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Advice on having a dog with a sensitive stomach

Advice on having a dog with a sensitive stomach

Dogs are omnivores, meaning that they are meant to live on a diet that contains meat and vegetables. Most dogs can eat almost any food, but there are a proportion of dogs that have a much more sensitive stomach. Just like in people, dogs and puppies can both suffer from having a sensitive stomach, with an episode of flatulence or diarrhoea becoming started by the smallest of things.

Most dogs have a healthy digestive system, although some can experience mild, occasional digestive upsets, whilst others can be longer term. Sensitive stomach in a dog can affect any breed and at any age. 

What is a sensitive stomach?

A sensitive stomach is when a dog eats a certain food and causes a digestive upset.

What is a sensitive stomach

The symptoms that you will normally see with a digestive upset include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Hyper salivation
  • Nausea
  • Swallowing (result of nausea)
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive gas
  • Soft stool 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in stool
  • Decreased mobility after eating substance of question

The most common symptom seen in a dog with a sensitive stomach is diarrhoea.

Diarrhoea is defined as an increase in frequency, volume or liquid content which leads to unformed faeces being produced. The process of turning ingested food into a formed fecal matter involves a series of processes involving many different organs in the body. Diarrhea can result if one of the normal processes goes wrong.

The consistency of diarrhoea can vary greatly from the faeces being soft but slightly formed to liquid. The colour of the faeces can also greatly vary from being very dark in colour to being lighter than normal.

What causes food allergies/sensitive stomach in dogs?

There are numerous reasons why dogs can get diarrhoea, from eating something they should not to a sudden change of food.
If you are keen to change your dog’s food, remember to do it gradually over a seven to ten-day period. This should be done by mixing a little of the new food with the original food and then as each day passes, add more of the new food and less of the original diet.

If at any point there is an upset to the stomach, then stop the new diet and let your dog have a few days of rest on their original normal diet before trying again with the new food. It is possible that your dog could be intolerant to some feeds, even if they have previously coped well with them.
There are many other causes of diarrhoea and having an upset stomach, if your dog is unwell please seek veterinary advice for more information.

What kind of foods can dogs be sensitive to?

Much like with people, food sensitivities in dogs are down to the individual dog.

Foods that dogs can be sensitive to include:

  • Beef and lamb
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Fish
  • Some vegetables

What food should I try for my dog with sensitive stomach?


There are many options in what you can do if your dog has a sensitive stomach:

Veterinary diet: It is likely likely that your vet will suggest a veterinary diet created especially for dogs sensitive to food intolerances. These foods can be a great place to start if you’re not sure what ingredient your dog is allergic to.
Sensitive diets: There are many manufactures on the market that make specific sensitive dog food. This can also be a good place to start; you can try and feed your dog an ingredient that they may not have had before.

Treats: We all like to treat our dog but some treats and chews may contain ingredients that unsettle sensitive dogs too, so check the ingredients carefully.

Probiotics for dogs: Sensitive tummies can be caused by difficulty digesting food as well as changes in diet, stress and scavenging. Giving your dog a probiotic can help support their digestive system.

What brands of dog food make sensitive food?

Allergies and food intolerances can often affect a dog’s digestive system. Making a good dietary choice for your dog is one of the best ways to avoid digestive upset and support excellent physical well-being. All sensitivity dog food comes in wet, canned and dry; depending on your dog’s individual taste.
There is many sensitive dogs and puppy food manufactures on the market that provide us with sensitive stomach dog food, including Royal Canin, Harrington’s, Purina dog food, Skinners, Arden Grange and Burns sensitive control.

How do I choose a sensitive dog food?

As there are so many diets on the market, it can be confusing the best one for your dog. The best dog food for sensitive stomachs will be highly-digestible and low in fat. Highly digestible ingredients are easy to digest and provide more nutrients for the volume of food.

The best way forward is to do an elimination diet, so giving your dog an ingredient it hasn’t eaten before in a food such as sweet potato or salmon. By isolating certain ingredients, you can understand what makes your dog’s stomach sensitive and what doesn’t.

If you are considering an elimination diet for your dog, speak to your vet before you begin. They can give you expert advice on the plan you’ve chosen, suggest alternatives if it’s not quite right for your dog, and keep an eye on things so your dog stays happy and healthy throughout the process.

What alternative dog diets could I consider?


If you want to do a dog food for sensitive stomachs then you could consider a homemade sensitivity diet. It is possible to make your own, but it is important to make sure that your dog is getting the right amount of energy, protein and nutrients for their breed, age, life stage and life cycle.

Having a sensitive stomach varies from dog to dog, so make sure that you research recipes and talk to a veterinary surgeon or qualified canine nutritionist to ensure you are giving a healthy and balanced diet.

A sensitive homemade diet should contain protein (from meat or fish), fibre (from carbohydrates), fats and fatty acids and vitamins/minerals.
Essentially, diets that are homemade should not contain human foods such as onions, grapes and raisins as these foods are toxic to dogs.

What should I do if I think my puppy or dog has a sensitive stomach?


It is advisable you consider an elimination diet – and stick to a straightforward diet you can monitor. The diet should help eliminate what foods your puppy or dog could have sensitivity to such as beef, wheat and dairy. During the elimination diet trial avoid treats, dental chews and table scraps.
Have a check-up if your dog or puppy is not recovering from mild diarrhoea.

Speak to your veterinary surgeon in cases where

a) the diarrhoea is showing more symptoms or

b) if the diarrhoea is getting worse, as a quick treatment can prevent any more serious problems.


If you would like more information on your dog’s nutritional needs or are considering changing their diet from regular dog food to food best for sensitive stomachs, here at Petsmagnet we are happy to discuss a wide range of feeds for pet dogs and working dogs alike, at any life stage.

Next article What is Hypo-allergenic Dog Food?

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