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Sensitive Stomach Dog Food: 6 Ways to Tame the Tummy

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When your pooch has a sensitive stomach, dealing with the digestive fallout can be uncomfortable for pups and humans alike. While your pet suffers from discomfort, poor digestion makes it harder for you to clean up waste, and you may have to deal with potty accidents in your home.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can help promote your dog’s digestive health. There are several ingredients you can use to create a sensitive stomach dog food. You can also try changing up your dog’s diet and incorporating supplements that can help support healthy digestion. For more on how to help your puppy’s tummy, check out this guide to causes of digestive discomfort and tips on how to choose a sensitive stomach dog food.

Causes of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

A hand holds a fork full of food in front of a pug's face

Like humans, dogs may develop a sensitive stomach for a variety of reasons. Bacterial and viral infections may cause diarrhea and upset stomach. Parasites are another common cause of stomach upset in dogs.

Certain medications may also cause a dog’s sensitive stomach.For many dogs, sensitivity or allergic reactions to certain foods may cause digestive upset. The most common food allergies in dogs include chicken, beef, dairy, wheat, lamb, soy, and pork. When a dog eats these allergens, his or her immune system may react by causing an upset stomach and other allergy symptoms including rash and wheezing.

Finding out what’s causing your dog’s sensitive stomach is essential to finding solutions. Here’s how to figure out what’s causing your dog’s tummy problems.

How To Identify the Cause of a Sensitive Stomach

A puppy lies on the floor next to a bowl of sensitive stomach dog food

Symptoms of a sensitive stomach in dogs are similar to those in humans. Dogs with sensitive stomachs typically display:

  • Diarrhea and loose stools
  • Flatulence
  • Periodic vomiting

If your pup suffers from any of these symptoms, they may have digestive issues. Talking to a veterinarian can help you determine what the underlying problem is. A vet can run tests to see if a medical condition is the culprit or if your pup has a virus, bacteria, or parasite that is responsible. 

A vet can also help you figure out if your dog is sensitive to certain foods. The best way to do this is to put your pup on a limited ingredient diet (LID). This type of diet involves restricting the number of ingredients in your dog’s food, particularly the ones that are most likely to cause reactions. 

You can keep your dog on a LID permanently — more on that below — or you can use it to identify exactly which ingredients are causing the problems. To do this, you would slowly start reintroducing ingredients to see which ones your dog can tolerate and which ones cause problems. 

The 6 Best Sensitive Stomach Dog Food Options

An Australian shepherd holds an empty dog food bowl in its mouth

Some dogs are incredible garbage disposals — we’re looking at you labrador retrievers. They can inhale everything from wood chips to paper towels with just some minor discomfort. Other dogs eat normal dry dog food or wet dog food and experience diarrhea and stomach cramps. 

For dogs with sensitive stomachs, there are certain foods that consistently show up as the culprits. As we mentioned, protein sources are one of the main causes of stomach upset in dogs. In addition, some dogs don’t get enough fiber or other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, causing digestive issues. In other cases, poor quality ingredients and high-fat foods may be behind your pup’s stomach problems.

Once you know what’s causing your dog’s stomach issues, you can make changes to help ease symptoms. Here, we’ve compiled the best sensitive stomach dog food options to fight tummy troubles.

1. Limited Ingredient Dog Food

If your dog has food sensitivities, a limited ingredient diet can help prevent stomach upset. These dog diets are all about keeping things simple. With fewer ingredients involved, the chances of your dog developing a reaction decrease. 

Limited ingredient diets have the following characteristics:

  • Different animal protein sources: Many mainstream dog foods contain chicken and beef as the main ingredients. Because of this over exposure, these ingredients are also the most likely to cause food sensitivities. Instead, LID dog food contains different animal proteins such as salmon, lamb meal, turkey, venison, bison, and duck that offer better digestibility.
  • Fewer ingredients: LID foods contain far fewer ingredients compared to regular dog foods. They also contain ingredients that are generally well-tolerated by most dogs like sweet potatoes.
  • Digestion-forward: Most LIDs are also designed with overall digestion in mind. They may be formulated with higher amounts of fiber or a natural balance of vitamins that support digestive care.

