Best Dry Food For Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs

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In a rush and just want my recommendation?  I think Blackwood Dog Food Sensitive Skin and Stomach is a great choice.

There aren’t many dogs who don’t suffer from an upset stomach at some time in their lives. More often than not, this is a temporary condition which clears itself up in a day or so. Your hound may have found something interesting but unhealthy to swallow. They may have eaten their dinner too fast, or a new diet has upset them.

But there may be more serious reasons for dogs to have digestive issues. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to see a vet if your dog is unwell, or showing signs of an upset stomach. 

Dog parents, vets and dog food manufacturers, are all well aware that dogs require optimum nutrition to live a long and healthy life. This is even more important if your hound needs a special diet, either temporarily or permanently.

This article will explore the signs and symptoms you should look for if you think your dog has an upset stomach. It will outline the many reasons for dogs having digestive problems, when to see your vet, plus some nutritional tips and advice.

What type of dog food is best for a sensitive stomach?

Limited Ingredient Dog Food

The fewer ingredients, the less chance there is that it contains something your dog can’t tolerate. It must contain a good amount of good quality meat protein, have a lower fat content and include probiotics to help digestion.

Avoid additives and non-nutritional fillers in their food, such as corn and wheat, as well as artificial flavors and colors and unnatural preservatives. 

Your vet may prescribe a specific diet for your hound. Prescription dog foods are specially formulated for dogs with digestive, or other health problems.

If you want to be really informed about how to read dog food labels and analyze the ingredients, this article explains all you need to know.

In this article, I’m reviewing the following dry foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

5 Best dry Foods For Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs Reviewed

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin

First five ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, yellow peas, pearled barley, brown rice.

Dry Matter Content: 

  • Protein 22% (Min)
  • Fat 14% (Min)
  • Fiber 4% (Max)

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using chicken meat and meal as its dominant source of animal protein. Chicken meat does contain a lot of water, but the chicken meal is essentially concentrated chicken. This will add a lot to the overall protein content of the food. At 22% it’s still a relatively low amount of protein.

The yellow peas are a carbohydrate, but they also have a large protein content. Some dogs don’t tolerate pea protein well, so it’s a good idea to try a small amount first. There’s added beet pulp in this recipe, a highly digestible prebiotic fiber which promotes the growth of beneficial intestinal microorganism.

The addition of vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids helps to promote healthy skin and coat.

There are quite a few other ingredients listed, which include natural preservatives, minerals and flavorings. Salt is an ingredient which I wish wasn’t there.

Brown rice is whole-grain rice with its outer hull removed. It is a source of carbohydrates and fiber, and also contains Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

This is a small kibble, so would be suitable for any size dog. The company offers a 100% money-back guarantee if you, or your dog aren’t happy.

Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Sensitive Systems

First five ingredients: salmon, rice flour, pearled barley, oat meal, corn gluten meal.

Dry Matter Content: 

  • Protein 29.5% (Min)
  • Fat 18% (Min)
  • Fiber 3% (Max)

Salmon is an excellent source of protein, and is also packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. The rice flour is basically just ground up rice. It is a carbohydrate and thickener. 

Oat meal refers to oats that have had their tough outer hulls removed. They are then processed into a highly digestible, high-fiber coarse flour. The oat meal in pet food is a source of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Pearled barley is a carbohydrate which is low in nutritional value. Corn gluten meal is a by-product from the manufacture of sweeteners from corn. It provides a small amount of protein.

Purina One Sensitive Systems is extremely affordable, and a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It does contain chicken by-product meal which the manufacturer claims to be a source of glucosamine. Salt is also added to this recipe.

If this food is new to your dog, give them a small amount first as some hounds are allergic to fish.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach

First five ingredients: lamb, oat meal, barley, fish meal, canola meal.

Dry Matter Content: 

  • Protein 29.5% (Min)
  • Fat 18% (Min)
  • Fiber 4% (Max)

Lamb is the primary source of quality protein in this recipe, but the fish meal, oat meal and canola meal all contribute protein, as well as other nutrients and carbohydrates.

Oat meal refers to oats that have had their tough outer hulls removed. They are then processed into a highly digestible, high-fiber coarse flour. The oat meal in pet food is a source of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Canola meal provides some amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, and the barley also adds carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Sunflower oil is rich in Omega-6 for healthy skin and coat.

