Who doesn’t love a puppy? They are cute, soft, playful, loving little members of our families. And if you’re anything like us, you want nothing but the best for the newest member of your family. But it’s hard work caring for a puppy. They have many needs they depend on you to satisfy: shelter, food, attention, stimulation, discipline, and, most importantly, love. So what do you do when your puppy starts showing signs of tummy trouble? Let’s talk about the causes, symptoms, and solutions of a puppy’s upset tummy. And then we’ll share what we think are the best puppy food for sensitive stomachs.
How do you know if your puppy has food sensitivities? Common symptoms include excess gas, loose stool, and vomiting. Gas comes in two forms: flatulence and belching. Some puppies naturally produce more gas than others so the key here is to look for an increase in gas production; something greater than normal. If your puppy has loose stool, don’t worry right away. Everyone has loose stools sometimes, but if it becomes a pattern, then your puppy may well have a food sensitivity. Vomiting is similar. Once in awhile is normal, but if it becomes frequent, then there might be a problem. One thing to consider is your puppy’s size. If she is on the large size, this may be a sign of bloat. Are you feeding her on the ground? Bending over that far and eating at the same time is difficult on the digestive system and may cause vomiting. Try placing her food on a stool that’s closer to her height. This may do the trick.
If your puppy’s symptoms are very frequent and/or severe, please take her to your veterinarian because there might be a more serious problem than a sensitive stomach.
Now that you know how to recognize the symptoms of an upset stomach, let’s talk about the causes. Something your puppy is ingesting does not agree with her stomach. The cause could be a variety of things. If you sometimes leave your puppy unsupervised in the yard or even in the house, she could be scavenging for scraps without you knowing. Her food may not be the culprit at all. The other options are the food, treats, and table scraps she is receiving from her human family. The ingredients that are most likely the cause are the protein sources (eg chicken, beef, eggs, and dairy). The protein in wheat (gluten) could also be the cause, though it is statistically less likely. In the case of grain sensitivity, the gluten in wheat, rye, and barley are much more likely to cause problems than rice.
So what should you do once you’ve determined your puppy has a sensitive stomach? The first step is to narrow down the possibilities. Remove everything from your puppy’s diet except her normal food. This means no human food (table scraps included) and no treats. If you use treats for training purposes, just use her normal food for now. Waiting a few days to a week and if her symptoms fail to subside, then it’s time to consider changing her food.
The first step is to look at the ingredients of her current diet. Are there fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives? Are the ingredients high-quality, whole foods? If you see generic terms like poultry or meat, chances are that formula is made from cheap, low-quality ingredients. Alternatively, if the ingredients are healthy, whole foods, then your puppy may just have a sensitivity to a specific ingredient. Take note of the protein sources (generally the meats), the fat sources (things like chicken fat, canola oil), and the carbohydrate sources (grains, potatoes). Choosing a new formula that uses different protein and/or fat and/or carbohydrate sources will give your puppy a better chance of feeling better faster.
Second, it’s time to look at what the best puppy food for sensitive stomachs is. A smart approach is to look for recipes with limited ingredients. Oftentimes, a sensitive tummy can become overwhelmed by a high number of ingredients. Make sure those ingredients are whole foods that are high quality. If you have trouble understanding the words on the ingredient list, then it probably isn’t a great choice. Focus on protein sources; this is most likely the problem. Choose something different than what your puppy currently eats.
Finally, once you’ve chosen a new formula, ease your puppy into it. If you switch her food completely right away, her tummy might become even more upset. Take at least a week to add the new food to her old food a small amount at a time. First put only a small fraction of the new food, then add more the next feeding, and so on. After she is completely transitioned onto the new food, give her a few weeks to get used to it. During this time, pay attention to her symptoms. Are they subsiding? Are they getting worse? Are they changing in any way and, if so, how? If you don’t have success, then try a new food, but don’t be hasty; take your time.
If you’re interested in learning more about puppy food in general, please read our post about the best puppy foods. You will find more detailed information on reading labels and choosing dependable brands. And if you know your puppy is sensitive to grains, please see our article about grain-free puppy foods.
Here we have chosen 5 products that are all great choices for puppies with sensitive stomachs. We’ve ranked them 1 through 5, but they are all top quality. Pay attention to the ingredients. Remember, you want to choose a food that has a different protein, fat, and/or carbohydrate source. Then you’ll have the greatest chance of success.
