Unfortunately, many otherwise-healthy dogs have to contend with dog food sensitivities leading mild to moderate digestive problems.
Some experience nausea or vomiting shortly after eating, while others may suffer from frequent diarrhea or gas.
These types of health problems are obviously no fun for afflicted canines, but they also cause difficulties for owners too, as they may be forced to walk their dog frequently and at odd hours.
This leads many pet owners wondering if there is a best dog food for diarrhea.
Fortunately, you can purchase a sensitive stomach dog food, which is designed to help stop and prevent diarrhea, gas, upset stomach, and other digestion issues.
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food
Our Top Recommendation for Dog Foods for Sensitive Stomach and Diarrhea!
The USA-made Hill’s Science Diet is a chicken and barley flavored protein meal enriched with vitamins C and E, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-6 fatty acids. Moreover, it contains beet pulp fiber and is suitable for dogs of all sizes and breeds.
*We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Below, we’ll explain some of the symptoms of sensitive stomachs in dogs and describe the characteristics of foods that can often help calm your pet’s digestive tract.
But we’ll begin by jumping right in and recommending the best dog food for sensitive stomach and diarrhea with 5 top limited ingredient diet foods.
Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach and Diarrhea
There are a number of good commercial dog foods available that are easy for dogs with diarrhea and other diet issues to digest, and the five listed below are among the very best dog foods for diarrhea and other problems resulting from a sensitive stomach.
|Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food||• Chicken is the first listed ingredient |
• Contains no chicken by-products
|Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food||• Diversified ingredient lists strengthen immunity quickly|
• Offers a trio of authentic meat-proteins
|Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Lamb Recipe||• Deboned lamb is the first listed ingredient|
• Contains no corn, wheat, soy protein or GMO ingredients
|Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food||• Salmon is the first listed ingredient|
• Contains no gluten, wheat, fillers or artificial additives
|BLUE Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula Adult Dry Dog Food||• Turkey is the first listed ingredient|
• 100% grain- and gluten-free recipe
Note that while some are specifically marketed as being appropriate for pets with sensitive stomachs.
Others have most of the hallmarks of easy-to-digest recipes, without being specifically labeled as such.
1. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food
Hill’s Science Diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate adult dog food for sensitive digestive systems and skin conditions. It is mainly created for optimal stomach health, using pro-biotic fibers to help gut bacteria thrive and maintain a healthy gut. In addition, this dry dog food made with natural ingredients is high in vitamin E and Omega-6 fatty acids, which nourish the skin and aid in the maintenance of a healthy, lustrous coat.
Notable Qualities and Features:
- Highly digestible formulation for optimal absorption of nutrients
- Highly digestible formulation for optimal absorption of nutrients
- Made in the USA
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, IodizedSalt, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Choline Chloride, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene.
User Reviews: Many owners reported seeing an improvement in their dog’s fecal elimination since they started this product. It seemed to have gotten rid of loose stool and gas issues in most dogs. Moreover, pet parents saw significant improvements in the digestive aspect of their dog’s routine. However, a few dog owners reported that their dogs seemed to take time to get accustomed to the taste of this dog food by Hill’s Science.
Bottom Line: The Hill’s Science Diet is a brilliant investment for pet parents with dogs who have sensitive stomachs. Tailored to perfection, Hill’s Science undoubtedly provides improved gut health and nourishment for the coat.
Keep in mind, if your doggo is pregnant or lactating, the brand recommends switching to its other products formulated with nutrients necessary for the pet.
2. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
Our dogs deserve to have healthy, nutritious food with great flavor. Nutro is committed to fitting all these dietary features in one bag. With their Ultra dry dog food, pet parents can stay worry-free while it provides your doggo with a balanced nutritious diet.
This dog food is suitable only for large-sized adult dogs. Although, Nutro has a wide range of products catering to specific breeds and ages. Not to forget, the ingredient composition significantly improves your doggo’s stomach conditions and restores the glow of their coat.
Moreover, the brand has not compromised on the quality of the product. Each ingredient is sourced from a trusted network of farmers and suppliers to create a superfood medley with coconut, chia, kale, blueberries, and others.
Notable Qualities and Features:
- Formulated with chicken, lamb, and salmon
- Contains a high-quality protein diet with 15 superfoods
- Made with non-GMO ingredients
- Constituents sourced from reliable farmers
Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Lamb Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Salmon Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Whole Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Whole Chia Seed, Dried Coconut, Dried Egg Product, Tomato Pomace, Dried Kale, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Spinach, Dried Blueberries, Dried Apples, Dried Carrots, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
User Reviews: Pet parents are delighted with the Nutro dry dog food and its numerous health benefits for doggos. Most have seen a significant change in their dogs’ coats, making them shiny and soft. Although it hangs on a higher price level, owners have stated that it is worth considering the quality of the food. In addition, some have reported seeing a difference in digestive processes leading to an overall improvement in their dog’s gut health.
Bottom Line: Nutro Ultra has once again pulled off a nutritiously-rich dog food to assist the dietary needs of dogs struggling with diarrhea and other gut infections. What’s more, this product ensures to revive the original coat of your pet and leads to increased energy levels owing to greater digestive comfort.
