Is your dog refusing meals? Runny poops? Eating lots of grass or frequently vomiting? Maybe even bloated or experiencing skin issues? You might have a dog with allergies or a sensitive stomach. While many of us view our dogs as garbage guts or affectionally dubbed carpet sharks capable of eating just about anything—this is far from the truth.
Many dogs require a limited or specialized diet to thrive, just like their human companions, and that’s where foods designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs come in. Unfortunately, these specialized blends tend to be on the spendy side and quality across the board ranges significantly. It can be hard to settle on the right brand.
No worries, though, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a roundup of the best dog food for a sensitive stomach.
The 6 Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach
1. Hill’s ® Science Diet® Sensitive Stomach
It makes sense to keep your dog on dry food if they have a sensitive stomach as they tend to be less rich. Hill’s® provides an ideal balance in the sensitive stomach range, between perfect nourishment for skin and coat and optimal digestive health. There are equal amounts of nutrients and protein to promote lustrous coat, healthy skin, and a happy, stable stomach.
The formula of Hill’s® Sensitive Stomach recipe has recently been changed to be even gentler for tricky tummies. It is especially suitable for mature dogs who have a nervous temperament. Remember to always introduce new foods to your dog slowly. Otherwise you may cause even more stomach upset.
This food is not recommended for puppies, pregnant dogs, or newly nursing dogs. Treats are available in this range as well.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Prebiotics and fiber for the development of beneficial gut bacteria
- Supports balanced micro-biotic growth
- Nutrients are absorbed easily with it high digestibility content
- Omega-6 and vitamin E for healthy skin
- Easy stool pick-up
2. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach is tasty enough to tempt even the most sensitive and fussy dog’s stomach. It is made with cuts of nutrient-rich lamb as its primary source of protein. When such toothsome meat is the first ingredient in a dry food, it gets your dog’s saliva glands working overtime from the get-go.
For an additional easy-digest, gentle-energy ingredient, oatmeal and rice have been put in the mix. These two components are perfect for calming digestive inflammation and also contain vitamin E for extra nutrition. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach is recommended for a multi-dog household with a variety of stomach sensitivity issues to deal with. For example, if a small dog has weight loss and a medium-size dog has IBD, this would be the best dog food for both.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Nutritious ingredients
- Easily digestible complex carbohydrates
- Free of corn, soy, wheat, artificial flavorings, and colors
- Zinc-rich and packed full of omega-6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat
- Antioxidant-rich for a healthy immune system
3. Nutro Natural Choice Health Benefit Treats
Nutro Natural Choice is the healthy treat to give a dog with sensitive stomach. Each batch of goodies is made from 100% natural ingredients with no hidden nasties to upset a sensitive dog’s stomach. The brand keeps things fresh by only producing limited batches of select ingredients, so if your pooch takes a shine to a particular flavor combination, be sure to stock up on it before the production run is finished.
Nutro Natural Choice make the claim that their treats may be small, but the benefits of giving them to your dog are big. They come in a wide range of ever-changing shapes, flavors, and ingredient combinations. The packet we feature here contains chicken, brown rice, oatmeal, brown rice syrup, and peanut oil mixed with tocopherols, among other yummy ingredients.
Why We Like This Recipe
- High-quality protein is the number one ingredient
- No artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors
- No corn, soy, or wheat
- Less than 3 calories a piece
- Delicious, and good for training
4. Iams ProActive Health Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Iams has been a trusted specialized dog food provider for many years. This is the best choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs that also can’t handle grains. Every ingredient has been selected for its easy digestibility and nutrition value.
Iams ProActive Health Sensitive Skin & Stomach is made with real chicken and includes farm-grown peas as a gentle form of carbohydrates and fiber. It’s also available in salmon and lentil flavor for dog’s who can’t have chicken products. Iams stands by a no-fillers policy that ensures everything in this food is going to benefit your dog in some way—and hopefully resolve their tummy troubles in the process.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Farm-raised chicken so no growth hormones and hidden antibiotics in the main protein
- Supports muscle strength in adult dogs
- Grain-free recipe with no corn, soy, or wheat
- Wholesome fiber and prebiotics to promote digestion
- Omega-3 and -6 in a balanced ratio for healthy skin and coat
5. Hill’s® Science Diet® Grain-Free Sensitive Stomach
Hill’s® Science Diet® Sensitive Stomach is a rare exception to the recommendation to avoid wet dog foods for dog’s with sensitive stomachs. It is made from easily digestible ingredients with thoughtful amounts of fiber and nutrients. When it comes to wet dog food, you can’t do better than choosing Hill’s—even your cat will try to steal it.
