Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach : Top Recipes for Digestive Discomfort Ranked [2023]

Vet-Checked • Pet-Tested • Owner-Approved

Kate Barrington

Researched & Written by

Kate Barrington

At EasyPet, we are committed to presenting the most accurate and up-to-date information to assist you in your pet care journey. When appropriate, we consult licensed and practicing veterinarians to fact-check our professionally written articles.

Have you ever eaten something and lived to regret it later? Maybe you know that your stomach doesn’t tend to tolerate spicy foods well or you develop gas after eating too much dairy.

In the same way that your stomach is sensitive to certain foods, your dog can develop digestive problems related to food as well. In fact, sensitive stomach, gas, and diarrhea problems are fairly common in dogs – especially dogs fed low-quality dog foods.

So, what can you do if your dog develops stomach issues? The best thing to do is switch to a diet that is gentle on his stomach but still rich in nutrients. Keep reading to learn how.

Why Do Dogs Develop Sensitive Stomach and Diarrhea?

The dog you know and love today is distantly related to the wild wolf. Over thousands of years, wild wolves were domesticated to create what we know of today as “man’s best friend”. Though there are many differences between the dog breeds popular today and the wild wolf, the nutritional needs of domesticated dogs are not too far different from those of their wild ancestors.

Wolves are primarily carnivorous animals in the wild, though they are also scavengers which means that they’ll eat plant foods if nothing else is available. Unfortunately, the commercial dog foods you find on pet store shelves today are hardly natural and many of them contain low-quality ingredients and artificial additives that not only fail to provide nutritional value but can actually irritate your dog’s stomach and digestive system.

In addition to low-quality ingredients irritating your dog’s stomach, dogs have the potential to develop food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances in the same way that humans can. Food allergies account for about 10% of allergies in dogs and they can develop at any time and for any ingredient. An allergy is an immune reaction in which your dog’s body identifies a certain food as a foreign invader and launches an attack against it, accidentally damaging healthy cells in the process.

Food sensitivities and intolerances are a little different than allergies – they may trigger a digestive or skin reaction, but it generally isn’t an immune reaction. Other possible causes for sensitive stomach, gas, and diarrhea in dogs may include intestinal parasite infections, toxicity from spoiled food or harmful ingredients, and digestive diseases. If your dog suddenly develops symptoms of digestive upset, you should talk to your vet to rule out medical causes.

Can Dog Food Cause Gas in Dogs?

It may be amusing when your dog lets one rip once in a while, but frequent gas could be an indication of an underlying medical problem. In addition to general digestive upset, frequent gas could be a sign of intestinal parasites, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or other gastrointestinal infections.

In the absence of an underlying medical condition, frequent gas is often related to food allergies or intolerance – it could also just be a reaction to his diet in general. Ask yourself how often you feed your dog greasy, fatty scraps from the table and whether he has a tendency to get into the trash. If neither of these is the issue, it could simply be that his diet isn’t properly balanced.

The best way to address issues with sensitive stomach, gas, and diarrhea in dogs is to switch him to a limited ingredient diet. A limited ingredient diet is simply a type of dog food made with a low number of main ingredients which makes it easier for your dog’s body to digest and less likely to trigger food allergies and intolerance. You still need to make sure the ingredients included in the food are healthy but reducing the number of ingredients should help.

The Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Food

In addition to switching your dog to a limited ingredient formula, you should also pay attention to the specific ingredients in that food. A high-quality dog food will be rich in animal protein, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates with vitamins and minerals for nutritional balance.

But what ingredients should you avoid? Here are the top 10 ingredients to avoid in dog food:

  1. Wheat – While whole wheat is a healthy food for humans, dogs have trouble digesting this grain and it offers limited nutritional value – avoid wheat flour and other wheat ingredients.
  2. Gluten – A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, many dogs are sensitive to gluten, so it is generally best to avoid it if your dog has stomach problems.
  3. BHA/BHT – These chemical preservatives are frequently used in pet food, but they have been linked to numerous health problems so try to avoid them in favor of natural preservatives.
  4. Colors – Artificial colors play no nutritional role in dog food – they simply make the product look more palatable to humans so avoid them in your dog’s food.
  5. Corn Syrup – Human foods are laden with added sugars, but sweeteners have no place in dog food – avoid corn syrup and other sweeteners, particularly artificial sweeteners.
  6. Soy – Soy products can be a good alternative protein source for humans but they are less biologically valuable for dogs than meat proteins and they can cause bloating and gas.
  7. Rendered Fat – Healthy fats like chicken fat and salmon oil are excellent sources of energy and nutrition for dogs but rendered fats like poultry fat and animal fat are low in quality.
  8. Propylene Glycol – An ingredient found in antifreeze, propylene glycol is used to preserve moisture in wet foods, but it has been found to be toxic in high doses.
  9. Animal By-Products – If you’re feeding your dog a high-quality diet, it will be made with whole ingredients and not by-products – by-products are cheap fillers from nondescript sources.
  10. Corn – Like wheat, corn can be a healthy ingredient for humans but, for dogs, it is hard to digest and offers little nutritional value – it can also be used to raise protein content without meat.

Now that you have a better idea what kind of diet is the best for dogs with sensitive stomach, gas, and diarrhea issues, here are some suggestions for good brands to try:

Overall Best Dog Food For Dogs with Stomach, Gas, and Diarrhea Problems:

RankDog FoodPriceRating
Best Value$
Most Popular$

Canidae Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food

If you’re looking for a dog food brand that won’t bother your dog’s stomach but still provides plenty of options to choose from, the Canidae PURE line of grain-free, limited ingredient food is the way to go.

