There Are Many Different Causes For Dogs’ Upset Tummies. So Finding The Best Dog Food For Sensitive Stomach Issues In Your Own Dog Can Be Daunting.
But Don’t Worry! We Are Here To Help.
Welcome To Our Guide To Finding The Best Dog Food For Sensitive Stomach Problems.
There is no “one” dog food diet that will equally meet the needs of every single dog that suffers from a sensitive stomach, skin issues or systemic distress.
Luckily, there are nearly as many different dog food for sensitive stomach options as there are dogs.
So with a little help, you can find the solution that is perfect for your pup.
In this article, we tackle the topic of finding the best dog food for sensitive stomach and/or systemic sensitivities.
Including some of the best choices for puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs.
Does my dog have a sensitive stomach?
How do you know that your dog has a sensitive stomach? Are there certain signs or symptoms you can watch for?
Here, the answer is a definitive YES.
You should always chat to your vet concerning potential issues with your dog’s diet, but you will need to spot the signs first.
One key to linking symptoms to your dog’s food is the timing of the symptoms.
If the symptoms begin to arise within 24 hours after eating the food (and often much sooner), it is quite possible the food is the culprit.
Signs of sensitive stomachs in dogs
The following signs and symptoms are generally considered to indicate a potential sensitive stomach issue in dogs:
- Painful bowel movements
- Itchy skin
- Itchy ears
- Skin rashes
- Energy changes (lethargy and/or hyperactivity)
- Loss of appetite
- Unwillingness to eat at mealtimes
- Flatulence (gas)
- Noisy stomach (gurgling, rumbling)
- Aggression (rarer, but it happens)
If you have observed signs or symptoms of potential systemic or digestive sensitivity in your dog, the next step is to figure out precisely what is triggering the allergy or intolerance.
Using elimination diets to find the best dog food for sensitive stomach
One time-honored method for doing this is called the “elimination diet.”
As the name suggests, this diet involves cutting out foods until the signs and symptoms disappear.
Here, veterinarians typically advise cutting out foods that are known allergens first and working your way down the list from there.
This will allow you to find the best dog food for sensitive stomach issues in your own pet, by only buying those which don’t include the trigger food or foods.
Common food allergens include these foods:
- Gluten (wheat)
- Proteins from beef, chicken, eggs or lamb
So what happens when your dog eats something she can’t digest or is allergic to?
What to look out for
Basically, she will start to show symptoms.
The symptoms arise when her immune system mis-identifies a protein component in that food as an allergen and begins producing antibodies specifically created to counteract that protein/allergen.
However, here it is very important for your dog’s health and safety to consult with your veterinarian before just assuming on your own that the symptoms arise from a food-related allergy!
Once your vet has ruled out other possible causes, such as a virus, parasite, fungus, environmental toxin or allergen, serious disease of the intestine or bowel or something else, then you can decide how to best proceed with investigating a possible food-related source of your dog’s digestive distress.
Do I really need sensitive stomach dog food?
Truly, this is a question only your veterinarian can answer.
For example, your vet can do blood work to test for various allergies.
If an allergy is confirmed, switching your dog to a sensitive stomach dog food may be the easiest, fastest path to digestive comfort at mealtimes.
As a later section here describes, you can also consider making your own sensitive stomach dog food at home, either from scratch or with the help of the excellent limited diet dog food pre-mixes mentioned here.
If you are pressed for time, this can be an ideal solution.
When you are able to confirm the cause of your dog’s sensitivity symptoms, this will then tell you which dog food recipes will be the best fit for your dog’s nutritional needs going forward.
Best dog food for sensitive stomach issues
Finding the best dry dog food for sensitive stomach concerns often begins with a process of elimination.
In other words, you can’t fix the problem if you don’t know what is causing it.
These are three of the best dog food for sensitive stomach and diarrhea symptoms, starting with the least extreme elimination diet and ending with the most restrictive diet.
Taste of the Wild, Canine Formula
This wildly popular dog food for dogs with sensitive stomachs is grain free.
It has a fish protein base supplemented by vegetables, fruits and potatoes.
Pre-biotics and probiotics, omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals support your dog’s immune system and digestive function.
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Merrick offers a selection of good dog food for sensitive stomach with five protein-based recipes both with and without potatoes.
