Things to Consider When Evaluating Dog Foods for Sensitive Stomachs
Do you sometimes wonder if your dog has a sensitive stomach? He or she might if he or she has one or more of the following symptoms:
- Recurrent, but sporadic, loose stools
- Occasional vomiting
- Excessive, nasty-smelling flatulence (gas)
It’s important to recognize that these symptoms can occur for plenty of reasons. An inability to tolerate a particular food ingredient, an infection caused by a virus or bacteria, a food allergy, snacking on something that he or she shouldn’t have, internal parasites and several other medical conditions can all result in digestive system problems.
Rule out medical conditions first
Because diarrhea, vomiting and gas can indicate potentially serious health conditions, you’ll want your veterinarian to examine your dog to rule out other possible medical reasons for your dog’s symptoms before assuming your furry friend simply has a sensitive stomach. If your veterinarian finds that your dog’s tummy troubles aren’t a sign of an identifiable and treatable medical issue, then you’ll want to take a close look at your dog’s entire diet.
Back to dietary basics
Some dogs’ digestive tracts simply can’t handle a lot of variety or foods made with ingredients that cause the digestive system to work a little harder than usual. First, you’ll want to simplify your dog’s diet by reducing or eliminating the “extras” — table scraps, treats and access to garbage and other “delicacies” when outdoors. Then, you’ll want to scrutinize your dog’s current food in terms of digestibility (see below), fat content and fiber as well as ingredients. Depending on what you learn about the food you’re currently feeding, you may need to consider switching your furry friend to a food formulated specifically for dogs with sensitive stomachs, such as Diamond CARE Sensitive Stomach Formula for Dogs
Dogs with sensitive stomachs need highly digestible food
Sensitive stomach dog foods are formulated to be highly digestible, with a limited number of high-quality ingredients, so they’re easy for your dog’s digestive system to process. Digestibility, which measures the amount of nutrients that are absorbed by the body, reflects a food’s ability to deliver essential nutrients to the dog that’s eating it and ultimately affects his or her long-term health. Dog food digestibility can also influence the volume, appearance and smell of your dog’s stool and the likelihood for flatulence.
Some types of ingredients are considered to be more digestible than others. For example, protein ingredients have higher digestibility than fiber ingredients, but specific types of fiber are critical for optimal digestion.
The term quality is often used to describe the digestibility of an ingredient or food. Dog foods made from high-quality ingredients tend to be much more digestible than lower-quality ingredients. Veterinary nutritionists also use quality to describe whether a protein contains all the essential amino acids in the appropriate ratio for a particular animal.
Moderate fat level avoids overworking the digestive system
Generally speaking, dietary fat is more complex and difficult for dogs to digest than carbohydrates and protein. Undigested fat that reaches the large intestine can be fermented by bacteria and contribute to diarrhea. But a sufficient amount of dietary fat is necessary for good health. That’s why veterinary nutritionists recommend foods with moderate amounts of fat (12 to 15 percent on a dry matter basis) for dogs with digestive system issues.
Fabulous fiber helps support digestive system health
Although some people talk about fiber as though it’s one thing, the truth is that there’s more than one type of fiber, and they’re not all equal when it comes to canine digestive system health.
For dogs with digestive system issues, the traditional approach is to recommend low-fiber foods (5 percent or less on a dry matter basis). Fiber-containing ingredients should provide a balance of soluble and insoluble fibers. Most soluble and some insoluble fibers are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, producing short-chain fatty acids that help feed the cells of the intestinal lining. Good, balanced sources of soluble and insoluble fibers include beet pulp, tomato pomace, psyllium seed husk, peas, flaxseed and several others.
There’s no one food that works best for all dogs with sensitive stomachs. Finding the best food for your dog may require a little time and patience, and what works for your friend’s dog may not work for yours. Before spending a lot of time and money trying different dog foods, be sure to ask your veterinarian to help you determine what type of food would be best for your dog. To find a retailer who sells Diamond CARE Sensitive Stomach Formula for Adult Dogs, please visit Where to Buy.
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