Do Labradors Have Sensitive Stomachs? (6 Reasons + Tips You Must Know)

Is your Labrador’s stomach acting more finicky than usual? Looking for tips, advice or strategies to manage or prevent digestive issues in Labradors? Look no further! 

Here’s Whether Or Not Labradors Have Sensitive Stomachs In Brief:

Labradors have a heightened sensitivity in their stomachs compared to other breeds. This heightened sensitivity can be primarily attributed to their genetic makeup which has predisposed them to various gastrointestinal issues. The rapid eating habit of Labradors further exacerbates these issues, as they tend to consume their meals quickly which leads to potential digestive distress. 

Additionally, Labradors have a tendency to overeat — making them prone to obesity, a factor that can place additional strain on their digestive systems. 

Food allergies are also more prevalent in Labradors which oftentimes present as stomach-related problems and the breed is also known to be susceptible to certain gastrointestinal disorders. Lastly, the extensive unethical breeding practices, which have not consistently prioritized the breed’s health traits, contribute to the delicate nature of their stomachs.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll reveal 6 reasons why Labradors are prone to having sensitive stomachs compared to other breeds.

We will pinpoint foods Labs should avoid for better digestive health and share quick solutions to soothe sensitive stomachs.

Not only that, we’ll also hand over preventive strategies that can keep your Lab’s tummy trouble-free in the long run to ensure your Labrador enjoys their meals without discomfort—preventing the problem before it even starts.

Note: Our articles are comprehensive and in-depth. Feel free to expand the table of contents below and skip ahead to sections that interest you.

6 Reasons Why Labradors Have Sensitive Stomachs Compared To Other Breeds

1) Genetic Predisposition

One of the primary reasons Labradors are known to have sensitive stomachs compared to other breeds revolves around their genetic predisposition. The breed’s genetic makeup makes them more susceptible to gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease and gastritis.

This susceptibility is likely due to the breed’s unique metabolic needs, combined with the breed-specific genetic variations that may affect the structure and function of their gastrointestinal system.

For example, the Labrador’s high energy requirements and quick metabolism may predispose them to food-related sensitivities. Their notorious appetite often drives them to consume food quickly which can potentially lead to gastronomic distress.

They might consume an array of food items without discretion, including non-edible objects which can disturb their digestive system and contribute to a sensitive stomach.

Moreover, certain genetic variants present in Labradors may alter the integrity of their gut lining that makes it more permeable and therefore more susceptible to inflammation or irritation from certain foods.

Labradors, for instance, are known to have a higher prevalence of a condition known as Lymphoplasmacytic enteritis, an inflammatory condition of the stomach which underscores their genetic predisposition to stomach sensitivities.

Lastly, some Labradors may have a genetic predisposition to deficiencies in certain enzymes, such as those involved in the breakdown and absorption of fat.

This can lead to digestive difficulties, especially if their diet is high in fat which results in a sensitive stomach. This aspect highlights the need for owners to be mindful of their Labrador’s diet by taking into consideration their unique genetic traits.

Read also: Why Does My Labrador Fart So Much? (8 Reasons + Tips On What To Do)

2) Rapid Eating

Rapid eating, an innate characteristic in many Labradors, is a substantial contributor to their inclination towards having sensitive stomachs compared to other breeds. Labradors are often food-obsessed and tend to gobble their meals down quickly which can lead to a myriad of digestive problems.

Digestion starts in the mouth where food is broken down by chewing and mixed with saliva. When a Labrador consumes food rapidly without sufficiently breaking it down, it places an additional burden on their digestive tract.

The food that enters their stomach and intestines is larger and harder to digest that can potentially lead to digestive discomfort, bloating or even vomiting.

This fast eating habit can also lead to ingestion of air, known as aerophagia.

Consumed air can cause distention of the stomach and intestinal tract — causing discomfort and potentially leading to a dangerous condition known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) or bloat which is a life-threatening emergency.

Furthermore, Labradors’ rapid eating can lead to overeating, given their notorious appetite. Overeating may result in obesity, which can exacerbate gastrointestinal problems.

For example, an overweight Labrador may experience exacerbated acid reflux or gastritis due to increased abdominal pressure.

For instance, consider a Labrador who used to finish his meals in under a minute by gulping down his food. Over time, it would develop symptoms like frequent gas, bloating and episodes of diarrhea.

Upon veterinarian consultation, its rapid eating was identified as the prime culprit.