The key benefit of introducing clinically proven pet nutrition into your dog’s life is that it will help them to maintain optimal weight, and get the right amount of minerals and vitamins. Hill’s® Science Diet ensures that every can of their dog food exceeds the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). That means every can is a perfectly balance meal—the perfect accompaniment to Hill’s® dry food range for sensitive stomachs.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Easily digestible
- Easy stool pick-up
- Skin nourishing ingredients for healthy skin and coat
6. Canidae® All Life Stages
Canidae® is an outstanding brand of dog food. If you have a multi-dog family, this is the best food to suit everyone in the house. Canidae® has been specially formulated by vets to provide optimal nutrition and calorie intake for dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds. This simplifies the mealtime process considerably.
Having multiple dogs in the house makes it a warmer and more welcome place to come home to, but it also makes mealtimes a pain in the neck. They either have to be segregated into separate rooms so that stealing isn’t an issue, or the pack must be constantly monitored to see that everyone gets their fair share.
This is no longer a problem when you buy Canidae® All Life Stages. Your dogs with sensitive stomach issues can eat the same food as the rest of the pack without adverse consequences—the one pack solution that Canidae® offers multiple-dog families is perfect for dogs with and without sensitive stomachs.
Why We Like This Recipe
- Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
- Made with premium quality ingredients
Sensitive Stomach Dog Food Buying Guide
Now that you have the complete list of the top recommended dog foods on the market for dogs with sensitive stomach, you might have a few questions before you click to order a bag. Don’t let all the different information confuse you—start with a small bag to see how your dog takes to it and wait to see if it improves their stomach sensitivity.
What is Sensitive Stomach?
If you are anxious to know what it means for a dog to have a sensitive stomach, you may be comforted to know that it is more common than you think. Some breeds are more prone to stomach problems than others, while other breeds have a cast-iron digestive system that nothing seems to bother. Dogs are very clever at monitoring their own stomach troubles and selectively healing themselves without much fuss.
If you see your dog out on a walk nosing for green grass, this is a sign that your dog is seeking to heal a stomach problem. It can also be a sign that your dog should have be switched to a food for sensitive stomachs. This is more likely if they frequently are seeking out grass rather than a one-time deal.
If this behavior continues even after trying various sensitive dog foods, it could be a sign of more serious symptoms such as:
- Pica (craving non-food items) is an indication that your dog has a nutritional deficiency
- Needs to induce vomiting
- Wants to improve its digestion
- Treating its intestinal worms
Most vets consider grass eating a normal dog behavior as it has also been observed in wild dogs. You can ensure your dog’s fiber needs are being taken care of by checking its sensitive stomach dog food includes fiber.
A sensitive stomach can occur at any point in your pet’s digestive tract. It can be the stomach itself that cannot handle new ingredients, junk ingredients, or trash found on the side of the road during a walk. Or it could be a problem further down in the gut such as gluten absorption and dairy.
Whatever is causing your dog to vomit, burp, defecate, or break wind in excessive amounts, this is a clear indication that your canine friend has a sensitive stomach.
What to Avoid Feeding a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach
The best food for dogs with sensitive stomachs is perfectly balanced to fulfill their hunger and nutritional needs. If you allow your dog to eat the same foods as you, it would be as inappropriate as you eating theirs—don’t feed your dog table scraps. If you want to make sure that your dog is always comfortable and pain-free, make sure their mealtimes are geared for sensitivity. Your goal is to get your pet’s gut back on track.
- Find out what is upsetting your dog’s stomach by eliminating all extra food items
- No treats, scraps, or nibbles and turn away from those begging eyes
- Lock up your trash bins and the cat’s litter tray
- Check your garden for any refuse, fruits, or veggies
- A vet once found 19 pacifiers in a bulldog’s stomach, so lock up small objects
Here are some of the most common causes of sensitive stomach in dogs.
- Protein Source: Some pet dogs are simply sensitive to their protein source. If your dog is on a low-quality chicken-based diet, you should make the change to a high quality protein source such as beef, fish, or lamb to see if it makes a difference.
- Fiber Source: Your dog may need a bit more fiber in its diet, similar to what humans require as well.
