Can Dogs Eat Acidic Food?

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Introduction

Listen, no one understands better than us the desire to gift your dog a delicious, yummy, and tantalizing treat - especially when they look at you with those big, puppy-dog eyes that are basically impossible to refuse. We totally understand how hard it can be to say no to your pup, but a good dog owner knows that some foods, especially of the human variety, simply don't fit into your doggo's diet. 

Dogs digest food differently than we do, which means that some foods that would be entirely normal for us to digest - think grapes and chocolate - are highly toxic to them.

The same goes for acidic foods. While our bodies are --mostly -- set up to handle foods high in acidity, most dogs are not able to digest these foods properly. If you're unsure what kind of foods are too high in acidity, take a look at the ingredients list or do a little research on what food you want to give your pup - you might be surprised to find which foods are high in acidity!

Want to know more about how you can tell if your dog is having a bad reaction to acidic food? Want to get a better grasp on things like doggo acid reflux? Want to learn more about how a dog's digestive tract and body work? Read on! We've laid out all the info you'll need to glean some knowledge on doggy acidity levels and how to avoid a bda acidic reaction in your pooch. 

Signs Your Dog is Struggling with Acidic Foods

Like we said before, dogs' digestive systems aren't the same as humans, so they can't eat the same things that we can. Some foods can be so acidic and so bad for your dog's digestion that they can cause negative reactions like acid reflux. If you've ever experienced acid reflux, you know it's not fun, and unfortunately, these reactions manifest themselves in similar ways in your pup. 

For example, your dog might find it hard or painful to eat, so your pup might whine, whimper, or complain while eating, or, worse, your dog will avoid eating altogether, causing extreme weight loss for your dog. Worse still, your dog might begin to regurgitate, vomit, or spit up due to the acid in their system. Most pups who are struggling with doggy acid reflux experience fevers, lots of drooling, and tons of increased salivation. 

If your poor pup is experiencing any kind of reaction like this after eating - whether it's a treat you gave your dog or the normal food you feed your pup - it's possible that your dog is experiencing some kind of reaction to the food you're giving them. 

Body Language

Here are a few body language cues your dog might be giving you to let you know that they're experiencing acid reflux:
  • Yawning
  • Pacing
  • Lips pushed forward
  • Panting
  • Whimpering
  • Lack of focus
  • Drooling
  • Growling

Other Signs

Here are a few other signs that your dog is experiencing a negative reaction to the acidic food you're feeding them, or worse, experiencing acid reflux:
  • Throwing up/ regurgitation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

History of Dogs and Acidic Food

In times past (back when dogs were wild), it is unlikely that they would have come into contact with a whole lot of acidic food. These dogs would have mainly been eating meat and bones, which generally are not high in acid. In fact - bones are made up of calcium, which is extremely alkaline.

If your dog is really struggling with acidic foods or your vet determines that most food is too high in acidic content, you can discuss working on an alkaline-based diet for your dog. Throughout the years, people have implemented alkaline based diets for themselves, and recently, it's been a trend that's caught on with dog diets, too. 

An alkaline diet is a style of eating that measures and takes into consideration the pH of food - to be considered an alkaline food, the pH of the food must be higher than 7. Anything below 7 is considered too acidic for your dog. Historically, these doggo-safe human foods have been implemented into dog's diets to promote an alkaline-diet that's free of acidic dangers. Some of these foods include apples, celery, bananas, beans, potatoes, alfalfa, and broccoli.

The Science Behind Acidic Foods and Dogs

We know you've probably heard of acid reflux in humans before, so it shouldn't be too foreign of an idea that your dog can get it too. If your dog is having a bad reaction to acidic foods, it's likely that acid reflux is the culprit. What exactly is acid reflux though, and how does it affect your dog?

Acid reflux is a condition where acidic gastric fluid is regurgitated into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Your dog experiences acid reflux with heartburn-like symptoms, vomiting, spitting up, drooling, extreme salivation, fever, and disinterest in eating. Acidic foods that cause your dog negative reactions like acid reflux restrict the oxygen in your dog's blood, have a negative impact on cellular degeneration, and can disrupt your dog's normal digestion. 

Training Your Dog to Adjust to an Acid-Free Diet

As we've discussed, if your dog is having a hard time digesting their normal food or any acidic treats, it's important to talk about those issues with your vet. If your vet okays it or presents it, consider an alkaline-based diet for your dog. 

An alkaline based diet is a diet where the pH of the food is considered when constructing a meal. Dogs who are ultra-sensitive to acidic food should be eating foods that have a pH level of higher than 7, instead of acidic foods that have a pH of 7 and below. Adjusting your dog to this new diet should have both your vet's blessing and a giant dose of patience on your part. 

Training your pup to transition their diet can be a bit of a process, so be patient and do so gradually. First, we suggest gradually adding alkaline-based foods to their current food. We're talking apples, potatoes, alfalfa, etc. Or, if you're choosing to go with a prepared alkaline diet, gradually introduce this food into your dog's diet. Mix it with your dog's normal food so they can start adjusting, slowly, to the transition. Do this slowly and gradually to ensure your dog's digestion isn't too interrupted by the change. 

Once you've switched the food over completely, it's likely that your dog will be a bit picky. It's possible your dog won't want to eat the new food you're laying out for them, so make sure you're keeping a strict feeding schedule. 

We never condone starving your dog, but stick to a restricted time for meals that are at the same time of day. If your dog doesn't eat the breakfast you laid out for him in the thirty minutes you've allotted - that's okay! Pick up the food and give your dog another try at lunch or dinner. Your dog, after all, is an animal, and if they're hungry and the food you're giving them isn't upsetting their stomachs or hurting them, they're going to eat eventually.

How to React if Your Dog is Having a Bad Reaction to Acidic Food:

  • Give your dog plenty of water.
  • Be prepared to take your vet outside more than usual.
  • Talk to your vet about an alkaline diet.
  • Consider switching your dogs regular food.

We Want to Hear How Your Dog Handles Acidic Food!