How To Put Weight On A Dog With A Sensitive Stomach


Dogs with digestive problems have a higher tendency to be underweight. When dealing with dogs with sensitive stomachs, most pet owners tend to give their pets more food to tackle this, which worsens the condition causing loose stools and vomit. 

Sensitive stomach in dogs is majorly caused by a food allergy or intolerance, which is usually due to a genetic predisposition. 

A BMC veterinary research revealed that the most common food allergen to cause digestive problems in dogs is beef protein. Among the dogs studied, 34% had an allergic reaction to beef protein, 17% reacted negatively to dairy products, 15% and 13% had trouble digesting chicken and wheat respectively. 

If your dog has frequent bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, it may be due to some ingredient in their pet food, identifying and eliminating this ingredient will allow your pet to digest and absorb food without trouble and gain weight naturally. 

[1] Most common causes of sensitive stomachs

Sensitive stomach in dogs can be due to a number of reasons, it could either be congenital or due to dietary indiscretion. 

Dogs with congenital sensitive stomachs are born with it and are prone to more food allergies and have lots of stomach upsets than normal dogs. If you notice that your little pup has an upset stomach most times, either excessive gas, abnormal stool or has trouble digesting food, then they may have a sensitive stomach. 

When a dog with a fine digestive system suddenly develops diarrhea with bouts of vomiting, it may simply be because they ate something they should never have eaten. Dogs are notorious for raiding the trash and nibbling on whatever they find lying around, if they pick up something unhealthy it may upset their stomach. 

Another cause of stomach upset in dogs is problems with the digestive system like ulcers, intestinal parasites, bacteria or viral infections, overeating, food sensitivity, and allergic reactions. Underlying health conditions like kidney and liver disease, cancer, pancreatitis, stress can also be the cause of a dog’s sensitive stomach. 

Some dog breeds like Scottish Terrier, the Yorkie and other small dog breeds are more susceptible to a sensitive stomach than others, older dogs and pups are also more prone to having episodes of upset stomach than middle-aged dogs. 

[2] Most Common Symptoms of Sensitive Stomachs

Sensitive stomach in dogs isn’t the same as an upset stomach, they actually both have the same symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. However, when a dog has an episode of diarrhea it doesn’t immediately mean that they have a sensitive stomach. 

So how do you tell if your dog has a sensitive stomach or just an upset stomach? A dog with a sensitive stomach will have very frequent episodes of stomach upset, like once or more times every month. While a one off episode is just an upset stomach. 

Here are some of the most common symptoms of sensitive stomach in dogs.

  1. Vomiting: inflammation of the digestive tract followed by contractions of the intestinal muscles will make a dog throw up. Dogs with sensitive stomachs have frequent episodes of vomiting due to allergic reactions and trouble digesting food.
  2. Loose stool: frequent diarrhea and abnormal stool is another sign of sensitive stomach in dogs. This may require that you take your pup to the vet especially if it’s accompanied by lethargy. 
  3. Excessive gas: if your pup produces too much fart, this also is a sign that everything is not fine with their digestive system. 
  4. Nibbling on grass: eating grass is something dogs do when they have an upset stomach, and enough grass in their system can trigger vomiting. If you find your dog always nibbling on grass, this should tell you that they’re battling with an upset stomach. 

Other signs of an inflamed digestive tract (which may be due a food allergy and sensitive stomach) includes itchy and red skin, hair loss, loud and unusual gut sounds, ear infection, etc. 

Food sensitivity and intolerance is also a major cause of stomach upset in dogs, your dog may be allergic to something you’re feeding them or an ingredient contained in the pet food you’re using. Certain dogs are allergic to some protein sources used in certain pet food brands and some grains including wheat, corn, soy, etc. If your dog is frequently getting sick and you can’t find out why, then it’s time to pay the vet a visit.

[3] Most common cures (or workarounds) for a sensitive stomachs

If your dog has symptoms of a sensitive stomach, it’s very important that you take them to a veterinarian before trying any home remedies especially if they’re lethargic with frequent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, however, if there are only mild symptoms, here are a few remedies to relieve your dog’s upset stomach at home.

