Is your dog always vomiting and going through diarrhea despite the fact that you've tried doing everything possible to fix that but couldn't?
Since you've landed here on this article after your search for the best dog food for sensitive stomachs, you're not too far away from what could be the real problem your dog is suffering from.
Your dog might simply have a sensitive stomach that's not being given the proper food for such a situation, which is ultimately causing dog food intolerance.
And, coming to know the fact that your dog suffers from a sensitive stomach is not only uncomfortable for them because of all the physical distress they pass through whenever they eat, it's also very uncomfortable and heartbreaking for you and I to see them suffer while we just stand there helpless about the situation.
Our List Of The Top 5 Dog Food For Sensitive Stomachs - (Updated List For 2018)
Top Pick: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Adult Dog Food
Pick #2: Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
Pick #3: Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Pick #4: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Salmon Recipe Dry Dog Food
Pick #5: Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Chewy.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
What Is The Best Dog Food For Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs?
Sensitive stomach dog food formulas usually have a limited number of ingredients in them, have a high-quality source of protein in the #1 (or even the first few) spots on the ingredients list, have limited amounts of fat in them to enable easy digestion and have decent amounts of dietary fiber as well.
The following list is our top choices for the best dog foods that have been specifically designed and formulated for dogs that have sensitive stomachs and take into consideration the criteria mentioned above, as well as a few others.
Pick #1 - Blue Buffalo Basics Dry Dog Food
First of all, we love the fact that this dog food is a limited ingredient dog food, which is something critical when it comes to a high-quality sensitive stomach dog food.
This dog food has one primary source of meat and only a few sources of carbohydrates, in order to greatly decrease the chances of your dog being intolerant to one ingredient all while still meeting all their nutritional needs for the day.
Compared to other dog food formulas out there that have a million and one ingredients on their lists, this dog food formula makes it incredibly easier to pinpoint what exact ingredient it is that's troubling your dog's stomach.
Needless to say, this dog food is free from any of the usual useless-filler that other dog food manufacturers love to use in their dog food such as wheat, corn, soy and dairy.
Our #2 pick for the list of best dog food for sensitive stomachs is the Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient dry dog food, a fierce competitor to our #1 pick listed above.
Besides being a "limited ingredient" dog food as well, one thing that directly sets this dog food apart from its competition is the fact that it has many different recipes that contain different primary sources of protein and carbohydrates that you can choose from, in case one is easier on your dog's stomach than the other.
For example, you can choose Duck & Oatmeal, Salmon & Peas, Lamb & Oatmeal, Salmon & Potato or Turkey & Potato. If that's not enough mixes to ensure you have at least one option that's easy on your dog's stomach and doesn't cause any tummy-trouble, then we don't know what is!
Similar to Blue Buffalo, Wellness also receives the highest recommendations from us when it comes to their dog food products, and they most certainly haven't come short in the sensitive stomach dog food department.
Similar to our #1 and #2 picks above, this specific dog food formula from Nature’s Variety is also labeled as "limited ingredient", whereby they focus on just one source of protein and one source of carbohydrate in their food, opposed to dog food formulas that have many sources of protein and many sources of carbohydrates that greatly increase the chances of digestive systems being troubled by one of the many ingredients included.
Although it does lack the powerhouse nutritional profiles that the options from Blue Buffalo and Wellness stated above boast, this dog food nonetheless remains a very viable option for you to go with if, for any reason it may be, you don't want to go with the 2 aforementioned brands.
What Exactly Is Dog Food Intolerance?
As we thoroughly explained in this article about the best dog food for allergies, dog food intolerance happens when your dog's digestive system can't properly process and digest a specific food/ingredient that they ate.
Meanwhile, food allergies occur when your dog's immune system issues a "fight this specific ingredient" plea because it deems it as a dangerous threat. In dog food allergies, it's not just about the inability to properly break down and digest the ingredient anymore, it's about your dog's immunity system seeing a potential threat.
Some of the most common symptoms that appear when your dog experiences dog food intolerance is:
Vomiting: Although your dog won't be vomiting as frequently as they'll be letting out loose stool, you can still expect frequent vomiting episodes though.
Most of the times, but not always necessarily the case, you can expect your dog to vomit shortly after they eat anything that's causing the intolerance, as your dog's stomach will try its best to get rid of whatever is agitating it.
Diarrhea & Loose stool: Sometimes, this loose stool could also be accompanied with some blood. You usually don't have to worry about this as it's normal to see a few blood stains here and there when your dog goes through something like this.
However, if you see a lot of blood in your dog's stool, then this may be a sign for something more serious, in which case you should immediately notify your veterinarian about the situation.
Most of the times, the loose stool should be gone in about a day or two.
If it persists after that time frame, tell your veterinarian about it as well, there may be something other than dog food intolerance that your dog is experiencing.
