Sensitive stomachs in dogs: how to relieve your pup's discomfort

Reviewed by our experts. More info
Dr Matthew Muir
Beagle dog sitting on sofa

There are two sounds every dog parent knows that make you leap into action: your dog retching or the urgent whine to be let out.

Stomach problems are one of the most common reasons to visit the vet. They’re often linked to ingesting something unpleasant or imbalances in the microbiome, but it can be a sign of an underlying health issue.

We’ve created this guide so you can recognise the differences between an acute isolated incident and a chronic illness to help you get to the root cause and establish your next steps.

Sensitive stomachs can be nuanced, and there’s no substitute for your veterinarian’s professional opinion.

What’s the difference between ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’?

Acute: the sudden onset of illness that can be an isolated incident (a one-off) or last up to 3 weeks.

Chronic: the slow development of illness that lasts longer than 3 weeks and can worsen over time if unaddressed. Often the severity of symptoms comes and goes, instead of being constant. Your veterinarian may suggest an elimination diet trial if your pup is experiencing chronic symptoms, with the goal of identifying any triggers in the diet that could be playing a role.

Difference between 'acute' and 'chronic'

Why is my dog vomiting?

Vomiting is an involuntary reflex: the body’s natural defence to empty the stomach of a substance it doesn’t want.

There’s a lot you can tell from the colour and texture of your dog’s vomit. Take a picture of their vomit and compare it to our ultimate vomit guide to help you and your vet make an accurate diagnosis. It may sound a bit gross, but nothing’s too gross when it comes to our pups and their health.

Acute vomiting – what to look out for

If your dog has only vomited once and they aren’t showing other signs of illness, it’s relatively safe to assume that the issue has resolved itself. Monitor them for the next few days and make sure they have access to fresh water and nourishing food.

Vomiting more than once in a period of 72 hours suggests there’s an underlying problem that needs to be addressed by your veterinarian.

Causes of acute vomiting:

  • Infection

  • Change in diet

  • Dietary indiscretion (eating things they shouldn’t)

  • Pica (eating inedible items)

  • Stress or anxiety

Chronic vomiting – what to look out for

Chronic vomiting may begin by regurgitating food, but once the stomach is empty you may notice your dog’s vomit is mainly yellowy liquid or looks foamy.

You might notice your pup drooling or swallowing more often than normal to curb their nausea. They’re also likely to become more lethargic and lose their appetite.

Monitor your dog for other changes, including:

  • Thirst

  • Appetite

  • Energy levels

  • Body weakness

  • Posturing (like hunching)

  • Blood or what look like coffee grounds (dried blood) in their vomit

Signs of CE in vomit

Make an appointment with your vet if you notice any of these signs or have any concerns.

Causes of chronic vomiting:

If your dog gets an upset stomach once a week or vomits repeatedly over a period of 7 days, they’re probably suffering from chronic vomiting, which is usually a symptom of chronic enteropathy, a food allergy or intolerance, or a more significant health problem.

Teddy Lyka customer testimonial

Why does my dog have diarrhoea?

The main cause of diarrhoea is a viral or bacterial infection in the gut, but it could also be caused by your dog’s diet.

Food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities are common in dogs often leading to loose stools. Ultra-processed diets (kibble) often contain additives and sub-optimal ingredients that can irritate the gastrointestinal tract.

When the cells in the gut are infected or irritated, the natural movement of the intestines can speed up. Food moves more quickly through the system and the body doesn’t get the chance to absorb salts, nutrients and fluid as normal, leading to loose or watery poo – the classic sign of diarrhoea.

Bioavailable real food, like Lyka, is not only more digestible than dry food, but we steer clear of common food allergens like wheat, corn and soy. We’re also completely transparent about the ingredients in your dog’s meals so you can be sure of what you’re feeding your best friend.

Nutritional breakdown Lyka Chicken Bowl

Our poo guide gives you the visual lowdown on healthy stools and signs of illness in your dog’s bowel movements.

Acute diarrhoea – what to look out for

An isolated incident usually means the body has been successful in expelling and resolving the problem. Keep a close eye on your pup for any other signs of illness and provide plenty of fresh water to encourage rehydration.

Causes of acute diarrhoea

  • Infection

  • Change in diet

  • Dietary indiscretion (eating things they shouldn’t)

  • Stress or anxiety

Chronic diarrhoea – what to look out for

Chronic diarrhoea can also cause dehydration, which can be dangerous, so make an appointment with your vet for treatment and support.

You may also notice your dog feels lethargic and weak. Make sure your dog rests and recovers with plenty of fresh water, nourishing food and lots of TLC.

