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Every dog owner will likely experience having to care for a dog with an upset stomach. Unfortunately, however, this situation is much more common in some breeds, including the German Shepherd.
Do German Shepherds Have Sensitive Stomachs?
Yes, German Shepherds are much more prone to having sensitive stomachs than other breeds. Some GSDs have strong guts that can withstand all the curious things dogs lick and eat. But, the breed is generally known for having digestive disorders and sensitivities.
How Do I know If My Dog’s Stomach Is Sensitive?
When you have a German Shepherd with a sensitive stomach, the signs are hard to miss. Most commonly, you’ll notice they frequently experience these symptoms:
- Vomiting – Your dog might throw up undigested or partially digested food. They might also vomit bile, which appears as a yellow foamy liquid.
- Diarrhea – Your dog’s stools may become soft, loose, or even watery. You’ll notice not only changes in texture but also odor and color.
- Flatulence – Just like humans, dogs accumulate gas when they have trouble digesting. The odor can be particularly unpleasant when they’re unwell.
- Salivation – German Shepherds are not drool-prone. So, when your dog is salivating excessively, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong. Among the most common causes of excessive salivation is nausea.
- Decreased mobility after meals – Most dogs rest after meals. But if yours seems to be much less active after a meal, they may be experiencing some digestive issues.
- Loss of appetite – Your dog may eat less than they normally do or stop eating altogether. Skipping a meal or two might help relieve their stomachache. However, fasting for too long might lead to lethargy and hypoglycemia.
Reasons Why German Shepherds Prone To Stomach Issues
Digestive problems are more prevalent in German Shepherds than in many other breeds. This predisposition most commonly stems from the following:
Breeds with deep but narrow chests like the German Shepherd
German Shepherds have deep but narrow chests. This makes them more likely to suffer from a condition called gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). More commonly known as bloat, GDV is a painful and potentially fatal inflammatory condition wherein the stomach may twist and cut off circulation.
Lack of Digestive Enzymes
The German Shepherd is among the breeds known to be predisposed to pancreatic insufficiency.
Without enough pancreatic enzymes, your dog will have difficulty digesting proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This leads not only to abdominal discomfort but also to malnutrition.
Imbalance of Gut Flora
The gut microbiome plays a huge role in digestion, nutrition absorption, and strengthening the immune system.
Unfortunately, GSDs are more prone to bacterial overgrowth and imbalances compared to other breeds. This leads to chronic digestive issues.
Insufficient or imbalanced gut flora and lack of digestive enzymes further lead to food sensitivities and allergies. Finding the right food will help prevent inflammation and reduce the frequency of stomachaches.
Ways To Help Settle A German Shepherd’s Stomach
When your GSD’s stomach is already upset, it’s always a good idea to have them examined by a vet to rule out any serious issues like pancreatitis or parasitic infections.
Nevertheless, here are some things you can do to help them settle their stomach:
Let Them Fast
If your dog is refusing to eat, don’t force them. Sometimes, a short fast can be all it takes to relieve them of their discomfort. However, you should take them for emergency care if they skip three meals in a row.
Offer Bland Food
If your dog is nauseated, they might be put off by the taste and smell of their regular food. They might also find it hard to digest when their stomach is already inflamed.
To help them, offer bland and easily digested food like boiled rice and canned pumpkin.
Give your dog some unflavored yogurt to help introduce some good bacteria into their gut. Or, talk to your vet about administering probiotic supplements.
Give Them Glucose
Refusing food can lead to a drop in glucose levels, which can result in lethargy, further loss of appetite, and even seizures.
Giving your dog some sugar will help them regain some energy and boost their appetite. This can be in the form of honey or glucose powder diluted into their drinking water.
How To Care For A GSD With A Sensitive Stomach
Caring for a German Shepherd with a sensitive digestive system requires doing all you can to avoid an upset stomach. Among the best things you can do for long-term care include:
Choosing An Appropriate Diet
When you have a German Shepherd with a sensitive stomach, you need to be more mindful of the food you give them. Avoid high-fat kibble and determine what ingredients they might be sensitive to.
In many cases, GSDs with digestive problems benefit immensely from a grain-free diet.
Stick To The Same Dog Food
When you find a dog food brand and variant that works, stick with it. Switching between diets is one of the most common causes of inflammation in dogs with sensitive stomachs. Whenever you need to switch, make sure you transition slowly.
Providing Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Large meals may be difficult for your dog to digest. So, avoid feeding them one large meal per day. Instead, divide their daily servings between two or three meals.
Also, keep your dog from scarfing down all their food too quickly. Finding the right dog bowl should help slow them down.
Avoiding cheap treats
You might get your dog excited over inexpensive treats, but these usually contain additives and preservatives that are harsh on your dog’s digestive system. Always opt for high-quality dog treats with real ingredients.
Staying up-to-date on vaccines and parasite prevention
Viral and bacterial infections are often treated with antibiotics, which can kill off even the good bacteria in your dog’s gut.
Make sure they get their vaccination and parasite prevention doses on time to avoid illnesses that make taking antibiotics necessary.
Talk to your vet about maintaining a probiotic supplement. These come in different forms, including capsules, dog chews, and powders.
In some dogs, yogurt and kefir work very well. These probiotics will help strengthen your dog’s gut and, consequently, their entire digestive and immune system.
When Should I Be Worried About My German Shepherd’s Sensitive Stomach?
If your dog’s stomach is already upset and it doesn’t seem to be settling, you should take them to the vet.
This is especially critical if your dog has skipped three meals in a row, has stopped taking water, and has become lethargic. Often, a physical examination along with a lab test is the best way to determine the most effective treatment.
It can be very worrying and frustrating when you have a German Shepherd with a sensitive stomach. Although it’s always best to seek veterinary attention when your dog seems ill, it helps to know how to care for them to avoid illness in the first place.
Additionally, you’ll have more peace of mind from knowing how to alleviate their discomfort when their stomach does get upset.