This particular scenario illustrates how this seemingly innocuous behavior can actually lead to a sensitive stomach in Labradors. 

All in all, the Labrador’s propensity for rapid eating underscores the importance of careful monitoring of their eating habits and interventions such as slow feeder bowls or food puzzles to encourage slower eating, thereby reducing the likelihood of digestive issues.

Read Also: Should Labradors Eat Grain-Free? (Important Facts You Must Know)

3) Prone to Obesity

The predisposition of Labradors to obesity significantly contributes to their sensitive stomach issues which makes them more susceptible compared to other dog breeds.

Labradors are well-known for their love of food and tendency to overeat, which combined with their genetic disposition, can often lead to obesity. This propensity for weight gain can play havoc with their digestive systems — ultimately causing stomach sensitivity.

Obesity places undue stress on the Labrador’s digestive system.

The extra weight increases abdominal pressure, which can lead to or exacerbate conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition where the stomach contents flow back into the esophagus causing discomfort and potentially damaging the lining.

Excess weight can also cause inflammation in the body, which might lead to gastritis (an inflammation of the stomach lining) that makes the digestive system more sensitive.

Furthermore, obesity can lead to fatty liver disease, disrupting normal digestion and absorption of nutrients, thereby causing digestive discomfort.

A case in point is my friend’s Labrador who, due to her voracious appetite and sedentary lifestyle became significantly overweight. It began experiencing recurrent bouts of gastroenteritis, vomiting and loose stools.

Its veterinarian attributed these issues to the Lab’s obesity. This provides a poignant example of the interplay between obesity and stomach sensitivity in Labradors.

Even renowned veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Susan Wynn, validates this connection between obesity and stomach sensitivity. She asserts, “Obesity is an inflammatory condition, and that inflammation doesn’t limit itself to the fatty tissue.”

She further elaborates that “The inflammation associated with obesity can affect all organs in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract that may lead to digestive disorders and increasing the sensitivity of the stomach.”

Check Also: Why Do Labradors Steal Things? (and Food!) What To Do About It?

4) Food Allergies

Food allergies in Labradors, as in other dog breeds, often manifest themselves in the form of gastrointestinal problems — primarily due to their immune systems overreacting to certain food components.

This immune response can instigate inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract which may further contribute to the onset of sensitive stomach conditions in these dogs.

Consequently, a Labrador suffering from food allergies is likely to exhibit a range of digestive issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, among others.

Labradors’ immune systems can mistake some food ingredients as harmful invaders that can lead to the production of antibodies that result in an allergic reaction.

These allergens primarily encompass various proteins found in common pet food ingredients like beef, chicken, dairy products, eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. But do keep in mind that not all corns or other protein sources are bad either, in fact they can be beneficial for most Labradors that aren’t allergic to them.

Consequently, every time a Labrador consumes food containing these allergens, it triggers a defensive response from the immune system.

This defense mechanism, although essential for warding off potential threats, in this case, leads to unnecessary inflammation and damage to the dog’s digestive system. 

This inflammation can exacerbate the sensitivity of the Labrador’s stomach, making it more susceptible to irritants and further disruptions. The result is a vicious cycle where the immune response, aimed at protecting the dog from perceived threats, ends up causing the very problems it seeks to prevent.

It is this cycle that ultimately leads to the development of a sensitive stomach in Labradors, further reinforcing their vulnerability to gastrointestinal disturbances when exposed to allergenic food components.

Food allergies, therefore, present a significant challenge in maintaining a Labrador’s gastrointestinal health. They contribute directly to the development of a sensitive stomach which complicates the management of the dog’s overall health.

Addressing these allergies effectively which often involves identifying and eliminating the allergen from the dog’s diet, is a critical aspect of managing a Labrador’s sensitive stomach and ensuring its general well-being. 

If you’re worried about your Lab’s food allergy, you might also want to check out How To Stop Lab From Counter Surfing? (13 Action Plan Guide + Tips)

5) Prone to Gastrointestinal Disorders

Labradors are susceptible to a variety of gastrointestinal disorders which can significantly contribute to a sensitive stomach. One of these conditions is gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), more commonly known as bloat.

Bloat is a severe condition where a dog’s stomach fills with gas and twists which obstructs both the entrance and exit of the stomach. This scenario can escalate rapidly that can cause intense pain, and without immediate medical attention, can be fatal.

Labradors, due to their deep-chested nature, are particularly at risk for GDV. 

