Best Dog Food for a Sensitive Stomach: Top 5 Choices for Small and Large Breeds


As a pet parent, it’s tough to see your dog struggle. Whether they’re vomiting, having diarrhea, or simply not behaving normally, it can be stressful.

While some dogs might be canine garbage disposals, some dogs require a bit more care when it comes to their diet.

We’ve put together the best dog foods for sensitive stomachs based on limited ingredient diets and single novel proteins. These recipes might be exactly what your pup needs to feel better! Continue reading below for more.

Best Dog Food for a Sensitive Stomach: Our 5 Favorites

Here are our top five favorite dogs foods for your pup with a sensitive stomach:

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin

Best Overall

What We Like:

  • Highly digestive formula for sensitive stomachs
  • Real chicken as the first ingredient
  • Great complimentary ingredients like brown rice and flaxseed

What Needs Improvement:

  • A high number of questionable fillers

Bottom Line

We look for a few factors when choosing the best dog food for sensitive stomachs. The first is real meat as the first ingredient. The second is a low number of questionable ingredients such as oils, artificial flavors, and dyes.

The Hill’s Science Diet recipe does an excellent job of using real chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. They pair it nicely with prebiotic fiber and fatty acids to help digestion and coat health.

Wellness Simple Natural Grain-Free Limited Ingredient

Best Limited Ingredient

What We Like:

  • Turkey and potatoes as the first two ingredients
  • Loaded with probiotics for gut health
  • Limited ingredient diet limits potential allergic reactions

What Needs Improvement:

  • Canola oil in the top 10 ingredients

Bottom Line

The ultimate point of a limited ingredient diet is to restrict the number of proteins and starches used to reduce allergic reaction possibility. For example, if a food contains both turkey and fish, you wouldn’t be able to determine which protein was causing the reaction.

In this case, turkey and turkey meal are the only proteins, with potatoes being the only starch. If your dog is allergic to this food, you should be able to identify the culprit.

I’d also like to shine light on one problematic ingredient you’ll find in a lot of dog food, and that’s “canola oil preserved with mixed tocopherols.” This is a preservative that many dogs are allergic to, so you’ll want to be careful with dog food containing this ingredient.

Orijen Senior Dry Dog Food

Best for Seniors

What We Like:

  • 85% premium animal ingredients
  • No meal added, all whole proteins
  • 38% crude protein analysis

What Needs Improvement:

  • A large number of proteins could cause allergies

Bottom Line

Orijen is known for producing what they call a “biologically appropriate diet.” Their dog foods are heavy on animal protein, and they contain meat from a large number of sources, including chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs.

This food is a great choice for seniors because it has lower calories, with the average serving being around 414 calories per cup. Seniors who move around less but still require a sensitive stomach diet will need lower calorie food to keep them healthy.

Blue Buffalo Basics Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Best for Small Breeds

What We Like:

  • Easier kibble for small dogs to chew
  • Real turkey as the first ingredient
  • Loaded with great complementary ingredients like pumpkin, blueberries, cranberries, and dried kelp

What Needs Improvement:

  • It only comes in a 4 or 11-pound bag

Bottom Line

Small breeds need a specialized formula to appeal to their high-energy nature and smaller jaws. The kibble in this Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient diet is smaller, making it easier for them to chew and digest. The formula containing ingredients like pumpkin and pea fiber also aids in digestion.

The only downside to this formula is that it comes in small bags only so if you have more than one small breed, you may end up paying more in the long run by having to purchase multiple small bags to feed your dogs.

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Sensitive Stomach

Best for Large Breeds

What We Like:

  • Salmon as the first ingredient
  • Contains highly digestible oatmeal
  • Glucosamine is an important ingredient for large breed joint health

What Needs Improvement:

  • Purina is known for using questionable ingredients

Bottom Line

We juggled with the thought of including this recipe as the best choice for large breeds because Purina has a tough reputation in the pet food world. Let’s start off with the good though. The recipe contains great ingredients like salmon, oatmeal, fish oil, and a variety of vitamins. It also contains glucosamine which is an important ingredient in large breed joint health.

The problem is; that it also contains beef with mixed tocopherols and a large number of starchy fillers in the top five ingredients. That means that a large portion of this recipe is made up of fillers which may not be as healthy for your pup. Overall, not a bad choice for large breeds but we’d recommend testing it with caution.

How to Know If Your Dog Has a Sensitive Stomach?

While many of us love to self-diagnose ourselves, how can we tell if our dog has a sensitive stomach? Some of the symptoms you may notice with your pup are:

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Loose stool
  • Excessive gas
  • Decreased activity and lethargy
  • Lower appetite

If you find that your dog has any of these symptoms, they might have a sensitivity to some of the ingredients in their food. Changing to a limited ingredient diet is one way to limit the possibility of an allergic reaction.

How to Choose the Best Dog Food for a Sensitive Stomach

If you can’t decide on which dog food is best for your dog, it might help to read through dog food reviews on sites like WholePet.

There are a few factors you’ll want to look for when choosing the right dog food. Some of these factors include:

A Single Protein – Dog food containing a single source of protein such as turkey or mackerel will limit the possibility of a bad reaction. If your dog gets sick from the food, you can try a different protein.

Limited Ingredients – This factor has the same concept as the previous. By eliminating well-known “allergy causers” like chicken and dairy, the formula is less likely to make your dog sick.

Probiotics – Your dog may have a hard time digesting food no matter what is in it. For that issue, many sensitive stomach formulas contain an array of healthy bacteria to help break food down and promote healthy bowel movements.

Final Thoughts

If you find your furry friend vomiting frequently or simply not behaving like themselves, it could be their diet. Consider switching your dog to one of the various recipes in this guide. Choosing the best dog food for sensitive stomachs is simple when you know what ingredients to look for and which ones to avoid. Good luck!

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