2. Boost Fiber

Some dogs benefit from having extra fiber in their diets. Fiber works to bulk up stool and can also help to streamline digestion. To help your dog get more fiber, look for dog foods with beet pulp, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and green beans. You can also look for the chemical names for different types of fiber, including inulin and psyllium.

3. Make Sure They Get Their Vitamins

Most branded dog foods are formulated with the proper ratio of vitamins and minerals that dogs need for a healthy life. High-quality dog food brands include all the essential vitamins in their dog food formulas. 

However, some pet owners like to make their own dog food at home. A few reasons pet owners may want to make their own dog food include pleasing picky eaters, giving their dog more whole foods, and addressing food intolerances. If you’re making your dog’s food in your own kitchen, it can be easy to leave out important nutrients. 

If you want to make your pooch’s food, talk to a veterinarian to make sure the ingredients you’re using contain everything your pup needs. They may also recommend adding a supplement like Pet Honesty’s multivitamin chews to make sure your pup gets proper nutrition.

4. Focus on Fat

Dogs that eat high-fat diets are more likely to have a sensitive stomach. That’s because dogs have a harder time digesting fats than they do protein and carbohydrates. Fatty foods don’t only tax your dog’s digestive system, they also increase the risk of other health issues, including obesity.

That doesn’t mean you should immediately switch to fat-free dog food. Fat is an incredibly important source of energy and nutrition for dogs. Dogs that conduct strenuous physical activity including police dogs and herding dogs may need more fat than other dogs.

To find the ideal fat amount for your dog’s sensitive stomach, talk to your veterinarian. They can help you craft an ideal dog food diet to suit your pet’s specific needs. In general, look for dog foods that have fats and oils listed after the first four ingredients. Any pet food that lists fats higher in the ingredient list may cause stomach upset in your pup’s sensitive stomach.

5. Try Supplements

Giving your dog a supplement may help streamline digestion and ease the symptoms of a sensitive stomach. Prebiotics and probiotics are particularly helpful for digestion. These supplements help your dog build healthy bacteria in the digestive tract that can break down food more efficiently.

6. Limit Excess Food

It can be tempting to sneak Fido a few extra treats or to slip him some scraps underneath the table. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s important to limit excess food sources. Food scraps, especially pieces of chicken and chunks of beef can make stomach upset worse or trigger a food sensitivity. 

Keep an eye on your pup and make sure he or she doesn’t have access to additional food sources like trash bins or the cat's litter box. If you have kids, tell them how important it is to not sneak the dog extra food.

How To Choose the Right Food for Your Dog

A cocker spaniel puppy eats a bowl of sensitive stomach dog food

Some of the top sensitive stomach dog foods include Royal Canin’s Gastrointestinal Low Fat food, Blue Buffalo Basics limited ingredient formula, and Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Salmon and Rice. You can find other options from Canidae, Nutro, and Hill’s Science Diet, including Hill’s Prescription Diet. Dog owners should look for wet food or dry food that doesn’t have preservatives or by-products, which can negatively affect tummy health.

Choosing the best dog food comes down to making informed decisions. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to identify what’s causing your dog’s sensitive stomach and what you can do to help. You may need to put your pup on a prescription diet, something you can only do with your vet’s approval. They can help you choose the appropriate food for every life stage, whether you need puppy food, adult dog food, or senior dog food.

How Pet Honesty Can Help

Pet Honesty offers supplements, chews, and vitamins crafted with only the highest-quality ingredients. Our products feature powerful ingredients, including omega–3 and omega–6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. From hand-picked veggies to prebiotics, our products are designed to help your pet with everything from mobility and seasonal allergies to digestion.

We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for treats and chews to pair with your pet’s sensitive stomach dog food. Try our Advanced SkinHealth Food Topper  supplements, which contain healthy ingredients like probiotics from foods like mushrooms, kelp, and pumpkin. Just add a scoop to your dog’s food once or twice a day.

Looking for healthy treats you can give your pup? Try our probiotic chews made with vitamins and minerals that may help digestion. Our GrassGreen chews can also help rid your yard of yellow grass stains caused by your pet's urine. They work by decreasing nitrogen in your dog’s urine and contain probiotics and enzymes that are essential for digestion.