Keep your dog hydrated: dogs lose lots of water and will easily become dehydrated when stooling and vomiting, but giving them water will only worsen the vomiting. A great way to keep a dog with an upset stomach hydrated is by giving them ice cubes. This way, the dog is able to stay hydrated as she chews on the cubes. 

Let your dog fast: a dog who has been stooling and vomiting probably has an inflamed (red and swollen) digestive tract which needs time to recover. Therefore, allow your dogs’ digestive system to rest by putting their food bowls away and making sure they have nothing to eat for at least 12 to 24 hours. Fasting from every form of solid food (including treats and table crumbs) is therapeutic for a dog with an upset stomach.

Break the fast with a bland diet: bland food like boiled rice and chicken is easy to digest and will not put much stress on your dog’s digestive system. Continue with the bland diet for a few days before adding a little fiber. Dogs with sensitive stomachs should be fed only highly digestible food with quality ingredients. 

[4] Most common causes of weight loss

A dog’s weight will continue to change and fluctuate over time, this is perfectly normal. And these changes in weight and size will depend on the breed, gender, lifestyle and genes of your dog. In spite of this, rapid and inexplicable weight loss can be due to stress, anxiety, change of diet or an indication of a serious health condition.

Here are eight of the most common causes of inexplicable weight loss in dogs.

  1. Gastrointestinal problems can affect a dog’s stomach and intestines causing trouble with digestion and weight loss.
  2. Renal failure, this is a serious health issue where a dog’s kidney stops working. Chronic renal failure affects about 2-5% of all dogs.
  3. Advanced dental disease where oral bacteria is spread to other parts of the body system, causing infections in the heart, liver and kidneys.
  4. Megaesophagus esophagus is a condition where the esophagus swells and becomes enlarged. This prevents a dog from fully digesting and absorbing food consequently leading to weight loss.
  5. Liver disease often comes with loss of appetite, vomiting and weight loss. Rapid weight loss is an early sign of liver disease. 
  6. Diabetes in dogs is also another cause of rapid weight loss, this condition is common in middle-aged and senior dogs. 
  7. Intestinal parasites and worm infestations of whipworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms will cause sudden weight loss.
  8. Malignant tumors and cancer in dogs cause weight loss. This is more common in older dogs and can be life-threatening. 

[5] How do you know if your dog is underweight?

By doing a body check you can tell if your dog is underweight, overweight or has a healthy weight. This only requires that you feel your dog’s rib cage for too little or too much fat. Run your palms over your dog’s body and compare what you feel and see to what’s below.

  • Your dog’s too thin and underweight if the ribs, backbone and hip bones are easily seen with a very thin layer of fat and a very prominent waistline.
  • Your dog has a healthy weight if the ribs are easily felt but not easily seen, with a clear waistline.
  • Your dog’s slightly overweight if the ribs can be felt but can’t be seen, with a barely visible waistline. 
  • Your dog is very overweight (and probably obese) if the ribs are difficult to feel and see with a thick layer of overlying fat and non-existent waistline.

[6] How to put weight on a dog with sensitive stomach

To put weight on a dog with a sensitive stomach, you first have to identify the cause of the stomach sensitivity, if it’s a particular food you’ll have to eliminate it from your dog’s diet. If your dog’s stomach sensitivity is congenital, then you’ll have to feed your pet only foods with high-quality and easily digestible ingredients. 

Here are 3 of the best and most effective ways to put weight on your dog.

  1. Start with an elimination diet to delineate the food allergen causing the stomach upset, and try to find alternative protein and carbohydrate sources. 
  2. Give your pet small food portions several times a day. This will ensure they digest food faster and get all the nutrients they need. Also, the more food your dog eats the harder the digestive system will have to work, which is why it’s important to feed small food portions.  
  3. Use supplements to compliment your pet’s diet, they provide all essential nutrients and help prevent dietary deficiency.  
  4. Help your pet exercise regularly, this contributes to a healthy appetite and stronger immune system. 

Closing Thoughts

Stomach sensitivity in dogs is usually due to food intolerance and dietary indiscretion, and in rare cases it can be congenital. Dogs with sensitive stomachs have a high tendency to be underweight. However, you can help your pup add a few pounds by identifying the cause(s) of their stomach sensitivity, eliminating these foods from their diet and giving them bland diets and easily digestive foods with high-quality ingredients.