(26% minimum Protein, 15% minimum Fat, 5% maximum Fiber, 3661 kcals/kg) The main ingredients include deboned turkey, turkey meal, oatmeal, peas, potatoes, brown rice, pea protein, and canola oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids). This recipe does not include any chicken, corn, wheat, soy, dairy, or eggs. Turkey is the main protein source (and the only animal protein source); canola oil is the main fat source; and the carbohydrates mainly come from oatmeal, peas, potatoes, and brown rice. Blue has made this formula specially to be gentle on sensitive stomachs while being packed with the nutrition your puppy needs for healthy growth and development. They include easily-digestible carbohydrates and pea protein and pumpkin to promote gentle digestion.
(28% minimum Protein, 17% minimum Fat, 5% maximum Fiber, 3656 kcals/kg) The main ingredients include buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, pea protein, peas, potatoes, and canola oil. This recipe is grain free and chicken free, but uses a blend of protein sources including buffalo, lamb, and fish. Canola oil is the main source of fat. Carbohydrates are provided by sweet potatoes and peas. This is not what we would call a limited ingredient recipe, but their ingredients are high-quality and do not include many common sources of sensitivities. It’s a hearty formula with a great taste your puppy will love. Your puppy will have plenty of energy and solid nutrition for healthy growth and development.
(22.5% minimum Protein, 11% minimum Fat, 4% maximum Fiber, 3540 kcals/kg) The main ingredients include lamb, brown rice, ground white rice, lamb meal, pea protein, rice bran, Brewers dried yeast, and canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols). As it says in the name, this is a limited ingredient recipe. The main source of protein is lamb; the main source of fat is canola oil; and the main source of carbohydrates is brown rice. This recipe also includes white rice, which we normally would avoid just because it doesn’t provide much nutritional value (not nearly as much as brown rice), but for a puppy with a sensitive stomach, white rice can help easy digestion of the other ingredients so it’s a plus in this case. Natural Balance designed this formula to be simple, get full of great nutrient your puppy needs to grow strong and healthy.
(30% minimum Protein, 12% minimum Fat, 4% maximum Fiber, 3470 kcals/kg) The main ingredients include chicken, menhaden fish meal, lentils, peas, potatoes, dried whole egg, and chicken fat. All of Canidae’s recipes are pure and simple as they believe limiting ingredients is the best way to go, while still packing nutrients in for healthy growth and development. The protein mainly comes from chicken, menhaden fish meal, and lentils. The main fat source is chicken fat. The main sources of carbohydrates are peas and potatoes. This recipe is also grain free, which is great for gluten sensitivities. Their ingredients are high-quality, whole foods that taste great and provide excellent nutrition. A wonderful choice for your puppy.
(27% minimum Protein, 18% minimum Fat, 3.5% maximum Fiber, 3973 kcals/kg) The main ingredients include duck, chicken meal, chicken, oatmeal, pearled barley, menhaden fish meal, brown rice, and chicken fat. This recipe is naturally formulated with wonderful whole foods. The main sources of protein are duck, chicken, and menhaden fish. Chicken fat provides most of the fat. Oatmeal, pearled barley, and brown rice provide highly nutritious, easily-digested carbohydrates. This is a great choice for sensitivities to beef. It does contain chicken, eggs, and dairy, so it isn’t a good choice if any of those are the culprit of your puppy’s upset tummy. But if you’re looking for high-quality, whole food ingredients that your puppy will love, this is an awesome choice. Fromm Family are a great company who really care about your puppy’s healthy and happiness.
We hope you have found the information in this article helpful and informative. At ReadySetDogs, it is our priority to help you provide the best care possible for your growing puppy. That’s why we felt it was important to address this topic and talk about the best dog foods for puppies with sensitive stomach. We know it can be hard because while there are a number of choices for adult dogs, there aren’t as many that are appropriate for puppies as well. So make sure you are choosing a recipe that is marked “Puppy,” “Growth,” or “All Life Stages.” And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be glad to help with any concerns you might have.
Anna is a canine enthusiast. She loves everything about dogs from their loyalty to their energetic spirits to their stubborn moments. She has a passion to learn everything she can to become a better "dog-mom" to her Toller, Penny, and to share her knowledge of dogs with all who are interested in the hopes of educating people on the best canine care.