Just make sure to double-check the ingredient list on the product’s backside and correlate whether your dog has any allergies. Some users have reported of incorrect marketing on the internet leading to misleading their purchase decision.
3. Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Lamb Recipe
Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Lamb Recipe isn’t specifically marketed as a sensitive stomach dog food, but it is a nutritious recipe that is packed with foods that are easy for most dogs to digest.
Notable Qualities and Features:
- Deboned lamb protein is the first listed ingredient
- Contains no corn, wheat, soy protein or GMO ingredients
- Made without any artificial flavors or artificial preservatives
- Manufactured in the USA
Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, Whole Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Split Peas, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Sunflower Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Soybean Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.
User Reviews: Despite not being specifically intended for dogs with diarrhea, many owners found that this food improved their dog’s elimination habits, firmed up stools and reduced gas. Several even mentioned that this food helped to increase their dog’s energy level and overall health.
A few owners complained about the price of the dog food, but others considered it to provide excellent value, given the quality of the ingredients and results in preventing diarrhea.
Bottom Line: Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Lamb Recipe is a great choice for dogs who have food digestive difficulties, and clearly is one of the best dog food for sensitive stomach and diarrhea options available. It is made with a variety of high-quality ingredients for easy digestion, such as lamb, brown rice and oatmeal, and it doesn’t include any GMO ingredients, which some owners like to avoid.
The lack of probiotics is disappointing, but it does feature a number of different fiber sources, which will function as prebiotics (foods that sustain beneficial bacterial colonies).
4. Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dog Food
Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food is grain-free dog food made with only a relative handful of ingredients, which makes it a great choice for dogs who battle food allergies, have sensitive stomachs, diarrhea, or other diet sensitivities.
Notable Qualities and Features:
- Salmon is the first protein source
- Contains no gluten, wheat, fillers or artificial additives
- Made in the USA
- Fortified with four different probiotic strains
Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Ground Flaxseed, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dicalcium Phosphate, Natural Fish Flavor, Chicory Root Extract, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.
User Reviews: Most Wellness Dog Food recipes receive high marks from owners, and their Simple Natural line is no exception. Most owners reported that this food was easy for their dog to digest, and dogs appear to love the taste. A few reviews scoffed at the food’s price tag, but that’s to be expected when purchasing a truly premium product.
Bottom Line: Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food is easily one of the top grain-free foods for dogs with a sensitive stomach. It is packed with fiber sources to help regulate intestinal function, omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and probiotics, which help reduce gas and encourage regular, firm stools. Many users commented that they have found this to be the best dog food for diarrhea.
5. BLUE Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food
Like a few other foods in our review, BLUE Buffalo’s Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Formula helps to regulate your dog’s digestive tract even though it isn’t specifically marketed toward dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Notable Qualities and Features:
- Turkey protein is the first ingredient
- 100% grain-free and gluten-free recipe
- Packed with inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids
- Limited Ingredient – Contains no corn, wheat or soy
Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Potatoes, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Pea Protein, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Pumpkin, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Cranberries, Blueberries, Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9).
User Reviews: Most dog owners found BLUE Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Natural Dry Dog Food Formula to be a high-quality, easily digested food that helped eliminate their dog’s stomach issues. A few owners complained about the food’s price tag, but others found it to be so helpful in settling their dog’s digestive system that they didn’t mind paying a higher price.
Bottom Line: Although we were a little disappointed to note the lack of probiotics in this formula, it makes up for this in part through the inclusion of many other high-value ingredients, such as blueberries, cranberries, and whole protein listed as the first ingredient. Also, this grain-free food contains multiple fiber sources and features pumpkin, which is widely celebrated for its ability to calm the stomachs of dogs with diarrhea and firm up their stools.
Symptoms of a Sensitive Stomach in Dogs
The term “sensitive stomach” is a bit nebulous and does not refer to a specific medical condition.
Instead, it is a catch-all term applied to dogs who suffer from a variety of ailments, which generally occur within about 1 to 12 hours after eating a meal.
Some of the most common symptoms your adult dog or puppy is dealing with food sensitivities include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Acid reflux
- Excessive drooling
- Stomach pains or discomfort
Make sure to consult your vet if you suspect that your dog has a sensitive stomach. He or she will not only be able to help you treat the issue but distinguish it from more serious conditions too.
Once you’ve determined that your dog isn’t suffering from any health issues that more serious, you can consider a limited ingredient diet and begin looking for a hypoallergenic, sensitive stomach dog food.
Characteristics of the Best Dog Food for Diarrhea and Sensitive Stomach
There are a number of ways that manufacturers tailor recipes to make them suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Some recipes try to improve the digestibility of their food in only one or two ways, while others incorporate as many different stomach-soothing strategies as possible in their formulas to help attain the best results.
#1. Easy-to-Digest Ingredients
Some ingredients are simply easier on a dog’s digestion than others.
For example, carbohydrates such as corn and wheat are difficult for a lot of dogs to digest, as are cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli or cabbage.
