Does Your Dog Have a Sensitive Stomach?

Does Your Dog Have a Sensitive Stomach?

One of the most common complaints you will hear from dog owners is that their furry companion has a “sensitive stomach”.  Maybe this means that they have frequent bouts of diarrhea, or that they generally struggle with a variety of foods.  Whatever the case may be, a sensitive stomach isn’t, in and of itself, a clinical condition.  If your dog has a hard time digesting the food that they eat, there’s always an underlying reason, whether it’s a genetic intolerance to common foods, an infection, or otherwise.

If your dog does have a sensitive stomach, consider exploring all of the possibilities that may be behind the problem, so that you can work toward supporting their digestive health.  

Now, with all that being said, let’s take a look into why this is such a common condition, what it can indicate about your dog’s health, and what you can do about it to provide them with the comfort they need.

What is a Sensitive Stomach?

A “sensitive stomach” means that a dog has digestive troubles, especially when they eat certain foods.  Dogs generally have the reputation for being able to eat just about anything – something that many, many dog owners will attest to – but then, there are some canines that seemingly can’t tolerate much, including many popular dog food brands.

Again, a sensitive stomach is not a real condition.  After all, usually when this term is used, it’s referring to issues that occur within the intestines, rather then the actual stomach.  But, identifying a sensitive stomach is the first part toward getting your dog treated for whatever the issue may be.

Symptoms of a Sensitive Stomach

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, a dog owner will almost definitely notice pretty quickly, as the symptoms are quite hard to ignore.  

Here are the most common symptoms of a sensitive stomach:

  • Frequent diarrhea/loose stool
  • Blood in stool
  • Excessive gas
  • Bloating/distended abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite changes
  • Excessive mucus in stool

Keep in mind, just about every dog will experience these symptoms rarely – just like humans do.  The key to figuring out whether or not there may be a problem is identifying how frequently these symptoms occur.  If they seem to be persistent, then you’ll want to start taking a closer look into what may be happening with your dog’s health.  

Also, take note that these symptoms may begin gradually, or come on suddenly.  They may start during puppyhood, or even show up later in life.  Regardless, it’s always important to take your dog’s digestive health seriously, and also monitor their symptoms along with knowing when it’s time to take them to the vet.

What Causes a Sensitive Stomach in Dogs?

When talking about a dog having a sensitive stomach, we are referring to chronic symptoms, rather than occasional bouts of digestive troubles.  So, with that being said, there are some primary/common reasons why your dog may chronically have digestive symptoms like the ones we listed earlier.

Cause #1: Food Allergies

Sometimes, your dog’s sensitive stomach may be caused by a food allergy, food sensitivity, or food intolerance.  If you’re consistently feeding your dog an ingredient that their body actually can’t tolerate, they’ll have an immune response that can lead to a variety of unpleasant digestive symptoms.  And, these symptoms don’t necessarily have to occur immediately after they eat that ingredient, either.  Consistently being exposed to an allergen can cause chronic inflammation in the digestive tract that remains symptomatic until they’ve ceased consuming that ingredient for at least a couple of weeks.

Cause #2: Genetics

Some dogs may just inherit digestive sensitivities at birth, and so, may struggle to tolerate certain types of foods.  

Cause #3: Anxiety/Stress

Anxiety and stress can show up in the form of all kinds of persistent symptoms, and poor digestive health is one of the most common.  The constant flow of adrenaline hormones throughout the body, which occurs during moments of stress or anxiety, can disrupt healthy digestive function, making it harder for a dog to properly digest food.  

Cause #4: Parasites

Intestinal parasites are a very common culprit behind a sensitive stomach, and one of the most overlooked as well.  Parasites commonly affect dogs, and a parasitic infection may or may not be symptomatic.  Dogs should be tested for parasites by their veterinarian.  Keep in mind that standard parasite testing does not necessarily include all kinds of parasitic infections, so if you suspect that a dog may have parasites, you should ask your vet for more extensive testing.

Cause #5: Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections, like parasites, can be an underlying and surprising cause of your dog’s sensitive stomach.  These infections can cause long-term, chronic symptoms if left unchecked.  And, similarly to what we said about parasites, a standard stool test performed at the vet’s office won’t necessarily test for all of the known culprits behind a bacterial infection of the intestines.  So, again, if you suspect that an infection may be the underlying cause, we recommend asking your vet for a more extensive degree of testing.

Cause #6: Breed

Some dog breeds are simply more prone to sensitive stomachs than others.  A lot of this has to do with whether or not their bodies have adapted over years of selective breeding to consume certain foods, and also has to do with how their digestive tracts are structured based on their body’s design.  

Most common breeds with sensitive stomachs are:

  • Poodles
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Irish Setters
  • Great Danes
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Shar Peis

Also, remember, smaller dogs may exhibit signs of a sensitive stomach because their bodies are designed to actually consume fairly small amounts of food compared to bigger dogs.

