As a dog owner symptoms like flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea that come with a sensitive stomach are not pleasant to deal with. Watching your pet dog suffer is the hardest part though.
Luckily, your dog does not need to suffer endlessly with stomach problems. With the help of a trusted veterinarian and support from wet (canned) foods for sensitive stomachs, your pet can recover. And armed with knowledge, you’ll be ready to manage any future symptoms or relapses!
Keep reading for the signs and symptoms of sensitive stomach in dogs and a list of breeds that are prone to this problem. Our guide and in-depth canned dog food reviews will help you figure out what’s most important when selecting wet foods, and give you a closer look at the most popular brand foods on the market right now.
How can I tell if my dog has a sensitive stomach?
Stomach sensitivity is actually a pretty common problem in dogs.
Unfortunately, the cause can be difficult to narrow down because there are so many possible reasons for this issue.
Ingesting something toxic, food allergies, and IBS are just a few examples of things that could affect your dog’s digestive health.
If you suspect your furkid has a sensitive stomach it’s time to put on your detective’s cap and be on the lookout for clues that may help you understand what’s triggering your pooch’s tummy troubles.
Common signs of a sensitive stomach in your pet dog include:
- Frequent diarrhea
- Excessive flatulence
- Loss of appetite
- Eating grass
- Food intolerances
Seeing your vet these symptoms is important for two reasons:
1. You want to make sure there isn’t a serious medical issue going on, especially if these symptoms come on suddenly and are severe. A vet will conduct a combination of blood, urine, and stool testing to pinpoint any major issues.
2. It’s important to treat the root cause of your dog’s stomach sensitivity if you want a long term solution, not just temporary relief of symptoms.
Are certain breeds of dogs prone to sensitive stomach?
You might be wondering why one of your dogs won’t touch any of their food and always seems to have an upset stomach while your other dog scarfs down anything and everything without a problem (including garbage).
While every dog is an individual and needs to be treated on a case-by-case basis, the following dog breeds are more prone to stomach sensitivity than others:
- Scottish terrier
- Golden retriever
- Shih Tzu
- Irish Setter
- Labrador retriever
- German shepherd
- Great Dane
- Miniature Schnauzer
In addition to breed, age and size are also factors in whether or not a dog will have a sensitive stomach.
Remember to consult your veterinarian before switching to a new food and to always SLOWLY transition your dog to a new food for best results. This article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Best Wet Food For Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs
1. Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care with Turkey
Best For: Severe stomach issues that require a clinically proven, vet prescribed diet.
When a dog’s digestive system is disrupted their bodies can’t absorb the nutrition they need for tissue building and repair. They also don’t get as much energy from their food. Hill’s has developed a line of foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs in partnership veterinarians and nutritionists.
This recipe is made up of highly digestible protein, fat, and fiber to support gastrointestinal health. It’s designed to have the perfect balance of nutrients and Omega fatty acids to support your dog’s recovery, whether they suffer from allergies, had a surgical procedure, or ate something that didn’t agree with them. There are also antioxidants for immune system support and oxidative balance.
A prescription is needed for this food, which is highly recommended by dog owners. Digestive Care with Turkey contains at least 5.6% protein and 2% fat, with a maximum of 1.2% fiber. The recipe contains healthy ingredients like turkey, rice, whole grain corn, chicken, flaxseed, dried beet pulp. Some of these ingredients may trigger allergies, but dogs with non-food-related digestive problems love these cans!
- Pros: Clinically proven diet for digestive care, limited ingredients, vet-recommended.
- Cons: More expensive than non-prescription foods, contains chicken and corn.
2. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula Grain-Free
Best For: Allergies and/or itchy skin.
Natural Balance’s limited ingredient diet with sweet potato and venison offers dogs the gamey taste they go crazy over, with ingredients that are gentle on their digestive systems. This completely balanced diet is great for puppies and adults, and was designed by vets specifically for dogs who suffer from allergies and frequent itchiness.
