Sensitive stomach? It's a sensitive issue

sensitive stomach? It's a sensitive issue

It can be common for cats and dogs to experience an upset stomach, and in most cases, they will recover just fine on their own. However, sometimes an upset stomach is more than just an upset stomach and may be in fact be a stomach sensitivity or even worse, an underlying health concern.

A tummy upset that goes beyond the 24-hour period can cause further health issues, such as dehydration, anemia, and weight loss. If this is the case with your pet - take them to the vet for a thorough examination.

Common symptoms of stomach sensitivities:

Do you have a cat or dog that has one or more of the following symptoms?

  • Intermittent loose stools
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Picky or fussy with their food?

Common causes of stomach sensitivities

Cats and dogs can suffer from an upset stomach for a variety of reasons. Some of the more benign triggers are related to things like overeating, or not eating enough. In both cases, your dog’s stomach can become upset and cause illness. Or things like worms, viruses, stress and anxiety or even motion sickness can cause your dog to have an upset stomach.  That’s something to keep in mind the next time you want to take your dog on a road trip to the beach!

Treatment for stomach sensitivities

If you suspect that your pet might have a sensitive stomach, treatment should be based on what you think is causing the issue.


Ensure your pet’s worm treatment is up to date. These tiny parasites are very hardy. When they are the cause of your pet’s upset stomach, they can wreak havoc.


If your dog’s immune system is compromised or weakened in any way, bacterial infections can gain a foothold, and cause gastrointestinal upsets. In particular, bacteria like e. coli and salmonella which are both quite common. Keep your pet hydrated but don’t let them over drink or eat as this can quite easily upset the dietary tract more. Consider withholding your pet’s food for 12 -24 hours and give them ice cubes to chew on instead of large bowls of water. If the problem persists beyond 24 hours consult your vet. 

Stress and anxiety

Just like people, dogs can respond to stressful situations with feelings of anxiousness. Those feelings can cause gastrointestinal upset, gas, and even diarrhea.

If you suspect stress or anxiety is the cause of your dog’s illness, you will need to look around your environment and try to figure out the source of his distress. If you can’t eliminate the source of the stress and anxiety, you could try a health supplement specifically formulated to help settle your pet. If the problem persists consult your vet.


Some pets cannot handle a lot of variety in their diet or tolerate ingredients that make their digestive systems work a little harder than normal.

If you suspect your pet’s food is the cause of their stomach upset the first thing to do is to simplify their diet. Cut out all the extras — no table scraps!  Limit yourself to giving just one type of highly digestible treat (or even better, use their regular food as a treat).

Next, take a look at your pet’s food.

Foods made from high-quality ingredients tend to be much more digestible than lower quality products. Look for a formula that is high in protein and other essential amino acids to aid digestive health.

Does your dog’s food contain too much fat? Fat is more difficult to digest than carbohydrates and proteins, so a diet that contains a moderate level of fat is ideal. High-quality proteins and other essential amino acids for digestive health

If you think that your pet’s current diet could be playing a role in their tummy troubles, switch to a different food that meets the criteria listed above. There are also specific foods available that are specially formulated for cats and dogs with sensitive stomachs. Of course, you still need to make sure that your pet is getting the balanced nutrition they need.

If your pet’s symptoms are more than just mild and intermittent or switching to a highly-digestible food doesn’t improve the situation, talk to your vet. More serious health conditions need to be ruled out.

Feeding approaches for sensitive stomachs:

There are three common approaches to feeding a pet with a sensitive stomach. These are a limited ingredient, novel ingredient and prescription diets.

Limited Ingredient Diets

Limited ingredient diets can be a great place to start. Especially for dogs with sensitive stomachs. There are two key benefits to limited ingredient pet meals. The first is that it is much easier to keep track of what goes into the pet meal. So it is easier to get the assurance of ingredient quality.

The second is that it makes it possible to narrow down the cause of the allergy. You can see which ingredients are affecting your pet and can eliminate those from their diet. This is also an opportunity to detox your cat or dog with a diet of real food nutrition.

Novel Ingredient Diets

Novel ingredient diets use ingredients that are completely different from what your pet is used to. This may include meats like kangaroo or buffalo. The idea is that this offers a protein source that your pet has not developed an allergen to. However look for a brand that doesn’t use filler ingredients, as your pet may still present with sensitive stomach issues.

Prescription Diets

Prescription diets are formulas that are prescribed exclusively by your vet. Your vet may recommend trying a limited ingredient diet first, as a way of narrowing down the offending allergen.

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