Best Low Residue Dog Food for Less Poop and Easier Digestion

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Does it seem like your dog is constantly eating and pooping but never really satisfied? One thing I know you’ll agree on is, as a dog owner, we don’t want to pick up more poop than we have to.

The best dog foods for less poop are low in fiber, also known as low residue dog food. This diet is great for dogs with digestive issues, certain illnesses, or issues with diarrhea and constipation. If you think your dog might thrive on a low fiber diet, it’s a good idea to start by sharing your concerns with your vet.

If you’ve already spoken with your dog’s vet and are ready to shift towards a low fiber diet for your dog, we have you covered. This buying guide explains what low residue dog food is, outlines it’s benefits, and lays out how to choose the best low fiber food.

We’ve also reviewed seven highly rated low residue dry dog foods, ending with our recommendation for the best one so you don’t have to search forever to find the perfect food for your pup.

What is Low Residue Dog Food?

Beagle Dog Eating a Bowl Of Dry Kibble

Highly digestible, low-fiber foods is key to the concept of low-residue dog diets

Low residue dog food is made for dogs with intestinal and digestive health problems like inflammatory bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, and frequent vomiting. The focus of low residue recipes is highly digestible, low fiber foods.

Most regular bargain brand dog food is full of ingredients like grains, corn, and wheat, which can be difficult for some dogs to digest, especially seniors. These ingredients are also common allergy triggers.

By feeding your dog a low fiber food you avoid some of these things that your dog may be sensitive to. Low residue food is easier to digest, and since your dog’s body absorbs more of the nutrients that they need less waste will come out!

Having less waste moving through your dog’s digestive system reduces some of the workload (and stress) that is put on by low quality food or other digestive upset your dog suffers from.

Some low residue dog foods contain medicinal ingredients and supplements to help heal and assist your dog’s digestive system.

The low fiber diet is usually intended for the short-term. If your dog’s symptoms are gone you can consult with your vet and maybe switch back to your dog’s regular food. Some dogs including older dogs and those with frequent or chronic digestive issues will need to stick to a low residue diet.

Making your own low residue dog food

It’s possible for you to put together nutritious, low fiber meals for your dog but it does take a little time and know-how. The Nest has a great article by Sarah Whitman that outlines the process.

First of all, you need to make sure the ingredients in your recipe are cooked, including any meat products, grains, fruit, and vegetables, so they are easier for your dog to digest.

Next, you’ll need to include some healthy oils (especially omega 3 and 6 fatty acids!). These oils serve the important tasks of slowing your dog’s digestion, helping absorb nutrients, and fighting inflammation.

As far as your recipe goes, it ideally should consist of between 50% and 80% real meat ingredients like meat, fish, and eggs. These ingredients are soft, low in fiber, high in protein, and easy to digest making them the perfect starting point for your dog’s nutrition.

The other 30% of your recipe will consist of nutritious low fiber fruits and vegetables (think ripe bananas, melons, carrots, and potatoes), healthy oils, and any other vital supplements you might need to add to contribute to your dog’s total health. The example recipe Whitman gives in her article includes: 

  • 1 pound chicken
  • 4 ounces cooked rice
  • 4 ounces yellow squash
  • 4 ounces cantaloupe
  • half tablespoon healthy oil

Whether you choose to cook your dog’s food yourself or switch them to a low fiber dry food, make sure you switch them starting with small portions. It will be easier for your dog’s digestive system to adjust to this new diet gradually rather than all at once.

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

Since the low fiber content is an important feature of low residue dog food, it’s important to talk about the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber.  

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is broken down in the colon, resulting in a gel-like substance. If your dog is suffering from constipation, soluble fiber will help add moisture to your dog’s stools, making them softer and easier to excrete.

A few sources of soluble fiber include oats, barley, lentils, apples, and many vegetables

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve, but stays a solid when it passes through the gastrointestinal system. This type of fiber will help bulk up your dog’s stools, so if they are too watery, insoluble fiber can be used to help.

Some examples of insoluble fiber sources are whole wheat ingredients, whole grains, and root vegetables.

Benefits of a Low Residue Dog Food?

There are several benefits to switching your dog to a low residue dog food. While most dogs are put on a low residue food when they are older or problems have already started to develop, it can be beneficial for a puppy or adult dog to be on this type of diet as a preventative measure.

Some of the clear benefits of switching to a low residue dog food are:

1. Reduced Frequency and Volume of Stools

Most budget commercial dog foods include a few healthy ingredients along with a laundry list of fillers and artificial ingredients meant to save money, enhance the look of the food, and literally fill your dog’s stomach. The problem is that these fillers are not easy for dogs to digest. When the digestion process is hindered your dog doesn’t get all the nutrition from the food they’re eating.

