How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs and Diarrhea
Some dogs are born with stomachs that are sensitive to certain foods, and this can often lead to bouts of diarrhea. Because frequent diarrhea can easily lead to dehydration, it is important to provide dogs with sensitivities with a diet that their bodies can tolerate well.
The wild canine did not favor the type of diet that the modern dog is often offered today. As a result, some dogs remain true to their ancestral heritage with stomachs that rebel against certain ingredients that are not suited to their digestive systems.
All dogs are essentially carnivores. The wild dog did not always have access to meat, and thus, had to accept plants as a secondary food source if necessary. However, many of the dog foods sold at pet stores today bear little resemblance to the diet the wild dog would have consumed. Many of them are comprised of low quality ingredients and filler foods that dogs’ stomachs are not accustomed to and cannot process properly.
In addition to this; just as with humans, dogs possess the capability to develop allergies over time. This can be expressed through food triggers which may indicate a sensitivity, an allergy, or a complete intolerance. When this occurs, diarrhea is one of the most common indications that there is a gastrointestinal disturbance that is food-related.
Veterinary professionals assert that food-based allergies are identified in 10 percent of the dogs they see that are struggling with persistent diarrhea and sensitive stomachs. Sadly, allergies to foods can become apparent at any stage of a dog’s life and nearly any ingredient can be a target.
In essence, an allergic reaction is simply an immune response to something the dog’s body identifies then rejects as foreign. When this rejection occurs, healthy cells are permanently damaged during the body’s attempt to eradicate the foreign body.
However; both sensitivities and intolerances present in a different manner to allergies. Unlike the immune response triggered by an allergy, sensitivities and intolerances are expressed through digestion or skin problems and are often evidenced as gas or diarrhea.
On occasion, dogs will experience sensitivities as a result of parasites in the intestines, the consumption of spoiled or toxic food items, or digestive illness.
The best food for dogs with sensitive stomachs and diarrhea can be a great help in resolving these issues permanently.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs or Diarrhea
Before assessing how much of the best food for sensitive stomachs and diarrhea to feed a dog suffering with these issues, it is important to first ascertain if the problem is a one-time event or a recurring problem. Dogs with the occasional problem with an upset stomach or diarrhea will need a smaller portion of a food to treat this problem than those who must receive this diet on a daily basis to maintain good gastrointestinal health.
Typically, for dogs experiencing the occasional flareup of stomach sensitivities, it is not necessary to introduce this type of food. Introducing a new diet to a dog whose stomach is already upset will exacerbate the problem.
For those dogs for whom sensitive stomachs and diarrhea can be a regular problem without dietary intervention, this type of food is ideal to bring a resolution to the problem. To determine the amount of food the dog should be fed, begin with the suggested serving size for the dog’s weight. This can be adjusted to reflect the dog’s activity level and appetite until the correct portion has been achieved.
Dietary Requirements for Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs or Diarrhea
Sensitive stomachs and diarrhea can be indicative of a far more serious gastrointestinal problem that diet alone will not resolve. If a dog experiences regular gas, it is a good idea to make a visit to a veterinarian for a thorough exam and assessment. Among the problems gas could indicate are internal parasites, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or even infections of the stomach.
However, if the dog has been examined by a doctor and found to be otherwise healthy, food intolerances or sensitivities are most likely to blame and a diet to address this can be invaluable.
Experts recommend feeding dogs with sensitive stomachs, gas, or diarrhea a diet which contains limited ingredients. This helps to rule out a number of added foods that could be feeding the problem.
Limited ingredient diets are based on the premise of including only foods that are easy for dogs to process and utilize effectively thus eliminating the likeliness of a dog’s body reacting to the diet negatively.
There are several ingredients that should be avoided in any food considered for a dog with stomach sensitivities and/or diarrhea. One of the most common food allergens in dogs suffering with gastrointestinal distress is wheat. Wheat is difficult for dogs to process and utilize effectively. Foods containing this ingredient should be avoided as should any diet that contains wheat-based proteins such as barley and rye.
Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives are also known to cause stomach problems in most dogs. These can lead to the development of a recurring allergy, making them ineligible for inclusion on a list of the best foods for dogs with stomach sensitivities or diarrhea.
Other ingredients that are difficult for dogs to digest include the plant-based proteins soy and corn. They offer very little nutritional value and can also be blamed for common side effects such as bloating, inflammation, and gas.
Though healthy fats like chicken fat and salmon oil are excellent additions to any dog food and fat is a critical component of a healthy diet, any fat that is simply labeled “animal fat” is not suited to dogs with stomach sensitivities as its origins and quality are unknown.
High-quality foods suited for dogs with stomach sensitivities always list a lean meat protein as their first ingredient. Whole meats are preferred, but meat meals are also acceptable. By-products are known to aggravate sensitive tummies and should be avoided.
Carbohydrates are an important part of any diet for a dog with stomach sensitivities and diarrhea. Though some dogs do tolerate whole grains well, most foods for dogs that suffer from reactions to certain foods do best on a diet that gets its carbohydrates from fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to support good digestion.
Any food for dogs with sensitive stomachs and diarrhea should contain a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs or Diarrhea
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in a food for dogs with sensitive stomachs or diarrhea:
- Whole meat or meat meal proteins heading up the ingredients list
- Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
- Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
- Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
- Based on a limited ingredients list