The 8 Best Dog Foods for Sensitive Stomachs

By Kevin Myers | 2021 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This (updated) guide reviews all of the best dog foods for sensitive stomachs this year.

I use a 40-point inspection checklist for all of the products I review on my blog and analyze factors such as ingredients, consumer reviews, brand reputation, and more.

I’ve also recently added an excellent guide on the best way to switch dog food for those of you considering making a change.

So, let’s dive in.

The Best Dog Foods for Sensitive Stomachs

Top ProductsLifestageTop Ingredients
1. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog FoodAdultSalmon, Barley, Rice, Oat Meal, Fish Meal
2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Dog FoodAdultChicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Soybean Oil
3. Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Salmon & Vegetable Dry Dog FoodAllSalmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Chickpeas, Lentils, Chicken Fat
4. Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula Adult Dry Dog FoodAdultPotatoes, Egg Product, Potato Protein, Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat
5. Natural Balance L.I.D. Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Dog FoodAdult, PuppySalmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Sunflower Oil
6. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog FoodAdultDeboned Turkey, Potatoes, Turkey Meal, Peas, Canola Oil
7. Purina ONE SmartBlend Sensitive Systems Adult Formula Dry Dog FoodAdultSalmon, Rice Flour, Pearled Barley, Oat Meal, Corn Gluten Meal
8. Taste of the Wild Pine Forest Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodAdultVenison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Blueberries

1. Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Barley, 3. Rice, 4. Oat Meal, 5. Fish Meal

Purina’s Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach dog food has created a special diet for sensitive dogs that boosts both digestive and skin health. The recipe is built from easily-digestible salmon, rice, and oatmeal that provide essential macro-nutrients, while fish oils and omega fatty acids nourish the skin and coat of your dog.

Moreover, the dog food plays a vital role in strengthening your canine’s digestive health through live probiotics and prebiotic fibers. Both of them support effective digestion and encourage nutrient absorption for a healthy and active canine.


2. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Yellow Peas, 5. Soybean Oil

This tasty sensitive stomach dog food from Hill’s Science Diet has a successful track record of alleviating digestive issues in most dogs. It features an array of highly-digestible ingredients, including chicken, brown rice, and soybean oil that support your dog’s nutritional needs and overall health.

Another notable feature of the dog food is its prebiotic support, which promotes gut flora and leads to stronger digestive health. It’s also an excellent choice for dogs with sensitive skin due to its omega fatty acid and vitamin E content that improves skin and coat health.


3. Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Grain-Free Cold Water Salmon & Vegetable Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Ocean Fish Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Lentils, 5. Chicken Fat

The Solid Gold brand is aimed at creating the highest-quality recipes with a selection of superfoods. Their Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach dog food is designed with that same philosophy but is 100% free from grains, gluten, wheat, corn, and soy. Instead, it contains wholesome ingredients like cold water salmon, chickpeas, carrots, and pumpkin that supply a range of vital and supplementary nutrients.

Like any other sensitive diet, the dog food also provides probiotic support to strengthen your canine’s stomach and immune health. It also contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to nourish your dog’s skin and help them grow a shiny and soft coat.


4. Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Potatoes, 2. Egg Product, 3. Potato Protein, 4. Tomato Pomace, 5. Chicken Fat

Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula is the ultimate dog food for canines with an extremely fragile digestive system. It contains a very limited selection of ingredients and even exchanges meat for egg protein for extra sensitive dogs. The recipe is completely free from grains, gluten, corn, wheat, and soy, so even the most sensitive dogs can enjoy and fully digest a tasty meal.

To further strengthen your dog’s digestive tract, the dog food includes species-specific probiotics that promote gut flora and more efficient digestion. Also, the recipe contains numerous vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids that support your dog’s general health and helps them grow healthy fur.


5. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Menhaden Fish Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Potatoes, 5. Sunflower Oil

Natural Balance’s Salmon & Sweet Potato dog food provides the benefit of being both limited in ingredients and having a recipe made entirely from digestion-friendly foods for sensitive dogs. This list of foods includes real salmon, sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, and other wholesome ingredients that aid in muscle nourishment and make your dog more energetic.