Causes of chronic diarrhoea

If your dog has had diarrhoea repeatedly within 24 hours, or intermittently over several days or weeks, it’s likely to be a sign of an underlying health condition. They could be experiencing chronic enteropathy, a food allergy or intolerance, or have a parasite.

What’s causing my dog’s constipation?

On the opposite end of the scale from diarrhoea is constipation – another unpleasant gastrointestinal problem.

Healthy dogs have between 1-3 bowel movements a day. Your dog might be constipated if you notice your dog straining, hunching, vocalising pain when they try to defecate, or a change in texture to small, hard pellets.

Similarly, if they haven’t eliminated in 2 days, or there’s blood in their stools, it’s time for your vet’s expert opinion.

Causes of constipation

The most common causes of constipation are:

  • Change in diet – either to a new type of food or to one with less fibre

  • Stress or anxiety

  • Bowel obstruction

  • Pain that prevents posturing for defecation (like arthritis)

  • Hypothyroidism can slow the metabolism and affect bowel movements

Why is my dog so gassy?

Flatulence is a normal function of the digestive system, but if your dog’s gassiness has increased it’s a sign that they’re experiencing some tummy troubles. A good rule of thumb is your dog shouldn’t generate smelly gas more than once a month.

Any changes to your dog’s normal movements and gas should be checked out by your vet. Many veterinary practices can triage this issue over the phone.

Get the full lowdown on your dog’s flatulence.

Causes of gassiness:

  • Processed food

  • Food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities

  • An unbalanced microbiome

  • Dietary indiscretion (eating things they shouldn’t)

  • Swallowed air

Is leaky gut the problem?

Leaky gut, or gut hyperpermeability, is a dysfunctional gut lining. The wall of the intestines has tight gaps to allow nutrients from digested food to pass into the bloodstream.

When a dog has leaky gut, these gaps become enlarged, allowing bacteria, toxins, or food particles to pass into the circulatory system. This triggers an immune response which can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation.

How leaky gut happens

Find out what causes leaky gut, along with how to treat it.

Is my dog’s fussiness caused by a sensitive stomach?

There’s nothing better than seeing your dog reap the benefits of a nourishing diet. So, when they turn their nose up at dinner time, it can be worrying and frustrating.

Fussiness can be caused by food sensitivities triggering food aversion, anxiety, inflammation, or a sensitive stomach. Some breeds are also more inclined to fussy eating behaviours.

If your dog has fussy eating habits, you’re not alone. Check out the Lyka community’s top tips on how to help your fussy dog enjoy their meals, including:

  • Changing the location of their bowls

  • Adding tasty toppers

  • Reducing their feeding window

Is my dog’s gurgly tummy normal?

A gurgly tummy, medically known as borborygmus, is caused by the movement of food and water through the digestive tract. If you hear a few gurgles coming from your dog’s stomach, it’s perfectly normal.

But if the gurgles become significantly louder and more frequent, combined with a stomach upset it could be a sign of illness, so speak to your vet to get a clear diagnosis.

Bailey Lyka customer testimonial

Why your dog’s microbiome is the centre of good gut health

A healthy pup’s microbiome is thriving when it’s balanced with a diverse mix of good bacteria that support their digestion and gastrointestinal health.

If dogs are fed food containing additives, common allergens, or meat byproducts from animals routinely fed antibiotics, the microbiome can become weakened and imbalanced – leading to stomach sensitivities.

Anything that causes tummy troubles can also affect microbiome health. The microbiome is the core of your dog’s immune system, so restoring gut health can prevent secondary illnesses.

The best dog food for stomach health is made from real food full of prebiotic dietary fibre to nourish good bacteria and support healthy bowel movements.

The secret to good guts starts with a real food diet

Lyka meals are gently cooked so they’re easy on the stomach – vital for recovering pups. Made with bioavailable ingredients like high-quality proteins and fresh fruit and vegetables, they’re designed for optimal nutrition and improved microbiome health.

Lyka meals also contain soluble and insoluble fibre to support healthy bowel movements by adding bulk to soft stools and promoting the smooth passage of your dog’s poo.

Our Customer Care team can give you personalised advice on which meals can best support your pup’s road to recovery — but always speak to your vet if you are worried or unsure about their symptoms.

Think it might be a chronic stomach issue? Find out more about chronic enteropathy.

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

Need a sniff of approval?

Join the pack today with 30% off your first order.

Try out 6 different proteins before committing to a flexible meal plan that meets your dog’s taste preferences and needs.

Get started
A picture our range of Lyka meals

Related articles