Sensitive Stomach Dog Food | Canine Health

If you have a dog with a sensitive stomach then you know the frustration and heartache of trying to find foods that will give them relief from their symptoms.

In this article, we will investigate some of the common causes for sensitive stomachs in dogs, and recommend the top high-quality foods formulated with such pups in mind.

Finding the right ingredients for canines with sensitive systems can be a trial and error process. You may consider buying smaller bags of feed until you land on a variety that your pup seems to tolerate well.





Natural Balance Limited Ingredient - Sweet Potato & Venison Formula


Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food – Salmon and Potato


Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Senior Dog Food – Turkey and Potato


Blue Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance


Royal Canin HP Hypoallergenic Dog Food


Purina HA Hydrolyzed Dog Food


Allergies & Food Sensitivities

Food allergies and intolerance for certain ingredients often present with the same symptoms in canines so it can be hard to tell the difference. In fact, the difference is not entirely understood at this time. However, combined they are a leading cause of sensitive stomachs in dogs.

Frankly, in either case the goal will be to identify the allergen or irritant and remove it from the diet. Symptoms that may be signs of allergies or intolerances include:

  • Excessive itching or licking, especially paws and ears.
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Red, crusty, scaly or excessively dry skin
  • Frequent skin infections or ear infections
  • Excessive gas
  • Hives

Since these symptoms can also be signs of any number of other conditions, it is best to work with your veterinarian to determine the cause of any health conditions your pup may be dealing with.

Allergy & Food Sensitivity Symptoms

There are some related symptoms to sensitive stomachs that you should be aware of and let your vet know about. These could be indicators of serious diseases such as diabetes, hypoglycemia or other conditions that require medical treatment.

  • Sudden and drastic increase or decrease in appetite that lasts more than a few days.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than a day, is severe, or contains blood.
  • Excessive panting or drooling.
  • Excessive lethargy lasting more than a day.
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating.
  • Excessive drinking that lasts more than a day.

Treating Dogs With Food Sensitivities

Eliminate any “extras” first

If your vet has identified that your pup has either allergies or specific food sensitivities, then it is likely they will first want to be sure your dog isn’t getting into anything that could be bad for them, such as:

  • Table scraps
  • High fat treats, such as rawhide
  • Garbage
  • Grass from the yard
  • Herbicides or pesticides in the yard
  • Toxic plants in the flower bed
  • Toxic houseplants
  • Access to any chemicals or other possible poisons
  • Excessively fatty ingredients or other dog treats

Elimination Diets

Identifying ingredients that may be causing food allergy or intolerance

Often, canines with sensitive stomachs are reacting to one or more ingredients in their dinner.

Food sensitivities in dogs are not uncommon, nor are they completely understood. As we covered in our articles on Grain Free Puppy Food and Best Grain Free Dog Treat Recipes, sometimes owners jump to the conclusion that it is a grain sensitivity that is causing the problem. 

The most common triggers for sensitivities are actually beef, dairy and then wheat followed by egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. Unfortunately, it is also likely that your pup may have more than one allergy or sensitivity.

In order to identify the culprit your vet may suggest one of two courses of action:

Novel protein and carbohydrate dog food with limited ingredients – Dog foods with novel proteins (such as bison, duck, or salmon) and carbohydrates (such as peas and sweet potatoes) that are unusual in commercial dog food are less likely to contain the offending ingredient.

Hydrolyzed protein dog food – These kinds of dog food use a special process to break down animal proteins into small enough particles that the immune system of your pup does not recognize them as an allergen. Sometimes these ingredients are referred to as “hypoallergenic.”

In both cases the dog is put on the special diet for a period of 4-12 weeks until symptoms totally abate. Then, one by one, new ingredients are added under careful observation to identify offending ingredients.

Unfortunately, unlike with inhalant and contact allergens, there are no good blood or patch tests to identify what may be causing your pups sensitivities.

The good news, however, is that now more than ever there are lots of great options for canines with sensitive stomachs. Our review will offer three from each category: limited ingredient and hydrolyzed protein foods so that you can be sure to find something that meets your vet’s specific recommendations.

Sensitive Stomach Dog Food

Best limited ingredient dog meals

Contrary to popular belief, it is actually commonly used meat protein such as beef, lamb, chicken and eggs that trigger allergic or food intolerant reactions in dogs. However, among the grains, wheat is also sometimes an offender.

We have chosen the three best limited ingredient foods to help you find something right for your pup to try to eliminate the culprit from their diet. They each are grain free, and they all have a different novel protein to try so that you can find what works best for your dog.

1. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient - Sweet Potato & Venison Formula

The star of the show in this limited ingredient formula is the novel protein venison. Because it is rarely used in commercial dog food, few dogs have developed allergies to this protein, although it is still possible that they can be sensitive to it (the only way to know is to try it).

This is also a grain free dog food, using nutritious sweet potatoes as the primary source of carbohydrates. There are no grains in this formula which helps to isolate wheat as an allergen further along in an elimination trial diet.

Natural Balance has an entire line of limited ingredient dog foods, so if this is not the novel protein you are looking for, check their other formulas that include: Lamb & Brown Rice, Chicken & Sweet Potato, Bison & Sweet Potato, Potato & Duck, and Sweet Potato & Fish.