But digestive difficulties don’t only arise from vegetables; protein can also cause problems, as some dogs even have difficulty digesting chicken.
However, a number of ingredients are at the opposite side of the digestibility spectrum and are typically very easy on a dog’s system and rarely produce problems.
This includes carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice, and a protein source like lamb and salmon.
#2. Increased Fiber Content
In contrast to the easily digested ingredients detailed above, dogs can also benefit from eating indigestible ingredients – better known as fiber.
Fiber helps to provide bulk for your dog’s stool and helps promote the smooth and orderly passage of food through the intestinal tract.
And the neat thing about fiber is that it can either speed the progress of food through the digestive tract in dogs prone to constipation or slow down food’s passage through the digestive tract in dogs who suffer from diarrhea.
Whole grains and pumpkin are typically rich in fiber content, as are many carbohydrates such as fruits, berries, and leafy green vegetables.
Some manufacturers also incorporate food byproducts, such as beet pulp, into their recipes to increase the fiber content.
But, it is important to use restraint when incorporating fiber into your dog’s diet. Excess fiber content will often trigger excessive gas and lead to a drastic increase in the volume of stool produced.
Most dogs adapt to eating higher fiber levels over time, but it is wise to use extra caution when selecting a food for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
In fact, it is wise to examine the fiber content of your dog’s current food. If you’re already providing your dog with a ton of fiber, you may simply need to select a food that contains less.
#3. Moderate Fat Content
Fat is an important dietary component for dogs that also makes food delicious. But, excessive amounts of fat can stress the stomachs of some adult dogs and puppies.
Most mainstream dog food recipes have acceptable fat levels, but many weight-gain and bulking formulas contain too much fat for some dogs to handle.
You’ll usually want to look for a food that contains fat levels in the 10% to 15% range.
Note that wet and semi-moist foods typically contain more fat than kibbles do, so it is usually wise to switch to dry dog food when trying to soothe your pet’s stomach.
#4. No Unnecessary Additives
Some dogs can experience digestive upset in response to artificial additives, including dyes, flavors, and preservatives.
Dogs do not care what color their food is, and recipes containing high-quality ingredients don’t need flavor-enhancing compounds (aside from natural fats, which make just about anything taste better).
And, most modern foods use naturally occurring mixed tocopherols (essentially Vitamin E) to preserve the product.
Additionally, some ingredients that are included to provide additional nutritional value can give dogs with sensitive stomach problems.
For example, many manufacturers like to include antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including everything from kale to cranberries.
And while most dogs digest these ingredients easily enough, they can cause problems for those with sensitive stomachs.
To avoid most of these problems, it is often a good idea to select a recipe that features limited ingredients for dogs with diarrhea and a sensitive stomach.
These types of recipes, which are often called “Limited Ingredient Diets,” are also helpful for dogs suffering from food allergies.
Limited ingredient diets are typically among the best options for a dog with diarrhea on other digestion issues.
#5. Included Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that naturally occur in the intestinal tracts of dogs (as well as humans and many other animals).
Among other things, they help to promote proper digestion, outcompete harmful bacteria, and fight off pathogens. But while they are usually already present in the intestines of healthy dogs, stress, illness, and intestinal disturbances can wipe them out.
But you can fix this problem by providing your dog with food that is fortified with probiotics.
Many of the best dog foods for sensitive stomach and diarrhea prone pets provide four or more bacterial strains, which likely provide more value than foods containing only a single probiotic strain.
You can also increase health benefits by providing your dog with probiotic supplements if an otherwise-good commercial dog food doesn’t contain any.
Switching to a Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
It’s always important to alter your dog’s diet slowly and carefully, but this is especially important when caring for dogs with delicate digestive tracts.
Making abrupt changes to your dog’s diet can exacerbate digestive problems, and this additional stress can be very trying for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Accordingly, you’ll want to adopt a feeding regimen like this:
- Day One: 90% old dog food, 10% new sensitive stomach formula
- Day Two: 75% old dog food, 25% new sensitive stomach formula
- Day Three: 50% old dog food, 50% new sensitive stomach formula
- Day Four: 25% old dog food, 75% new sensitive stomach formula
- Day Five: 10% old dog food, 90% new sensitive stomach formula
- Day Six: 100% new sensitive stomach formula
You needn’t follow this protocol exactly and different authorities recommend switching a diet at slightly different rates. But, you’ll want to stick to the basic concept as much as is possible.
Be sure to monitor your dog’s digestive performance while making the switch and slow down the transition if the new food appears to be upsetting his system.
Stop providing the new diet immediately and contact your vet if your dog exhibits serious symptoms, such as constant diarrhea or bloody stools.
Most of the best dog foods for sensitive stomachs will eventually cause your dog to produce firm, regular stools, but it can take a bit of time for your pet’s body to adjust to the new recipe.
Does your dog have an upset stomach? Have you browsed through limited ingredient dog foods? Have you found a diet that you believe is the best food for your dog’s sensitive stomach and diarrhea issues?
We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.