Another common disorder that Labradors are prone to is colitis, an inflammation of the colon, leading to chronic diarrhea. Labrador Retrievers can acquire different types of colitis, such as acute colitis or chronic idiopathic colitis.

While the former often results from consuming inappropriate food, the latter’s causes remain unknown, hence the term ‘idiopathic’. 

Moreover, Labradors are also known to suffer from Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), a condition where the pancreas fails to produce sufficient digestive enzymes.

The inability to properly digest food leads to weight loss, malnutrition, and chronic diarrhea – all symptoms that amplify stomach sensitivity.

Lastly, a condition known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is also very common in Labradors. This chronic inflammation of the dog’s intestinal tract can cause a range of symptoms like vomiting, weight loss and diarrhea.

These symptoms contribute to the general sensitivity of the Labrador’s stomach which makes it more reactive to different kinds of food and prone to digestive problems.

In essence, the predisposition of Labradors to various gastrointestinal disorders significantly increases their chances of having sensitive stomachs. 

Speaking of their predisposition to diseases and tendencies to deviate from the norm, you may also want to check out Are Labradors Low Maintenance? (10 Factors Analyzed)

6) Breeding Practices

Breeding practices have an indisputable impact on the predisposition of Labradors to have sensitive stomachs.

Because Labradors are a popular breed, unethical breeding practices aimed at meeting demand can lead to the propagation of certain health issues including sensitive stomachs and sensitive skin, which may also induce head-shaking & excessive scratching tendencies.

Selective breeding for desired physical traits, often disregarding health implications can exacerbate health problems within the breed.

Some breeders might overlook the importance of a robust digestive system while focusing on characteristics like coat color, size, or temperament which inadvertently promotes the genes associated with sensitive stomachs.

Inbreeding, another practice more common in popular breeds like Labradors, can also contribute to this issue. When closely related dogs are bred, there’s a higher chance of recessive genes leading to health issues being passed on to offspring.

These health issues might include those that affect the digestive system that can lead to sensitive stomachs.

Moreover, irresponsible breeding often neglects to consider the mother’s health during pregnancy which can impact the puppies’ health, including their digestive system.

Malnutrition or stress in the pregnant Labrador can lead to puppies who are predisposed to a host of health issues including stomach sensitivity.

Another example is breeding Labradors who have a known history of sensitive stomachs. If a Labrador has a sensitive stomach due to a genetic predisposition, they are more likely to pass this trait on to their offspring.

Some breeders, driven by profit rather than ethical considerations, might disregard this issue — leading to the propagation of sensitive stomach issues in subsequent generations.

All in all, breeding practices significantly influence whether Labradors have sensitive stomachs. Ethical and responsible breeding that considers a dog’s overall health and genetic predispositions is essential in curbing this problem.

Check also on how breeding practices have made Labradors strong: Why Are Labradors So Strong? (6 Reasons You Should Know + Tips To Maintain Strength)

10 Foods Labs Should Specifically Avoid At All Cost

1) Chocolate

Chocolate is nothing short of a potential death sentence for Labradors and other dogs. The toxicity in chocolate arises from theobromine and caffeine which dogs cannot metabolize efficiently.

Ingesting these substances can lead to theobromine poisoning, characterized by symptoms like restlessness, increased heart rate, tremors, and in severe cases, seizures or even death.

The darker and richer the chocolate (e.g., baking chocolate or dark chocolate), the higher the theobromine concentration which makes it even more dangerous.

A Labrador, for instance, could fall severely ill from consuming a bar of dark chocolate due to its sensitive stomach and poor metabolic ability to process these compounds.

Shifting gears, also check out Can Labs Eat Raw Eggs? (All You Must Know)

2) Grapes and Raisins

Despite their small size, grapes and raisins are enormously dangerous for Labradors. These fruits are linked to sudden and often unexplained kidney failure in dogs. Even a small handful can be highly toxic.

The exact substance that makes these fruits toxic to dogs is currently unknown, but their effects are all too evident.

Cases have been reported where Labradors developed severe symptoms, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain and decreased urination, shortly after consuming these fruits, underscoring their peril.

For further information, please check this out: Can A Labrador Eat Grapes/Green Grapes? (Crucial Info)

3) Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic, staple ingredients in many cuisines, are particularly harmful to Labradors. They belong to the Allium family, and when ingested, these foods can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells — leading to Heinz body anemia.