In addition to this, the dog food is completely free from grains, peas, lentils, corn, and wheat so your dog can fully digest and absorb nutrients. Also, Natural Balance’s dog foods are manufactured exclusively in the USA to ensure the highest-quality end product.


6. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Potatoes, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Canola Oil

Cutting down on allergy-causing ingredients is important, but so is providing a holistic and highly-nutritious diet. That’s what Blue Buffalo’s Basics LID Formula is made for. It features a single protein and a selection of easily digestible carbs for optimal energy levels and muscle nourishment. Aside from that, the dog food includes LifeSource Bits that deliver antioxidants and vitamins, as well as pumpkin for soothing the stomach of sensitive canines.

But even with such a vast nutritional profile, the recipe contains zero grains, corn, dairy wheat, soy, artificial flavors, and preservatives. So if you’re concerned about not fulfilling your dog’s nutritional needs due to their sensitive stomach, try Blue Buffalo’s Basics LID Formula and see their health flourish.


7. Purina ONE SmartBlend Sensitive Systems Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Rice Flour, 3. Pearled Barley, 4. Oat Meal, 5. Corn Gluten Meal

Instead of just catering to dogs with sensitive stomachs, Purina ONE Sensitive Systems provides a nutritional solution for dogs that suffer from all sorts of sensitivities. Its selection of real salmon, rice, and oatmeal supports muscle growth and fuels your dog’s energy reserves in an easily-digestible package.

More than that, the recipe contains vitamin E and omega fatty acids that allow dogs with itchy and sensitive skin to grow soft and lustrous fur. The dog food is also a great choice for aging canines as it contains antioxidants, glucosamine, and chondroitin that strengthen the immune system and improves joint health. 


8. Taste of the Wild Pine Forest Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Venison, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Garbanzo Beans, 4. Peas, 5. Blueberries

Taste of the Wild Pine Forest is one of the most premium and nutrient-dense dog foods available for sensitive canines on the market. Like any other Taste of the Wild formula, it contains novel proteins and unique ingredients like venison, garbanzo beans, and peas. A full list of wholesome fruits and vegetables help in providing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Because the diet is focused on sensitive dogs, it also boasts additional benefits from K9 probiotics and prebiotics that promote gut flora and improve digestion. The recipe is also stripped off allergens like grains and artificial preservatives.


9. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Chicory Root Extract

Wellness goes over and above with their Simple LID Dog Food by building their entire recipe on just five wholesome foods; salmon, potatoes, peas, canola oil, and chicory root extract. These ingredients provide the right balance of essential nutrients and encourage quick and smooth digestion. 

Aside from that, the recipe includes antioxidants, glucosamine, and omega fatty acids that help in strengthening immunity, joints, and coat health. The dog food also improves nutrients absorption and digestion through probiotics. All of these nutrients not only make your dog feel healthy but also makes them more alert and active.


10. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Recipe with Real Lamb Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Lamb Meal, 2. Lamb, 3. Coconut Oil, 4. Peas, 5. Freeze Dried Lamb Heart

While other brands craft formulas from selected foods, Instinct Limited LID Diet follows a simple two-ingredient approach by using only one protein and one vegetable to reduce digestive upsets to a minimum. It sources most of the nutrients from lamb meat, peas, tapioca, and canola oil that encourage nutrient absorption and smooth digestion.

Antioxidants and omega fats are plentiful in the recipe and promote healthy fur and stronger immunity. Because the diet is so limited in ingredients, it will suit canines that are allergic to most ingredients like dairy, meat, and grains. 


11. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Menhaden Fish Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Canola Oil

Cutting down on ingredients might be a good strategy, but making that dog food taste good is what counts. Canidae Pure LID dog food has succeeded with this strategy and has become a favorite of dogs with sensitive stomachs and a picky attitude. It’s made from easily-digestible ingredients like salmon, sweet potatoes, peas, and canola oil that support overall body conditioning and health without causing stomach upsets.

Apart from that, the recipe also includes antioxidants, probiotics, fatty acids, and vitamins that build strong immunity and promote gut flora. Canidae Pure LID dog food remains a popular choice amongst picky eaters, and many owners have praised it for its appeal to their canines. 


12. Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Puppy Grain-Free Salmon Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Salmon Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Canola Oil, 5. Dried Chicory Root

Whether you’ve got a puppy with a sensitive stomach or an adult with food allergies, Nulo Freestyle Limited+ dog food has all the right ingredients to fulfill their nutritional needs without placing any stress on their digestion. It has one of the highest protein contents amongst dog foods at 30% minimum, which is crucial for both puppies and adults in building muscle mass.

Any ingredient that has the slightest chance of irritating a sensitive stomach has been exempted from the recipe, including grains, potatoes, eggs, peas, soy, and artificial preservatives. Side by side, the dog food strengthens your dog’s digestive system with GanedenBC30 probiotics and nourishes their coat with omega fatty acids.


13. Holistic Select Adult Health Anchovy, Sardine & Salmon Meals Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Anchovy and Sardine Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 4. Oatmeal, 4. Salmon Meal, 5. Cranberries

Holistic Select Adult Health dog food manages to pack in tons of nutrients and wholesome foods into a super-tasty kibble. From anchovy and sardines to oatmeal and pumpkin, each ingredient digests quickly and absorbs fully into your dog’s body. Micronutrients like antioxidants, glucosamine, and taurine help in improving joint health and strengthening the immune system. 

Unlike most dog foods, Holistic Select also includes easy-digesting grains like brown rice that fuel energy levels throughout the day. It also contains probiotics that promote gut bacteria and improve digestive health. The dog food is exclusively manufactured in the US and is a favorite amongst picky dogs with sensitive stomachs.


14. Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Dried Peas, 5. Sunflower Oil

Rachael Ray Nutrish’s Bright Puppy is aimed at providing premium-quality, holistic nutrition to puppies with sensitive digestion. Within a simple recipe, the brand has managed to pack in tons of high-quality foods such as real chicken, carrots, brown rice, and beet pulp.

These foods provide puppies with every single macro and micronutrient required for optimal growth, including vitamins, antioxidants, DHA, omega fatty acids, and more. To prevent digestive upsets, the recipe excludes all sorts of artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors. The dog food is exclusively manufactured in Rachael Ray Nutrish’s USA factory under strict safety standards to ensure that your puppy receives the highest-quality nutrition. 


15. Royal Canin Small Digestive Care Dry Dog Food

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken By-Product Meal, 2. Corn, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Dried Plain Beet Pulp

Small breed dogs are more prone to sensitive stomachs, and sometimes the culprit can be a caloric-dense sensitive dog food. Royal Canin has created Small Digestive Care dog food especially for this purpose with a calorie and nutrition profile tailored for small and toy dog breeds. 

It uses highly-digestible proteins, carbs, and dietary fiber for optimal nutrient absorption and increased energy levels. Probiotics are also included in the recipe to promote gut flora and improve stool quality. The taste and aroma of the dog food make it a popular choice amongst canines.

Buyer’s Guide

Dogs normally have hearty appetites with stomachs to match. But this doesn’t mean that some of them don’t have sensitive tummies. Having a sensitive stomach is not uncommon in dogs. Even the strongest can fall prey to this troublesome condition.

These digestive problems may not be emergencies, but of course, it isn’t good to see your little darling suffer from digestive issues. If your dog is frequently showing signs that their food is not agreeing with them, then it may be time to switch to food made with the sensitive tummy in mind.

In this section, we will explore this subject in detail to help you pick the right food for your sensitive dog.

Signs and Symptoms of Sensitive Stomach in Dogs

Sensitive stomach in dogs is more common than you think. Also, it is a condition that grows gradually over time. Every dog is different, as are their symptoms. However, there are some common signs that should alert you right away. Regardless of the cause, dogs with sensitive stomachs should be fed with care. Continuing to give them foods that disagree with them may cause uncomfortable and undesirable symptoms, which include:

Gas

Flatulence is normal to a certain extent. But if your dog is experiencing sudden or excessive gassiness, this could indicate a problem. Often, this is due to improper diet.