Along with easily digestible potato and sweet potato for energy, this formula is rich in vitamins A, B6, and B12 to support your dog’s immune system, metabolism, and gastrointestinal function. Since this food is easy to digest, your dog will absorb more nutrients. Salmon oil is added in as a healthy, natural source of Omega fatty acids, which are great for digestion, inflammation, skin and coat health.
This recipe does not contain any grains, corn, wheat, soy, or peas. There is a minimum of 6% protein and 4% fat, with a maximum of 2% fiber in the sweet potato and venison formula. Some owners dislike the smell of this food and the fact that it contains a lot of potato. However, others have had success feeding it to older dogs and those who tend to regurgitate other food.
- Pros: Soothes stomach upset, for dogs with allergies/itchy skin, novel protein, limited ingredient, trusted brand
- Cons: Some owners may dislike the smell, potato heavy recipe
3. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Turkey & Potato Formula
Best For: Food sensitivities and allergies.
If your dog is allergic to common dog food ingredients, Wellness’ Simple Limited Ingredient Diet may offer the relief they are looking for. In this recipe, every ingredient serves a purpose. Owners can be confident that their dog is getting a single protein source and easily digestible carbohydrates, with no unnecessary fillers or additives.
High quality turkey is the first ingredient. The recipe also contains prebiotics and probiotics to contribute to a healthy gut, and flaxseed for skin and coat health/digestive support. Chicory root extract serves as a healthy source of fiber. Since this food is designed for dogs with allergies it is free from common triggers like wheat, corn, soy, pea, gluten, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
The turkey and potato formula has at least 8% protein and 7% fat, with a maximum of 1% fiber. Dog owners like that this product is priced competitively compared to similar LID canned foods. Although a few owners have noted that it has a messy, gooey texture, many have found it beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs and well received by picky eaters.
- Pros: Higher protein and fat than some other sensitive stomach foods, no common allergy triggers, single source or protein
- Cons: Gooey texture, contains carrageenan
4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat
Best For: Chronic indigestion.
Royal Canin’s GI low fat canned food is designed to improve symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite loss in dogs with sensitive digestion. Since too much fat can be hard for dogs to digest, especially dogs with sensitive stomachs, this formula has a reduced amount. It also contains prebiotics to support good gut bacteria and a dietary fiber blend for healthier digestion.
Some other positive inclusions in this recipe are Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil to nourish and sooth the gastrointestinal tract, along with antioxidants for a strong and healthy immune system. Another benefit of this food that most others don’t mention is that it reduces the chance of bladder crystals that lead to urinary tract infections.
Dog owners love this food because even the pickiest dogs and those with appetite loss find it tasty and appealing. It can be ordered online, but does require vet authorization. Some healthy ingredients in this recipe are pork liver and dried plain beet pulp. There is a minimum of 6% protein, 0.02% EPA/DHA, and 1.43% fat in this formula, with a maximum of 1.9% fiber.
- Pros: Good for chronic indigestion, vet-recommended.
- Cons: More expensive than non-prescription, contains corn ingredients and carrageenan.
5. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Classic Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Entree
Best For: Food-related allergies, itchy skin, and upset stomach.
This 100% balanced diet for dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs is made with DHA-rich salmon. DHA and other super Omega fatty acids support healthy brain development and give your dog healthy shin and a shiny coat! The salmon in this recipe is complemented by rice, a healthy and easily digestible carb that gives dogs energy.
These days, it’s important to know where your dog’s food is coming from which is why Purina Pro Plan Focus is made in Purina-owned facilities in the U.S.A. They do not use artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives to make this food. This adult formula for all breeds is made with wholesome ingredients like fish and carrot and is supplemented with important vitamins and minerals.
The salmon and rice entrée contains at least 7% protein and 5% fat, with a maximum of 1.5% fiber to reduce the load on your dog’s sensitive digestive system. Satisfied owners have suggested that this food is comparable to prescription foods for sensitive stomach without the expensive price tag. Some dogs aren’t crazy about it but can be a good food to mix with dry if your dog’s stomach is sensitive.