Not only is Canidae one of the top dog food brands on the market, but they use only the highest quality ingredients and each LID recipe features 10 primary ingredients or less. Choose from novel animal proteins like duck, lamb, bison, salmon, and wild boar as well as more common options like chicken and turkey. Each formula is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and probiotics for healthy digestion as well.

  • Pros: High-quality animal proteins, limited number of ingredients, grain-free, beneficial supplements
  • Cons: Some dogs may be sensitive to poultry, some plant protein (alfalfa)

American Journey Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

Our Most Affordable Pick: If you’re looking for an affordable dog food of decent quality that will be gentle on your dog’s stomach, we recommend American Journey line of Limited Ingredient Dog Foods. These recipes feature multiple different sources of meat proteins. They are rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, plus antioxidants for a strong immune system. You’ll also love that it contains chelated minerals for nutritional balance and probiotics to support a healthy digestive system.

  • Pros: Real meat as the first ingredient, grain-free, beneficial supplements, plenty of omega fatty acids
  • Cons: Could be higher in protein

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food

Our Most Popular Pick: Made with real roasted meats and available in both a puppy and adult recipe, Taste of the Wild High Prairie dog food is our most popular pick. Dog owners love this recipe for its high protein content that comes from roasted bison and venison as well as the fact that it is supplemented with species-specific probiotics to support healthy digestion. Plus, it is free from artificial additives and low-quality fillers that might bother your dog’s sensitive stomach.

  • Pros: Real roasted meats as main ingredient, grain-free, species-specific probiotics, healthy fats
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)
RankDog FoodPriceRating

5 More Top Rated Foods that Address These Issues

If none of these seems like the right choice for your dog, there are plenty of other options! Here are five more top-rated dog food brands that offer formulas which will be easy on your dog’s stomach:

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Available in seven different flavors, Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Dog Food is excellent for dogs with sensitive stomachs and food allergies. Choose from novel proteins like duck, salmon, lamb, and turkey with grain-free carbohydrates. Plus, each recipe features Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource bits, made with a proprietary blend of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics for balanced nutrition and a healthy digestive system.

  • Pros: Available in 7 flavors, novel protein options, grain-free formulas, beneficial supplements
  • Cons: Fairly expensive compared to regular kibble, some dogs are sensitive to potatoes, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

AvoDerm Natural Dry Dog Food

The key to supporting healthy nutrition and digestion is to offer your dog a high-quality diet made from natural ingredients like AvoDerm Natural Dog Food. Choose from a variety of protein options with digestible carbohydrates like potato and brown rice, including regular and grain-free formulas. Each recipe is rich in healthy fats as well as chelated minerals and probiotics for healthy and regular digestion.

  • Pros: Variety of protein options, regular and grain-free recipes, rich in healthy fats, beneficial supplements like probiotics and chelated minerals
  • Cons: Some plant protein (peas and pea flour), some dogs are sensitive to potatoes, not all grain-free

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Dog Food

For an affordable choice in grain-free dog food, consider Whole Earth Farms. This brand is brought to you by Merrick as a more cost-effective option for dog owners who want to feed their pets a quality product without the premium price tag. This brand offers a variety of grain-free options with protein choices like chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, and salmon, all supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables to offer natural sources for key nutrients.

  • Pros: Real meat as the main ingredient, affordable option, fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in healthy fat
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (alfalfa meal), some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients

Nutro Natural Choice Limited Ingredient Dog Food

The Nutro brand of dog food offers several product lines and their Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free line is ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs and other digestive issues. Each recipe is made with 10 main ingredients or fewer, including premium proteins like lamb, salmon, venison, and duck. Choose from grain-free, digestible carbohydrates like lentils and sweet potato, and know that every recipe features only high-quality, whole food ingredients – no by-products or artificial additives.

  • Pros: Made with 10 main ingredients or less, real animal proteins, grain-free recipes, whole foods
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), some plant protein (potato protein)

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food

The name of this product line says it all – Simple is a line of limited ingredient dog food recipes from Wellness and it is designed to nourish your dog’s body with as few ingredients as possible. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Dog Food is grain-free and made with premium animal proteins like turkey, lamb, salmon, and duck in both dry food and wet food formulas. Each recipe is loaded with healthy fats and beneficial supplements but free from by-products, fillers, and artificial additives.

  • Pros: Limited number of ingredients, real animal protein, no artificial additives, grain-free options
  • Cons: Not all recipes are grain-free, main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

Sensitive Stomach Dog Food – A Final Word

If your dog suffers from a sensitive stomach and problems with gas or diarrhea, switching him to one of the formulas reviewed above is a step in the right direction! Just make sure you stick to the new diet for at least 12 weeks and don’t feed him any table scraps or treats that might irritate his stomach. If his symptoms don’t resolve after 12 weeks, go back to your vet to see what else might be going on.

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One Comment

  1. Hi. My chihuaha mix has been suffering chronice diarrhea for a few weeks now. She has very few teeth so can only eat soft dog food. For about a year she was doing great on the Freshpet dog loaf that needs refrigeration. However, she started rejecting it. (This could be because to save $$ I started freezing sections of the loaf so the whole thing wouldn’t spoil after a week in the fridge. The label says freezing is not recommended.) So I moved on to other dog foods — the Cesar plastic tins, which she loves, Trader Joe’s canned, which she likes, and I’ve also given her chicken and rice which I make myself out of white and brown rice mixed with white meat, nothing more. I’ve been rotating these three options, and the diarrhea persists. Usually a couple of times a month she gets lethargic and doesn’t eat at all, but this has been an issue with her for years. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to take her in for a checkup. But I was wondering if you had soft food suggestions. Thanks much, Dave

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