SENSITIVE STOMACHS

We wanted to take the opportunity to discuss the popular topic of “Sensitive Stomachs” and we should hopefully answer some of our frequently asked questions too.

Why does it appear?

Dogs have started to develop a sensitive stomach /intolerance for various reasons such as but not limited to: 

Environmental factors- long term stress/anxiety 

Chemical exposure– Flea or worm treatment, medications like NSAIDs (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)

Other medical conditionsPancreatitis, hypo/hyperthyroidism, renal failure etc…

All of these can influence the microbiome of the gut which may lead to intestinal permeability (leaky gut) over time. As a result, partially digested food particles breach the intestine walls and enter the lymphatic system, resulting in an immune response. This can make dogs sensitive to various foods whilst they’re suffering from this condition, although it isn’t the only cause.

Food influence is very strong

This isn’t just happening in the UK but globally. A sensitivity simply means they’re sensitive to a certain protein in their diet, typically in their formulated food. Sensitivity is usually unique to each dog, although there are some common denominators such as starch and grains.

This is happening to all dogs regardless of their age, although senior dogs may struggle to process/break down foods as they used to as their bodies slow down as they get older which naturally increases their sensitivity. An example could be, struggling with diets higher in processed fats.

How to notice the sensitive stomach?

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you’ll know about it, they will usually display immediate symptoms such as but not limited to diarrhoea, vomiting, bad gas and abdominal cramping when they consume foods that don’t agree with them. Some symptoms can take a while to kick in such as dry and flaky skin, waxy ears, fur loss, general itching and tear stains. 

If you notice any of this happening, it’s best to get your dog to the vet, who can then carry out various tests to try and determine the underlying cause. 

The cure is just as simple as the cause

Once it’s been confirmed that your dog has a sensitive stomach, your vet may put a plan in place to manage their sensitivity, possibly including an elimination diet followed by a specific diet such as:

Grain-free formulas- These are a popular choice because it seems a lot of dogs are sensitive to grains, so this could be your vet’s first option. Formulated using grain replacements like sweet potato and legumes.

Hypoallergenic Formulas — These are formulas that are made up of novel proteins or hydrolysed proteins, which won’t be detected by the body and are least likely to trigger a sensitivity/intolerance/allergy.

GI Formulas– These are usually formulated to include highly bioavailable proteins and probiotics to support gut health, these are normally higher in calories too, so you can give smaller portions. This is to support their gastrointestinal tract.  

These types of foods will either be dry (kibble) or wet (tins/pouches) and are specifically formulated using limited ingredients that are clinically tested before they’re approved to be sold for such a purpose/condition.

Can you cook meals for your dog at home? Of course!

If you have an aversion to using prescription food for whatever reason, you could ask your vet if they can formulate a home-made diet for you to follow at home, this will involve cooking meals for your dogs yourself and adding in supplements such as vitamins/minerals to make it complete and balanced. 

Thankfully, other commercial brands offer single protein meals, free of grains/fillers and artificial ingredients which would make a great option to support dogs with a sensitive stomach, simply because they don’t contain the majority of the ingredients that dogs may be sensitive to.

Fresh dog foods that are chopped into smaller pieces (mimics thorough chewing) can help speed up digestion because they provide an increased surface area, allowing enzymes to break down nutrients efficiently and hence promote optimal digestion. 

It’s also beneficial to stick to one animal protein type at a time, this allows you to rule out proteins if your dogs are sensitive to them much easier, this is why single protein foods are important when dealing with sensitivities, many vets are even opting for insect-based formulas for extreme sensitivities. The more novel the protein source, the less likely a dog is to have a sensitivity to it. 

If you are switching your dog’s diet, it is always advisable to follow a “transition” period such as:

Days 1-3: ¾ Old Food + ¼ New Food

Days 4-6: ½ Old Food + ½ New Food

Days 7-9: ¼ Old Food + ¾ New Food

Day 10: 100% New Food

NEW DIET – NEW ISSUES?

This is to reduce the risk of the new food causing an upset stomach, especially if you’re switching from dry food to fresh food because fresh foods are nutrient-dense which could be too much for your dog initially. Dogs may not be used to foods having such a high bioavailability, and even though some can adapt very easily to a “straight swap” it is always advisable to introduce it gently. If you notice any diarrhoea/gut upset during the transition stage, just go back to the previous split of new/old for 2-3 days before continuing the transition process again. 

#GoRocketo

Rocketo makes zero medical claims about our foods, but here are some take-home points:

🟡Freshly sourced

🟡100% organic/wild ingredients

🟡Zero artificial ingredients of any kind

🟡Grain/filler/starch free

🟡Chopped into small pieces

🟡Single animal protein

🟡Minimal carbohydrates (under 10%)

With these benefits in mind, we have noted that many pet owners, once they have switched their dog to Rocketo have been incredibly happy to see the change in their dogs’ sensitive stomachs as well as an improvement to their overall well-being. Please do not take our word for it, we would love for you to read what hundreds of satisfied pet owners have to say about our range of food/supplements/treats here!

Written by
DR. ANDREW BUTCHER
BVSc MRCVS

Click here to know more about Andrew, or meet him on LinkedIn.

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