Excessive gas: Before we talk about this specific symptom, please note that some dog breeds are by nature much more frequent "gas passers" (to put it appropriately) than other dog breeds.
The trick here is to notice an increase in the frequency of gas your dog is passing, as most of the times this is a symptom of dog food intolerance.
Again, it's key that you know your dog's usual gas-passing levels and are able to confidently tell whether they're still within normal ranges or have gone up significantly.
With that being said, if your dog shows any of the above symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are suffering from dog food intolerance, it could possibly be a sign of something much more serious than dog food intolerance.
For this reason, it's vital that you contact your veterinarian about this issue first so they're able to run any tests they need to make to determine whether its indeed a dog food intolerance issue or something more serious than that, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in which case switching to any sensitive stomach dog food won't benefit your dog because it won't be solving the root of the problem.
Why Dog Food For Sensitive Stomachs?
In such situations, opting for specific dog food formulas that have been designed for sensitive stomachs is the best solution to go with.
First off, one of the most common culprits that very frequently causes problems in dogs with sensitive stomachs is grain in dog food, which is why sensitive stomach dog food is usually grain-free.
Generally speaking, dog food for sensitive stomachs also comes with a "limited ingredient" label, meaning that the manufacturers opted to use much less ingredients in this formula than other formulas that aren't specifically designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Why choosing to go with limited ingredients? The more ingredients present in the dog food in hand, the higher the chances of your dog being intolerant to one of them, while the less number of ingredients in the dog food in hand, and the less the chances of your dog being intolerant to one of them are.
Besides the presence of a very limited number of ingredients, the manufacturers of sensitive stomach dog food sometimes also prefer to use novel protein sources that aren't usually found in other dog food on the market, such as venison and duck instead of using the go-to industry standard of chicken or beef.
The logic behind this approach is that the less your dog is exposed to this ingredient, the less are their chances of their digestive systems being sensitive to it.
Also, sensitive stomach dog food also generally comes with low levels of fat and more carbohydrates and protein, sine fat is the hardest macronutrient for dogs to properly digest. Sensitive stomach dog food will usually contain less than 15% fat, which makes things much easier on your dog's digestive system.
Moving on, dog food for sensitive stomach will usually contain decent amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber from different ingredients, both of which go a long way in helping out your dog's digestive system.
Where Do I Go After I Make The Switch To Sensitive Stomach Dog Food?
After you make the switch to feeding your dog sensitive stomach dog food, there are a few tips you can implement as well to speed up the process, make sure that your dog properly adjusts and benefits from the new dog food formula they're now eating and their situation with their sensitive stomach is gradually easing.
When moving from feeding your dog one specific dog food formula to a different formula specially designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs, you must make sure to gradually move from one to the other.
If you make the move way too fast without a proper adjustment phase, your dog's digestive system will be overwhelmed and that won't help at all. On the contrary, that will make your dog even more sick.
When moving to a new dog food specifically designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs, try to gradually decrease the amount of old dog food your dog is used to eating, and gradually increase the amount of new dog food you're trying to get them used to eat.
You might even want to try out mixing the two dog foods together while gradually decreasing the old dog food and increasing the new dog food quantity for about 7 days, as this will help ease the transition phase as well.
Over time, and if this is done properly, this will prove to be a much easier and smoother transition than if you were to abruptly stop feeding them one dog food in favor of another.
Learn About Ingredient Lists
Second of all, do your homework on the subject and educate yourself about dog food ingredient labels and intolerance in dogs.
For example, make sure you avoid some of the most common culprits that stress the digestive systems of dogs with sensitive stomachs, such as corn, gluten, wheat and eggs.
Consistency & Commitment
Also, a little bit of commitment and consistency is needed on your part. The last thing you want to do is buy sensitive stomach dog food for your dog, start feeding it to them only to give up after 2 weeks because you didn't see any significant improvement.
For any significant improvement to happen with your dog's situation, you're going to have to stick to consistently feeding them the new dog food for around 6-12 weeks. Before that amount of time passes, don't expect much changes to happen.
During this period of time, it's best if you stay in contact with your veterinarian about any changes that are happening with your dog through the transition from the old dog food to the new, sensitive stomach dog food.
Finally, watch out what human foods you feed your dog. Certain human foods may be fine with some dogs while may not go down so well with others, so be careful about that. For a complete list of what human foods you can and cannot feed your dog, have a look at this complete section on our website.
When your dog is suffering from sensitive stomach problems, you're best off giving them a break from treats.
That applies to anything non-dog-food, such as fruits, peanut butter, marshmallows, whatever.
All of these are nothing more than "noise" when it comes to your dog's overall diet at this time, and only make it harder for you to pinpoint exactly what it is that's causing all this trouble with your dog's stomach.
Focus on the dog food you buy for them at this point, and nothing else.