Best Dog Food For a Sensitive Stomach

  • By:

    Casey Fenn
    Casey Fenn

    Author: Casey Fenn

    Casey Fenn has 3+ years of experience in writing content. He lives in western North Carolina with his wife, four children, and an assortment of farm animals – including a dog, twenty chickens, a handful of quail, and one milk cow. Casey specializes to write articles in Dog Care, Cat Care, and Tips for Aquarium Owners.

    View all 10 articles Learn about our editorial process and veterinary review board.
  • Vet reviewed by:

    Dr. Chyrle Bonk
    Dr. Chyrle Bonk

    Veterinary review
    by Dr. Chyrle Bonk

    Dr. Chyrle Bonk is an associate veterinarian since 2010 and was a volunteer for Clearwater County Youth 4H. Dr. Bonk contributed to various animal and veterinary related websites and magazines as a way to help keep animals across the globe safe and healthy. When Chyrle not working she spends her time with her own furry crew of dogs, cats, and horses.

    View all 10 articles Learn about our veterinary review board
  • Viewed: 78

  • Updated on: 11/23/2020

A dog with chronic stomach issues can be no picnic. Their constant discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea may have you looking for a treatment in the form of dog food meant for sensitive stomachs. To help you find your best friend some digestive relief, let’s take a deeper look into the world of sensitive stomach dog foods so that you can choose the best one for you and your canine companion.

best dog food for sensitive stomachImage @jcomp / FreePik

Best Food For Sensitive Dogs Charts

Our Top Picks

Best of the best two choices will fuel your dog’s overall wellbeing without upsetting his stomach:

Products

Benefits

Links

Our Top Pick
purina pro plan focus sensitive skin and stomach salmon and rice

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach Salmon and Rice

This dog food is made with real salmon (and without any of the most common allergens), it’s one of the very best options if you have a pet with a sensitive stomach. 
Also, it includes the protein, fiber, and fatty acids needed to make it easy on your dog’s stomach.
Our Runner-up Pick
instinct raw boost gut health dry dog food

Instinct Raw Boost Gut Health Dry Dog Food

It contains vegetables and fruits that offer your pet the antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals he needs to experience long-term health.

Best Wet Dog Food

Below are the best options of wet foods for your dog with food sensitivities:

Products

Benefits

Links

royal canin veterinary diet gastrointestinal low fat canned dog food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food

This canned dog food also supports your pet’s urinary health by eliminating any ingredients that contribute to crystal formation within the bladder.
natural balance’s limited ingredient diets

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets

This food contains high-quality protein sources, limited carbohydrates, and no filler, they make it possible to give your pet a delicious meal that will contribute to his overall health without making the dog sick.

Best Dry Dog Food

Best choices of dry dog foods for sensitive dogs are:

Products

Benefits

Links

hill’s science diet sensitive stomach and skin

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin

This food includes all the omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, prebiotic fiber, vitamins, and minerals that your pet needs to thrive, you’ll have confidence in his future health every time you pour him a bowl.
diamond skin and coat real meat recipe

Diamond Skin and Coat Real Meat Recipe

It includes superfood vegetables and fruits that are high in antioxidants and other important vitamins and minerals. Best of all, it has zero corn, wheat, filler, or artificial ingredients so it will be easy on your pet’s stomach.

Best Grain-Free Dog Food

Best dog foods with grain-free ingredients:

Products

Benefits

Links

diamond care sensitive stomach formula

Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula

It’s made from egg-based proteins and alternate carbohydrate sources that are proven to go easy on your pet’s digestive tract. And it does all of this while still offering the balanced diet your pet needs to thrive.
wellness simple ingredient dry dog food

Wellness Simple Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Built from a base of high-quality protein sourced from deboned turkey, this dog food also includes carbohydrates from easily digestible sources.

Best Senior Dog Food

These two foods will ensure complete and balanced nutrition for your senior dog:

Products

Benefits

Links

blue buffalo basics limited ingredient diet turkey and potato recipe for senior dogs

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey and Potato Recipe for Senior Dogs

This limited ingredient senior dog food upholds that tradition by providing a way for you to feed your aging pet with nutritious food he’ll love – and that won’t make him sick.
nutro wholesome essentials senior lamb & rice recipe dry dog food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Lamb and Rice

It includes high-quality lamb as its number one ingredient. And its mix of antioxidants, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals make it the perfect choice for anyone who has an older dog and is searching for a tasty, nutritious dog food that won’t upset his stomach.