Dogs that have eaten these foods may seem normal for a few days but then suddenly display symptoms such as pale gums, rapid heart rate, weakness, and lethargy.

This is due to the gradual depletion of healthy red blood cells caused by the toxins present in onions and garlic, a harsh aftermath for a Labrador’s sensitive digestive system.

4) Xylitol

Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener found in an array of products from chewing gum to baked goods. It triggers a rapid release of insulin in dogs that can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels, a condition known as hypoglycemia.

Symptoms can develop within 10-60 minutes of consumption and include vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and in severe cases, liver failure.

Given Labradors’ propensity for quick and indiscriminate eating, the accidental consumption of items containing Xylitol can be a grave risk.

5) Alcohol

Just as alcohol affects the human liver and brain, it can also wreak havoc on a dog’s system. But the effects are much more pronounced in dogs, especially Labradors, due to their smaller size and sensitive stomachs.

Even small amounts of alcohol can cause significant damage that can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, decreased coordination, depression, difficulty breathing, and, in severe cases, coma or death.

Given the severity of the potential impacts, it’s crucial to prevent your Labrador from accessing any kind of alcoholic beverage.

6) Caffeine

Caffeine, similar to chocolate, contains theobromine and is extremely harmful to Labradors.

Found in coffee, tea, and many energy drinks, caffeine can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, an elevated heart rate, hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia and seizures in dogs.

With their voracious appetites and indiscriminate eating habits, Labradors are at a particularly high risk of accidentally consuming caffeinated products — making it essential to keep these out of their reach.

7) Avocado

Every part of the avocado, from its fruit to its pit and even the plant itself, contains a toxin called persin. While persin is harmless to humans (unless they’re allergic), it can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.

Furthermore, the avocado pit poses a choking risk and can cause a blockage in a Labrador’s digestive tract due to its size and the dog’s propensity to gobble up food. This can lead to severe health issues requiring surgical intervention.

Check also: Can Labs Eat Bananas? (Mysteries Unpeeled)

8) Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are known to cause a toxic reaction in dogs. Within 12 hours of ingestion, dogs can experience symptoms such as weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia.

The exact reason why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs is still unknown, but their effects can be alarming.

Given the Labrador’s generally sensitive stomach and susceptibility to food allergies, these nuts should be strictly off-limits.

9) Raw Yeast Dough

Raw yeast dough can be particularly harmful to Labradors. If ingested, the warm, moist environment of a dog’s stomach provides the perfect conditions for the yeast to multiply, resulting in the dough expanding.

This expansion can lead to bloating and a potentially life-threatening condition known as gastric-dilation volvulus (GDV).

Moreover, as the yeast ferments the dough to help it rise, it produces alcohol which can lead to alcohol poisoning in dogs.

On a separate tangent, explore more on Can Labradors Eat Bread? (Ultimate Bread Guide)

10) Dairy Products

While not inherently toxic, many dogs, including Labradors, have a degree of lactose intolerance because they lack the enzyme lactase needed to break down lactose in dairy products.

This can lead to digestive problems, including upset stomach, diarrhea and gas when dairy products are consumed.

It’s not uncommon to observe a Labrador experiencing digestive upset after consuming milk, cheese or other dairy products which reinforces the need to avoid giving them such food items.

How To Alleviate Symptoms of Sensitive Stomachs Fast in Labs. (Immediate Relief For Labs With Sensitive Stomachs)

Dealing with a Labrador with a sensitive stomach can be a challenging task and finding immediate relief becomes paramount.

Below, I’ll elaborate in detail on 6 methods that can help.

1) Medication 

Specific medication can be a critical tool in quickly controlling symptoms, and its selection is based on the unique needs of the Labrador in distress.

To illustrate, Ondansetron, an effective antiemetic, is especially useful when vomiting is a predominant symptom.

It halts the vomiting reflex by blocking the action of serotonin, a chemical in the body that triggers nausea and vomiting.

Sucralfate, another common medication, acts as a bandage to the stomach lining which shields it from the corrosive action of the stomach acid, thus allowing healing of the existing ulcers. In the presence of excessive acidity, Ranitidine can help.

It inhibits the histamine receptors in the stomach lining, thereby reducing acid production. For addressing bacterial overgrowth, Metronidazole proves effective due to its potent antibacterial and antiprotozoal properties.

A common concern with upset stomachs is the imbalance of gut flora, which can be restored using probiotics like FortiFlora.

