If diarrhea, gas or constipation are recurring issues for your furry friend, it’s likely their stomach is on the sensitive side!
Before you rush out and buy specialized ‘sensitive stomach’ dog food, have you considered the impact of these ingredients on your pet’s overall health?
Sensitive tummies can often be remedied through diet, so let’s take a look at some of the causes and symptoms at play, as well as the best dog food for sensitive stomachs.
Symptoms & causes
Dogs of all ages and breeds can suffer from sensitive stomachs. Obvious signs include vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. Lack of appetite, hypersalivation, and excessive gas are also symptoms.
Some dogs are born with a sensitive tummy - you might notice from an early age they struggle to digest food and have abnormal stools. Other times, the condition is a result of illness or lifestyle factors, such as eating foods outside what they normally eat or feeling stressed from traveling in a car.
If you’ve ruled out the above potential causes, chances are the food they’re eating is highly processed - like most commercial kibbles, as well as some cheap canned foods and treats. Does this sound familiar?
At first glance, many dry kibble diets (including specialized sensitive stomach diets) appear to provide the nutrients your dog needs to thrive, but when you dig a little deeper, you'll see these kibbles are highly processed and have unnecessary ingredients such as carbohydrates, meat by-products, corn, wheat, rice and grains.
What’s wrong with carbohydrates?
It all comes down to digestion. Dogs (and cats!) have no biological requirement for carbohydrates and can’t metabolize these ingredients as efficiently as humans, which is a problem because most commercial dog foods are packed with them!
Next time you’re shopping for dog food, take a closer look at the ingredients. If you notice carbohydrates or ‘filler’ products are included in the ingredient panel, there’s a good chance your dog’s stomach will struggle to digest this food.
Not only do carbohydrates put stress on the digestive system (in the form of gut irritation and inflammation), they’re also more likely to remain in the colon because they’re difficult to break down entirely.
Grains contain ‘phytates’ that block mineral absorption of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and iodine, plus they metabolize into glucose and convert into fat - which is a recipe for weight gain and other health issues. To make matters worse, grains also have a tendency to mold and produce aflatoxins that are not only poisonous to pets, but potentially fatal.
What’s the best dog food for sensitive stomachs?
You only have to look to nature to provide the best diet for your furry friend's sensitive stomach: meat, organs, and bone in whole-prey ratios.
A meat-rich, whole-prey diet provides the optimal assortment of amino acids and digestive enzymes for our furry friends to digest the food they’re consuming. This diet doesn’t include fillers like carbohydrates that can’t be easily digested (therefore lowering the digestibility of the food your dog is consuming).
If you don't like handling raw meat, or love the convenience that dry kibbles offer, you might want to consider a raw alternative diet like ZIWI Peak. Our gentle air-drying process helps protect those precious nutrients and amino acids - with the added benefit of being able to store the food in your cupboard, rather than the fridge or freezer. Just scoop and serve!
To see the difference in how your dog digests a high-meat vs processed diet, you only have to look around your backyard. Dogs eating a meat-rich diet will produce smaller stools than kibble-fed dogs (in other words, smaller stools represent better digestibility).
Here are some other diet considerations for your dog with a sensitive tummy:
- Limited ingredient diet: To reduce inflammation and avoid further stomach upsets when transitioning from a processed to a high-meat diet, we recommend starting with a single protein - and only introducing another when the gut has had time to adjust.
- The power of green tripe: All ZIWI Peak recipes (except chicken, hoki, and mackerel) contain 7% species-appropriate green tripe - a natural probiotic which helps with gut health. To help your dog transition to a new diet comfortably, try the Tripe & Lamb recipe - it contains the highest level of tripe out of all ZIWI Peak recipes.
- Wet vs. air-dried food: Wet foods could be a good option for pets suffering from constipation as they contain more moisture and fiber, allowing the food to work its way through the digestive tract more comfortably.
The best dog food for sensitive stomachs is also the best dog food for allergies, the best dog food for healthy teeth and gums, and the best for joint care. A high-meat diet works wonders for all areas of canine health, because it’s the diet dogs are biologically designed to eat.
If you’d like to know more about our recipes, or have any questions, please get in touch with the ZIWI team here.