All ratings are formed by the article’s author based on own research and combined with customer reviews.

Dog Food for a Sensitive Stomach Reviews

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach Salmon and Rice

purina pro plan focus sensitive skin and stomach salmon and rice

Whether you’ve recently adopted a new puppy or are searching for better pet food for your aging, senior pet, Purina Pro Plan offers the options you need. Their experts have formulated a series of dog foods that are designed to be easy on your dog’s stomach while offering the nutrients he needs to achieve optimal health.

Pros

Cons

  • Made with real salmon as its first ingredient – and without corn, wheat, or soy.
  • Designed to provide the nutrition your pet needs for optimal health, no matter what its breed or stage of life.
  • Some customers who have ordered through online retailers have complained about bugs in the bottom of their pet food bags.

Back to the chart

Instinct Raw Boost Gut Health Dry Dog Food

instinct raw boost gut health dry dog food

Instinct’s Raw Boost Gut Health Dry Dog Food has been specially formulated with ingredients that are packed full of vitamins and minerals but won’t upset your pet’s stomach. This pet food is built on a foundation of cage-free chicken meat that’s been freeze-dried to maintain its naturally occurring flavor and nutrients.

Pros

Cons

  • A grain-free dog food option that’s designed to give your pet everything it needs to thrive without upsetting his stomach.
  • Made with genuine freeze-dried raw chicken along with fruits and vegetables, for a balanced diet.
  • Includes absolutely no grains, potato, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial ingredients.
  • There have been reports from some pet owners that they had a difficult time getting their dogs to eat it without coaxing.
  • Some have complained about the relative high price when compared to some brands.

Back to the chart

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food

royal canin veterinary diet gastrointestinal low fat canned dog food

If you’ve exhausted yourself searching for a canned dog food that won’t leave your pet’s stomach aching, look no further than Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food. This pet food has been formulated with the precise blend of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your pet needs to maintain his overall health without struggling through an upset stomach after every meal.

Pros

Cons

  • Formulated with the prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and dietary fibers needed for the long-term digestive health of your dog.
  • Designed specifically to help dogs who have trouble digesting fat, making it easier on your pet’s stomach.
  • Supports your dog’s urinary health and ability to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Because of the nature of this pet food, it requires veterinarian approval.
  • Some pet owners have complained about unwanted weight loss after putting their dog on this canned dog food.

Back to the chart

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets

natural balance’s limited ingredient diets

Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredient Diets canned dog food is specially formulated to be easy on your pet’s stomach. By severely limiting the number of ingredients in each can of dog food, they restrict the possible allergens or other upset digestive tract sources.

Pros

Cons

  • Built on a foundation of high-quality protein sources such as beef, chicken, fish, and lamb.
  • Includes limited numbers of carbohydrates and no artificial ingredients so your pet can maintain a healthy weight.
  • Available in a variety of formulas, including those designed for every stage of life.
  • Some pet owners have complained about recent cans containing an undesirable texture.

Back to the chart

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin

hill’s science diet sensitive stomach and skin

If you’re looking for one of the best dry dog foods designed for sensitive stomachs, look no further than Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin. This pet food has been meticulously formulated by the veterinarian-recommended experts at Hill’s to offer your pet the high-protein diet he needs without skimping on flavor.

Pros

Cons

  • A high-protein option made from real chicken and the prebiotic fiber your dog’s sensitive stomach needs.
  • Include the vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for your pet’s skin and coat’s wellbeing.
  • Formulated by the veterinarian-recommended experts at Hill’s.
  • Hill’s recently reformulated this pet food and some pet owners have complained that it doesn’t work as well as it used to.
  • Some customers have said that their pet gets gas after eating it.

Back to the chart

Diamond Skin and Coat Real Meat Recipe

diamond skin and coat real meat recipe

Diamond Skin and Coat Real Meat Recipe dry dog food has been crafted with the highest-quality ingredients possible. It’s built on a foundation of real, wild caught fish that offers the amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids your pet needs for his muscle, skin, and coat health.

