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Some dogs can gobble down everything but the kitchen sink and come bouncing back for more, while others have a bit more trouble in the digestion department. If your dog tends to get gassy or experiences loose stools or occasional vomiting after eating, switching to a sensitive stomach dog food might be worth considering.
Although it’s very common for dogs to have digestive issues every now and then given how curious they are when it comes to tasting the world around them, a sensitive stomach requires a little more effort on your end to ensure your pup feels good and eats well.
The right sensitive stomach dog food will allow your pup to enjoy mealtime without experiencing the unpleasant symptoms that a regular diet might cause, thanks to highly digestible ingredients and a relatively short ingredient list.
Before switching dog foods, talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s stomach sensitivities so she or he can help identify the cause and rule out any underlying health issues.
Dog Breeds Prone to Sensitive Stomachs
Several dog breeds are considered to be prone to tummy trouble and more serious gastrointestinal illnesses over their lifetime. Some of the more common breeds with sensitive stomachs include:
- Irish Setters
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Labrador Retrievers
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Scottish Terriers
- Shih Tzus
- Yorkshire Terriers
Benefits of Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
Yes, dogs with sensitive stomachs will typically require a specific diet—but it doesn’t mean you have to cook up a homemade diet or go out of your way to have special food prepared. Sensitive stomach dog food is crafted to be easy for pet parents to ensure their pup is eating well thanks to the combination of microbes and probiotics—but it doesn’t require any more effort than a standard dog food.
“Ideally, we would keep these dogs on the same diet rather than regularly changing what they are given,” explains Dr. Linda Simons, a veterinarian based in London. “Similarly, we should not offer them additional food such as human food, treats, and chews, as these may upset the stomach. For most, providing a commercial diet aimed at those with sensitive gastrointestinal systems works best.”
According to Simons, dogs can be sensitive to any ingredients, including chicken, potato, and peas. It can be a case of trial and error to determine what your dog reacts to, but sticking to dog foods with short ingredient lists that have meat or fish as the first ingredient (which is most sensitive stomach dog foods on the market) will make things much more simple, as hypoallergenic foods are generally well tolerated.
Sensitive Stomach Dog Food: What to Look For
Although there are plenty of sensitive stomach dog food formulas on the market these days, there are still certain factors you’ll want to keep in mind when selecting your dog’s new diet:
Look for added probiotics. “I recommend looking for foods with added probiotics to help encourage healthy gut bacteria, which will decrease stomach sensitivities,” suggests Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian with Safe Hounds Pet Insurance. Probiotics contain non pathogenic bacteria, which increase the ratio of normal to pathogenic intestinal microbes. Increasing the number of good microbes in the intestines helps to decrease the risk of a sensitive stomach.
Seek out a formula that has inulin. Burch also suggests looking for diets that have inulin present in their formulation. Inulin is a prebiotic soluble fiber. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. These complex carbohydrates will also decrease the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Avoid recipes with long ingredient lists. Choose nourishing foods that provide an ideal balance of protein, fats, carbs, and dietary fibers, and avoid those with fillers or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives where possible.
8 Best Sensitive Stomach Dog Foods
Overall Winner: Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach
Our pick: Wellness CORE Digestive Health
There’s sensitive stomach care, and then there is next-level preventive health care. Wellness CORE Digestive Health probiotic-coated kibble recipes with wholesome grains fall into the latter category. These gut-friendly formulas include superfoods like pumpkin and papaya, digestive enzymes, prebiotic fibers, and probiotics to support digestive health and well being.
- Contains 100 million CFUs of beneficial microorganisms in every pound of kibble to support gut health
- Omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed help nourish your dog’s skin and coat
- Formulated with no added wheat, corn, soy or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Dogs love the full-flavored formula
- Also available in Whitefish and Brown Rice and Small Breed Chicken & Brown Rice recipes
Things to Consider
- More expensive compared to other brands, but some reviewers noted it was worth spending more to get higher-quality ingredients
Sample buyer review:“My older dog started having trouble digesting his food, my vet recommended trying special food designed for special diets that require probiotics and not too high in protein, so I ordered this Wellness CORE Digestive Health dry dog food. It is costly compared to standard or I should say poor quality store bought dog food with unknown ingredients. My dog eats this food up so he likes it and his digestive problems have cleared up!”
Best Sensitive Skin and Stomach Dog Food
Hill’s is well-respected for its high quality and science-approved formula—and the skin/food sensitivities formula is no exception. Clinically proven nutrition to help avoid adverse reactions to food, this option promises to help control any gastrointestinal issues.
- Features highly hydrolyzed animal protein and single purified carbohydrate source
- Includes antioxidants for optimal health benefits
- Enriched with essential fatty acids
- Taste is very similar to a more traditional dog food
- Available in both dry kibble and wet food
- No gluten, soy protein, lactose, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
Things to Consider
- This pet food requires authorization from your veterinarian
Sample buyer review: “I have been feeding this food for several years now. It came recommended by my vet because Roxie, my Border Collie mix, was severely sick with intestinal infections. It had been going on for a few years. We did not know what else to do. We could not risk prolonging her infections by testing out other dog foods. It has been perfect for her. I recommend this food.”
