April 21, 2017

Best foods for a sensitive tummy explored

From probiotics for dogs to food allergies, it’s all here…

Is your dog a sensitive sort when it comes to feeding time? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. With careful research and planning, tummy troubles and ‘oops moments’ can become a thing of the past. This week we’re blogging about diets for dogs with special requirements, and how probiotics for dogs can support sensitive sorts...

What do you mean by ‘sensitive tummy’?

Just like people, some pets don’t always get on with every kind of food. You may find that after a change of food, your previously happy-go-lucky dog gets very windy, has runny poos and seems  out of sorts. Or if you live in a multi-dog household, you may have noticed that 2 of your 3 dogs thrive on the brand of food you’ve always favoured, but when you add a new pack member, they might not be so lucky.

What should you look out for?  

  • Loose or runny stools
  • Lots of wind
  • Poor appetite
  • Dull coat
  • Poor overall health
  • A change in the amount of poo or toileting frequency
  • 'Accidents' around the house

Can sensitive digestion be a sign of something else?

Yes. If you’re concerned at all, it’s important to visit your vet for a check-up. Digestive upsets can be a sign of other problems, and as dogs can be scavengers, your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have.

Signs to see your vet straight away

  • Blood in poo
  • Vomiting (more than once)
  •  Unsettled tummy for 3 or more days
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Lethargy (seeming to have no energy or sleeping a lot)
  • Changes in stools – look out for mucus or blood in poo, or black or grey stools
  • Signs of abdominal pain – sensitivity when you touch their tummy, or seeming protective of their abdomen.

Once you’re sure there isn’t anything serious going on, you can start investigating diet management to improve your dog’s quality of life… the rest of the family will thank you, too!

Ideas to soothe sensitive tummies

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the right diet for dogs with sensitive digestion, so we’re going to run through some options and ideas for you to try. And remember, when changing your dog’s food, always do it gradually over the course of a week. Start with 3/4 old food, 1/4 new food, and gradually change the ratio until your pet gets 100% new food.

The easiest options

Try a veterinary diet: It’s likely that your vet will carry their own preferred ‘sensitive’ food – a veterinary diet created especially for dogs prone to food intolerances. These foods can be a great place to start if you’re not sure what it is your dog is reacting to.

Don’t forget treats: Treats and chews may contain ingredients that upset sensitive dogs too, so check the ingredients carefully and opt for all-natural products like dried fish skin or dried liver where you can.

Consider probiotics for dogs: Tummy troubles can be caused by difficulty digesting food as well as changes in diet, stress and scavenging. Thankfully though, probiotics can support their digestive system to cope with the ups and downs of life.

Can probiotics for dogs really help?

In a word, yes. A good digestive health supplement will bolster the natural population of health-protecting bacteria in your pet’s digestive system. They compete with ‘bad’ bacteria for nutrients and block points where the pathogens try to attach. Meanwhile, prebiotics – a special type of carbohydrate – benefit your pet by supporting ‘good’ bacteria. There’s lots more on how this works on our YuDIGEST Dog page.

If your dog has a tendency to have lots of tummy troubles, while you look into the causes, it might be worth considering YuDIGEST Dog and  YuDIGEST PLUS for Dogs – both provide a veterinary strength complex of gut-supporting natural ingredients, including a unique high strength BioActiv probiotic and prebiotic formula. Together they help to get your dog back to normal, fast.

More ways to help dogs with sensitive digestion

If you’ve tried steps 1-3 and your dog’s tummy hasn’t settled, there are plenty more options to try.

Elimination diets – identifying your dog’s ‘trigger foods’

An elimination diet is a way of discovering what triggers your dog’s tummy troubles by limiting ingredients in the food they eat, then testing new additions one at a time for 10-12 weeks and gauging your pet’s reaction.

If you’re considering an elimination diet, you’ll need to really do your research, and always talk 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 best friend stays happy and healthy throughout the process.

Foods dogs can be sensitive to include:

  • Beef and lamb
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Milk and milk products
  • Eggs and egg products
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Veggies
  • Carbs like rice and potato
  • ‘Novel proteins’ – protein not commonly found in petfood, like as duck, venison and rabbit

Once you know what your dog can’t tolerate well, you can start looking at different diets that avoid the ingredients that lead to tummy problems for your dog. It’s best to do this with the support of your vet or a qualified veterinary nutritionist who your vet recommends – they can help to guide you through all the great options out there so you can find the diet that’s right for your dog.

Alternative diets for sensitive dogs

If you’re struggling to find a commercial pet food that suits your dog, all is not lost! Tinned dog meat and kibble is actually a relatively modern invention – and there are other options out there.

Homemade food
It’s possible to make your own dog food, as long as you’re careful to make sure your pet is getting the right mix of energy, protein and nutrients for their breed, age, life stage and lifestyle. As sensitivities vary from dog to dog, you’ll need to research recipes and talk to your vet to make sure you’re providing a healthy, balanced diet. Broadly speaking, a healthy homemade diet should include:

  • Protein from meat or fish
  • Fibre from carbs
  • Fats and fatty acids
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Water for hydration – not all dogs drink enough!

It’s really important to research home-made diets carefully, be aware of foods that dogs find toxic (like onions, grapes and avocados), consider supplements to ensure balance, and watch their calorie intake too!

Feeding raw
Raw feeding is an emotive topic in the doggy community – people always have an opinion about it! Anecdotally speaking, we know lots of pet parents who have seen sensitive dogs thrive when they switch to raw, but there are downsides and risks too. Making sure your dog is getting the right balance of energy and nutrients isn’t easy, and you’ll need to think more about food prep (and storage) than you might if dishing up a serving of kibble.

If you’re interested in raw feeding, again we’d recommend carefully doing your research, knowing the risks and talking to your vet. We like this overview as a starter for 10 – it covers the basics, and gives you an idea of what to expect.

If you try some of the tips in this article, we’d love if they’ve helped your dog. Please do leave a comment – or join in the conversation on our Facebook page. And if you found this article useful, why not share with friends – it easy using the icons at the top of the page.

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