This is an affordable kibble containing no soy, wheat or artificial colors or flavors. 

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Blissful Belly

First five ingredients: de-boned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oat meal, barley.

Dry Matter Content: 

  • Protein 26.5% (Min)
  • Fat 14% (Min)
  • Fiber 7% (Max)

De-boned chicken is simply chicken with the bones removed. It’s a good protein source, but as mentioned earlier, the water content of chicken means you need a heck of a lot to make it an adequate source of protein. That’s why the chicken meal is so valuable. It’s a chicken meat concentrate which hugely increases the meat protein content.

The other four ingredients on the top of the list are present in the kibbles we have already looked at. All provide essential carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Blue Buffalo Blissful Belly doesn’t contain any animal by-products, or food allergens like corn, wheat or soy. It’s also free of artificial flavors and preservatives. 

This kibble is supplemented by chelated minerals, which aid in digestibility, resulting in more efficient mineral absorption. It also contains flax-seed and canola oil, good sources of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.

The downside to this diet is, the protein content is a little low. It also contains artificial food dyes, and the company has had several product recalls in the past.

Blackwood Dog Food Sensitive Skin and Stomach

First five ingredients: lamb meal, brown rice, millet, salmon meal, ground grain sorghum.

Dry Matter Content: 

  • Protein 27% (Min)
  • Fat 15.5% (Min)
  • Fiber 4% (Max)

With lamb and salmon meal as two of the principal ingredients, you know there’s a good source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Brown rice is high on the list, and is whole-grain rice with its outer hull removed. This makes it more digestible, and it is a source of carbohydrates and fiber. Brown rice also contains omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Millet is rich in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber in millet is a prebiotic, so it supports good bacteria in your dog’s digestive system and also keeps their poop a good consistency. Millet is also a source of carbohydrates, amino acids, B vitamins, and other nutrients. 

The final of the principal ingredients is ground grain sorghum. Sorghum provides many health benefits to dogs. It’s a whole grain, gluten-free and high in antioxidants, and rich in niacin, iron, zinc, dietary fiber and B vitamins.

Blackwood Dog Food is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption, and there are additional probiotics for easy digestion. Lots of fruits and vegetables such as carrots, celery, and spinach, pumpkin and seaweed meal provide additional nutrients.

Guide To Buying Dry Food For Dogs with Sensitive Stomachs

Digestive disorders in dogs are not uncommon. Just like humans, dog nutrition starts at the mouth, where they chew and grind the food before swallowing it. While they are chewing, saliva enzymes begin to break the food down. Healthy dogs don’t tend to chew for too long, so this part of the digestive process can be rapid. 

Once the food passes through the esophagus and reaches the stomach, the peptic acids continue to break the food down further. The partially digested food then moves into the small bowel (intestines). Bile is pushed from the gallbladder into the intestines and the food is then broken down completely. This is where the nutrients from the food are absorbed and transported through the intestinal wall into the blood.

The rest of the digested food then moves through the large intestine (colon) where it becomes much drier due to absorption of the water content. This is the waste product that becomes the poop.

Digestion is a vital process for providing nutrients but also for maintaining the proper balance of fluid and electrolytes in the body. The digestive tract is a complex, highly intelligent system which works very efficiently most of the time. When something does go wrong though, it becomes obvious pretty quickly.

What is The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are fibers that feed the healthy gut bacteria and are important in maintaining a healthy, balanced gut. They create the ideal environment for their co-workers, probiotics. Prebiotics include fiber-rich foods like whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms found in food or supplements that are intended to have health benefits when consumed. When your dog eats foods that contain probiotics, these bacteria make their way down into their gut, where they help digestion and reduce digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

Causes of Upset Stomach in Dogs

There are many causes of stomach upsets in dogs. Many of these causes are easy to deal with and temporary. It’s important to see your vet. They will be needing to exclude conditions such as:

  • Bloat
  • Parvovirus
  • Intestinal Parasites
  • Viral Infection
  • Intestinal foreign bodies
  • Heat Stroke
  • Constipation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney Failure
  • Liver Failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ingestion of toxic substances
  • Uterine Infection
  • Stress
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Food sensitivities & allergies
  • Bacterial Infection
  • Cancer

Signs That Your Dog Has A Sensitive Stomach

It’s important to be aware of even subtle changes in your dog’s mood around their meal times. They may not be as excited about the fridge door opening at dinner time, or they may sniff at their food and then leave it untouched.