Beet pulp, inulin, and psyllium are all excellent sources of fiber. If you see these ingredients listed on your dog’s food, you can be sure it will provide healthy digestion without draining the rest of the food of nutrients.
- Fat Content: Some fats are just as bad for dogs as they are for a human. Low quality dog foods have a high fat content as that is what makes up the bulk of their protein source. Fat is harder to digest than are proteins and carbohydrates. If fats or oils are listed in the first FOUR ingredients on the food you feed your dogs, the fat content is too high. You want to aim for healthy fats in appropriate amounts.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Adjust your dog’s diet to include to the optimum number of vitamins and minerals it needs for its size and age.
What Else Can I Do for a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach ?
A great trick to keep your dog on the sensitive stomach on the straight and narrow is always to have a packet of sensitive stomach dog treats on hand. That way, you can keep your pet happy with a delicious snack when you are eating, and make sure that everything they eat is perfectly nutritionally balanced for the special dietary needs.
It may seem difficult and even cruel in the beginning to keep your dog’s diet completely segregated, but it will be rewarded by a long, happy, and healthy life for your canine friend. Make sure to keep all extra items away from your dog’s temptation. That includes bones, chew toys, rawhide gnawing items, and dried meats. When you see the major improvements in your dog’s health and energy, it will make these few adaptations in your lifestyle that much more satisfying.
Signs Your Dog May Have a Sensitive Stomach
Dogs are very different than humans when it comes to what their stomachs can tolerate and what they can’t keep down. The signs when your dog suffers from a sensitive stomach are hard to miss:
- Decreased appetite
- Skin rash, itching, and dull coat
- Upset stomach and loose stools
- Seeking out green grass to eat
When you see these signs in your dog’s behavior and eating patterns, you might have a dog with a sensitive stomach and should visit your vet to discuss the issue and consider a switch in food as soon as you can. Knowing your dog’s eating habits and stool appearance can go a long way in helping you diagnose your pup’s tummy troubles.
What to Do If You Suspect an Issue
The first thing you can do when you see your dog is having stomach problems is to make a booking for a vet visit. If they believe your dog should undergo a full medical work-up before they can ascertain the problem, the signs that will indicate the need for this are chronic (long term) diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, lack of appetite, and fussy eating habits. These are the signs that can show you there is something serious with your dog.
It’s best for you and best for your dog if these symptoms are treated as soon as possible. If you see these signs early on in your dog’s health, you may not be in the financial position to pay out for a bunch of expensive tests at your local vets. It might be best for your dog and your budget to gradually make the swap to a sensitive stomach dog food and see if your dog’s symptoms improve.
Dogs can get mild stomach upsets too, and if this happens, they will have trouble absorbing nutrients. Dogs can also have allergies and food sensitivities, so be aware of any ingredients that could inflame the bowels like onion, garlic, chilies, grapes, and raisins.
If at any stage your dog appears listless, in pain, and cries when you palpate its stomach, you need to get to a vet immediately. These are the signs of a blockage or poisoning. When you touch your healthy dog’s stomach, it should have the feel of freshly risen bread dough.
Once you know your dog needs special food, here’s what you should look out for when you are shopping for dog food.
What to Look for in Dog Food for a Sensitive Stomach
Many ingredients in dog food can cause stomach problems and digestive discomfort. Start reading the labels very carefully; if there are any ingredients listed on it that you don’t understand, research what it is before committing to buying. Remember, if your friend’s dog is gluten intolerant, this doesn’t mean that your dog is too, even though it is displaying the same symptoms.
- Look for products that are specifically formulated for sensitive stomach
- Introduce the new food into your dog’s diet slowly
- Stick to dry food in the beginning and then slowly introduce wet food
- Stick to sensitive stomach dog food appropriate for your dog’s stage of life
How to Properly Switch to a New Dog Food
Switching dog foods can often bring on some stomach upset on its own, more so if you do so quickly without any transition. A proper transition should take about a week.
For the first two days, you want a ratio of 25/75 new food/old food. On days three to four, up this ratio to 50/50. At day five, switch to 75/25, and finally, on day seven you can use the new food by itself.
Don’t be alarmed if you see an increase in issues during this time. Even with a slow transition some dogs struggle a bit with food changes. If you continue to see issues two week after you’ve fully switched, return to your vet for advice or try another brand.