Vomiting

Vomiting is the number one sign of stomach sensitivities caused by food. As much as your dog loves to eat, not every ingredient may agree with every breed. Stomach sensitivity and intolerance can increase with repeated exposure to the ingredients causing the upset. If not changed in time, this could lead to various disorders.

Vomiting is serious. It is time to enrich your dog’s nutrition with probiotic-rich ingredients and digestive enzymes. For persistent problems, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the next most common symptom of a sensitive tummy. A runny stool may not seem like a big issue if it occurs once. But if it happens regularly, it could lead to a life-threatening situation. Do not let your canine get severely dehydrated by delaying medical attention.

Lack of appetite

Is your little munching machine refusing food? A persistent lack of appetite can be a major sign of stomach sensitivity. Your vet may recommend adjusting your dog’s diet so they get the energy and nutrition they need.

Weight Loss

If your dog is sensitive to certain types of foods, he might not enjoy eating it. Weight loss is common in pets with digestive issues and tummy sensitivities.

Ingredients to Avoid

Now that you know the symptoms, it’s easier to identify whether your dog has a sensitive stomach. You should be cautious about what you pick when it comes to selecting the right nutrition for your pet, paying special attention to the ingredients.

Here’s a list of things that can upset your canine’s sensitive stomach:

Dairy

Dogs are usually very fond of milk and other dairy products, but not all dogs can digest them. Some may experience acute intestinal distress in the form of vomiting, diarrhea, and gas.

If your dog is lactose intolerant, avoid giving any dairy, regardless of how much they love it. Also, steer clear of foods with dairy as a major ingredient on the label.

Fruits

Fruits can be a healthy snack for both dogs and humans alike. However, fruits that are rich in sugar content can be a struggle to digest for dogs with sensitive tummies. The sugar can further irritate the stomach and cause digestive disorders.

For kibbles and blends, the percentage of fruits should not exceed more than 10%.

Gluten

Most dog foods designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs are gluten-free. They do not include grains such as wheat, spelt, rye, or barley, which could be major contributors to causing digestive problems with your pet. Most dog owners prefer gluten- and grain-free food option to avoid various inflammatory health issues associated with the ingredients.

What to Feed a Dog with a Sensitive Stomach

Here comes the most important question!

Food intolerance may restrict you from feeding many of the popular options available out there. Here are a few things you must look for in dog food for dogs with gut sensitivities.

Fewer Ingredients

Limited Ingredient Diets are often the first choice among owners of sensitive dogs. Fewer ingredients have less of a chance of upsetting your pet’s tummy, and you can be more cautious of what you are feeding your little one. Also, these diets are balanced and complete, so you don’t have to worry about supplementing their food.

Easily Digestible Ingredients

The options we have listed in this article targets dogs with sensitive stomachs and digestive tract issues and are therefore formulated to promote easy and healthy digestion. When you pick a diet, make sure it is easy to digest and contain ingredients that naturally support digestion like sweet potato, lamb, rice, chicken, and potatoes.

It is also wise to pick a formula that features additional vitamins, minerals, and other supplements that support a sensitive stomach.

No Grains

As much as your dog loves eating food with grains, it isn’t the best option when it comes to their sensitive stomachs.

Pick brands where the manufacturers prefer high-quality proteins instead of grains. Wheat and corn are two common ingredients that could trigger food intolerance in canines. These are indigestible carbohydrates that could cause further issues for your beloved hound.

Complete and Balanced Diet 

Pick a food labeled as complete and balanced in nutrition. A balanced composition does not only guarantees hand-picked ingredients for sensitive dogs but also provides all essential nutrients that are important for your pet’s health maintenance.

Probiotic Enriched

Probiotics are crucial for a dog’s diet. These help with stimulating the digestive system and aids with smooth digestion. The diet you pick must include probiotics for maximum benefit. Your dog’s vet may also recommend an additional probiotic supplement for additional support.

Guarantee a Smooth Switch

If your dog is in love with his current food, switching their diet can be challenging. However, you can achieve great results with time and patience. The change should be gradual. Also, there are tons of delicious food choices specially crafted for sensitive pooches. The good flavor makes the transition easier. Here is a complete guide on how to make the switch.