Sometimes dogs can become constipated. This can happen if they consume a lot of raw bones. They grind the bone down, which then absorbs all the water in their intestine, creating very hard poop which they struggle to push out.

Other Signs Your Dog May Have Digestive Issues:

  • Consistent lack of appetite
  • Curling up and ‘guarding’ their belly (as if in pain)
  • Excessive wind
  • Signs of bloating (hard abdomen)
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea (excessive licking of lips or air)
  • Vomit
  • Panting without usual cause
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in vomit or poop

Check Your Dog’s Poop

You’d be amazed at how much information there is in poop. Always check your dog’s poop for color and consistency. You may need to report your findings to your vet, which can be really helpful for them.

Normal poop is chocolate brown, moist and easy to scoop up. If you see that your dog is passing something different, keep an eye out next time they toilet, to see if it normalizes.

  • Excessive mucus can be a sign of inflammation.
  • Black poop can be a sign of intestinal bleeding. 
  • Yellow poop can be a sign of liver or biliary issues.
  • Gray and fatty poop can be a sign of pancreas or liver problems.
  • White spots may be worms
  • Diarrhea, if prolonged, can be a sign of colon or intestinal inflammation.

Occasional Vomiting

Dogs will often have infrequent vomiting. As long as they are otherwise happy, energetic and normal, the chances are there is nothing serious to worry about. Always check with your vet. 

There are a few things that can be tried at home for occasional vomiting.

Don’t Feed Them

This sounds like a hard thing, but a 24 hour fasting period can work wonders for an upset stomach. It gives your dog’s digestive system a rest from the hard work it does.

It helps the digestive tract settle down and get back to normal much faster than if your dog keeps trying to eat.

Fresh Water

Plenty of water for hydration is always important, but especially so when your dog has vomited. 

Bone Broth

A small amount of bone broth at the end of the 24-hour fasting period can help get your dog’s stomach ready to take solid food again. They love it. It can be made at home, so you know exactly what’s in it. 

How To Make Simple Bone Broth For Your Dog
Ingredients:
Marrow Bones, Oxtail or Knuckles are good
2 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
Water
Method:
Put the bones in a slow cooker.
Cover with water. Add the cider vinegar, this acts as a solvent and helps extract the proteins and minerals from the bones.
Cook on high for 30 minutes, with lid off. Stir the contents, you should see any meat, cartilage or fat starting to soften.
Place the lid on the cooker, and leave on low for 24 hours.
Strain the broth to get rid of any bits of bone or debris, and leave to cool. You can skim the fat off the top once it has solidified.
Keep in the fridge for up to seven days.

What to Do If Your Dog Shows Symptoms of a Sensitive Stomach

The first consideration is, can you explain the symptoms easily? Have you recently changed their diet to something totally new? Eating foods they’re not used to can cause temporary stomach upset. It’s important to gradually introduce new food to your dog. Replace 15% of their usual food with the new food for a couple of days, and slowly increase the amount until the old food is totally replaced. 

If you can’t easily explain your dog’s symptoms, see your vet as soon as possible. There are many possible reasons for these symptoms, and thorough testing is needed in order to diagnose any problems.

Conclusion

These are all excellent dry foods for your dog with a sensitive stomach. All dog food manufacturers are making a real effort to deliver on quality ingredients, effective recipes for dietary needs, and elimination of unwanted fillers.

The kibble that stands out for me though, is Blackwood Dog Food Sensitive Skin and Stomach. Blackwood is a family owned business, who started out making foods for sport and working dogs. They slow-cook all their food in small batches, which retains all the nutrients and flavors. This sensitive recipe contains premium lamb protein, plus it’s boosted with prebiotics and probiotics to really help digestion.

With no artificial flavors, colors, corn, wheat or soy I know I’m safely eliminating all those potential allergens and unhealthy fillers from my dog’s diet. There’s plenty of excellent quality protein, plus easily digestible ingredients, prebiotics and probiotics.

Don’t forget, if you change your hound’s diet, replace the old food with the new, over about 7 days. 

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