- Pros: Limited ingredients, healthy protein source for dogs with allergies
- Cons: Contains carrageenan
6. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin and Stomach Care Grain-Free Turkey & Potato (Adult) Recipe
Best For: Food allergies and sensitivities.
Blue Buffalo is a trusted name in pet food and their limited ingredient wet canned foods are no different. Owners whose dogs suffer from allergies to ingredients like grains and chicken can rest assured that this recipe contains no common culprits. Instead, you’ll find a single source of animal protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates for energy.
Real turkey is the main ingredient in this recipe, to support lean muscle mass. The first five ingredients are turkey, turkey broth, potatoes, flaxseed, and pea protein. The recipe also includes antioxidant and fiber rich blueberries and cranberries with pumpkin for digestive support. Omega fatty acids, and Vitamins E and C, are included in the guaranteed analysis.
This canned food contains a minimum of 7% protein and 7% fat, which is a little higher than most sensitive stomach diets. There is a maximum of 1.5% fiber. This recipe does not contain any chicken, beef, dairy, eggs, grain, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives. Owners love that none of the ingredients are sourced from China and their dogs enjoy this food.
- Pros: Trusted pet brand, limited ingredients, grain-free, affordable, chicken-free recipe, easy to digest.
- Cons: Contains carrageenan
7. Nature's Recipe Easy-To-Digest Chicken, Rice & Barley Recipe Homestyle Ground
Best For: Better digestive health and colon function.
Nature’s Recipe is made with natural ingredients that support the needs of adult dogs of all breeds. The ingredients include highly palatable chicken, rice, and barley, with added antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to support dogs’ overall health.
To ensure optimal quality, this food contains no animal by-product meals and artificial flavors or preservatives. It does, however, contain vitamins A and B12 to help support a healthy immune system. Whole ingredients like potatoes, carrots, and peas round off this wholesome formula.
The easy-to-digest chicken, rice, and barley recipe contains a minimum of 8% protein and 5% fat. The maximum amount of fiber in this canned food is 1%. Owners like that it is affordable compared to other similar brands and effective in helping dogs with digestive issues.
- Pros: Budget friendly, carrageenan-free, trusted brand, with healthy grains
- Cons: Contains common allergens like chicken and peas
Considerations when buying Canned Dog Food For Sensitive Stomach and Diarrhea
Finding a good canned dog food for sensitive stomachs can be tricky with so many options available. Misleading marketing can make an unhealthy food seem like a good choice, so how can you tell what foods are nutritionally balanced and easily digestible for your dog?
This simple guide explains exactly what to look for to find the best sensitive stomach diet:
Avoid common allergy triggers, artificial ingredients, chemicals, fillers.
Chicken and beef are common allergy triggers in dogs, yet they are some of the most commonly found proteins used in dog food. Finding a novel protein that your dog hasn’t been exposed to before can sometimes help dogs with sensitive stomachs. Some good novel proteins include:
Ideally, canned food for your dog’s sensitive stomach should also contain no corn, wheat, soy, grains, or artificial colors and flavors. All of these, along with several other controversial ingredients, can cause issues for all dogs, but especially those with sensitive digestion.
Carrageenan, a seaweed extract used as a thickener and stabilizer in canned dog food, is an FDA approved ingredient that has been determined as safe by AAFCO but some scientists believe it is linked to health issues like inflammation, indigestion, and colon cancer.
Some owners prefer to avoid it, although it may be hard to find a suitable canned dog food for sensitive stomachs without it.
Fiber is an important part of your dog’s diet, which is why the percentage of fiber in your dog’s food is listed on the Guaranteed Analysis. A diet for sensitive dogs should contain no more than 5% crude fiber so as not to overload your dog’s system.
The source of fiber is important when trying to balance your dog’s digestive system and improve symptoms like bloating, gas, and loose stools. Look for natural, easy to digest fiber sources from ingredients like peas, flaxseed, beet pulp, and tomato pomace.