Pros

Cons

  • Provides the high-protein meal your dog needs, sourced from real, wild-caught fish.
  • A nutrient-dense formula that contains everything your pet needs for his digestive system, coat and skin, and overall health.
  • Includes quality fruits and vegetables – with absolutely no corn, wheat, or artificial ingredients.
  • Some pet owners have complained about their dogs not liking the flavor or texture of this food.
  • Some customers have expressed concerns about the lack of taurine in this product, which is necessary for dogs on a grain-free diet.

Back to the chart

Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula

diamond care sensitive stomach formula

Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula has been designed from the ground-up to be as agreeable as possible with your pet’s stomach, no matter how sensitive it may be. It achieves this by cutting out all extraneous ingredients and focusing on the food sources least likely to cause gastrointestinal problems.

Pros

Cons

  • Made up of a grain-free, egg-based formula that’s easy to digest while including everything your pet needs for optimal health.
  • Includes alternate carbohydrate sources that won’t upset your pet’s stomach.
  • Provides a balanced diet for your pet – including the proteins, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics that will promote his long-term health.
  • Some pet owners have complained about strong gas after their pets eat this food.

Back to the chart

Wellness Simple Ingredient Dry Dog Food

wellness simple ingredient dry dog food

Like several other options on this list, Wellness Simple Ingredient dry dog food has been formulated with a key idea in mind: only include the most necessary, nutritious ingredients. As a result, they’ve cut out dozens of possible allergens and sources of gastrointestinal aggravation. If you’re looking for a simple pet food that will give your dog the nutrition he needs without making him sick, look no further than Wellness Simple Ingredient dog food.

Pros

Cons

  • A high-protein option that’s built on a single source – premium turkey meat.
  • Cuts out unnecessary ingredients and fillers so that your dog will only get what he actually needs.
  • Includes no gluten, wheat, grain, or any artificial ingredients.
  • A handful of pet owners have complained about their pets not liking the taste of this food.

Back to the chart

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey and Potato Recipe for Senior Dogs

blue buffalo basics limited ingredient diet turkey and potato recipe for senior dogs

Blue Buffalo had made a name for itself by offering a range of high-quality pet foods designed to support your dog’s long-term health and well-being. By taking advantage of its mix of turkey, pumpkin, and other easily-digested ingredients, you can ensure that your dog will continue to be as healthy as possible – no matter how old your dog gets.

Pros

Cons

  • Made with real deboned turkey and quality carbohydrate sources like potatoes and peas that won’t leave your senior pet with an upset stomach.
  • Only includes the ingredients your pet actually needs – without wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, or any other potential allergens.
  • Designed to provide your aging dog with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals he needs to maintain optimal health.
  • A few customers have claimed that this pet food caused their dog’s hair to thin.

Back to the chart

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Lamb and Rice

nutro wholesome essentials senior lamb & rice recipe dry dog food

Nutro prides itself on offering some of the very best non-GMO, all-natural dog foods on the market. They’ve crafted a wide variety of options, designed for every size, stage of life, and preference out there. Their Wholesome Essentials Senior Lamb and Rice option is one of the best choices on the market today for aging dogs.

Pros

Cons

  • Includes the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your pet’s aging immune system needs to thrive.
  • Designed to support the continued cognitive health of your dog.
  • Formulated with high-quality lamb sourced from trusted US-based farmers.
  • Never includes corn, wheat, soy, GMO, or artificial ingredients.
  • Some consumers have complained about the lack of freshness of bags bought online.
  • A handful of dog owners have said that their pets had to be coaxed into eating it.

Back to the chart

Buying Guide – Best Dog Food for Digestive Issues

When your best friend is suffering from any discomfort, you want to do what you can to immediately help them feel better. Especially when that discomfort is something chronic like a sensitive stomach. Switching them to a diet that is meant for a sensitive stomach can help relieve some of that discomfort and get them back to the normal, friendly pup that you love.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has a Sensitive Stomach?

Unfortunately, your dog isn’t going to come to you asking for a dose of Pepto Bismol or Mylanta when their stomach is bothering them. Instead, it’s up to you to notice the sometimes subtle signs that your dog may be suffering from a sensitive stomach. Every dog experiences an upset stomach at times. It’s just in their nature, especially if they’re prone to eating garbage, plants, table scrapes, or anything other than their dog food. A true sensitive stomach is more of a chronic condition, something that bothers them rather frequently, if not continuously.

how do i know if my dog has a sensitive stomachImage by @birgl from Pixabay

Signs of a Sensitive Stomach include:

Change in appetite

Sensitive stomachs can show up as a decrease or complete loss of appetite. They may not want to eat due to nausea or stomach pain.

