Tips on Choosing Food For Dogs with a Sensitive Digestion System
It is very surprising how many dogs have a sensitive digestion system. Some have a simple intolerance of certain foods. Some have actual allergies and of these, there are dozens of causes and dozens of ways that the allergy affects the dog.
- Loose stools- and more than 2 a day.
- Sometimes he may vomit.
- Itchy skin- face, forelegs, feet, armpits and around the anus.
- The ears may well be affected with recurring yeast infections.
- Skin infections that do not respond to steroid treatment.
- A young dog with skin trouble.
- Itches that occur all the year round rather than to certain seasonal things.
- You can look for more special symptons on the internet.
- Beef products
- Chicken eggs
- Food or treats with vivid colours – the dyes can be trouble.
Difficulty in Diagnosis
Because there are many other things that give the same symptoms, it is sometimes hard to pinpoint the problem. So when things like flea bite allergies, mange, yeast infections and parasites have been eliminated, you can start to see what causes the trouble. The other allergies that cause confusion are atopic allergies and these are a reaction to something inhaled. My own Border Collie was badly affected by the flowers and pollen of rapeseed. Once the season was over, she returned to normal.
There are tablets available from veterinary surgeeons now that deal quite effectively with atopic allergies. When these things are dealt with and put to one side, it is feasible to find out exactly which foods cause the problem.
- Cut out all treats.
- No extras from the table.
- No chewy toys like rawhide bones.
- Make sure he cannot find scraps from refuse or anywhere else.
The Food You Feed
Dog food is made up of three ingredients.
The canine digestion system is different to the human one and needs food that can be digested quite quickly. Fats and certain carbohydrates are hard for the dog to deal with and these are often the culprits. By and large, the more expensive foods have a better range of protein which is usually gained from fresh meat with less fat and carbohydrate.
The PET MD Website suggests that about 15% of fat is about ideal. More than that would be hard work for the canine system. If the food is largely made up of fresh meat, then the correct sorts of fat are probably obtained from the meat.
Fibre is often a major cause for concern and where the dog food has a large amount of corn and wheat, the food will take a long time to be taken up by the system. In fact, this would produce more stools and waste because there is less goodness to be absorbed into the body.
Check the ingredients on the bag and try and have food that has sweet potato, brown rice and potato or beet pulp as the carbohydrate element.
The better quality dog foods also add vitamins that provide anti-oxidants to help digestion- A, E and C and some also add probiotics to help a healthy gut.
Try a good quality dog food that has few things to cause allergies. Try it for 12 weeks.
It is possible to find in the shops or online a diet that your dog has never eaten before- say rabbit and potato. You would have to make sure that the ingredients were very simple. If in doubt consult your vet because there are also specialised diets where the food is broken down to the stage that the amounts are in such tiny pieces that they cannot cause an allergy.
To give the food a real chance to prove anything, the diet should be kept to for about 12 weeks. If the allergy subsides, then you can assume that the culprit was in the previous food. Then you can work on elimination. Scientific tests have shown that most pets respond in the 12 week time. Some animals respond in less time but not all.
You can, of course, make a homemade diet and in that way control everything that is included. You also need to balance the diet and avoid the usual suspects for allergy. There is a balanced and easy diet at this link and it looks delicious enough to eat even if you are not a dog.
Some relief can be gained from antihistamines and steroids but the cure is always to eliminate the offender.
When you are doing a trial diet
- Keep the pet out of the room at meal times– even a scrap can stop the trial working.
- Do not feed with other dogs. Keep cat’s food dishes well out of the way- and the litter tray.
- Remember that chewable medications have flavouring that might affect the test.
- Do not hide a tablet in any food other than the trial diet.
- Walk on a lead – amazing what they can find to eat outside.
Blood tests are great for some allergies like atopic ones and can pinpoint the problem but food allergies, in the end, are found by elimination. When you have found a diet that seems to work for the pet and the symptoms have subsided, then a food can be added.
If, for instance, a duck and rice diet works, then add say add beef for a couple of weeks. If the allergy returns, we know that beef is one of the causes but there may be more than one so it is worth trying other foods as well.
Speaking from experience, I had an English Setter who was allergic to almost everything- even grass, other dogs and countless foods. He could eat turkey and corn but nothing else and he had food allergies.
We did not find a complete cure until we found he was also allergic to airborne things and atopica tablets solved that problem. There can be more than one cause, more than one food and more than one problem. As social media says- it’s complicated!
In The End
Sensitive digestion systems in dogs can be very complex and it as well to work in conjunction with your vet because the same symptoms can sometimes be the result of a more serious problem. If you find that your dog loves his home made diet, then make sure you find information that gives him the right balance of vitamins and minerals.
It is a long road to find the culprit but worth the effort and sometimes the source is obvious. Removing red meat is quite often the only thing that needs to be done or switching to a grain free brand. With luck, it will be as simple as that.