Dog owners say their dogs do very well on this food, and the kibble is sized well for small and large breed dogs.
If you are starting on your elimination diet journey, this might be the best dog food for sensitive stomach issues your pup is having.
Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food
There is no doubt that putting any dog on a vegan/vegetarian diet is still controversial.
But there are some cases where it can be warranted to try a vegan/vegetarian diet for a dog with persistent gastrointestinal distress and other ongoing sensitivity symptoms.
This particular vegetarian dry dog food brand gets rave reviews from owners of dogs with sensitive systems. It is for adult dogs only – not puppies.
We recommend having a chat with your vet before switching to this brand, as removing meat from a dog’s diet is a fairly extreme option.
Best wet dog food for sensitive stomach issues
Like the “chicken versus egg” debate, the “dry versus wet” debate will likely never be fully resolved to the satisfaction of all dog owners.
Of course, the best approach here, as with most such issues under debate, is to opt for a path of moderation.
Here, what that would look like is to feed both dry dog food and wet dog food, either separately or mixed together.
These three options each offer a limited diet in a wet dog food formula, including one that features only two ingredients!
Dave’s Pet Food Restricted Bland Diet, Chicken & Rice For Dogs
This unique, less well known Dave’s wet dog food for sensitive stomach and digestive distress features a heavily restricted bland diet of just two ingredients: chicken and rice.
Dog owners say their dogs with serious digestive issues like the food and find it easy to digest.
Wellness Simple Natural Wet Canned Limited Ingredient Dog Food
This grain-free, limited ingredient dog food features four recipes (duck/oatmeal, lamb/oatmeal, turkey/potato, whitefish/potato).
The recipes are formulated to address both food allergies and food intolerances, both of which can lead to gastrointestinal distress.
Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food
This simple grain-free and gluten-free protein-based recipe comes in duck, lamb, rabbit or turkey.
It is free from many common allergens such as dairy, eggs, corn, wheat and soy.
Dog owners say it has eased many common signs of gastrointestinal sensitivity, including diarrhea, vomiting and skin allergies.
Dry dog food for sensitive stomachs
Finding the best sensitive stomach formula dry dog food for your pooch is one part kibble size (large versus small breed), one part life cycle (puppy through golden years) and one part recipe (taste).
These three dry dog food for sensitive stomachs brands each offer small and large kibble sizes and a tasty limited diet recipe appropriate for adult and senior dogs.
Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Adult Dry Food
Purina sensitive stomach dog food offers five programs (Savor, Bright Mind, Natural, Focus, Sport) to give your precious pup what he needs to thrive.
As well, the brand offers different blends for puppies through senior dogs and toy through giant breeds.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food
Limiting the ingredients list is one trusted method to determine the best dog food for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
This highly rated food is free from any artificial ingredients and dog owners state it has been helpful to ease their pooches’ stomach issues.
Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food
Dogs that have sensitive stomachs can also have issues with sensitive skin.
This Hill’s Science Diet sensitive stomach dog food is also formulated to help ease skin issues that may be linked to diet.
Canned dog food for sensitive stomachs
Canned dog food, often also called wet dog food, comes in a variety of formats ranging from pates and stews to loaves and chews.
These simple, high quality canned dog food recipes each cater to canines with sensitive digestions.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Entre Classic Wet Dog Food
This Purina sensitive stomach dog food canned blend is for adult dogs with stomach and skin issues.
It contains no wheat, soy or artificial ingredients.
You can choose from four tracks and there are formulas for puppies through senior age dogs.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Dog Food
Choosing a canned dog food for sensitive stomachs often means opting for a limited ingredients diet that is all natural.
This wet dog food by Natural Balance offers a balanced mix of ingredients and energy sources for puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs.
Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food
This canned version of Hill’s Science Diet sensitive stomach dog food also addresses canine skin issues.
The main ingredients are salmon, carrots, green beans and apples (there is also a chicken and barley version). You can choose the life stage from puppies to senior dogs.
Puppy food for sensitive stomach
The puppy stage of life can sometimes be surprisingly challenging digestively as puppies are first weaned, then transitioned to puppy food and then transitioned again to adult dog food.
It can be helpful here to talk with your vet about the best puppy food for sensitive stomach issues that are specific to your puppy.
Another good strategy is to choose a brand of puppy food that is also made for adult dogs to help ease the one-year food transition, such as one of these three popular and highly rated puppy foods.