Cause #7: Inflammatory Disorders

Certain inflammatory disorders of the digestive tract can lead to chronic digestive symptoms, and difficulty tolerating what are even considered dog-friendly foods.  Canine irritable bowel disease (IBD) is one of the most common of these conditions, and even means that the intestines are chronically inflamed.  This inflammation can cause extreme sensitivity to many foods, and cause all kinds of symptoms including excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.  These conditions can be hereditary, but in many cases, they can be treated with simple dietary changes.  Sometimes, they are a sign of a greater autoimmune disorder that requires a more holistic approach to providing care.

Cause #8: Poor Diet

Sometimes, a sensitive stomach is just a digestive system that’s reacting to a poor diet.  While it’s true that dogs can largely tolerate “people food,” their bodies were simply not designed to consume many of the things that we eat daily, like dairy and grains.  Similarly, low-quality ingredients in dog food, like lots of fillers and artificial additives, are not meant for a dog to eat regularly.  So, your dog may just be reacting to food that’s ultimately not appropriate for their species.

What Can Actually Be Done About a Sensitive Stomach in Dogs?

Let’s say you’ve noticed your dog struggling with digestive issues lately, and it’s been going on long enough that you know it’s not a one-off event, like something they ate that may have disagreed with their body.  In that case, what steps should you take in order to help your dog find relief?  

Step #1: See the Veternairan

If you notice changes in your dog’s digestive health, it’s always best to go to a veterinarian.  Only your vet has the means to diagnose the issue through testing, and figure out what may be the cause of their symptoms.  This is very important, because in some cases, digestive troubles can indicate a bigger health issue that needs medical attention sooner than later.  Besides that, if symptoms are severe enough, such as chronic diarrhea, your dog can become dehydrated, which puts their health at a real risk.  

Your vet can also figure out what treatment options will best suit your dog.  This can be a change in diet, a medication, or other changes that will benefit their health.  Because a sensitive stomach has so many different causes, you need the help of a medical professional to provide your canine with the help that they need.

Step #2: Consider Dietary Changes

It may be a matter of making a change to their diet.  Even the “healthiest” dog foods may disagree with your dog’s digestive system, due to an intolerance to certain ingredients.  There are many, many options out there for dogs with sensitive stomachs, including “basic” dog food that has minimal ingredients, and raw dog food, which many dog owners have found is far easier on their digestive tract due to being “species-appropriate” – in other words, more in line with what a dog would eat in the wild, as their body is designed for.

Step #3: Address Underlying Stress

If your vet believes that stress or anxiety may be the cause, or at least a contributing factor, then we strongly urge you to consider making changes to their environment and routine in order to put them at ease.  If your dog’s stress or anxiety is severe enough to cause long-term digestive problems, then consider that they’re in more distress than you realize, and so, deserve some relief.  At the very least, dogs who have a sensitive stomach due to other issues typically see worsening symptoms when they are experiencing stress.

Now, you might wondering here, how can you minimize your dog’s stress and anxiety levels?  Simple:

  • Keep them on a consistent daily routine to maintain predictability.
  • If they’re socially shy, minimize interactions with strangers.
  • Provide them with a “safe space” in your home – an enclosed area where they can hide when they’re feeling uneasy, as dogs instinctively look for tight hiding spaces when they’re in distress.
  • Make sure your dog gets consistent affection, attention, and play.
  • If your dog has separation anxiety, consider asking a family member or neighbor to spend some time with them when you’re away from home.
  • Give your dog plenty of mental and physical stimulation in the form of interactive toys, exercise, games, and teaching them tricks.  A dog that is not mentally and physically stimulated is likely to develop psychological issues including anxiety and depression.

Step #4: Incorporate Supplements into Their Routine

There are supplements out there that aim to help a dog who is struggling with chronic digestive symptoms.  For instance, many dogs who experience frequent bouts of diarrhea or loose stool benefit from a fiber supplement.  If your veterinarian doesn’t have a lot of experience in canine nutrition, you can find nutritionists who specialize in canine health.

Step #5: Try CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the chemical compound that dominates the hemp plant.  It’s nonintoxicating, and nontoxic to dogs.  More and more dog owners are using CBD as part of their dog’s daily routine in order to ease digestive symptoms, and studies have found that this naturally occurring compound reduces inflammation in the digestive tract, aids in motility, and generally promotes regulation of digestive functions.

What Can CBD Do For Dogs?

CBD is a type of chemical compound known as a cannabinoid, which is unique to the cannabis plant.  Cannabis, to which both hemp and marijuana belong, offers over 100 individual cannabinoids, all of which are isomers of one another.  Some cannabinoids, like THC, are psychoactive, but CBD is not remotely intoxicating, even in high doses.  It simply doesn’t attach to receptors in the brain that produce a psychoactive response.

