Best Food for Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs

Tummy issues causing headaches for both you and your dog? Read on to discover some worthy solutions.

Is your dog throwing up? Are they gassy? Does it seem like you’re playing roulette with his digestion every time you serve him a dish of food? No bueno!

You may be in need of the best dog food for sensitive stomachs!

dog laying on ground sad

“I’m ready for something else.” ~ Dog

Chances are the problem is in his tummy; if you’ve already ruled everything else out and consulted with your vet. Thus, while these symptoms should also be checked out by a vet to rule out any serious conditions first, feeding appropriate dog food may dramatically help them with digestion and nutrient absorption. [1]

Dog food is filled with meats, grains (the most frequent offender), and vegetables of varying quality that can affect dogs differently. For humans . . . it’s easy. We just try foods individually and see what the offending culprit is.

Dogs don’t have that luxury. The best way may be to improve their digestion and reduce the pressure on their stomachs by switching to a food formulated for precisely that goal. [2]

Related: Optimal dog food for allergies.

Popular tummy friendly dog food products

Just ahead, we’re going to look at five such options in both wet and dry varieties so that you can make more informed purchasing decisions. Let’s dive in!

Taste of the Wild | Grain-Free High Protein Natural Dog Food

Taste-of-the-Wild-Grain-Free-High-Protein-Natural-Dry-Dog-Food

Taste of the Wild is a popular choice among dog owners thanks to their affordable prices and use of high-quality proteins, and you’ll be quite happy to learn that every bag of food is grain-free for easily upset stomachs; while also providing digestible energy and natural antioxidants.

Their emphasis on protein is great since it more closely mimics natural diets, reducing the risk of having allergens in their food, and the included species specific proprietary probiotics are there to strengthen your dog’s GI tract as well.

Pros

  • Real meat is always the primary ingredient
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Highly digestible
  • Optimal amino acids
  • Antioxidant rich
  • All formulas are grain-free

Cons

  • Has recently experienced some bad batches of food, prompting appeals for recalls.*

*No official recalls as of yet: Get notified by signing up for recall alerts.

Read the full company review here: Taste of the Wild | Brand Review

Customer feedback

Many customers are extremely thankful to have found Taste of the Wild for their dog. It comes in at a price point that is acceptable for most budgets while using ingredients that punch far above their weight class. Dogs reportedly adore the taste and flavor, and very few have continued to experience vomiting or other digestive issues.

See it on Amazon

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet | Grain & Potato Free Dog Food

Merrick-Limited-Ingredient-Diet-Grain-Free-Dry-Dog-Food

Another way to help sensitive stomachs is to cut all the filler and offer foods that strip down nutrition to its bare essentials. Merrick uses that approach in this limited ingredient diet that also happens to be grain-free.

One great thing about this line of food is the single-source protein contained [3] in each bag. This makes purchasing a breeze since you know that if your dog doesn’t have problems with chicken, for example, then she can eat this food without worrying about a reaction from something buried down on the ingredients list.

Pros

  • Single-source animal protein
  • Supports easy digestion
  • Overall simple ingredient panel
  • Cooked in the USA
  • Grain-free (no gluten ingredients)
  • Small kibble, palatable for even small dogs

Cons

  • Recipes change on a recurring basis

Customer feedback

For the most part, customers are pleased that Merrick looks out for canine nutrition with these high-quality offerings. Within a few short weeks, many owners noticed that skin irritation and excessive scratching have almost completely disappeared, leaving behind shinier and healthier coats.

They report that it’s also great for a first sensitive stomach dog food feeding trial since the limited ingredients make it easy to narrow down allergens. However, since the formula does change occasionally, it’s important to keep track of the ingredients offered.

See it on Amazon

Hill’s Science Diet | Sensitive Stomach & Skin Adult Dog Food

Hill’s-Science-Diet-Adult-Sensitive-Stomach-&-Skin-Dog-Food

Are you noticing occasional loose stools in your dog, upset stomach, or trouble tolerating current food? This super popular and vet recommended brand takes a slightly different approach to sensitivities by choosing to promote a great balance of nutrition, rather than limiting ingredients.

This means there are more vegetables and nutritional supplements to bring your dog’s digestion in greater harmony with the intended goal of reducing gastrointestinal issues. All while supporting their immune system via a clinically proven blend of antioxidants with vitamin C and E. [4]

It’s not grain-free (. . . and maybe that’s a good thing?) so it won’t work if you know that your dog can’t handle it, but for more general cases Hill’s Science Diet should be a sound choice.

Pros

  • Easy to digest
  • Nourishes skin & coat
  • Offers varieties for all sizes
  • #1 Veterinarian recommended.*

Cons

  • Not grain-free, nor is it limited ingredient

*Based on a Veterinarian Endorsement Survey conducted in May-July 2017.

Customer feedback

Most owners continue to be impressed at the dramatic change that occurs with even finicky pets. Picky eaters quickly gravitate to the taste and aroma of this food and are awarded with firmer stools, more consistent “movements” and fewer trips to the bathroom.

