As a loving pet parent, you're always on the lookout for signs of distress in your dog. However, when it comes to stomach issues, you might have trouble identifying the cause — and whether your dog actually has a sensitive stomach.

The good news is that, once you've realized your dog has stomach issues, there are a few simple things you can do to help — like choosing the right food. Of course, that's often easier said than done. If you're scratching your head, wondering what to feed a dog with a sensitive stomach, not to worry — we're here to help.

Here's everything you need to know about stomach problems in dogs!

What Causes a Sensitive Stomach in Dogs?

Although a sensitive stomach may be uncomfortable and unpleasant for your pooch, it's not necessarily a huge health concern. In truth, the severity of the issue depends on its cause — so let's find out what's going on when your dog has a stomach issue.

What Does “Sensitive Stomach” Mean?

Any dog can have tummy trouble after overeating or taking a new medication, but that doesn't mean they necessarily have stomach sensitivity. This term is reserved for dogs who frequently have an upset tummy due to variables that shouldn't have a significant impact — for example, eating dog food with high fat content (because, according to WebMD, fat is more difficult to digest than other foods).

Why Do Some Dogs Have Sensitive Stomachs?

There are several reasons your dog may have a sensitive tummy. These include:

  • Allergies, especially a food allergy.
  • Digestive issues, including food intolerance.
  • Genetic disposition, which means some breeds are more prone to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Medical problems, like tumors, ulcers or certain cancers.
  • Bad luck, which is a simple way of saying some dogs (like some people) are just born with sensitive stomachs.

What Causes Stomach Upset?

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, certain things can trigger symptoms. Let's take a closer look at what might cause an upset stomach in a sensitive dog:

  • Overeating.
  • Cat food.
  • Human food.
  • Eating too fast.
  • Stress.
  • New dog food.
  • New snacks.
  • Ingredient changes in a familiar dog food.

While some of these things aren't easy for any dog owner to control, there's one thing you can change to keep your pup's stomach happy — and that's their diet. First, though, it’s important to know what behaviors signal stomach problems.

Signs of Doggy Stomach Problems

If your dog truly has a sensitive stomach, many symptoms are unpleasant but not necessarily life-threatening. Signs of a sensitive stomach include:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Excessive slobbering.
  • Constant flatulence.
  • Loss of appetite.

The problem with these symptoms is that they have a lot of overlap with your everyday, no-big-deal upset stomach, which can occur in any dog. Unfortunately, the best way to tell for sure if your dog's problems can really be attributed to a sensitive stomach is to wait it out. If you notice symptoms over several days, the chances are high that a sensitive stomach is to blame.

There's one more thing to consider, and that's bloat (or gastric dilatation-volvulus). Bloat occurs when gas, food or fluid builds up in a dog's stomach and causes the intestines to twist, and it can be triggered by overeating, exercise after eating and more. The symptoms, including excessive drooling, can look a lot like an ordinary upset stomach or a routine issue with a sensitive stomach. For this reason, it's important to know the difference.

Here are a few symptoms that may look like an upset or sensitive stomach but actually indicate bloat:

  • Restlessness.
  • Swollen, painful abdomen.
  • Constant panting.
  • Nipping or scratching at the stomach.
  • Dry heaving.

According to the Veterinary Medical Center of Central New York, bloat is more common in large breeds but can happen in any dog. If you see any of these signs, don't brush it off as another symptom of an upset stomach, although it may look that way; head to the vet immediately, as bloat is one digestive health issue that can be serious or even fatal.

How You Can Help Your Dog's Sensitive Stomach

The truth about sensitive dogs is that they'll always need your help avoiding digestive upset. A sensitive stomach can't be cured — but the good news is that it can be helped.

Here are a few ways you can support healthy digestion for your dog:

Choose The Best Dog Food

When choosing the best dog food for sensitive stomachs, do in-depth ingredient research. Some ingredient combinations may trigger your dog's stomach issues, while others may not cause any problems at all. The process can involve some trial and error, so be patient and remember to reach out to your vet for help.

At Pet Supermarket, we recommend Hill's Science Diet and Purina Pro Plan dog food to help manage and relieve digestive issues.

Keep Snacks Simple

Your dog probably wouldn't be happy if you cut snacks out of their diet entirely — and the good news is that a sensitive stomach doesn't have to mean a life of boring, dry dog food. There are plenty of snacks that can be gentle on your dog's digestive system, like sweet potato, cooked eggs or yogurt. Just try to avoid giving your dog too many snacks off your own plate and keep cat food out of reach.

Switch Pet Food Carefully

Say you found the best dog food ever, only to realize the company just changed an ingredient. That can be bad news for your dog's sensitive stomach, since it's basically a new food now. Whether you have to change foods or you're just trying a different brand of commercial dog food, try to do so gradually.

Plan Your Pet's Perfect Meal

You don't have to be a chef to plan the perfect meal for a dog with a sensitive stomach. Instead, head on over to your local Pet Supermarket, where our team is always happy to be your personal dog food advisor and dog health champion. We'll help you choose the best dog food, give ingredient tips and help you navigate your pooch's digestive issues. We can also point you toward all the health and wellness supplies you need to keep your furry friend feeling their best.

Visit your nearest Pet Supermarket for help planning meals that will keep your dog's tail wagging.