Lastly, in cases of diarrhea, Loperamide slows down the digestive process by reducing the speed of muscle contractions in the gut, thereby decreasing the number of bowel movements.

These medications are all instrumental in the toolbox of managing a Labrador’s sensitive stomach but they should always be used under the supervision of a vet.

2) Temporary Fasting 

Giving the stomach and intestines a short rest period is another powerful way to alleviate symptoms fast. The principle behind fasting is to let the gastrointestinal system ‘reset’ itself.

In the face of irritation or inflammation, fasting can halt the process of digestion and allow the body to focus on healing. The duration of the fast depends on the dog’s age and overall health status, but typically for an adult Labrador, a fasting period of around 12 to 24 hours is suggested.

Throughout this fasting period, fresh water should be available at all times to prevent dehydration, as dogs can lose significant fluids during bouts of vomiting or diarrhea.

3) Bland Diet

After the fasting period, the introduction of a bland diet can aid in the recovery process. This diet is intended to be gentle on the stomach, easy to digest and not trigger any further irritation.

A simple meal of boiled chicken or turkey (devoid of any seasoning) offers a high-quality, easily digestible protein source. This can be combined with plain boiled rice or pumpkin, both of which are easily digestible carbohydrates and are known to soothe the stomach.

Pumpkin in particular is beneficial as it can act as a stool softener or a binder depending on the issue, thanks to its high fiber content.

The food should be offered in small, frequent meals and as the dog’s condition improves, you can slowly transition back to their regular diet. 

Explore more on whether or not Labradors can eat rice here: Can a Labrador Eat Rice? (You’d Be Surprised)

4) Hydration

Keeping a Labrador well-hydrated during a stomach upset is crucial. Due to diarrhea or vomiting, the dog may experience significant fluid and electrolyte loss that can leading to dehydration.

Rehydrating doesn’t only replace these lost fluids but also aids digestion which helps to soften the dog’s stool and making it easier to pass. Clean, fresh water (Amazon) should be available at all times.

In severe cases, oral rehydration solutions, which are readily available over the counter, can be offered to replace both fluid and electrolytes. These solutions are specially designed to provide the right balance of salts and sugars to improve absorption.

An alternative is a homemade mixture of salt, sugar, and water in appropriate proportions, which can work similarly to replenish lost electrolytes. 

5) Visit a Vet

While minor cases of stomach upsets can often be managed at home, seeking professional advice is recommended if symptoms persist or worsen.

A vet has the knowledge and tools to accurately diagnose the issue and administer the appropriate treatment, which could range from antibiotics for bacterial infections to surgery in the case of blockages.

They may perform a variety of diagnostic tests such as blood work, ultrasounds, or endoscopy to determine the root cause of the issue. In some cases, prescription diets that are specifically designed to support gastrointestinal health may be recommended.

These diets are formulated with easily digestible ingredients and additional nutrients that promote healing of the digestive tract.

6) Avoid Stressful Situations

Stress, while often overlooked, can significantly impact a Labrador’s digestive health. Similar to humans, dogs can also develop stress-induced gastrointestinal issues.

Situational stressors, such as a change in environment or schedule, the addition of a new family member or pet, or loud noises, can trigger stomach sensitivity. Chronic stress may even result in long-term gastrointestinal issues.

Therefore, maintaining a consistent routine and providing a safe, calm environment can significantly help in managing a Labrador’s sensitive stomach. Regular exercise and mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys (Amazon) can also help reduce stress levels.

If a stressful situation is unavoidable, such as a vet visit or a long car journey, measures should be taken to make the experience as comfortable as possible for the dog, like bringing their favorite toy or blanket.

10 Preventive Methods To Avoid Digestive Issues In Labs Altogether 

1) Balanced Diet

Firstly, it’s important to select high-quality commercial dog food that is specifically formulated for sensitive stomachs. These types of foods are designed to be easily digestible and often contain limited ingredients that avoid common allergens that may trigger digestive issues.

Look for dog food brands that prioritize lean proteins, whole grains, and natural ingredients without artificial additives or fillers.

These ingredients are not only easier for Labradors to digest, but they also provide essential nutrients for their overall health and well-being.

In addition to selecting the right dog food, incorporating a variety of proteins can be beneficial for Labradors with sensitive stomachs. This helps reduce the risk of developing food sensitivities or allergies.

Rotating proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish can help prevent the digestive system from becoming overwhelmed by a single protein source.