So what is the best dog food for sensitive stomach issues in young puppies?
NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Puppy Dry Dog Food
This popular non-GMO puppy food is free from artificial ingredients and plenty of vitamin and mineral enrichment that puppies need.
There are several recipes to choose from and the food is offered in several package sizes for both small and large breed puppies.
BLUE Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula Puppy Dry Dog Food
This limited ingredient puppy food has plenty of vitamins and minerals, fruits, veggies and turkey.
With healthy carbohydrates like pumpkin and potato to help your puppy digest easily.
Dog owners say it goes down very well with their puppies.
The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Minimalist Limited Ingredient Dog Food
This unique dehydrated food has only six ingredients, each of which is natural and human grade.
The manufacturer states that three of the flavors of this food are suitable for both puppies and adult dogs.
All you have to do to prepare the food is add water.
Senior dog food for sensitive stomach
Older dogs can differ from adult dogs and puppies in important ways.
Senior dog food should be easy to chew, calorically balanced for a senior dog’s lower energy levels, easy to digest and tasty, like these three options!
Holistic Select Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food for Senior Dogs
This senior dog food for sensitive stomach concerns is grain free, corn-free, and enriched with pre-biotics and pro-biotics.
To support healthy digestion and glucosamine/chondroitin for joint and hip support.
The word “holistic” refers to taking a “whole dog approach” to nutritional needs in ingredients and recipe balance.
IAMS Premium Protection Senior Plus Dry Dog Food
IAMS offers two senior dog formulas, Mature Adult for dogs aged 7 to 10 years and Senior Plus for dogs aged 11+ years.
Both formulas contain glucosamine/chondroitin for joint support and pre-biotics/beet pulp for healthy digestion.
This dog food is also designed to help clean teeth.
CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Dry Dog Food
This senior dog food features a grain free, limited ingredient recipe that is designed for gentle digestion.
Owners say their dogs like this food and have an easier time digesting it.
Base mix for making your own sensitive system dog food
If you have the time and inclination (or if you are simply at your wit’s end because nothing else you have tried has worked) you may decide you want to make your dog’s food at home.
Not only is making home-made dog food becoming more popular among dog owners, but it can be quite easy once you get the hang of it!
You have two options: a) make your food completely from scratch, or b) use a pre-mixed starter base food and add ingredients to it.
If you choose the latter option, you may enjoy these three base mix dog foods that allow you to carefully control ingredients and add in your own protein of choice.
The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Base Mix Dog Food
This simple human-grade base dog food mix comes in two recipes, original grain free and base mix without fruit/potatoes added.
You can add protein and any other ingredients into either mix to make your dog’s food simply and quickly.
Sojos Natural Pet Food Pre-Mix Natural Dry Raw Freeze Dried Dog Food
With Sojos Natural Pet Food mix you can choose from two recipes, grain-free or original. Just add water and your protein of choice.
Along with any other desired ingredients to mix up tasty dog food in minutes.
Dr Harvey’s Fine Ground Veg-to-Bowl Grain-Free Dog Food Pre-Mix
Dr. Harvey’s offers several dehydrated pre-mix recipes, including grain-free and canine health blend.
Here, just add your protein of choice and oil of choice (flax, omega-3, et al) for a complete, easily digestible dog meal.
Best dog food for sensitive stomach
We know it can be frustrating and scary trying to find the best dog food for your dog’s sensitive stomach and skin issues!
You just want your pup to feel better right away and be restored to optimal health!
We hope you have found many great options after reading through this article about the best dog food for sensitive stomach and skin concerns.
If you found a great sensitive stomach dog food after reading this article, we’d love to hear which one you chose and why!
Resources and Further Reading
- Ward, E., DVM, “Allergy-Food Allergy in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospital, 2009.
- Lewis, T., DVM, DACVD, “Diagnosing food allergies in dogs and cats – Bring your case to trial,” DVM360 Veterinary Medicine, 2017.
- Stamm, A., DVM, “How to Feed Your Dog for Optimal Health,” Meridian Veterinary Care, 2017.
- Kelly, R.E., “Feeding the Modern Dog,” Michigan State University, 2012.
- Allen, D.G., DVM, MSc, DACVIM, et al, “Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines in Dogs,” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2016.