What all cannabinoids share in common with one another is their relationship with the body’s endocannabinoid system – a system in all mammals, which has the job of maintaining homeostasis throughout the entire body.  The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of a network of cannabinoid receptors found in each bodily system, and these cannabinoid receptors use cannabinoids like CBD to regulate bodily processes, like sleep, mood, inflammation, pain tolerance, cognitive functions, digestion, immune response, and more.

What this means is that each time a dog consumes CBD, their ECS is getting support, which in turn helps their body reach a state of equilibrium.  So, how does this apply to a dog with a sensitive stomach?  Like we mentioned earlier, data has shown that the cannabinoids in cannabis can offer numerous regulatory effects to digestive processes.  CBD overall supports digestive function, by balancing these functions so that they operate as efficiently as possible.  This means that the cannabinoid has the potential to ease numerous symptoms, including chronic inflammation of the intestines, which is a common cause for a sensitive stomach.

What Should You Know Before Introducing Your Dog to CBD?

If you’re going to give your dog CBD in an effort to help them with their sensitive stomach, there are some things that you will need to know ahead of time.  Why?  Well, in order to ensure a successful routine, and to ensure that you’re giving them only the safest, most effective, and purest product out there.

Tip #1: Find a CBD Product for Dogs

We strongly encourage you to choose a CBD product that’s specifically made for dogs.  A lot of CBD products that are formulated for humans contain ingredients that humans tolerate just fine, but dogs do not.  For example, some CBD tinctures made for humans contain essential oils, many of which can be toxic or even deadly to canines.  The same goes for certain types of flavoring ingredients used in gummies, tinctures, and other oral products.

Another thing to consider is that if you were to use a human CBD product on your dog, you’d have to really consider the milligram strength.  CBD products made for people use dosages that are appropriate for humans but may not be right for your dog.  CBD products made for dogs almost always offer dosing directions that are determined according to your dog’s weight, so you don’t have to guess.

Tip #2: Consider the Brand Carefully

Another thing that’s of utmost importance is the brand you go with.  You might find CBD pet products in a gas station or convenience store, and we strongly recommend that you avoid these products at all costs.  There are all kinds of ways in which a CBD product may be no good for your precious companion, from the ingredients used to the potency of the product.  

Instead, we urge you to find a trusted online brand that specializes in pet-friendly CBD products, and has lots of positive reviews, along with the ability to reach out to customer service.  Also, look for third-party lab reports on their website, which indicate that the company has their products tested by a third-party laboratory for quality, purity, and safety.

Tip #3: Check the Ingredients Thoroughly

Never buy a CBD-based product for your dog without first really going over every ingredient.  This is especially important if your dog has a sensitive stomach.  Make sure that your dog can tolerate every ingredient in the product, and that there are no generally questionable ingredients, like artificial preservatives and fillers, that could upset their digestive tract in any way.  

Tip #4: Make Sure the Product Appeals to Your Dog

Of course, you want to give your pup a CBD-infused product that’s gonna appeal to their senses, or else they’re not going to want it.  And, thankfully, many CBD dog products are flavored to offer the tastes that canines love.

Tip #5: Pay Attention to Dosing 

Follow the dosing directions on the label of your dog’s CBD product, to ensure you’re giving them the appropriate amount according to their body weight.  Giving your dog too low of a dose may mean that you don’t see the full effectiveness of the cannabinoid.  Giving them too much isn’t considered dangerous, but it can cause drowsiness, fatigue, appetite changes, and dizziness.

Tip #6: Make CBD a Daily Part of Their Regimen

It’s important to make CBD a daily part of your dog’s routine.  Cannabinoids work cumulatively, meaning that consistent consumption allows the effectiveness to build over time, and offer long-term results.  So, pick a time of day to give your dog their daily serving of CBD, and allow for a few weeks for it to become fully effective.

Which is Better for a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach: CBD Treats or CBD Oil?

The two main types of CBD dog products are CBD treats and CBD oil.  So, which is better for a dog who has a sensitive stomach?  Well, that all depends on your dog’s specific symptoms and sensitivities.  

  • CBD dog treats that are made with gentle, natural ingredients are generally just fine.
  • CBD oil contains fewer ingredients that could interfere with your dog’s digestive system.  

Chill Paws CBD Product Could Be Perfect for a Sensitive Canine

If your dog is showing signs of a sensitive stomach, it’s always best to take them to a veterinarian to figure out the underlying cause.  In most cases, a sensitive stomach is very much treatable, and requires just some minor adjustments to their routine.

Chill Paws carries a wide selection of CBD products made specifically for our furry friends.  We take into account the fact that many dogs have sensitive stomachs, and so we formulate our products with the gentlest natural ingredients possible.  If your dog is particularly sensitive, we offer CBD oils with just two ingredients: hemp extract and MCT oil, which is a coconut derivative that’s very easy to digest.

Our products are third-party tested, and come in milligram strengths appropriate for all dog breeds, along with clear dosing directions to take out any guesswork.  Pet owners from across the country come to us with all kinds of complaints and concerns, and are pleased to find that our CBD products offer the relief that their canines deserve. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published