Bloating

If a dog is having trouble with their digestive system, their food may produce excess gas that can lead to bloating and flatulence. Of course, you’ll know when they have gas, but bloating may be a little more subtle and will appear as a swollen, tight abdomen complete with moaning and groaning, mostly when they lie down. Your dog’s tummy may also make much more noise, like gurgles and squeaks, as they work through their digestive process.

Abdominal pain

Like bloat, abdominal pain will usually come across as moaning and groaning, laying stretched out on their side, or looking at their stomach.

Lethargy

As we all know, from having a stomach ache of our own, you don’t feel like doing a lot. Your dog may feel the same. They may lie around, be less active, or not want to exercise, especially after a meal.

Vomiting/Diarrhea

Dogs with sensitive stomachs may vomit frequently, sometimes after every meal or several times a week. They may also have chronic diarrhea which can range from just softer feces to very watery, almost explosive diarrhea.

Weight loss

Sensitive stomachs in the long term can cause your dog to lose weight, either due to not eating as much or from the frequently vomiting. This weight loss is usually very gradual and you may not even notice for quite a while.

What Can Cause a Sensitive Stomach in Dogs?

The best treatment for your dog’s stomach’s rumbling and grumbling is finding the real reason behind it. This isn’t always easily done and will usually require your veterinarian’s involvement. Some of the main causes of a sensitive stomach in dogs include dietary changes, gastrointestinal disease and food allergies or sensitivities.

Dietary changes

Frequent switching of your dog’s food can cause an upset stomach. Your dog eats the same thing day in and day out. Their GI system and microbiome get used to that food and become efficient at digesting it. Switching their food cold turkey can throw that efficiency and their good gut bacteria for a loop, causing an upset stomach. If you’re switching food regularly without mixing the old and new and allowing their body time to adjust, they could experience the symptoms of a sensitive stomach.

If switching brands or even formulations of dog food, always allow at least a week to mix their old food with the new food. Gradually increase the amount of new food each day until they are eating only the new dog food. Some dogs are so sensitive to switching foods that even different flavors can cause problems. We all want to provide our critters fulfilling life experiences rather than the same old, same old, but switching their dog food constantly isn’t the best way to do it.

Gastrointestinal diseases

Any disease that disrupts a dog’s digestive process can cause a sensitive stomach. Issues like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), chronic pancreatitis, or pancreatic insufficiency [1] can show up as a sensitive stomach. All of these conditions affect how a dog digests and absorbs food and can lead to abdominal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea and other signs. They can also be treated, in part, by a sensitive stomach diet.

Food allergies or sensitivities

Just like people, dogs can have allergies [2] or sensitivities to food. The difference between an allergy and a sensitivity is the body’s response. Allergies elicit a full-on immune response, meaning inflammation and swelling. For example, swelling in the throat for people allergic to peanuts. A certain food ingredient’s sensitivity doesn’t involve the immune system but can still produce side effects, like gas and bloating in people with lactose intolerance. The most common food allergies in dogs actually happen to be to the proteins in their dog foods, mainly chicken, beef, and egg.

They can also be allergic to grains, dairy, or, less commonly any other ingredient in their dog food or treats. The best way to determine a food allergy or sensitivity is to do an elimination diet. This is when you feed your dog a very limited ingredient food to prevent feeding them the allergen. You can then add ingredients back in until your dog starts having problems again. That will help you pinpoint what is behind your dog’s food allergies to avoid feeding it in the future.

best dog food for digestive problemsPhoto by James Barker on Unsplash

How to Choose a Sensitive Stomach Dog Food

Now that you understand what a sensitive stomach looks like in dogs and the possible causes, it’s time to choose a food that will help decrease those symptoms. If only it were as easy as that. The following are characteristics to check off your list when looking at different sensitive stomach dog foods.

Digestibility

When feeding a sensitive stomach, you need something that is easy to digest above everything else. You don’t want to overwork that GI tract that is already on edge. So, what foods are easily digestible? Whole foods. We’re talking whole meats and grains. Meat by-products and meat meals contain the organ meat, fat, and other edibles that may be good sources of protein, but they also tend to be less digestible. Avoid fillers, such as soybean hulls, bran, etc, as these are almost completely indigestible. Think bland as well, like chicken noodle soup, when you’re sick to your stomach.