  • Less absorption = More waste: With low residue food, there are virtually no fillers and the carbohydrates used are intentionally easy to digest. A healthier digestive system means all the nutrients from your dog’s food are being absorbed 
  • Better absorption = Less waste: After switching to a low residue diet your dog’s stools should eventually regulate themselves. They will go less frequently and poop less. It’s likely that they’ll get on a schedule where they poop around the same time every day.

2. Good for the Pancreas and Colon

Both the pancreas and the colon can become inflamed which causes various problems for your dog.

The pancreas is an organ of the digestive system responsible for breaking down your dog’s food and regulates sugar processing.

Pancreatitis happens when the pancreas becomes inflamed. A diet high in protein and healthy fats can help with the recovery process.

A case study by Christine Liu from Cornell University shows that a low residue diet has been recommended for dogs with pancreas issues for a while now. In this study, a German shepherd with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency was put on Hills LD canned and Eukanuba Low Residue dry food. 

The colon is a long organ that removes water from digested food.

What is left is your dog’s stool, which passes through the colon to the rectum and out of your dog’s body. Colitis is a condition where there is inflammation of the colon.

A 1988 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that symptoms of idiopathic chronic colitis improved in a sample of 13 dogs after they were switched to a low residue, easy to digest, and mostly hypoallergenic diet. 

A low residue diet should help reduce the inflammation associated with either a diseased pancreas or colon, while improving your dog’s overall digestion. 

3. Helps with Diarrhea and Constipation

Diarrhea and constipation are both signs that something about your dog’s digestive and excretory system is irregular. It could be something in the food they are eating, age, or a medical issue.

The lack of fillers in low residue food encourages normal digestive processing. Since food is being properly broken down at this stage, your dog’s digestion and stools return to normal.

Switching to a low residue diet will improve the efficiency of your dog’s digestive system and the help regulate the frequency/consistency of their poops.

4. Aids in Digestion and Flatulence Problems

Flatulence occurs when your dog’s body isn’t able to process waste efficiently.

Fibrous foods are hard for some dogs to digest, which is why low residue dog food is designed to ensure that the food passing through the digestive tract is fully broken down. This eases the strain on your dog’s gastrointestinal system.  

Since less waste is passing through the digestive system, there is less stress on the system and your dog’s symptoms will get a chance to improve. 

How to Choose the Best Low Residue Dog Food?

Pet owner shopping for dog food

Choosing the best low residue dog food is easy when you know what to look for. Two main things you want to consider are:

1) the overall quality of the food and 2) whether it meets the criteria to be considered low residue

Unfortunately, like many other special diets dogs, it can be hard to distinguish when a brand is truly putting dogs’ health first or just using popular marketing terms to create hype and sell more sub-par food.

Even if you find a brand that’s labelled ‘low fiber’ or ‘low residue’, make sure you do your due diligence!

You can take some of the guesswork out of the process with this handy checklist that explains what’s important in a low fiber/low residue food:

  • AAFCO Statement: AAFCO is like the FDA of pet food. Their nutrient profiles are the standard that pet food brands use to determine what should be in their recipes, and their labels give owners peace of mind that their dogs are getting the nutrition they need. AAFCO also tells you if a food is appropriate for your dog’s life stage (puppy, adult, senior, or all life stages).
  • Guaranteed Analysis: The Guaranteed Analysis on your dog’s food offers important information on its protein, fat, and fiber content. General guidelines for puppies is a min. of 22% protein, 8% fat. For adults it’s 18% protein, 5% fat. However, when it comes to low residue diets you’re usually looking for something with high protein and moderate to high fat (15% is ideal).
  • Low Crude Fiber: Your low residue dog food should not contain more than 5% crude fiber. Low residue diets usually have less than 5% fiber.
  • Healthy Ingredients: Ingredients lists are written in descending order by volume. The items with the largest volume in the recipe are at the top of the list. The first ingredient in your dog’s food should be quality animal protein. If carbs or grains are first the recipe will have too much fiber and be difficult to digest. Good, easily digestible ingredients to look for in a low residue dog food are animal proteins like poultry, meat, fish, or eggs, cooked vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and beneficial additives. The ingredients should be easy to read and recognize, with no low quality fillers. Named meat meals are good because they’re high in concentrated protein.
  • Digestible Carbs: Carbs are important because they provide your dog with the energy they need to be active and playful! In a low residue dog food it’s important to make sure that the carbohydrates used are easy to digest, like plain white rice, potatoes, and tapioca.
  • Responsible Ingredient Sourcing/Production: It’s safest to avoid dog foods made in certain places, like China. Food recalls due to low quality ingredients and questionable food safety practices have proven that local is best. Many owners now prefer to shop brands that are made in the USA, Canada, and parts of the UK. It is also important to be aware of where a brand is sourcing their ingredients from. Brands that care about the wellbeing of the dogs they feed tend to be very open about that information. If it’s hard to find, ask yourself why.
  • Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids: Omega fatty acids are included in a lot of dog food formulas because they’re great for your dog’s skin and coat health. But did you know these healthy oils serve other purposes, like reducing inflammation and supporting your dog’s digestion?
  • Prebiotics/Probiotics: Prebiotics are beneficial nutrients that can be found in ingredients like chicory root and bananas, while probiotics are a source of beneficial bacteria. Both can be included in dog food to help support healthy digestion.
  • What you DON’T Want to See: When it comes to low residue food it’s best to find a brand without any corn, dairy, wheat, or soy that could trigger allergies and digestive issues while offering little nutritional value to your dog. You should also avoid by-products, fillers, artificial ingredients and recipes with too many plant proteins instead of quality animal protein.

