Choosing the Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Choosing the best dog food for sensitive stomachs requires a bit of patience and research. You need to determine what causes the stomach upset and rule out any other medical conditions. That said, a sensitive stomach in dogs is not uncommon, and there is a lot of information available about this condition.

Is It Just Sensitive, or Something Else?

You should find out if your dog simply has a "sensitive stomach" and not something more serious. Diseases such as pancreatitis often include excessive vomiting and diarrhea, which occur when your dog's stomach has been upset by a food. Allergies can also cause this reaction, so it's important to rule out any other possible medical conditions. Sometimes simply switching food will eliminate the problem.

Dogs can also have an upset stomach if their foods are switched too suddenly. To avoid this, always make changes to your dog's diet gradually to ensure that his stomach will adjust smoothly to the change. Many owners report an upset stomach immediately after switching to a new dog food brand, and it is due to the dog's stomach not properly adjusting.

Commercial Dog Food Brands

Many commercial dog food brands are loaded with chemicals and ingredients that a dog with a sensitive stomach cannot handle. Most of the time they take the form of sweeteners such as sucralose. Some dogs react adversely to food dyes and other flavor chemicals, the most common being the chemical preservatives ethoxyquin and propyl gallate. Many commercial dog food brands also contain difficult-to-digest ingredients such as:

  • Wheat bran
  • Corn
  • Beef
  • Chicken byproduct / meat meal
  • Salt
  • Corn syrup
  • Peanut hulls

Some of these foods add very little, if no nutritional value. Peanut hulls, for example, are a commonly used filler as they are plentiful and inexpensive. Unfortunately they are also difficult for a dog's stomach to handle.

Instead, if your dog has a sensitive stomach you should focus on foods that are easily digestible. These include:

  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Chicken (the meat, not the byproduct)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sweet potato

Most holistic dog foods are safe for a dog with a sensitive stomach, as they avoid the use of sweeteners, preservative chemicals and an overuse of salt. Some specific brands that are recommended for sensitive stomachs include:

  • Natural Balance
  • Flint River Ranch
  • Nature's Recipe
  • Pinnacle Duck
  • California Natural
  • Breeder's Choice

Homemade Dog Food

Some owners opt to make their own dog food, as this eliminates the harsh chemicals and preservatives altogether. While it often accomplishes this, it can be tricky to properly balance what your dog does need, and you'll have to do some research. "People foods" do not necessarily have the same vitamins and minerals as dog food. Dogs should generally have the following items in their diet, unless a special diet dog food is needed:

  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Fiber
  • Carbohydrates
  • Phosphorous
  • Probiotics
  • A healthy mix of vitamins and minerals

You will need to adjust the amounts to suit your dog's diet. There are certain foods that are harmful to your dog. These include:

  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Avocado pits
  • Caffeine

You should not feed these to your dog. Likewise, bones are sometimes unwise, as the sharp edges may damage the mouth, throat and stomach.

Whether commercial or homemade, choosing food for a dog's sensitive stomach requires thought and patience to ensure a proper balance in all the things needed in his diet.