There are a few owners who complain that allergies have gotten worse since switching to the food though, so it might not be worth picking up a bag if your dog has tried and disliked other foods with grain or other similar ingredients found herein.

See it on Amazon

Purina ONE Smart Blend | Sensitive Systems Natural Formula

Purina-ONE-SmartBlend-Natural-Sensitive-Systems-Formula-Adult-Dry-Dog-Food

Our most affordable dog food on this list comes thanks to Purina, one of the premier manufacturers of pet food across the globe.

Their sensitive stomach formula uses salmon as the primary ingredient to provide plenty of Omega fatty acids which are crucial for healthy skin and fur but might not be great if you’re trying to switch to a leaner, less fatty diet.

Purina ONE even has a 28-Day Challenge that they created, which basically says to dog owners “switch to our food and feed it to your dog for 28 days straight . . . then note the difference!

Pros

  • Real salmon is the #1 ingredient
  • Affordable (value for the customer)
  • Crunchy kibble rich in protein
  • No fillers
  • Antioxidant blend for immune system support
  • Natural sources of glucosamine
  • Easy to digest

Cons

  • Some consumers didn’t like the fishy smell.

Read the full company review here: Purina Dog Food | Brand Review

Customer feedback

For owners of dogs who can’t eat chicken and other popular meats, this advanced formula by Purina has turned out to be a great pick-up. The nutrient-packed salmon has helped to cut down on the gassiness of many pets, and the transition is a breeze thanks to the alluring taste of the kibble.

However, some owners complain that the smell of fish is too strong for them and that they have received some counterfeit products due to its popularity. Double check what you’re purchasing.

See it on Amazon

Natural Balance | Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Dog Food

Natural-Balance-Limited-Ingredient-Diets-Wet-Dog-Food

If dry food just isn’t getting the job done, then to wet food is where you may need to turn. These 12 to 13 ounce cans by Natural Balance are both grain-free and a limited ingredient diet food; as well as being packed with moisture and sweet potato to ease digestion.

Their goal is to help minimize the amount of ingredients you’re exposing your dog to, and thus reduce the risk of ingredient related sensitivity issues. They achieve this all while excluding artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Not only is its softness ideal for older dogs with weaker teeth, but it’s also quite a bit less concentrated, which should limit vomiting and belly aches from eating too quickly. Oh, but don’t think it’s just for seniors, this formula is great for puppies and adults alike.

Pros

  • Sweet potato is a great nutrient source for digestion
  • Premium grain-free source of energy
  • Premium protein and carbohydrate source
  • Supports healthy skin and shiny coat
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Company does 9 safety tests on every batch of food and treats

Cons

  • Contains carrageenan as a binder [5]

Customer feedback

Owners of older dogs love that they have a product that’s both palatable and healthy for sensitive stomachs to give to their pets. They cite the firm texture and aroma as being particularly appealing to even picky eaters, while the ingredients work to help ease itchiness and irritation.

Contrary to most wet foods, this is also high enough in calories to maintain your dog’s weight, which makes it a healthy choice even for extended periods of time. Just remember that you need a can opener before going on a trip, and you should be golden as a retriever. 🙂

See it on Amazon

Final say on dog food for sensitive stomachs

Ask any sufferers you know, and they’ll tell you that stomach sensitivities are no laughing matter. They have to always be vigilant and find out what’s in their food, and the same goes for dogs.

Unfortunately, they don’t often get a say in what they eat, so the burden falls to you to do your homework and pick up a quality, well-sourced food to help solve the issue. Any on our list will do you fine regardless of your budget, so all you need to do is go with one that closely resembles what they’re currently eating to ensure a seamless transition.

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You’ll need a good bowl to pour the food in. Check out these awesome dog food bowls we examined.

Resources

  1. Raghavan M. Glickman NW. Glickman LT. “The effect of ingredients in dry dog foods on the risk of gastric dilatation-volvulus in dogs.” J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2006 Jan-Feb;42(1):28-36.
  2. Rapin, Jean Robert, and Nicolas Wiernsperger. “Possible Links between Intestinal Permeablity and Food Processing: A Potential Therapeutic Niche for Glutamine.” Clinics 65.6 (2010): 635–643. PMC. Web. 17 Sept. 2018.
  3. Jeffers JG1, Meyer EK, Sosis EJ. “Responses of dogs with food allergies to single-ingredient dietary provocation.” J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1996 Aug 1;209(3):608-11.
  4. Chew BP. “Antioxidant vitamins affect food animal immunity and health.” J Nutr. 1995 Jun;125(6 Suppl):1804S-1808S. doi: 10.1093/jn/125.suppl_6.1804S.
  5. Tobacman, J K. “Review of Harmful Gastrointestinal Effects of Carrageenan in Animal Experiments.” Environmental Health Perspectives 109.10 (2001): 983–994. Print.

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Dog Nutrition

Written by Dog Nutrition

The Dog Nutrition team is here to help you navigate the stormy ocean waters that are the dog products industry. With over 10+ years experience in dealing with dog products and caring dog owners, we look beneath the surface to uncover hidden features, deals, and some of the most popular, best selling and highest reviewed dog products you can purchase.

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