Key Takeaway

If you’re considering a low residue food for your dog and it ticks off all of these boxes you’re good to go!

Remember to slowly wean your dog off their old food (if they were on a different food before). It may still take some trial and error to find a formula or recipe that your dog finds palatable and agrees with their digestive system.

Best Low-Residue Dog Food Reviews of 2020

1. Merrick Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato

Best For: A dry dog food ideal for multi-dog homes since it’s made for all sizes, breeds, and life stages.

Merrick’s grain-free chicken and sweet potato recipe provides dogs with the balanced nutrition they need using naturally nutrient rich, whole foods. This food meets AAFCO’s nutritional profiles for maintenance and its ingredients are sourced from trusted local farmers to support dogs’ overall health.  

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient in this formula, serving as a lean and healthy source of protein. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants come from healthy fruits and veggies like apples, peas, and blueberries while potatoes and sweet potatoes are used as easily digestible carbs for energy.

In addition, this recipe contains leading amounts of omega fatty acids with 4% omega 6 and 0.8% omega 3, which are great for dogs’ skin and coat health. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also supplemented to support healthy joints.

If your dog is sensitive to grains and struggles with their digestion, Merrick’s Real Chicken & Sweet Potato is an excellent option. The company proudly crafts and produces their foods in USA facilities that strictly follow FDA guidelines, so as an owner you can rest assured that you are giving your dog a food that is safe.

This dry food contains at least 38% protein and 17% fat, with a maximum of 3.5% fiber. 

  • Pros: Good for all breeds/sizes/life stages, grain-free, higher levels of Omega fatty acids. 
  • Cons: Some dogs are allergic to chicken

2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato

Best For: Owners who prefer a grain-inclusive diet for their dog that is also low fiber and easy to digest.

Nutro goes back to the basics in this recipe featuring a combination of chicken, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Also included are natural sources of fiber to support healthy digestion along with vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants for full body functioning.

One vitamin supplemented in this formula, Vitamin E, is essential for healthy immune system functioning. This recipe also contains inflammation fighting Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Some other great ingredients in the recipe are chicken meal, carrots, blueberries, apple, and sweet potato.

This food does not contain any GMO ingredients or artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

The food meets AAFCO’s nutritional guidelines for adult maintenance. Owners love and trust this dry dog food, some stating that their dog’s stools are always firm with this food. Some owners have fed this brand to generations of their dogs with good results!

Nutro’s Wholesome Essentials dry food has at least 22% protein, 14% fat, and a maximum of 3.5% fiber.

  • Pros: Low fiber food with grains, firm stools
  • Cons: Only for adult dogs

3. American Journey Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato

Best For: A great all life stages dry food recommended for dogs with sensitive stomachs.  

If you’re looking for a dry dog food with a whole lot of good ingredients and none of the yucky stuff, American Journey is an excellent choice.

This recipe starts with real deboned salmon that tastes great and helps dogs develop lean, healthy muscles. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas are included as easily digestible carbohydrates to give dogs all the energy they need to get through their day. Carrots, dried kelp, and blueberries provide important natural fiber.

Other great ingredients include chicken and turkey meal, which are named sources of concentrated protein.

Fortified with antioxidants, omega fatty acids (flaxseed and salmon oil), glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, and DHA for brain and eye health, this formula combines everything your dog needs to be happy and healthy. This recipe does NOT contain any corn, wheat, soy, fillers, grains or gluten.

American Journey’s grain-free dry dog food contains a minimum of 32% protein, 14% fat, and a maximum of 5% fiber.

  • Pros: Good for dogs with sensitive stomachs/food sensitivities, all life stages, affordable quality dog food
  • Cons: Some dogs are allergic to chicken

4. Castor & Pullox PRISTINE Grass-Fed Lamb & Lentil

Best For: Good for dogs with allergies or stomach issues because of its easily digestible protein. 

Castor and Pullox prides themselves in offering dogs’ purposeful, complete nutrition. They put a lot of intention into responsibly sourcing ingredients. For example, the lamb in this recipe is grass-fed and free-range, while the produce is organic. All of their food is prepared in the USA so owners can sleep soundly knowing that they’re giving their dogs the best.