These tips will help you pick the right food and ensure your pooch’s happy and long life!


FAQs

How do I find out if my dog has a sensitive stomach?

Sensitive stomachs often lead to digestion problems. Your poor pooch might struggle to digest food every time they eat and may experience several gastrointestinal symptoms. It is best to get your dog examined by a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis before concluding on your own.

What causes food allergies in dogs?

According to WebMD, 10% of all allergy cases in canines relate to food. The cause, however, is multi-faceted and can be due to the protein or fat content of the food, or certain ingredients that their stomachs don’t tolerate well.

Is it necessary to change a dog’s diet if he has a sensitive stomach?

Food is the number one reason why your dog has sensitive-stomach symptoms. Your pooch could be intolerant to certain ingredients, and changing their diet is one of the best ways to find out early about the triggers.

What ingredients should I avoid in a dog’s diet with a sensitive stomach?

Some common red-flag ingredients include wheat and corn gluten, grain meals, meat by-products, and rendered fat.

Are there specific diet options available for my dog with a sensitive stomach?

You can find a variety of expertly crafted food under different brands. There’s a specific selection for dogs with a sensitive stomach, like the ones mentioned in this article. Read the labels before you choose to avoid picking the one with the wrong ingredients.

Can I give raw food to my dog with a sensitive stomach?

While feeding kibble is the preferable option, you can still feed raw food to your pet with a sensitive stomach, provided you keep the transition slow and gradual. If the condition is serious, it is important to consult a veterinarian first.

What should I do if my dog keeps throwing up after changing the diet?

Visit a vet as soon as possible. Frequent vomiting can be more than just a sensitive stomach. A proper examination is necessary before you continue.

What is a limited ingredient dog food?

As the name suggests, a limited ingredient diet – also called L.I.D – contains fewer ingredients and components. This formulation makes it easier to identify any allergens so you can steer clear of those options.

Is a limited ingredient diet a good option to feed my dog with a sensitive stomach?

Limited ingredient diets are a recommended food option for canines with a sensitive stomach. It helps you catch the culprit faster and helps you get the situation under control.

What are the most common allergens for canines?

Some common culprits are:

  • Types of undigestible proteins
  • Insufficient levels of fiber
  • Too much fat content
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency
  • Low quality or grade of an ingredient

How do I deal with food intolerance in my dog?

Changing your dog’s diet is the first step. Second, by consulting a vet for recommendations related to food and over-the-counter medication. Also, increase the daily intake of probiotics by adding unsweetened, plain yogurt to your dog’s diet along with sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pumpkin, and bananas.

What symptoms to watch out for to find out if my dog has a sensitive stomach?

In addition to the most common symptoms like gas, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and bloating, other signs of a sensitive caused by food intolerance include itching, hives, skin rash, obsessive licking, and paw biting.

What’s the easiest food for a dog with a sensitive stomach to digest?

Kibble with ingredients such as lean meat, pumpkin, sweet potato, eggs, and white rice is easier for dogs to digest. Some dogs have intolerance towards chicken and eggs. If that’s your dog, avoid food options with these ingredients.

How can I tell if my dog is allergic to his food?

Signs of dietary sensitivity do not always appear in diarrhea and vomiting. Sometimes, the problem may present itself through itchy skin, chronic ear problems, flatulence, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.

What protein is best for dogs with allergies and a sensitive stomach?

Not all proteins may be suitable for your pooch. Some proteins have better digestibility, such as protein from chicken, lamb, and beef.

Is runny poop a sign that my dog could be intolerant to his food?

It is indeed one of the major signs of food intolerance. However, runny poop can also be a sign of parasitic or bacterial infection. It is best to get these symptoms checked for a thorough diagnosis.

Will eliminating extra food items from my dog’s diet help?

Eliminating all extra food is a great way to find out if a certain food is an issue in your dog’s diet. Extra food includes table scraps, human food, or any additional treat your dog enjoys nibbling on.

Can emotional distress cause food intolerance in a dog?

Dogs respond to stress like humans do, with feelings of anxiousness. Anxiety and stress can majorly contribute to an upset stomach in dogs.

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