Pet Food Industry Pet Health Product Guide

Sensitive Stomachs & Allergies: Pet Feeding Tips

Feeding pets with sensitive stomachs and allergies can be a challenge. And there is no single solution or rule to apply across all situations. Learning how to handle your pet’s sensitive stomach relies on identifying the problem, the cause, and the solution.

An ongoing problem can require a major shift in diet, whereas a single instance or occasional issue can be resolved with a temporary diet change.

Feeding a Pet After Loose Bowels or Vomiting

Just like people, sometimes your pet might get an upset stomach. There can be a lot of potential causes, and if it is not an ongoing problem it can be a simple fix.

Sensitive Stomach Symptoms in Pets

If your cat or dog has a sensitive stomach it is usually most noticeable through nausea or indigestion. The likely symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal tenderness.

If one or more of these symptoms appear your pet likely has an upset stomach. If it is an isolated incident it may not be a sign of food allergies or intolerances. However, keep an eye out for recurring instances. An ongoing problem may require a change in your pet’s diet.

Upset Stomach Causes in Pets

There are a number of potential culprits for upset stomachs in dogs and cats. Eating something they shouldn’t have is one of the most common causes. Cats and dogs can be opportunistic eaters and many pets seek out other things to eat when they are not receiving proper nourishment from their diet.

A common cause for vomiting in dogs who eat kibble is drinking too much water after eating, which occurs because kibble is so dry that a dog is thirsty and dehydrated after eating. Drinking too much water immediately after eating can cause kibble to expand in the stomach. If this occurs, dogs will throw up to expel the kibble.

Upset Stomach Solutions for Pets

In the case of water causing the kibble to expand, the best solution is to provide more hydration in their food dish to eliminate their thirst and urge to overconsume water. A mix-in of Tom&Sawyer dog meals to your dog’s bowl of kibble will increase the moisture in their food and reduce the chance of them overdrinking and expelling their kibble. It also is a great way to add fresh, whole foods to their diet and make their meal time much tastier. You could also try adding some of our Chicken Bone Broth to moisten their kibble as well.

When humans have an upset stomach, the go to solution is to eat more bland and simple foods. This is true for dogs and cats as well.

For dogs, Vets will often recommend a dish like Tummy Tamer. Feeding your dog rice and chicken is gentle on their stomachs and allows the digestive system to take care of any issues. Sometimes vets will also recommend high fiber ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato or oatmeal. This will harden up the stool and help to prevent diarrhea.

This solution is great for an isolated incident. But it is not meant as part of a long-term pet diet, as it is lacking in essential nutrients and vitamins for cats and dogs.

Differentiating Between a Sensitive Stomach & Food Allergies in Pets

Pet owners often struggle to differentiate between food allergies and sensitive stomachs. There are some key differences. Ongoing sensitive stomach issues are often caused by a food intolerance. This would be like a person who is lactose intolerant. The pet will get an upset stomach from eating certain foods.

An ongoing sensitive stomach can also be a result of too little protein. Dogs have high acidity in their stomachs in order to digest more proteins. Not getting enough protein can cause an imbalance with excess acids. This is part of why vegan diets for dogs and cats require extra attention from owners.

An allergy presents itself altogether differently. It is possible that an allergy will show through excessive bowel movements – normal is 1-2 a day, abnormal is 3 or more. But the most common symptom is itchy skin.

Itchy Areas Symptomatic of Pet Allergies

  • Face
  • Feet
  • Ears
  • Forelegs
  • Armpits
  • Around anus

Other symptoms include recurring infections, hot spots, and hair loss.

Common Intolerances & Food Allergies in Pets

Food allergies are the third most common allergies in dogs. They occur in both cats and dogs, typically appearing between 5 months and 12 years of age. Here are some of the most common reported food allergies in pets:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Corn
  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Yeast

However, these ingredients in a high quality, unprocessed form aren’t usually the culprit, it has become increasingly apparent that pets are not always allergic to these ingredients, but to what goes into the ingredients.

Many popular pet food brands will use a lot of processed and nutritionally void filler ingredients. They even put these in their sensitive stomach or hypoallergenic pet food lines. Unfortunately, these fillers are often the root of the problem.

Animal feed-grade grains are a prime example (this “feed grade” is what is in almost all pet food you buy at grocery stores, pet store and your vet’s office). Fillers like animal-grade cereal grains are used by dog food companies because they can be purchased cheaply. They are deemed unfit for human consumption, so their cost is low.

These cheap animal feed grains are easily contaminated with mold, mites, or insects. When these end up in your pet’s food, it can mean allergens, sickness, or in extreme cases, death. When feeding your pet a grain-based diet, a good rule is to choose grains from a brand that does not process their ingredients and turn it into kibble.

Feeding Approaches for Sensitive Stomachs and Hypoallergenic Foods

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

Prescription Pet Diets

Prescription pet diets are diets that are sold exclusively by your vet. Your vet may recommend trying a limited ingredient diet first, as a way of narrowing down the offending allergen. Prescription diets can be expensive. The funny thing is that there is no medication in prescription diets, they are usually void of something so you would assume they would be cheaper!

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 if the brand is still using filler ingredients, your pet may still present allergy or sensitive stomach issues.

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 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.

Hypoallergenic Pet Food & Real Nutrition

Whether you are looking for hypoallergenic pet food or simply a healthier pet food option, all dogs and cats benefit from real food nutrition. A higher quality of nutrition means your beloved cats and dogs will live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

Our pets are part of our families, and it is time we started demanding more from their food. Tom&Sawyer pet meals are designed to meet your pet’s needs and satisfy their taste buds as well!