seizures in canines on top of digestive obstructions
    3. Pecans – can cause gastrointestinal disorders
    4. Pistachios – too rich in fat
    5. Macadamia – also too rich in fat and can cause pancreatic disorders in dogs
    6. Hickory – can cause stomach upset and may obstruct digestive tract
  12.  Avoid feeding dogs big meals, as it will lead to gulping and gasping for air. Instead, try smaller portions served 2-3 times per day.
  13. Certain foods can improve your dog’s condition. You can try to make your pet’s digestive lining stronger by feeding him more liver, beef, chicken, lamb, and carrots. Make sure to look for products made with hormone- and steroid-free protein sources. Also, be sure to find a brand that sources their ingredients from trustworthy farms in countries like the U.S., Canada and New Zealand. Other countries do not have many regulations on the ingredients used in dog food and treats. These countries have been known to ship unsafe products that have made dogs very ill.
  14. Socialize with your dog more and spend time together. This reduces stress, improves your dog’s general well-being and – at the very least – engages your pet so that he won’t wander in your backyard, scavenging for odd things to eat.

by Samantha Randall of TopDogTips.com

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