It’s a sad fact that left to their own devices, dogs will eat just about anything. I don’t even allow grapes in my home any longer, much as I love them, because I know that as soon as one happened to hit the floor, Janice or Leroy would vacuum it up immediately. They don’t know that even one grape can harm a dog, so I guess I have to be the “adult” and give up things that I enjoy so that my dogs will stay safe (see Your Dog is Not a Human, So Don’t Feed Him Like One!).
Of course some “human” food items are okay, and others good in moderation. It really bothers me, though, when feed anything and everything to their dogs. Of course back when I was growing up, a good many dogs had their diets supplemented by table scraps, not all of which were necessarily conducive to a healthy diet. We know better now.
You know that I love to tell stories, and there won’t be an exception this time around. In What Happens to Your Dog When You Divorce, I mentioned that out of all the people on the planet, I hadn’t found the one that was right for me. I also suggested that this doesn’t trouble me overly much, since I have a very satisfying life and I’m actually not all that inclined to change it.
A number of years ago, though, I thought I had found “The One” (who for purposes of this story will be henceforth abbreviated as “T.O.”). Things were going pretty good. So good, in fact, that T.O. and I decided to spend Christmas together. We drank a little wine, listened to some Christmas carols, played with Janice and Leroy (who really seemed to like T.O.) and then got to work making Christmas dinner. Since a turkey was a bit much for just two people, we cooked a duck.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever cooked a duck, but it’s a bit different from doing a turkey. Duck is very greasy, so what you have to do is prick the skin all over, and drain the fat several times during the cooking process. Usually, you’ll end up with about a quart of liquid fat.
Anyway, the duck was delicious! And Christmas Day having gone so well, I invited T.O. over for Boxing Day brunch so we could clean up the leftovers together. So far so good, right?
It went south pretty fast. I was slicing up the rest of the duck to re-heat, and I asked T.O. to dispose of the fat, which had been poured off in a separate pan and allowed to congeal. My assumption was that it would go into the wood stove or the compost bin, so I was beyond horrified to see T.O. put the pan down on the floor for Janice and Leroy. I dove for the pan before my babies could get to it, and I guess I went a bit off the deep end, shouting, “Are you trying to kill them?”
If I’d gotten a sensible response like “Why can’t they have duck fat?” I would have simply explained that so much fat could cause pancreatitis, asked that T.O. check with me before giving culinary byproducts to my dogs, and we could have moved on. Instead, T.O. reacted defensively, telling me that dogs are meant to eat all kinds of food and have been living off table scraps for generations. Then T.O., I kid you not, reached for the pan I had just picked up, and said “C’mon, Ash, just let them have it. It won’t hurt them.”
Obviously, my dogs were not safe around this person. So, long story short, Janice, Leroy and I finished off the leftover duck by ourselves. I gave them a little fat – very little.
The Moral of the Story
See, the thing here is that a dog’s digestive system can be pretty sensitive. Given some of the things our dogs will eat, it’s probably natural to assume that dogs have cast-iron guts, but that’s not really the case. What we feed our dogs actually matters a great deal, and your dog is not a garbage disposal! In fact, some dogs can have very sensitive stomachs, and often this can be a challenge to owners who want the best for their dogs.
So, let’s talk a bit about sensitive canine tummies, and then we’ll move on to considering some of the best sensitive stomach dog food brands.
What Causes a Sensitive Stomach?
Often, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s because of his dog food brand. However, before you start shopping for a different dog food, you need to be sure that it’s not due to a more serious issue. The first thing to do is take your dog to the vet for an examination.
Yes, this will cost you a bit of money. But you could also end up investing a lot of money trying out different sensitive stomach dog food brands that aren’t correcting the problem. The other thing is, if your dog’s sensitive stomach is due to a medical issue, you’re wasting time experimenting when he might need medical care. So eliminate the potential for medical causes first off, and then consider your dog’s food.
Symptoms of a Sensitive Stomach
Usually, when we use terms like “sensitive stomach,” it’s actually a catch-all phrase to describe any type of digestive upset. So, symptoms could include vomiting, diarrhea and farting. Your dog might have just one of these symptoms, or he could have all of them. If any symptom appears severe, you should immediately visit your vet. The occasional loose stool is to be expected, as is an “upchuck” once in a while. If they persist, though, they could be indications of a serious condition. Assuming that your dog gets a clean bill of health, you can take measures to change his diet.
Consider Everything Your Dog is Eating
Obviously, you know what brand of dog food you’re feeding your dog, and you know what you’re providing in the way of treats. Of course, dogs often ingest other things as well, so make sure he’s not getting into the garbage, the cat litter, or anything else that could be making him sick.
Then, start eliminating things. Get rid of the treats first, and see if that makes a difference. If, in a few days, his stomach is still “wonky,” it’s time to take a look at his dog food. You might need to switch him over to a sensitive stomach dog food brand.
