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Dog Treats for Dogs With a Sensitive Stomach

Here’s how to find the appropriate dog treats for dogs with a sensitive stomach and how to introduce them slowly over time.

Dog Treats for Dogs With a Sensitive Stomach

Here’s how to find the appropriate dog treats for dogs with a sensitive stomach and how to introduce them slowly over time.

Let us guess: your dog has a sensitive stomach, and 95% of treats or chews will upset their stomach for a solid week at a time. We know how it goes – you experiment with new training treats, or try a new bag of dog food, and suddenly you’re up every hour all throughout the night for those inevitable backyard emergencies.

It can feel impossible to find the best dog treat that won’t aggravate those extra sensitive pups, but we’re here to help. Here’s how to find the appropriate dog treats for dogs with a sensitive stomach and how to introduce them slowly over time.

Understanding Sensitive Stomachs in Dogs

The first step is understanding what it means for your furry friend to have a “sensitive stomach”. There are many signs and symptoms that suggest your dog’s stomach may be on the more sensitive side, such as frequent vomiting, loose stool, flatulence, lack of appetite, gurgling stomach, weight loss, and even itchy paws. If you’re noticing these behaviors happening fairly frequently with your dog, there’s a good chance their digestive system is more irritable than most dogs.

Having digestive issues doesn’t necessarily always mean your dog has poor digestive health, but perhaps they are just more sensitive to certain ingredients or have specific food sensitivities. There are tons of reasons why your dog may be having these types of reactions to new food or treats, and it’s always best to check in with your vet if you’re noticing these behaviors. A few common reasons are food allergies or intolerances, stress, anxiety, or a poor quality diet.

If this sounds like your dog, finding food and treats that don’t upset your dog’s stomach has probably been a frustrating ordeal. However, food is such a crucial tool to use when training a dog or providing enrichment, so finding treats that work is incredibly important. Dogs love to work for their food, and dogs with a more limited palette deserve rewards too!

Considerations When Choosing Dog Treats

There are a few things to consider when choosing dog treats for a pup with a sensitive tummy. The most important factor is, of course, the ingredients the treats are made from. A simple rule to remember is the less ingredients, the better. There are many reasons for this – you’re limiting the potential allergens entering your dog’s body, but treats with fewer ingredients also have simpler formulas, which can be easier for dogs to digest. Complex formulations with numerous ingredients may be harder on a sensitive stomach, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal upset.

Another factor to consider is the quality of the ingredients. Oftentimes the less the ingredients are processed, the easier they’ll be on your dog’s stomach. Making sure all of the ingredients are easily digestible is helpful as well – boiled chicken, pumpkin, banana, and sweet potatoes typically fall under that category and are gentle on most dog’s digestive tract. If your dog has a known allergy, you can always search for treats that are specifically free of that particular ingredient. For example, if you know your dog is allergic to turkey, avoid all treats that are turkey flavored.

Treat Ideas for Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs 

Limited-ingredient treats

As we mentioned before, looking for treats with 1-3 ingredients will reduce the risk of upsetting your dog’s stomach. Single-ingredient treats are a great option – in fact, you can even make your own if you’re feeling motivated enough. Cutting up pieces of sweet potato or apple can be a great treat for your dog, whether you’re training or just want to give them a special homemade snack. At the pet store, look for single-ingredient jerky like chicken or turkey jerky treats. The less ingredients, the less opportunity for irritation. 

Hypoallergenic treats

Hypoallergenic treats are wonderful for sensitive stomachs, and “hypoallergenic” can mean a lot of different things. Typically hypoallergenic treats are limited in ingredients, have novel proteins (like duck or venison), or are grain-free, depending on your dog’s sensitivity. To sum it up, hypoallergenic treats are specially made treats so that dogs who do have strict diets can still indulge in some extra food.

Bland biscuits

Treats that include ingredients like oatmeal or rice can be extra gentle on the stomach, which helps avoid vomiting and loose stools. Some bland cereals such as Cheerios also make for great low calorie treats to use for training or in enrichment toys like snuffle mats. Because they’re so low in calories, you don’t have to be too mindful of your dog accidentally eating too many. 

Pumpkin treats

Pumpkin is a holy grail superfood for all pet parents because it can help relieve an upset stomach almost instantly. Pumpkin is a natural source of fiber and can help regulate digestion, turning those soft stools into beautiful, healthy stools. It’s easy to find pumpkin-based dog treats at your local pet store, or you can make your own. Baking pumpkin puree into these easy, nutritious dog treat recipes will help your dog’s tummy feel a million times better. 

Banana slices

Bananas are not only nutritious and delicious – they’re actually excellent natural dog treats for your pup! Bananas are rich in essential nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and dietary fiber. The fiber in bananas helps regulate bowel movements and can be useful in managing mild cases of diarrhea or constipation in dogs. Not only that, but bananas are common and inexpensive, making them the perfect treat substitute for sensitive dogs. 

Boiled chicken or turkey

Cooked, plain chicken or poultry without seasoning can be cut into small pieces and used as a simple, stomach-friendly treat. It’s extremely important that these meats have no seasoning whatsoever (salt, pepper, etc) as it can aggravate your dog’s stomach even further. Clean, lightly cooked protein can provide your dog with necessary nutrients so they remain energetic and strong. 

Freeze-dried treats

Freeze-dried meats, fruits, or vegetables can be a good choice for sensitive stomachs as they often have limited ingredients and are easy to digest. Freeze-drying is a gentle food preservation method that involves freezing the product and then removing the water content. This method helps retain the natural nutrients of the ingredients without subjecting them to high temperatures or excessive processing. For dogs with sensitive stomachs, this can be beneficial as it minimizes the risk of triggering digestive upset.

Homemade treats

There’s nothing better than knowing exactly what’s going into your dog’s stomach, which is why making your own dog treats with natural ingredients is truly the best option for many people. Homemade treats also have the added benefit of being free of fillers, additives, artificial colors, or preservatives that some commercial treats may have. Leaving the state of your dog’s poop up to chance can be risky, and being the person to fully control the recipe has its obvious perks. Recipes with ingredients like plain yogurt, cooked rice, or oatmeal can be gentle and support healthy digestion.

Introducing New Treats to Your Dog

If you do decide to introduce a new treat to your dog’s diet, always go slow and steady to avoid digestive problems. Start with one treat per day, and slowly introduce more over time. Pay close attention to any changes in your dog over this transition time – specifically their energy levels, appetite, and stools. If everything is going according to plan, you can continue giving your dog the treat! We recommend giving your dog a high-quality probiotic during this time, like Native Pet’s Probiotic Powder, to support your dog’s digestive system as they start to process new ingredients. 

We know trying new things can be scary, especially when it involves our dogs, but hopefully these tips can make your journey to A+ gut health less nerve-wracking! As always, keep your vet looped in on any big dietary changes or any changes in your dog’s behavior. Happy snacking!

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illustration of dog's tail & the dog is digging