By introducing different protein options, Labradors can receive a diverse range of nutrients while minimizing the likelihood of gastrointestinal upset.

For example, a Labrador with a sensitive stomach may benefit from a dog food brand like Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Moderate Calorie.

This particular formula is formulated with highly digestible proteins, prebiotics, and a blend of fibers to support healthy digestion in dogs with sensitivities.

It provides a well-rounded and nutritionally balanced diet while addressing the specific needs of Labradors with sensitive stomachs.

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin dog food is a popular choice for Labradors with sensitive stomachs.

It contains easily digestible ingredients such as chicken meal, whole grain sorghum, and barley, which can help promote healthy digestion and minimize gastrointestinal issues.

Additionally, dietary fiber, from sources such as sweet potatoes or brown rice, is crucial for digestion, aiding in stool formation and passage.

Fiber can also support weight management, critical for Labradors, who are known to have a propensity for obesity.

2) Avoid Feeding Human Food

While it may be tempting to share your meals with your endearing Labrador, many foods we consume are not only inappropriate but can be harmful to our canine companions. Ingredients like onions, garlic, chocolate, and some sweeteners like xylitol, which we can digest with ease, can cause severe digestive upsets in dogs.

For example, feeding your Lab leftover pizza could lead to distress because it contains cheese (dairy can cause upset in lactose-intolerant dogs) and onions (toxic to dogs). 

Avoiding Human Food goes beyond not giving in to the begging eyes of a Labrador during dinner. It involves understanding the detrimental effects certain foods can have on a dog’s digestive system.

For example, foods like onions and garlic contain thiosulfate, which dogs cannot properly digest that can lead to hemolytic anemia.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that dogs metabolize slower than humans, leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases, even cardiac arrhythmias.

Labradors may also be tempted by the sweet smell of pastries, but unbaked yeast dough can expand in their stomach which can potentially cause painful gas and bloating, and potentially life-threatening twists in the stomach.

3) Probiotics

These are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for health, particularly the digestive system. They help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora which aids digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Probiotics can be found in some dog foods or added as a supplement to your dog’s regular diet. These helpful microorganisms work by outcompeting harmful bacteria for resources in the gut, effectively reducing the chance of bacterial overgrowth leading to digestive upset.

For instance, a Labrador with loose stool may benefit from probiotics as they can help solidify the stool by aiding digestion.

The probiotic strain Lactobacillus acidophilus can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella by producing bacteriocins, proteinaceous toxins lethal to other bacteria.

Furthermore, other probiotic strains like Bifidobacterium animalis have been shown to help improve stool quality in dogs, supporting healthy digestion.

By promoting a balanced gut microbiota, the chances of gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or flatulence can be greatly reduced.

Probiotics are often found in fermented foods like yogurt but can also be given as supplements which ensures a regular supply of these beneficial organisms to your Labrador.

4) Meal Portions 

Regulating Meal Portions is crucial in maintaining a Labrador’s digestive health. Labs are known for their voracious appetites, often eating faster and more than necessary which can lead to gastrointestinal problems like bloating or obesity.

To prevent this, serving meals in controlled portions throughout the day is advisable. Smaller, more frequent meals can ensure Labs have a steady stream of energy while preventing them from overeating.

For example, instead of two large meals, consider splitting the daily portion into three or four smaller servings. Portion size should also account for their age, size, and activity level, with puppies and more active dogs requiring more calories.

In essence, portion control isn’t just about the amount but also the frequency and the nutritional balance of each meal.

5) Hydration 

The importance of Hydration cannot be understated when it comes to preventing digestive issues in Labs. Adequate water intake helps keep a dog’s digestive system running smoothly which aids in nutrient absorption and stool formation.

Dehydration, on the other hand, can lead to constipation, as the body absorbs more water from the intestines to compensate, leading to harder stools. For Labradors, a general guideline is that a dog should drink an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.

However, this could vary depending on their activity level and the climate. In hot weather or after vigorous exercise, Labs will require more water.

Providing fresh, clean water (Amazon) at all times and encouraging your Lab to drink by adding wet food to their diet or using a pet water fountain can ensure they stay hydrated.

6) Regular Exercise 

Regular exercise plays a multi-faceted role in preventing digestive issues.

Firstly, physical activity helps stimulate the gut which promotes regular bowel movements. This can help avoid constipation, a common digestive problem.