Whether or not dogs should be eating grains is currently a hot topic amongst dog owners and experts. Typically, a diet for sensitive stomachs should be grain free to reduce the workload on your dog’s digestive system.
Some healthy grains to look out for in a canned food are barley, brown rice, and oatmeal.
Low to moderate fat
The fat content in your dog’s food will vary depending on their age and activity levels, but dogs with sensitive stomachs typically struggle with high fat diets.
How do you feel after eating something really greasy and fattening? Probably not great. That’s why when we don’t feel well, we usually prefer to eat something light.
Dogs are the same!
High levels of fat can be hard on your dog’s digestive system. Consider the appropriate amount for your dog’s life stage (puppies and pregnant/nursing dogs will require higher fat than an older dog) and adjust from there based on your dog’s fat tolerance.
Read the label carefully
It’s important that you read the label carefully to make sure your dog’s food is complete, balanced, and healthy.
Some things to look for are:
- AAFCO statement: to verify balanced diet/complete for your dog’s life stage
- Guaranteed analysis: for levels of protein, fat, fiber and important supplements
- Ingredients list: look for quality named protein, healthy carbs, and whole ingredients at the top of the list; double check for multiple sources of protein if your dog is sensitive
If you have any questions about something you see on your dog’s food label, don’t be afraid to call the company or your vet to get clarification!
Look for digestive supports + important vitamins/minerals
Dog foods with probiotics or ingredients like pumpkin, which helps firm stools, can make your dog’s recovery easier and keep their stomach issues from coming back again. High quality ingredients may make your dog’s food a little more expensive, but it is worth it because they are more digestible.
Other things to look out for include pre/probiotics and Omega fatty acids (also referred to as EPA/DHA, linoleic acid).
Wet (Canned) Dog Food FAQ's
How do you treat sensitive stomach in dogs?
First you need to identify what the problem is. If the sensitive stomach is due to something like parasites, chronic diseases, serious viruses, or infections, your vet may put your dog on antibiotics or other medications to get the problem under control. If the causes is food related, a dietary change will be needed. A plan for post-recovery to avoid relapse is usually a good idea.
Is a home cooked diet better for sensitive stomach?
Some owners prefer to feed their dog a home cooked diet so they can know exactly what is going into their dog’s food. This process can be expensive and time consuming, especially since it’s essential to get protein, fat, and fiber levels right along all the vitamins and nutrients that your dog needs to thrive.
If you want to try this route, it’s important to get recipes approved from a vet or dog nutritionist. Also, remember to take extra care when it comes to sanitation and food safety!
How should I transition my dog to their new diet?
Transitioning a dog to a new diet should always be done slowly. The American Kettle Club outlines a simple 7-day guide that can help with the switch.
Basically, you start day one with 25% new food and 75% old and increase the amount of the new food by 25% every couple of days until your dog is completely switched over.
What are some other ways I can help my dog with a sensitive stomach?
Did you know that sometimes a sensitive stomach can be caused by the position your dog is eating in? If they are laying down to eat or stooping because they are tall and their dishes are low to the ground, it can cause indigestion. Sometimes an elevated bowl can make a big difference!
Other things you can do to help are making sure your dog isn’t eating scraps or random garbage laying around. You may also choose to supplement their diet with healthy things like yogurt and bone broth for extra probiotics and nutrients, and make sure they always have access to clean water.
What about you?
When your dog is struggling with symptoms of a sensitive stomach, you just want to figure out what’s wrong and make it better. It’s not always easy to pinpoint the problem but finding the right dog food for your dog during this stressful time shouldn’t be hard.
Out of the canned foods reviewed in this post, Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredient diet stands out as one of the best as rated by dog owners. With venison as a unique protein source not found in a lot of dog food, low fat, and sweet potato as a nutritious, easily digestible carb, this recipe is ideal for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs.
Also Read: 8 Dog Kong Recipes for a Sensitive Stomach