First, take a look at the ingredient list on your brand of dog food. There are several ingredients that can cause sensitivity. Many dogs, for instance, don’t tolerate certain types of protein all that well, and what works just fine for one dog might not be best for another. So, if you’ve always fed your dog a food that has, say, chicken as its main source of protein, you might want to try switching over to one that has beef or lamb as the primary protein source.
Another ingredient that can cause trouble is fat. If you’re feeding a diet that’s high in fat, you might try a food with a lower fat content. The same goes for fiber – sometimes, less is better.
You’ll usually find an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals in just about any commercial dog food, but if you’re making your own dog food, it’s very possible that your dog isn’t getting enough of one or more nutrients. If you think this might be the case, then talk with your vet and find out what he or she recommends in the way of home-made dog food preparation.
The other thing to keep in mind is that manufacturers of dog food do not make any representations as to the quality of any particular ingredient in the dog food, so you could be left to guess. A high-priced dog food might contain better quality meats, say, than a lower-priced food. On the other hand, it might not. You can look online at clinical studies (which probably won’t do you much good if you’re feeding a newer brand), or you can contact the manufacturer for specific information. Ask if they have a veterinary nutritionist on staff, and if you can speak to him or her.
Finding the Right Sensitive Stomach Dog Food Brand
If you do a Google search using the criteria “sensitive stomach dog food brand,” you’ll find a ton of information. In fact, it might be just such a search that brought you here. Just keep in mind that not all the information you find online is necessarily accurate, and that includes the websites for various sensitive stomach dog food brands. You’re not going to find any negative information on a dog food company’s website, because they want to sell you their product.
I guess what I’m saying is, be skeptical. If a company makes representations that sound outlandish, like they have a “miracle diet,” or that theirs is “the only dog food you’ll ever need,” or “guaranteed to add years to your dog’s life,” don’t take it on faith. Do your research.
So, as I said before, start with your vet, not just because you need to rule out medical conditions, but because your vet is, next to you, the person who has the most interest in your dog’s health. Your vet can give you an idea of which ingredients in commercial dog foods could be problematic, and may even have suggestions as to which foods you should try.
The Best Sensitive Stomach Dog Food Brands
There are a few things you should look for when choosing a sensitive stomach dog food brand.
Is The Dog Food “Complete and Balanced”?
It might sound, here, as though I’m backpedaling on what I said in How Good is Your Dog’s Food? and I suppose that to a certain extent, I am. Not entirely, though. It’s still true that any manufacturer can claim that its dog food is “complete and balanced,” but most will not do so if the food does not contain all the nutrients that your dog needs. A properly balanced diet can work to eliminate stomach sensitivity that is due to nutritional deficiencies.
Again, your vet can be a valuable source of information. I feed Janice and Leroy a store brand, and I don’t plan to go with anything more expensive, since they’re not show dogs, and they’re not athletes. In determining that the store brand was okay for my guys, I simply tore the nutrition label off of their bag of dog food, and showed it to my vet, who approved it.
Is the Dog Food Right for Your Dog’s Life Stage?
Again, the label can give you and your vet a wealth of information. Obviously, puppies have very different nutritional requirements than adult dogs. A bitch that’s carrying puppies will need a different type of nutrition. A senior dog may be very prone to stomach upsets, and might need a bit less protein. Determining whether the food you are offering is appropriate for your dog’s age and what’s going on in his or her life can go a long way to correcting digestive issues.
There can be a certain amount of trial and error here. You might not find the perfect food right away. Also, keep in mind that if you’re transitioning your dog from one food to another, it’s usually best done gradually. Feed a bit of the old food along with the new to start with – too rapid a transition can actually make the problem worse.
Should You Try Home Cooking?
Sometimes, even the best sensitive stomach dog food brand can be too much for a dog that is experiencing chronic digestive issues. Although I wouldn’t recommend this over the long term, you can try a bland diet of chicken and white rice if your dog has diarrhea. Then, check with your vet to find out if your best buddy might do better on a permanent diet of home-prepared food. You want to be sure that your dog gets all the nutrients you need, and your vet can tell you what ingredients will work best.
Should You Consider a Prescription Diet?
Sometimes, very sensitive stomachs require prescription diets. If your dog has not responded to different sensitive stomach dog food brands, your vet might recommend a prescription. Of course prescription dog foods can be very expensive, but you have to do what’s best for your dog.
The Final Word
Some dogs seem to be able to eat just about any type of dog food. Others might appear to be “finicky” or very prone to digestive upsets. If you’re having trouble coming up with a solution to your dog’s sensitive stomach, consult your vet to rule out medical problems, and then try different foods. There are any number of sensitive stomach dog food brands on the market that can ease digestive issues, but there might be a bit of trial and error involved in finding exactly the right food for your dog.