Best Ingredient List Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
Our Pick: Purina ProPlan
This sensitive stomach dog food comes packed with high-quality ingredients, including real salmon or lamb as the primary protein source, easy-to-digest oatmeal, omega-6 fatty acids from sunflower oil, and natural prebiotic fiber. It’s also fortified with live probiotics for digestive health. This is Dr. Burch’s go-to choice for pups with sensitive stomachs, since many food sensitivities in dogs are associated with beef or chicken, she says.
- Fortified with stomach-friendly ingredients
- High protein without being hard on the stomach
- Omega-6 fatty acids support skin and coat health
- Very good price for a specialty food
- Made without corn, wheat, or soy
Things to Consider
- Certain reviewers said the formula is more crumbly than other brands
Sample buyer review: “We switched to this food after experiencing loose stools and chronic colitis and have had huge success! Apparently our girl must have a wheat or corn sensitivity because once we removed those from her diet and went to this salmon and rice formula, her stools are much healthier. We’re very happy, and highly recommend trying this brand if your pup is also having chronic digestive issues.”
Best Sensitive Stomach Dog Food for Senior Dogs
You don’t have to spend a ton of money in order to ensure your dog is eating what they need to in order to support their sensitive stomach. Iams Proactive Health Minichunks (particularly the lamb and rice flavor) contains natural fiber and prebiotics to support healthy digestion. This small, easy-to-eat kibble is also a great choice for senior dogs who might be experiencing dental issues.
- Small kibble size makes it easy to eat and digest
- Includes high-quality ingredients, like lamb and wholesome grains
- Features a blend of natural fiber and prebiotics
- Contains omega-6 fatty acids to support skin and coat health
- Very budget-friendly compared to other brands
Things to Consider
- Certain dogs might take some time to warm to the lamb flavor
Sample buyer review: “Switched from ‘Senior’ food. Had lamb & rice for a long time with another brand but the small bites are easier for my Spaniel.”
Best Low-Fat Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
Looking for a top-quality dog food that’ll cover just about any digestive issue your pup might be facing? The Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Dry Dog Food comes highly recommended by both Burch and Simons for its high-quality ingredient list and highly digestible proteins and prebiotics that have been specially formulated to promote digestive health and healthy bowel movements.
- Made with low-fat ingredients
- Popular among veterinarians
- Great for a wide variety of digestive issues
Things to Consider
- Requires authorization from your veterinarian
Sample buyer review: “I’m on the 4th kid with gastro issue. They all absolutely love this food. My recent girl has gallbladder sludge and it has really extended her quality of life. Our last Westie had what was diagnosed as stomach cancer but surely wasn’t. She lived 4 more years on this food and a few meds.”
Best Budget-Friendly Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
Our Pick: Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula
The Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula is an excellent option for those shopping for top-quality dog food at a fair price. It boasts easy-to-digest egg and potato proteins and beneficial fiber from psyllium seed husk. It might not be the cheapest on the market, but the limited-ingredient formula and fortified probiotics designed to thrive in the GI tract make the budget-to-quality ratio well worth it.
- Made with vitamins and minerals that help foster healthier skin and coat
- Made in the USA by a family-run company
- Fortified with probiotics that will survive through the GI tract
Things to Consider
- Certain reviewers have noticed a dark powder coating that was off-putting for their pups
Sample buyer review: “This food has been a lifesaver. It has eliminated the loose stools and constant gas that my dog was experiencing. I’m a believer.”
Best Sensitive Stomach Dog Food for Allergy-Prone Pups
If you’re dealing with an allergy-prone pup, you might need to go a bit further to ensure they’re experiencing minimal tummy trouble or itching. The Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet dry dog food is made without common allergens—like grains and gluten—and instead includes just a handful of high-quality ingredients like salmon and potato to keep your dog in good health without worrying about a flare up.
- Free from grains, gluten, and wheat
- Made with high-quality, easily-digestible protein
- Prebiotic fiber and probiotics promote healthy digestion
- Omega fatty acids from flaxseed and canola oil support skin and coat health
- Relatively affordable compared to other brands
Things to Consider
- Certain pet parents have reported weight loss on this diet
Sample buyer review: “This has been my dog’s go-to food for years. He seems to be allergic to everything and this helps him out a lot. No longer eating the hair off his legs anymore.”
Best Dog Food for Puppies with Sensitive Stomachs
Finding out your new puppy has tummy trouble or sensitive skin can be tough—but it’s easier to become aware of any issues and get them under control when they’re young. The Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Puppy and Adult Dry Recipe is a great option that will give puppies all the protein and nutrition their growing bodies need—but also works well for older adults thanks to the single protein source and low-carb recipe. It also features probiotics to support your pup’s digestive and immune health.
- Made in the USA without any fillers or grains
- Contains one single, easily digestible protein source
- Lower in carbs than typical dry dog food formulas
- Pairs probiotics with prebiotic fibers, antioxidants, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids for overall health
Things to Consider
- Rather expensive compared to other brands
Sample buyer review: “This is THE BEST food and worth every penny. Our Black Lab pup was turning white with dandruff, always with soft stools, just had a rough first few months of his life. Tried another high-end food with limited ingredients—didn’t work. This food is the ONLY thing my pup eats and his coat is black and shiny, stools have been normal since we started this food—it’s amazing!”
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