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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, excessive gas, and diarrhea with or without blood in the stool. Treatment will include supplemental therapy in response to the symptoms they have developed.  

If you change your pet’s diet to something easy for them to digest, the symptoms should cease.  You can talk to your vet about transitioning to food for dogs with sensitive stomachs. However, it is not uncommon for a dog with a sensitive stomach to need lifetime intermittent treatment if they have flare-ups. There may be more reasons than the type of food.

If your dog is experiencing chronic vomiting or diarrhea, this is not normal.  You should take them for an evaluation with the veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out conditions like allergies and gastrointestinal disturbances or disease.

Symptoms of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

Symptoms of digestive trouble may include:

  • 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

Types

Sensitive stomach in a dog can affect any breed and any age of pet.  Old dogs and small dog breeds tend to be more commonly affected; however, this condition can affect all canines.  Gassy dog breeds, whether young or getting along in age, include the Pug, Golden Retriever, and Boxer. The vet can recommend the best dog foods for dogs with gas which may include wet food for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Wet food can work its way through the digestive tract easily, helping the stomach and intestines to function without strain.

A condition causing soft stool, lack of appetite or gas can be the primary issue in any dog, or it may be the secondary result of another ailment. Additionally, chronic symptoms can lead to other secondary issues as a result.  For example, if your dog has a delicate digestive system and their diet is irritating their gastrointestinal tract, it can lead to chronic vomiting and ulceration. If your dog is older, discuss the best food for senior dogs with sensitive stomachs to help get their gastrointestinal system back in proper working order. Testing for underlying disorders may be recommended if your companion has concerning symptoms that are causing health-related issues.

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Causes of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

Your dog’s sensitive stomach may be congenital; that is, they are born with it.  You may notice as a puppy your dog does not digest their food well, has excessive gas, and has abnormal stools.  Discussing home remedies for dog gas, such as adding a tablespoon of probiotic plain yogurt to their meal, may be a simple step you can take to aid in easing an upset tummy. Talk to your vet about switching to a food for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Your dog may also have chronic vomiting, nausea, and other GI-related symptoms no matter what food you feed them.  A previous health condition or a newly developed one like pancreatitis, colitis, or a malabsorption disorder may be the culprit. 

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Diagnosis of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

If your dog is producing abnormal stool or vomiting chronically, it is best to take them to the 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.  The veterinarian will want to know when your dog’s symptoms started, if and how they have been progressing, and any other detail in regards to their health.  They will continue by performing a full physical exam on your dog.  While you may have brought them in for one specific complaint, the vet will want to check them over entirely for other symptoms of illness or indications of a sensitive stomach.  A visual assessment will be part of the evaluation, including body condition to assess how your dog is absorbing the nutrients from their diet.  

Diagnostic lab work will assist in the diagnosis.  A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry profile 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 to ensure there is no intestinal blockage or a mass causing the symptoms.  The vet may also want to do an endoscopy to properly view the GI tract.  This can also allow proper viewing of a growth or blockage and check for ulceration.

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Treatment of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

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

If your dog is experiencing any ulceration in the 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 aid in the repair of 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 food for sensitive stomach in dogs for a time period or for the remainder of their life.  There are prescription diets with high-quality ingredients available or, together with your vet, you can do a process of elimination in order to discover exactly what ingredient your dog is sensitive to. Your vet may recommend a highly digestible dog food such as one containing beet pulp as a fiber source, or a food that does not contain a high level of fat, which many dogs struggle to digest.

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

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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 them exclusively that, the stomach sensitivity should no longer be a detriment to their health.  If you do not alter the diet or if you feed them food that irritates the stomach, you will have to continue to treat the symptoms.  Once the GI tract health is returned to normal, your dog should no longer have chronic diarrhea or vomiting, nor any other related issues.

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Sensitive Stomach Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Yorkshire Terrier

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Nine Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Gas

Will senative puppy food help With gas Teddy he is eating science diet puppy food

July 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Science Diet puppy food is a good quality brand puppy food. I think I might make sure that he is checked for any parasites, and look at what treats he is getting before I changed his food. If he does not have any parasites, and he does not get any people food for treats, then changing to a sensitive stomach food would be appropriate in a month or two when he is an adult. If things are not getting better, then I would talk to your veterinarian about what the next step would be. I hope that he is fine.

July 15, 2020

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Brewster

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terrier

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

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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.

March 23, 2018

Brewster's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 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.

March 23, 2018

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!

March 23, 2018

Brewster's Owner

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Butch

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Labrador Retriever

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16 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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N/A

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?

Jan. 31, 2018

Butch's Owner

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1 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

Feb. 1, 2018

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Cupid

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German Shepard corgi mix

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10 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Diarrhea
Bad Gas
Stomach Makes Noises

Cupid is a 10 year old German Shepard corgi mix he has been eating dog chow for his whole life and he had no problems with it and he suddenly has gotten bad diarrhea we saw that is was recommended not to feed him for 18-24 hours so we did and then after junky fed him rice and he was doing fine then gave him some of his dog chow to see if it was just a one time thing but he has gone back to being very gassy and having diarrhea so I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for good food for an older dog with a sensitive stomach

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Luna

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Labradoodle

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Soft Stools

Hi my 2 years old Labradoodle has always had a very sensitive stomach and she also is very picky of food. She's always been this way but it has gotten worse she very often has loose or soft stools we have been giving her cooked chicken and rice and it has been working a bit, but I don't think it has enough nutrients for her, any food recommendations or tips or possibly homemade food recipes would be helpful. Thank you.

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Simba

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Doberman Pinscher

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Nausea
Praying Position

Hi I have a five year old Doberman mix rescue. She was fine until last year when she suddenly started throwing up and going into the praying position (bent from the front, chest to the ground). We’ve done all the tests and it’s not pancreatitis and all her blood work is aces. But she’s still sick on and off, mostly on. Have given her food for a sensitive stomach which doesn’t work for too long. As of now she’s on a boiled sweet potato, carrot, peas and beef and beef broth diet which she is also having a hard time digesting. She always wants to eat grass but if she eats grass she throws up. It’s a vicious circle. I feel it’s gas, but the gas won’t come out! Just hangs around in her and causes her pain the poor thing.

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Dulci

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Basset Hound

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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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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Ghost

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Siberian Husky

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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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 Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/sensitive-stomach

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