The Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs, According to Dog Parents

By: Monica WeymouthPublished:

dog food for sensitive stomachs
Sara Paul

Does your canine companion have a sensitive stomach? You’re not alone. Many dogs suffer from digestive issues throughout their lives. While some pets only experience the occasional episode of constipation or diarrhea, other pups with frequent gastrointestinal upset benefit from specially formulated diets that are gentle on troublesome tummies.

Ready for a mealtime makeover? Read on for everything you need to know about how to select the best dog food for sensitive stomachs.

  • 1
    Best Overall Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs
    Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Sensitive Skin Chicken Recipe Dry Dog F... $82 on Chewy
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  • 2
    Best Wet Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs
    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food, 13.5-oz c... $120 on Chewy
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  • 3
    Best Dry Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs
    Hill's Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome Dry Dog Food, 27.5-lb bag $133 on Chewy
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    $133 on Chewy
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  • 4
    Best Grain-Free Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs
    Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food, 28-lb bag $59 on Chewy
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  • 5
    Best Small Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs
    Hill's Science Diet Small & Mini Breed Sensitive Stomach & Sensitive Skin Dry Dog Foo... $56 on Chewy
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How To Find the Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs

While you always want to select the best food for your best friend, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, finding the perfect fit can be a little trickier.

“If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s important to choose a dog food that is easily digestible and gentle on their digestive system,” says Dr. Alejandro Caos, DVM, a Miami-based veterinarian with national, mobile, pet-care service The Vets.

Thanks to advances in veterinary nutrition and science, pet parents today have plenty of options when it comes to diets for sensitive stomachs. While this is great news, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the number of brands and formulas on the market.

Where to start? Here’s what to consider when selecting a new food for your dog:

  • Your veterinarian’s input: “If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and to discuss dietary recommendations specific to your dog’s needs,” says Dr. Caos. “Your vet may recommend specialized prescription diets or provide guidance on selecting commercial diets that are suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.”
  • AAFCO standards: All commercial dog foods should meet standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a nonprofit that ensures pet foods contain the necessary nutrient profiles.
  • Ingredients: Every pup is different, but dogs with sensitive stomachs frequently benefit from recipes made with a limited amount of quality ingredients, easily digestible carbohydrates and natural fiber sources. (More on that below.)
  • Your dog’s age: Select a food formulated for your pet’s correct life stage (puppy, adult dog or senior dog) to ensure they receive the appropriate amount of nutrients and calories.
  • Your dog’s size: If purchasing dry food, select an appropriate kibble size for your pet.
  • Your dog’s overall health and symptoms: Different foods are formulated to address different health concerns. For example, if your dog’s stomach issues are caused by food allergies, ensure that the food you select does not contain any potential allergens.

9 Best Dog Foods for Sensitive Stomachs

To help you choose, we’ve rounded up the best dog food for sensitive stomachs as tested and approved by Chewy customers. These top-selling, top-rated dog foods get two paws up from dog parents like you.

How We Chose These Products

Gastrointestinal symptoms are no fun for dogs—or dog parents! That’s why we rounded up only top-selling dog foods for sensitive stomachs that have at least a 4-star rating by Chewy customers. Backed by thousands of ratings and reviews, these bestselling formulas are pet-parent approved.

Guidelines for Feeding Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs

Finding the right food for your sensitive pup may take some trial and error, and introducing the new food requires a slow-and-steady approach. While every pet is an individual, Dr. Caos says to consider the following for your dog’s digestive health:

  • Limited-ingredient diets: “Look for dog foods with a limited number of ingredients, as this can help identify and avoid potential triggers for digestive upset,” says Dr. Caos. “Limited-ingredient diets typically contain a single-protein source and a few easily digestible carbohydrates.”
  • Novel protein sources: Consider trying protein sources that your dog hasn’t been exposed to before, suggests Dr. Caos. “For example, if your dog has been eating chicken-based food and experiencing stomach issues, switch to a food with a different protein source, like lamb, venison or duck,” he adds.
  • Easily digestible carbohydrates: Choose dog foods that contain easily digestible carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice or oatmeal. “These ingredients can provide energy while being gentle on the stomach,” says Dr. Caos.
  • Natural fiber sources: Look for natural sources of fiber like pumpkin, beet pulp or prebiotic fibers. “These can help promote healthy digestion and regulate bowel movements without causing irritation,” he says. “Be cautious, as too much fiber may cause constipation.”
  • Avoid common allergens: “If you suspect your dog has specific food allergies or intolerances, avoid ingredients known to be common allergens, such as wheat, soy, corn and dairy products,” says Dr. Caos.

How To Introduce New Foods to Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs

It’s always advisable to slowly introduce a new food, but this is especially true for dogs with sensitive stomachs, who are more prone to common food-switching side effects like diarrhea and flatulence.

“It’s important to introduce any new food gradually to your dog’s diet, transitioning over a period of several days to minimize the risk of digestive upset,” says Dr. Caos.

Most experts recommend a week or two for transition. Follow these three steps when transitioning:

  1. Begin by mixing a bit of the new food into your pet’s current food, for a ratio of 25 percent new food to 75 percent current food.
  2. After two to three days, if your pet isn’t experiencing any adverse effects, increase the ratio to 50/50.
  3. Increase the ratio to 75/25 after another two to three days, and then finally fully transition to the new formula.

(For step-by-step tips and troubleshooting, consult our veterinarian-written guide to switching foods.)

Be on the lookout for signs the new formula isn’t agreeing with your pup. “Monitoring your dog’s response to the new food is also crucial,” says Dr. Caos. “If you notice any continued issues or worsening symptoms, consult your veterinarian for further guidance.”

Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs FAQ

Q: What are the signs of a sensitive stomach in dogs?
A: Dogs with sensitive stomachs may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, vomiting, food avoidance, and excessive drooling or swallowing (which are signs of nausea). Consult your veterinarian to determine the cause of the sensitive stomach and develop a treatment plan.

Q: What causes dogs to have sensitive stomachs?
A: Dogs can have sensitive stomachs for a variety of reasons, including food allergies and sensitivities, stress, parasites, bacterial and viral infections, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, poor diet and cancer.

Q: What dog breeds are prone to sensitive stomachs?
A: Any dog can experience a sensitive stomach, but some breeds are more prone to problems. Irish Setters, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Shar-Peis, Great Danes, Miniature Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers are breeds known to have genetic predispositions to gastrointestinal upset, Dr. Caos says.

Q: Do puppies grow out of sensitive stomachs?
A: Most puppies grow out of sensitive stomachs. The stress and excitement of experiencing new environments can cause an upset stomach, as can eating new foods. Symptoms usually resolve after the puppy is settled into their home and routine.

Q: Is wet or dry food better for dogs with sensitive stomachs?
A: Both wet food and dry food can be appropriate for dogs with sensitive stomachs, depending on what is causing the sensitive stomach and which symptoms are present. Wet food contains more water, so it can be preferable to dogs who experience constipation or dehydration.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, a change in diet could help relieve symptoms. However, first consult your veterinarian to determine the cause of any gastrointestinal problems. Together, you’ll develop a personalized plan to address your pet’s stomach troubles, as well as any potential underlying health issues.

Sensitive Stomach: Next Steps

No one enjoys tummy troubles, including our four-legged friends. That’s why it’s important to feed your pup a high-quality diet that’s formulated for their individual health concerns and nutritional needs. It’s just as important to feed the appropriate amount for your dog’s size, age and activity level. Find out how much to feed a dog here.

Expert input provided by Dr. Alejandro Caos, DVM, a Miami-based veterinarian with national, mobile, pet-care service The Vets.

This content was medically reviewed by a veterinarian.