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What is Sensitive Stomach?

Some dogs are born with a sensitive stomach while others develop the condition later in life.  Either way, it is something that needs to be addressed in order for your dog to thrive.  Symptoms a dog with a sensitive stomach may develop include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea with or without blood in the stool.  Treatment will include supplemental therapy in response to the symptoms he has developed.  

If you change your pet’s diet to something easy for him to digest, his symptoms should cease.  However, it is not uncommon for a dog with a sensitive stomach to need lifetime intermittent treatment if he has flare ups.

If your dog is experiencing chronic vomiting or diarrhea, this is not normal.  You should take him for an evaluation with his veterinarian as soon as possible.


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Symptoms of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

A dog with a sensitive stomach may develop symptoms of:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Hypersalivation
  • Nausea
  • Swallowing (result of nausea)
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive gas
  • Soft stool 
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Decreased mobility after eating substance of question


Sensitive stomach in a dog can affect any breed and any age of dog.  Old dogs and small dog breeds tend to be more commonly affected, however it can affect them all.  A sensitive stomach can be the primary issue or it may be the secondary result of another ailment. Additionally, a sensitive stomach can lead to other secondary issues as a result.  For example, if your dog has a sensitive stomach and his diet is irritating his gastrointestinal tract, it can lead to chronic vomiting and/or ulceration of the GI tract.

Causes of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

Your dog’s sensitive stomach may be congenital; that is, he is born with it.  You may notice as a puppy your dog does not digest his food well and may have abnormal stools.  He may also have chronic vomiting no matter what food you feed him.  Another reason your dog has a sensitive stomach may be as a result of a previous health condition.

Diagnosis of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

If your dog is producing abnormal stool chronically and/or vomiting chronically, it is best to take him to his veterinarian for an evaluation as soon as possible.  At your appointment, your veterinarian will collect a verbal history in regards to your dog’s condition.  She will want to know when your dog’s symptoms started, if and how they have been progressing, and any other detail in regards to his health.  She will continue by performing a full physical exam on your dog.  While you may have brought him in for one specific complaint, she will want to check him over entirely for other symptoms of illness or indications of a sensitive stomach.  She will evaluate him visually for an overall assessment.  She will evaluate his body condition to assess how he is absorbing the nutrients from his diet.  

She will proceed with diagnostic lab work to assist in her diagnosis.  She will begin with a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry profile.  This will give basic information on how your dog’s internal organs are functioning and the overall bodily function as a whole.  This can indicate the glucose level, cholesterol, and more information regarding your pet’s blood levels.  If there are any abnormal levels, your veterinarian may recommend further diagnostic lab work that is more specific to the suspected ailment.  A fecal sample should be collected for diagnostic testing to rule out intestinal parasites or a bacterial overgrowth, both of which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Your veterinarian may want to do radiographic imaging of your dog’s GI tract.  She will want to ensure there is no intestinal blockage or a mass that can be causing his symptoms.  She may also want to do an endoscopy to properly view his GI tract.  This can allow proper viewing of a mass or blockage and to check for ulceration.

Treatment of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

Your dog’s symptoms and lab work results will determine his treatment plan.  The blood work will indicate if his inability to digest his food properly is affecting any internal organ health.  If he is experiencing specific symptoms related to his health, your veterinarian will determine if it is due to his sensitivity or not.  

If your dog is experiencing any ulceration in his GI tract, medications will be administered to soothe and apply a protective coating to the ulcer.  This will allow for faster healing and added comfort for your dog.  Anti-vomiting medication will be administered to calm your dog’s digestive tract.  Withholding food for 12 to 24 hours will also calm your dog’s digestive tract.  Adding more fiber to your dog’s diet should help firm up the loose stool.  Probiotics will also be prescribed in order to restore your dog’s intestinal health back to normal.  Additional medications will be prescribed as deemed necessary by your dog’s veterinarian. 

Your dog may need to be transitioned to a sensitive stomach diet food for a time period or for the remainder of his life.  There are prescription diets available or you can do process of elimination in order to discover exactly what ingredient your dog is sensitive to.  If you do this, you can simply feed him a diet that excludes this ingredient.

Supplements can be added to your dog’s diet in order to keep his digestive tract healthy.  Additional nutritional needs your dog has will be address by your veterinarian.  Your dog’s diet will be unique to him as his sensitivity will be specific.

Recovery of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

If you are able to find one or several foods your dog is able to digest without an issue and feed him exclusively that, his stomach sensitivity should no longer be a detriment.  If you do not alter his diet or if you feed him foods that irritate his stomach, you will have to continue to treat his upset stomach.  Once his GI tract health is returned to normal, he should no longer have chronic diarrhea or vomiting nor any other related issues.