Lamb is the number one ingredient in this recipe, along with other healthy whole foods like lentils, chickpeas, peas, apples, and blueberries. More wholesome ingredients are lamb, chicken, and turkey meal for protein, and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. This formula does not include any grains, potato, corn, soy, wheat, gluten, or artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors. 

This grass-fed lamb and lentil recipe contains a minimum of 34% protein, 16% fat, and a maximum of 3.5% fiber. 

  • Pros: Lamb is main the source of protein, free of ingredients that commonly trigger allergies/sensitivities, rich in omega fatty acids
  • Cons: Not all life stages

Related Reading

5. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Whole Grain Chicken

Best For: An excellent human grade, homemade quality dog food with low fiber.

As owners, we want what’s best for our dogs but it’s not always that simple. We have busy schedules, and understanding your dog’s dietary requirements and food safety to make their own food at home can be a lot. The Honest Kitchen offers an alternative that’s quick and easy but also tasty and nutritious.

This food is perfect for any dog breed or size, and all you have to do is add water! The whole grain chicken recipe is completely balanced for puppies and adult dogs, but senior dogs will need to switch to something more appropriate. It is made in the USA with no by-products, preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, or GMO ingredients.

The meat in this recipe is free of hormones and antibiotics. The ingredients are very simple and easy to understand, starting with dehydrated chicken, organic barley, potatoes, flaxseed, oats, and peas. There are also added vitamins and minerals.

A poll of over 6,200 customers found that this easily digestible food with whole ingredients has helped give dogs more energy, healthier skin and coats, increased appetite, and improved weight. The proof is in the results!

According to the guaranteed analysis, this recipe contains a minimum of 24.5% protein and 14% fat. There is a maximum of 4% fiber.

  • Pros: Alternative to dried kibble and canned food, super simple ingredients list
  • Cons: Pricier than others

6. Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe with Rabbit

Best For: A quality low fiber kibble with proprietary LifeSource Bits and rabbit for healthy protein. 

Blue Wilderness starts with real meat as the first ingredient in their recipes, along with antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Deboned rabbit is the high quality protein in this adult formula. One big perk of the Blue Wilderness brand is its unique LifeSource Bits.

LifeSource Bits are a special blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists. Everything included in the LifeSource Bits is intended to support dogs’ immune systems and oxidative balance (the balance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body). Chelated minerals are used to ensure maximum benefit.

Owners can be confident that this food contains no gluten, chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy. Satisfied customers like that this is a higher protein formula with good flavor that their dogs love. Since it has low residue properties, it can be good for dogs with digestive troubles.

The Rocky Mountain recipe contains at least 34% protein and 16% fat, with a maximum of 3.5% fiber.

  • Pros: Good for all breeds and sizes, contains specialty LifeSource Bits
  • Cons: Not all life stages, still contains some chicken ingredients

7. Taste of the Wild Pine Forest Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best For: Specialty diet for sensitive dogs with chicory root and a probiotic blend to support digestion. 

Taste of the Wild (TOTW) is a family owned and run company that strives to give dogs the “balanced diet that nature intended”. Their food is made in the USA and they pride themselves on having some of the most scientifically advanced food safety protocols in the industry. This adult grain-free formula uses novel proteins like venison and lamb for dogs with sensitivities.  

Other great ingredients in this recipe are nutrient rich legumes like peas and garbanzo beans. These legumes are easy to digest and provide dogs with energy. Fruits and vegetables offer important antioxidant support, while chicory root helps with prebiotic support and digestive function. The company’s proprietary K9 strain probiotic blend also helps with digestion.

Essential minerals in this formula are chelated with amino acids to ensure maximum absorption and benefit to your pup. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are supplemented so dogs have healthy skin and soft, shiny coats. This food contains no corn, grain, wheat, filler, or artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

This TOTW recipe contains at least 28% protein and 15% fat, with a maximum of 5.5% fiber. 

  • Pros: Good for dogs with sensitivities, all breeds and sizes, added ingredients to support digestive health, premium dog food
  • Cons: Not all life stages, fiber a little high for low residue diet

Low-Residue Dog Food Doesn’t Need To Be Overwhelming

Choosing a great low residue dog food is easy once you know what to look for and understand the benefits of a low fiber, no filler diet. There are several dry foods with low residue properties out there, and choosing the right one for your dog depends on a number of things like your budget, your dog’s preferences, and any allergies or sensitivities they may have.  

Out of the top seven low residue dog foods that we reviewed, The Honest Kitchen stands out the most. If you want to feed your dog the best, you can’t beat human grade ingredients. The only ingredients are nutritious whole foods, vitamins, and minerals which are very clearly labeled on the packaging. The guaranteed analysis shows that this food meets low residue standards, plus dogs and owners love it!

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