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What is Stomach Sensitivity?

Gastric discomfort can include a variety of causes or reasons for the doggy tummy ache which can range from that trash he got into last night or the “treat” he picked up off the sidewalk during your walk this morning or some undiagnosed physical condition or disease which needs to be addressed.  Depending on the cause or origin of the stomach upset, this condition can be quite benign (though inconvenient) or life-threatening. Suffice it to say that, if the symptoms are moderate to severe or increasing in frequency, it should be treated as an emergent or urgent medical situation in which veterinary medical intervention is obtained as soon as possible.

Stomach sensitivity in dogs is much like that which we humans experience in that the afflicted canine experiences various gastric signals and discomforts which let you know his stomach has been upset by something.

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Symptoms of Stomach Sensitivity in Dogs

Although a canine cannot vocalize that his stomach is upset, he can surely let you know in other ways:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose stools 
  • Gas - which can sometimes be quite foul
  • Bloating or abdominal distention
  • Abdominal pain

Some of these symptoms may present more severely than others and your canine companion may not have them all.  But, if any of these are noted and the severity is moderate to severe or if the frequency of the episodes increase, it could signal something more serious than just a tummy ache.

Types  

There are several types of stomach sensitivity in dogs which might afflict your canine companion.  Some of these are certainly more serious than others but only your veterinarian can identify and treat them appropriately:

  • Congenital - Birth defects or familial traits
  • Nutritional - Due to the diet being fed
  • Disease or other systemic dysfunction

Causes of Stomach Sensitivity in Dogs

There are a variety of things which could ultimately be at the root of the stomach ache from which your doggy family member suffers:

  • An ingredient in their present diet isn’t agreeing with their digestive system, for example, protein, fat, carbohydrate, content that is too rich or not in balance
  • Missing vitamin and mineral elements required for proper digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the food being fed
  • Congenital defects in the gastrointestinal system, usually noted early in life or noted in close canine family members
  • A variety of cancers located virtually anywhere in the digestive system
  • Dysfunction of other organs or systems which contribute to or receive nutrients from the digestive system

Diagnosis of Stomach Sensitivity in Dogs

The root cause of your canine family member’s stomach sensitivity oftentimes will not be readily discernable.  Your veterinary professional can utilize any historical information which you can provide, including the food currently being fed, the amount and duration of this regimen, previous dietary regimens along with the amounts and duration of those regimens, the reasons why dietary changes have been made and any behavior or physical symptoms noted after the changes.  

Your vet will do a physical examination and will likely order some blood work to be done to assess the blood chemistry values to determine if any of the values are out of whack.  He may wish to get urine and fecal samples for testing as well.  Your veterinary professional will be interested in ruling out as many of the variety of diseases and conditions which have similar symptoms and clinical signs.  He may also need to utilize radiographic imaging (x-rays), CT scanning or MRI if he suspects a mass or blockage.

Treatment of Stomach Sensitivity in Dogs

The treatment plan developed by your veterinary professional will be based on the results of the physical exam, your history and the test results which he has ordered.  If the root cause is determined to be nutritional, recommendations for dietary changes will be made.  For example, if the food being offered is too rich in either protein, fat or carbohydrates, alternatives will be suggested, or, if the food being fed doesn’t contain the vitamin and minerals needed by your dog, suggestions will be offered to enable this to be corrected.  

Of course, if a more serious condition is found to be the cause of the stomach sensitivity, then surgical options may be given, or special diets recommended for the quieting of inflammation in the various organs involved in the digestive process.  Oral and intravenous medications could be recommended and administered as the diagnosis dictates.  If a dietary change is recommended, your veterinary professional will go over how to transition your companion from what he is currently being fed to what is being recommended.  This transition is a very important part of the treatment plan as the tummy problems can be exacerbated or made worse if dietary changes are made too quickly.

Recovery of Stomach Sensitivity in Dogs

Recovery of your canine family member will, of course, be dependent upon the cause for the stomach sensitivity found by your vet.  It is important to note that a canine’s digestive system generally doesn’t really respond well to variety.  Many dogs will demonstrate tummy issues when their diets are changed simply because they can’t tolerate the change, while others will demonstrate tummy issues because of the ingredients in some dog foods.  Doggy digestive issues are much like those we humans have.  Who knows the reasons why some people can eat spicy and greasy foods without a problem while others cannot.  Finding the right dog food can be challenging and time consuming, but it can certainly be well worth the effort of doing so for that beloved canine family member’s comfort and health.