Sensitive Stomach Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

German Shorthaired Pointer
10 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

soft stools
Loose stools

My 10 month old puppy was on purina pro plan puppy ever since she came from breeder. But, I had to switch when she was about 7 months. She started developing soft stools. Also stools that came out like pudding. Switched to sensitive stomach pro plan salmon and rice thought that would help. Don't know if we tried it long enough. She is now on Canidae all life stages chicken and rice. Been on it for about 2 months. She loves it but, stools are formed but soft. Sometimes not formed and but still soft. I want to go back with pro plan. But, don't know if I should get sensitive stomach or get pro plan Focus for adult.

Purina Pro Plan is garbage food. Acana, Orijen and Fromm dog food is among the best out there and their food has never been recalled.

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Jack Russell Terrier
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea & Vomitting

My 3 yrs old Jack Russel Terrier has a very sensitive stomach since we got her 3 months old. We tried many different kinds of brand nothing would interest her for long. She always have diarrhea and throws up 2 to 3 times a week. She likes to eat grass when her tummy don't feel good. Currently the only food she can eat is rice & ground beef but it worries me coz i know it's not a complete diet. I bought a food supplement that you can combine in her food but it caused her diarrhea too. I don't know what else to do.

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Siberian Husky
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

I have a year and 2 month old Husky who I have noticed has a sensitive stomach. He plays with our other dogs and he’s never short of energy, he’s been an outside dog ever since we brought him home. He has very healthy gums, teeth and eyes. He also very rarely throws up. However, ever since he was brought home as a puppy he has always had diarrhea. Sometimes he has more solid stool and other times it’s very liquid like. He’s not lethargic or depressed, he’s a very happy dog. We only feed him “treats” of white rice and chicken and the dry dog food we currently feed him has been the best for us so far. On this dog food he sometimes has solid stool. I believe that my neighbor might be feeding him her leftovers, we’ve told her to stop but she doesn’t listen. However I haven’t been able to prove that she’s feeding him just that on a couple of instances where I was fixing my fence and he was tied up, that’s when he had solid stool. While he was tied up he couldn’t go over to the side of the yard where her house is and he started pooping solid, but as soon as we untied him he started having diarrhea again. Any advice would be amazing, I very recently got laid off at work so it’ll be very difficult to take him to the veterinarian (which makes me very sad) :( thank you so much

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Basset Hound
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

diarrhea, vomiting, gas

My basset hound has always had a sensitive stomach, from the time I brought her home at 11 weeks to current day. I tried a number of foods, took her to the vet several times & she's well-acquainted with a chicken & rice diet, supplemented with Endosorb! I switched her to Royal Canin sensitive stomach about a year ago and she's done much, much better. She still has bouts, particularly if someone gives her a treat or she gets into something outside, but the diarrhea and vomiting have subsided and are occasional instead of a day-to-day challenge!

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1 Year
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

My dog has a sensitive stomach. He looks good, his stools are normal, he has plenty of energy, his eyeys, teeth, and gums look great, he is around a year and a half old we rescued him so we dont know his hystory and we have had him for 5 months now. But his stomach growls, he is not a big eatter, he constantly eats grass but has only thrown up a couple of times, he beggs for people food even though we dont give him any. He eats Pedigree dry dog food, we have tried weening him onto Blue but he ended up with bad diarreha that would not go away.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1610 Recommendations
Brewster may benefit from a GI diet, at least in the short term, and a longer term good quality maintenance food. He may also be suffering from intestinal parasites that are causing these ongoing signs. I'm not sure what his history is for veterinary care, but it would be a good idea to have him seen, as they can do a thorough examination, test a fecal sample for parasites, and suggest a good quality GI diet for him, as well as probiotics if they might be helpful.

Thank you very much for the advice. I will have his stool tested. He was treated for worms when we first brought him home. He has been a blessing to our family, a wonderful dog! We really love him and want to make sure he is ok. Again thank you!

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Labrador Retriever
16 Months
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


Hi, the dog I am dog sitting has a sensitive stomach. He was given a few treats today, and I am wondering how long it might take before I know if he will be okay with it or not. If he were going to be sick, how long after the treats were given would it take?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3319 Recommendations
The length of time varies but we would expect a dog to show symptoms within an hour or two, but this may be longer depending on the specific cause for the sensitive stomach. Keep a close eye on Butch for the time being and give treats as sparsely as possible to reduce severity of any issue. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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