Dogs develop bowel problems or sensitive stomachs as they age. This can be as a result of inability to digest or intolerance to certain foods, lack of fiber, vitamins and minerals in their diet and illnesses such as stomach cancer among others. It can also be as a result of them nibbling in the trash or eating commercial foods that your dog might not tolerate well.
Common signs for bowel problems include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and flatulence. It’s important to visit a veterinarian once these signs become apparent to rule out disease as a probable cause.
Food intolerance is usually top on the list as a cause of bowel problems or sensitive stomachs. Eliminating food items over time will help identify the culprit, this includes treats, table scraps and making sure garbage is out of reach.
Ingredients in dog foods can also cause digestive problems, for example, some commercial foods may contain proteins that are not easily digestible, if a senior dog finds it hard to digest e.g. lamb one should switch to other types of protein like chicken.
Fats may also cause bowel problems since they are hard to breakdown during digestion, owners should also be keen at looking at the percent content of ingredients, for example, if fats are listed among the top ingredients it’s an indicator that the food contains high fats and should be avoided, foods containing high fiber on the other hand, are highly recommended. Fiber aids in digestion and relieves constipation and indigestion, it is also good to note that home cooked meals or dogs on a raw diet may suffer from deficiencies of certain vitamins and nutrients which may cause them to have a sensitive stomach.
Owners of senior dogs should choose foods with quality ingredients through research and consulting with their veterinarian, commercial foods also offer foods tailored to the needs of dogs, although they offer convenience looking for the best brands is also important, note that the best brand are not necessarily the ones you see the most on commercials! Make sure they offer a complete and balanced diet with all essential nutrients to avoid deficiencies.
When introducing a new diet, it’s advised to wean off the old diet slowly and introduce the new diet in small portions and increase progressively overtime. A sudden change in diet may worsen the situation. Home cooked meals have the advantage of customizing meals depending on the on what ails the dog. Bland diets in this instance e.g. boiled chicken and rice without spices or seasoning is preferable. However, owners should be careful to provide a balanced diet with the all required nutrients, you can also seek help from a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist for a custom-made diet.
The best foods for senior dogs with sensitive stomachs include:
- Pumpkin – are rich in fiber and easy to digest.
- Lean boiled chicken or turkey breast: good source of easily digestible protein. Should be cooked without seasoning.
- Canned tuna or salmon preserved in water: good source of easily digestible protein.
- Cooked egg: contains highly digestible proteins.
- White rice: Easy to digest and contain carbohydrates
- Bone broth: Rich in nutrients and easily digestible. The fat should be removed.
- Yogurt: Contains probiotics which is a source of good bacteria which aid in digestion in the gut. Should be free of artificial flavors and sweeteners.
- Boiled potatoes: Highly digestible rich in carbohydrates and vitamins.
In the past few years there has been great advancement in the formulation of probiotics for dogs, this is a great way to help your senior dog with digestion and also provides enzymes that support better absortion of nutrients thus promoting a better health overall, just make sure you choose a high quality probiotics for your dog.
Senior dogs can be picky eaters or not adapt well to new diets, you might be forced to try out different brands in the market before finding the one that works for them. Changing up diets should be done slowly overtime after consultation with a veterinarian to avoid worsening the situation.