Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin is our top recommendation. If you're looking for a wet food option, talk to your vet to find out if Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat is right for your dog.
If the dog food you are feeding your beloved pooch is causing digestive discomfort—including but not limited to loose stools, flatulence, and/or vomiting—this might mean they have a sensitive stomach and need to be transitioned to a special diet for their particular needs.
"Highly digestible proteins, carbs, and fat along with prebiotics and probiotics help dogs get back to normal quickly," Dr. Lewis Singleton, a veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital in Princeton, New Jersey, told The Spruce Pets.
We surveyed a wide array of foods formulated for dogs with delicate digestive systems to help you find the chow that will help your dog feel their best. There are many dog foods on the market that claim to be specially formulated for digestion and gut health, but it's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to help find the right diet for your individual dog.
Here are the best dog foods for sensitive stomachs.
Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food
Contains real chicken and prebiotic fiber
Fatty acids and vitamin E promote a shiny coat
Made in the USA
Crafted with beet pulp which may not appeal to all dogs
Dr. Singleton recommends Hill's Science Diet which is a brand that uses scientifically-backed research to inform its recipes for pet food. The Sensitive Stomach & Skin Formula is our top choice for dogs with tummy troubles. This dry kibble dog food doesn't require a special prescription and is readily available for purchase. It's made with natural ingredients, primarily real chicken meat, and blended with prebiotic fiber (from beet pulp) to facilitate and support digestive health and a balanced gut microbiome.
Formulated for adult dogs and made in the USA, this food also includes omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E for healthy skin and a shiny coat. All ingredients are highly digestible to encourage nutrient absorption and ease your pet's upset stomach. While it might not appeal to every dog, it is highly rated by human customers who report positive dining and digesting experiences for the canines in their homes,
Price at time of publish: $47 for 15.5-pound bag
Purina ONE SmartBlend Sensitive Systems Formula Natural Adult Dog Food
Made with highly digestible ingredients
Contains real salmon
Promotes a strong immune system
Contains grains which may not suit all dogs' diets
If you're on a budget, Purina One SmartBlend Sensitive Systems is a great choice. This natural dog food is made with salmon, rice, barley, oat, and animal fat—all are highly digestible. Dogs also get a blend of vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and skin. Although this formula is for a sensitive stomach, keep in mind it's not grain-free which is another sensitivity some dogs may have.
Price at time of publish: $75 for 31.1-pound bag
Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Grain-Free Gluten Free Dry Dog Food
Nutrient-rich with probiotic support
Contains a special blend of 20 superfoods
More expensive than other brands
The best dry food for dogs with sensitive stomachs is Solid Gold Leaping Waters. The nutrient-rich, grain-free formula is packed with simple ingredients: cold-water salmon, chickpeas, lentils, peas, and chicken fat.
Leaping Waters contains a special blend of 20 superfoods that are easy to digest and selected to protect your fur baby's gut health. The recipe also includes omega-3s and omega-6s for healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Price at time of publish: $60 for 22-pound bag
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat Canned Dog Food
Great for dogs with gastrointestinal issues
Has digestible proteins to balance gut bacteria
Requires a prescription from a veterinarian
Dr. Singleton also recommends Royal Canin Gastrointestinal for dogs with tummy woes. This gut-friendly wet food provides tasty nutrition for dogs struggling with diarrhea, vomiting, appetite loss, and other gastrointestinal issues.
This food requires a prescription from a veterinarian. However, you can buy it from pet-supply sites like Chewy and Petco by entering your prescription info at checkout.
It has digestible proteins and prebiotics to balance bacteria in the gut, plus antioxidants and hearty fibers to promote digestion.
Price at time of publish: $111 for a case of 24 cans
Best for Seniors
Hill's Science Diet Wet Dog Food Adult 7+
High-quality protein great for older canines
Helps build and maintain muscle mass
Food is extra dry which may be hard on certain dogs
Hill's Science Diet Wet Food 7+ is the best option when it comes to a senior dog with a sensitive gut. This chicken and barley recipe is chock full of high-quality protein to help older canines build and maintain muscle.
This canned dog food has a special antioxidant blend, omega-6 fatty acids, vegetable fibers, and essential vitamins and minerals. All ingredients are carefully selected for easy digestion and immunity support. However, it's extra dry which is something to keep in mind if your canine has a tough time with certain foods.
Price at time of publish: $33 for a case of 12 cans
Best for Puppies
Purina Pro Plan Dry Puppy Food Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Combines salmon, rice, and live probiotics
Supports a healthy coat and skin
Omega-6s support growing pups' vision and brain development
More expensive than other brands
Purina Pro Plan is another brand Dr. Singleton often recommends. The Sensitive Skin & Stomach puppy kibble combines easy-to-digest salmon and rice with live probiotics. With omega-3s in the form of fish oil, this dry food supports a healthy coat and skin. It also has omega-6s from sunflower oil to nourish your growing pup's vision and brain development.
