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Treating Your Sensitive Pup Right

You love your dog and love to pamper them. If you’re like many pet parents, you express your affection for your canine companion through food, including special treats. Most dog owners give food to comfort their dogs, to bond with them and to reward them.

But if you have a dog with a sensitive stomach, you must think not only about feeding a special or therapeutic dog food, but you need to reconsider what treats you give your four-legged friend. Depending on the underlying cause of your dog’s sensitive stomach, you may need to completely eliminate giving any food treats (which can be difficult to do), including those “people foods” — such as turkey breast or green beans — that are considered “safe” for dogs.

The good news? With the thousands of treat choices available, there are plenty of options for indulging your dog with a sensitive stomach.

Talk with your veterinarian first

If your dog has been diagnosed with an underlying gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) health issue and switched to a special dog food, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian before giving any food treats. Sometimes it’s important that a dog receive only the food that’s specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs, especially if that food is being fed as part of an elimination diet trial to identify food allergies. Your veterinarian can advise you on whether you’ll need to completely withhold treats and for how long.

If your veterinarian gives the okay for “treating” your dog, they can also recommend one or more treats that are specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Another option worth considering is using your dog’s special food as treats.

What makes a treat acceptable for a dog with a sensitive stomach?

Just as special diets for dogs with sensitive stomachs are formulated to be highly digestible, treats for these dogs also need to be easy to digest. The amounts of fat and fiber also need to be controlled to avoid overworking or irritating an already sensitive digestive tract.

“Treats” to avoid

If you know your dog has a sensitive stomach, you also often know (or at least suspect) what food or ingredients can lead to diarrhea and room-clearing gas. Obviously, treats that contain the suspect ingredients need to be avoided. You also need to steer clear of high-fiber vegetables and fruits — unless you know your dog’s digestive system can process them or they’re specifically recommended by your veterinarian (for example, canned pumpkin or sweet potato). Veggies that have a reputation for being flatulence producers — broccoli, cauliflower, peas and cabbage — should be avoided, as should lactose-containing dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk.

While your dog may like snacking on food treats, remember that love doesn’t have to take the form of food. Probably the best treat of all for your canine companion is the quality one-on-one time you spend with them. A long walk or an extra game of tag or fetch may be the best treat you can give!

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