Secondly, exercise aids in maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity-related digestive issues such as pancreatitis or fatty liver disease. Labs, being an active breed, require substantial exercise daily.

This could include walks (Amazon), runs, swimming or playing fetch (Amazon).

However, it’s crucial to avoid vigorous exercise immediately before or after meals as it can increase the risk of gastric torsion, a serious condition where the stomach twists upon itself.

Instead, allow for some digestion time before engaging your Lab in high-intensity activities.

7) Avoid Rapid Diet Changes

Avoiding Rapid Diet Changes is a key principle in maintaining a Labrador’s digestive health. Dogs’ digestive systems adapt over time to the type of food they regularly consume by developing specific gut bacteria necessary for digesting that food.

Rapidly changing their diet can disrupt this balance, leading to digestive upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting. When transitioning a Labrador to a new diet, it should be done gradually over a week or more.

You might start by replacing 25% of their old food with the new food by increasing the amount gradually every few days until the transition is complete.

For instance, if a Labrador is used to eating commercial dog food and is suddenly fed raw food, it could cause gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite

This method allows the dog’s digestive system to adapt slowly, minimizing the risk of stomach upset.

If you’re introducing a new dog food brand, you can start by mixing a small amount of the new food with their current food, gradually increasing the proportion over seven to ten days.

This gives the Lab’s gut flora, the collection of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, enough time to adjust and prevent sudden onset of digestive problems

8) Properly Cooked Foods

Properly Cooked Food not only makes it safer for Labradors to eat but also can be easier on their stomachs.

Raw food, while some argue can be beneficial, carries a risk of bacterial contamination like Salmonella or E.coli, which can lead to severe digestive upset or even systemic infection. 

To exemplify, imagine feeding your Lab a raw chicken breast contaminated with Salmonella. Within 72 hours, your pet might begin showing signs of food poisoning, which in severe cases can lead to dehydration, high fever, and septicemia.

Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure all meats are cooked thoroughly and cooled before being offered to your Lab.

Furthermore, cooking breaks down certain complex nutrients, making them easier for the dog to digest and absorb. For instance, cooking meat denatures the proteins, making them easier to digest, while cooking vegetables can break down cell walls, can increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients.

But remember to avoid seasoning, especially onions, garlic and certain spices that can be toxic to dogs.

Check also: Can Labs Eat Raw Chicken? (Raw Truth Unveiled)

9) Beware of Toxic Foods 

Being Beware of Toxic Foods is paramount in preventing digestive issues in Labs. As previously discussed, many human foods, while delicious and safe for us, can be harmful or even deadly to dogs.

Examples include chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic, alcohol, xylitol, caffeine and macadamia nuts. These foods can cause anything from mild digestive upset to severe poisoning.

Ensure these foods are kept out of your Lab’s reach and avoid feeding them table scraps to ensure they aren’t inadvertently consuming anything harmful.

For instance, you might be enjoying a chocolate bar while watching TV when a piece falls onto the floor. If your Lab gets hold of it and eats it, they could suffer from chocolate poisoning that can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate.

Similar reactions can occur if Labs consume other toxic foods like grapes, onions, or caffeine.

Therefore, always be cautious about what falls onto the floor and make sure harmful foods are stored securely out of your Lab’s reach.

10) Limit Diary

Limiting Dairy intake is beneficial due to the fact that many dogs, including Labradors, are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products that require a particular enzyme, lactase, to break it down.

Many Labs don’t produce enough lactase which leads to an inability to digest lactose properly. This can result in symptoms of digestive upset like gas, diarrhea and stomach pain.

While some Labs may tolerate small amounts of certain dairy products like cheese or plain yogurt, it’s generally best to limit dairy consumption to avoid potential issues.

If you wish to feed your Lab dairy, always introduce it slowly and in small amounts to assess their tolerance.

Instead, opt for alternative sources of calcium and protein. High-quality dog food formulated for sensitive stomachs also often provides the necessary nutrients without relying on dairy ingredients.

For example, instead of giving Labradors cow’s milk which can be challenging for them to digest, a suitable alternative could be a calcium-rich dog food that includes sources like bone meal or calcium carbonate.

These alternatives offer the necessary calcium for maintaining strong bones and teeth without causing gastrointestinal distress.

Sources

Labradorforums.co.uk — Super Sensitive Lab Stomach

dogforum.com — Sensitive Dry Food For Lab

thelabradorforum.com — Sensitive Stomachs In Labradors

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