Fiber

Prebiotic fiber is an excellent addition to sensitive stomach dog foods that can help regulate your pooch’s digestive system. Fiber is an important component of digestive health as it can help both diarrhea and constipation. Good sources of fiber in dog foods include green beans, pumpkin, wheat germ, apples, and carrots, to name a few. Again, avoid those harsher fiber sources like hulls and bran.

Probiotics

If you know anything about gut health chances are you’ve heard about the microbiome. This is a dog’s, and human’s, own special blend of good bacteria that inhabit their digestive tract. While you might not have realized there was a such thing as good bacteria, there are and it can mean the difference between a chronically ill pup and a healthy and happy one. The microbiome is what is responsible for proper digestion and balance in your dog’s GI. They break down and create nutrients that are essential for all other bodily functions. If the microbiome isn’t happy, your dog isn’t happy. Feeding supplemental probiotics can help keep that microbiome happy by fueling it and replenishing it with exactly what it needs.

Other extras

Added benefits to a sensitive stomach dog food include omega fatty acids and antioxidants to help relieve inflammation and repair cellular damage. These may come in the way of fish oils or blueberries, or simply be added in with a synthetic supplement.

What are the Types of Food for Dogs with Digestive Problems?

Sensitive stomach dog foods aren’t a ‘catch-all’ kind of diet. While your dog may do well with a product labeled as sensitive stomach, another dog may find digestive bliss with a novel protein or limited ingredient diet. It all depends on the cause of their sensitive stomach issues in the first place. With this in mind, there are a few different variations of dog food for sensitive stomach.

  • Sensitive stomach and skin diets: These foods generally contain highly digestible ingredients with few fillers. They will also have the added benefits of the omega fatty acids that we talked about to relieve digestive issues and some skin conditions. They will also contain beneficial fiber and more than likely some probiotics.
  • Novel protein diets: These are for your food allergy or food sensitivity dogs. Novel protein simply means a new protein. These dog foods take the normal protein sources that are used throughout the dog food industry and throw them out the window. Instead, they incorporate meats like venison, buffalo, duck, salmon, and even kangaroo in order to give your dog something their body hasn’t seen before and, therefore, can’t be allergic to. They also come in grain-free and dairy-free versions if those are problem ingredients as well.
  • Limited ingredient diets: This is exactly as it sounds. Most of these diets use one source of protein, one source of carbohydrate, and as few other ingredients as possible to make it complete and balanced. These diets are formulated for dogs with multiple food allergies or for those whose allergens you’re still trying to figure out. These types of dog food may be lacking in ingredient diversity, but they still contain all of the necessary nutrition your dog needs.
  • Veterinary diets: These are the ones your vet prescribes for digestive issues such as IBD, chronic pancreatitis, and so. These diets are typically lower in fat to help reduce inflammation and higher in fiber. They may also contain some great omega fatty acids and probiotics. These diets may be hypoallergenic meaning either limited ingredients or containing hydrolyzed ingredients that won’t cause an allergic reaction.

What to Look for in a Dog Food for Upset Tummy

We’ve covered all of this above, but here is a quick rundown of what to look for in the dog food that you choose for a sensitive stomach.

Look for:

  • Whole meats, preferably a novel protein like duck, salmon, or venison
  • Fiber sources like whole grains, potato, pumpkin, or beans
  • Omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics

Avoid:

  • Anything that they’re knowingly allergic to like chicken, wheat, or eggs
  • Fillers that are difficult to digest like wheat millet, corn hulls, or barley
  • Fatty human foods like meat scrapes, hot dogs, ice cream, or cheese
what to look for in a dog food for sensitive stomachsPhoto by Terrance Raper on Unsplash

Conclusion

Just because your dog may have chronic stomach issues doesn’t mean that they have to suffer forever. Finding the right sensitives stomach dog food can work wonders in regulating your pup’s digestive health. Always speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s GI symptoms or before switching dog foods.

Article Sources:

  1. Dogs, Exocrine. “Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Dogs.” Vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/exocrine-pancreatic-insufficiency-in-dogs.
  2. “What Every Pet Owner Should Know about Food Allergies.” Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School, 30 Jan. 2017, vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2017/01/food-allergies/.

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

7 people found this helpful.

helpful not helpful