At around $2 a pound, this is one of the more budget friendly limited ingredient diets, another reason why we wanted to make sure it made our list of top picks.


  • Novel protein source.
  • Fully balanced nutrition from high-quality ingredients.
  • One of the more inexpensive varieties of limited ingredient options on the market.

Doesn't Contain!

  • Grains (exception for some brown rice in some formulas).
  • Artificial colors, preservatives or flavors.
  • Corn, wheat or soy.

2. Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food – Salmon and Potato

Wellness is another brand name in dog food that has been expanding their limited ingredient formulas to include a wide variety of novel proteins and carbohydrates in different formulas including Duck & Oatmeal, Lamb & Oatmeal, and Turkey & Potato.

There are no wheat products used in the entire line of limited ingredient products from Wellness, which is very helpful since wheat is the top grain that canines can sometimes have intolerance for.

We love the Salmon & Potato recipe because of the high content of Omega fatty acids this nutritious fish offers. Subscribe for auto delivery and save even more on this reasonably priced doggy dinners.


  • Novel proteins and carbohydrates formulated just for pups with sensitive stomachs.
  • All natural ingredients.

Doesn't Contain!

  • Artificial flavorings, colors or preservatives.
  • Grains.
  • Fillers, additives, gluten or wheat products.

3. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Senior Dog Food – Turkey and Potato

The Blue Basics line includes a variety of limited ingredient formulas worth checking out. We wanted to highlight this particular formula because it takes older canines into account with added Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint health.

There is lots of natural fiber in this Turkey and Potato recipe from the added pea fiber and pumpkin, which both aid with digestion. This formula uses no poultry by-products and avoids common fillers like corn, wheat and soy.

Long considered a favorite among dog lovers, the Blue Basics line of dog food is definitely worth checking out for any elimination routine for your pup.


  • Novel proteins and carbohydrates.
  • High fiber ingredients to aid with digestion.

Doesn't Contain!

  • Grains, corn, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs or chicken.
  • Artificial flavorings, colorings or preservatives.
  • Poultry by-product meal.

Best hydrolyzed protein dog food for sensitive stomachs

If your pup has extreme food allergies, or other sensitive stomach related issues, your veterinarian may recommend jumping straight to a hydrolyzed protein diet. Although these dog foods are typically quite expensive, they are the least likely to continue to bother your pups stomach.

As with any major dietary change, you should check with your vet first.

1. Blue Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance

The protein source for this high-quality canine food made by Blue Buffalo is hydrolyzed salmon. It is one of the few hydrolyzed animal protein diets available online without a veterinary prescription. An advantage to salmon are the Omega 6 fatty acids they provide.

This option also avoids poultry by-product meals (a low-quality canine food ingredient), all artificial preservatives and colors and flavors, as well as corn, wheat and soy products.

This formula does include Blue’s famous LifeSource Bits which add vital nutrients and antioxidants prepared in a low heat environment to preserve their full nutritional value. This is a complete and balanced dog diet to consider for your sensitive stomach pup.


  • Hydrolyzed Salmon as the single source of animal protein.
  • Complete nutrition with extra attention paid to vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Fish oil and flaxseed for fatty acids.

Doesn't Contain!

  • Corn, soy or wheat.
  • Poultry by-product meal.
  • Grains.
  • Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

2. Royal Canin HP Hypoallergenic Dog Food

This dog food is extremely easy for most pups with sensitive stomachs to digest. The primary protein is hydrolyzed soy for easy digestion. The soul source of starch is rice, a grain that most dogs tolerate very well.

In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids and chelated minerals which are easily absorbed are added to the formula for complete nutrition. Probiotics have been added to boost the gut flora of dogs with sensitive stomachs who may be struggling to maintain a healthy balance of the good digestive bacteria in their intestinal tracts.

This option also happens to be a vegetarian formula, which is a bonus for some owners looking to avoid animal proteins all together. Because of this, it may be a very good start to a complete elimination diet, slowly adding proteins and/or grains one by one after all symptoms abate to identify the source of your pups sensitive stomach.


  • Vegetarian ingredients.
  • Completely hydrolyzed soy protein.
  • Boosted with Omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, and pro-biotics.
  • Rice is the sole source novel carbohydrate used.

Doesn't Contain!

  • Corn or wheat.
  • Poultry by-product meal or other potential meat allergens.

3. Purina HA Hydrolyzed Dog Food

Purina, longtime leader in commercial canine food, has been expanding into the prescription and specialized dog food realm. Their HA formula is a vegetarian diet listing hydrolyzed soy as single protein source.

The starch used is designed to be low irritation and low allergen. If your pup has been suffering from allergies or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, your vet may well want you to give this food a try to see if they can get the reactions under control.


  • Vegetarian ingredients
  • Single source of protein is hydrolyzed soy.
  • Single source starch for low inflammation and allergen responses.
  • Only USA sources ingredients

Doesn't Contain!

  • Animal proteins, dairy or eggs.

We hope that the information provided in this article helps you find the right sensitive stomach dog food for your pup with special dietary needs. Remember to work with your vet to identify the best diet for your dog.

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