A Dog’s Gastrointestinal Response to Dietary Changes

Madelene Hissom · Dec 9, 2021 · All

 Author: Janine DeVault

Have you noticed your dog vomiting or experiencing diarrhea after introducing a new food or treat into their diet? While understandably alarming, this response is quite common. 

Think about it: if your dog eats the same food every single day and then suddenly consumes something new, their body is bound to be caught off guard.

As your dog adjusts to this change, they may experience loose stools or vomiting. Usually these symptoms will resolve within a day, but if they don’t you should seek guidance from your veterinarian.

In this article, we’ll go into detail on why your dog might react so strongly to a diet change and when to be concerned about the symptoms. We’ll also discuss some tactics for preventing such adverse reactions and suggest how you can help your dog through the adjustment period.

Why Do Diet Changes Make Dogs Sick?

There are several reasons why a dog may be sensitive to a diet change. Introducing a new food could upset the delicate microbiome in your dog’s gut. In time, your dog’s intestinal flora will adjust to the change but they may experience a bout of gastrointestinal upset before that happens.

Dogs may also be sensitive to food that is high in protein or fat, both of which can be more difficult to digest than food that is higher in carbohydrates. While protein is a healthy ingredient for your dog, too much of it can be a shock to the system. 

Because they are made solely from high quality meats, Natural Farm treats and chews happen to have a higher protein content than many other chews on the market, which could be a surprise for your pup’s digestive tract. That is why it is so important to allow the time needed when in comes to introducing a new chew. Keep reading to learn how to introduce a new treat int he best possible way.

Keep in mind, some dogs simply have more sensitive stomachs than others and will be affected by even the slightest dietary adjustments. Always monitor your dog’s stool when you introduce a new food so you can note if they have an adverse reaction.

Common Symptoms of Diet Changes

The following are the most common symptoms that occure due to changes in what your dog eats:

  • Diarrhea - This could occur as quickly as a few hours after eating the new food and the stool may remain soft several days. If your dog has constant diarrhea for longer than 24 hours, contact your vet. 
    • Vomiting - It’s quite common for dogs to vomit when adjusting to new food. If your dog vomits continuously, contact your veterianarian.
    • Regurgitation - Regurgitation is common when pets eat extremely quickly. If your dog is particularly excited about this dietary change, feed them small portions to reduce the likelihood of regurgitation.
    • Changes in stool color - Stool color is likely to change when a new food is introduced. If your dog’s stool is bloody, contact your vet.  

    How to Help Your Dog Through a Diet Change

    These tips can help you limit or alleviate any negative symptoms your dog experiences due to a diet change.

    Introduce Changes Gradually

    Any time you introduce a new food item to your dog, do so slowly. If you’re switching to a new brand of dog food, mix the new food with the old food in increasing quantities over a week or so to ease your dog into the new diet.

    If you’re offering a new treat, start with only a few minutes to allow your furry friends' tummies to adjust and get used to the new chew. Monitor and pay attention to any reaction over the next few hours. Slowly increase the chew time and when you think your dog's tummy has adapted completely, you can give them the whole piece to indulge in. Continue to monitor how they react and if you notice loose stool or vomiting, remove the chew and allow your dog's upset stomach to calm down. This is a common reaction of an introduction that went a little too quick. We all know dogs get very excited about their treats and this is why we need to help them limit their time when they're introduced to a new chew in order for them to fully enjoy these natural healthy treats.

    Provide Plenty of Fresh Water

    If your dog is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting they could become dehydrated if the symptoms are prolonged. Make sure they have access to fresh water and encourage them to drink every few hours. 

    Offer Bland Food

    To avoid aggravating your dog’s upset stomach further, provide only bland food while they are sick. Food that is low in fiber and fat will pass through the intestines more slowly, which helps relieve diarrhea. Common bland food options include boiled meat combined with a simple carbohydrate such as sweet potato, rice, pumpkin puree, or banana.

    When to Call the Vet

    In most cases, bouts of vomiting or diarrhea will resolve on their own within 24 hours. If your dog is still vomiting or experiencing excessive diarrhea beyond the 24-hour mark, contact your veterinarian. At this point, your pup could be at risk of dehydration which can lead to further health complications. 

    Depending on your dog’s state, your veterinarian may administer fluids or medication to slow the vomiting or diarrhea. 

    The Bottom Line

    It’s totally normal for your dog to experience symptoms of digestive upset when introducing new foods or treats into their diet. To prevent a severe reaction, avoid introducing too much new food at once. Instead, space the transition out over a few days and monitor your dog’s physical reaction. In most cases, any negative symptoms will be short-lived and our dog will quickly come to enjoy their new diet!