Price at time of publish: $66 for 24-pound bag
Best for Large Dogs
Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Large Breed Formula Dog Food
Stomach-friendly barley, rice, and oat
Contains highly digestible fibers and probiotics
Wheat, soy, and artificial flavor-free
More expensive than other brands
For canines over 50 pounds, Purina Pro Plan's Adult Sensitive Large Breed Formula is a good option. With balanced nutrition and easy digestion in mind, this dry dog food's main ingredient is salmon. After that, you'll find tummy-friendly barley, rice, oat, animal fat, and fish oil, along with highly digestible fibers, probiotics, and prebiotics.
The recipe is free of wheat, soy, and artificial flavors, which can cause upset stomachs and allergies in some larger breed dogs. Your furry friend will love the appetizing salmon flavor and appreciate not having a belly ache.
Price at time of publish: $66 for 24-pound bag
Best for Small Dogs
Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Small Breed Natural Food for Dogs
Includes real turkey, oatmeal, and pumpkin
Contains a medley of vitamins and minerals
Easy for small breeds to chew
Only comes in four and 11-pound bags
For pups weighing 11 pounds and lighter, consider Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Small Breed food. The pooch-approved recipe begins with real turkey and includes brown rice, oatmeal, peas, potatoes, and pumpkin. These ingredients all support the unique energy needs of smaller fur babies. It also has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and a medley of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the small-bite kibble is easy for small breeds to chew, swallow, and digest.
Price at time of publish: $42 for 11-pound bag
NaturVet Advanced Probiotics & Enzymes Plus
Specially formulated to balance and support the gastrointestinal tract
Contains six different probiotic strains
Texture can be too crumbly sometimes
The right dog food can be a game-changer, and some cases call for a special supplement. We recommend NaturVet Advanced Probiotics & Enzymes, specially formulated to balance and support your dog's gastrointestinal tract.
PB6 Probiotic means it has six different probiotic strains. This helps the gut maintain a healthy level of good bacteria for a settled stomach and balanced intestines. Your pet will gobble up this supplement since these soft chews taste just like a treat.
Price at time of publish: $28 for 120 soft chews
Overall, Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin is the best dog food for sensitive stomachs. This vet-recommended brand uses chicken as the first ingredient, along with an easily digestible blend of prebiotic fiber, omega-6 fatty acids, and other gentle ingredients for a balanced microbiome. If you're looking for a wet food option, talk to your vet and see if you can get a prescription for Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat. This tasty canned food nourishes dogs with appetite loss, vomiting, and diarrhea.
What To Look For In Dog Food For Sensitive Stomachs
If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you should always consult with your veterinarian to determine if any adverse reactions are caused by a particular ingredient. Once you know what to avoid or to focus on, you can start by checking the label on the dog food for the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Nutritional Adequacy Statement. Then choose the right life stage (puppy, adult, senior) to make sure your dog is getting the nutrients they need.
According to the AAFCO, a healthy, well-balanced diet for your dog must provide protein, fats and fatty acids, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. The source of these nutrients (e.g. chicken for protein, beet pulp for fiber, oats for carbohydrates) that make up the ingredients in your dog's food may be the cause of discomfort for your dog.
Probiotics are foods or supplements that provide strains of friendly bacteria that help the digestive system function properly. If a dog is given antibiotics for an upset stomach, your veterinarian might also advise a probiotic supplement and/or food with probiotics to help bring your dog's digestive system back to normal.
Prebiotics are foods that activate the bacteria in probiotics. Prebiotics are typically high in fiber and when they enter the large intestine and start to break down, the good bacteria from the probiotics feasts on the prebiotics to stimulate the digestive system.
Dry Food or Wet Food
Wet food contains more water which helps to hydrate your dog, but some dogs might find dry food more palatable when their stomach is upset. It's important to make sure your dog is getting the nutrients they need from the food you feed them. For sensitive stomachs, you can you opt for wet or dry food, but ultimately it is up to what works for your dog and their digestive needs.
Is wet dog food better than dry dog food for sensitive stomachs?
No, both can be gentle on your dog's digestive system and can help to alleviate your dog's discomfort. It's important to collaborate with your veterinarian to find out why your dog's stomach is sensitive. They may recommend an elimination diet to find out which ingredient(s) is causing the negative reaction in your dog's tummy. It's also important to slowly transition your dog from one food to the next to avoid additional digestive interruptions.
Is grain-free dog food better for sensitive stomachs?
Not for all dogs. If you and your veterinarian determine that grains, such as rice and corn, disagree with your dog's digestive system, then grain-free dog food, which typically uses potatoes or legumes as a carbohydrate source, is probably the best path forward for mealtime.
Is raw food good for dogs with sensitive stomachs?
No, but it can be helpful for some dogs. For dogs who have allergies or food sensitivities, switching from commercially produced dog food to a raw food diet may be beneficial. To ensure your dog is receiving all the key nutrients they need, you should always work with your veterinarian to determine whether a raw diet is right for your dog.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was researched and written by Theresa Holland, a professional writer and animal lover with substantial experience covering pet products and breed guides.
To make this list, she consulted Dr. Lewis Singleton, a veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital in Princeton, New Jersey. She also researched the market and reviewed ingredient lists.