Scared Brown Puppy Laying on a Brown Pillow

How To Choose The Best Foods For Your Sensitive Dog

Choosing which food to give your dog can be hard enough at the best of times. With so many different brands to pick from and seeing as your dog can’t tell you which ones they prefer, this can definitely cause what’s known by psychologists as ‘options paralysis’.

But if your dog has an allergy, if they have bad skin, or if they have stomach upsets, then this can change the game a little. Now you have a clearer set of criteria but you also need to ensure that you aren’t going to accidentally exacerbate your dog’s condition.

two dogs with one plate of vegetables and one plate of chicken infront of them

Read on and we’ll take a look at exactly what you can do to help your dog fight a variety of ailments via the right diet.

How to Identify And Fight Dog Allergies

You might not think of your dog as being susceptible to hayfever other types of allergy in the same way that a human could be but in fact, this is more common than you may think! And it’s also in many ways even more upsetting than it can be when humans suffer with the condition. After all, dogs are supposed to love running around in long grass!

It’s not just hayfever either: dogs can be allergic to almost anything and just like humans, they can develop allergies at any age. As an owner, it’s important to look out for signs and then find the best dog food for allergies if you think your pup needs it.

english bulldog puppy sneezing at another dog wearing a medical mask with reflection on white background

Roughly 10% of all dog allergies are food allergies. That makes it very likely that your dog might have a problem and it even makes a case for looking for food for dogs with allergies even if your dog doesn’t show any symptoms!

What symptoms should you look out for? Allergies are caused by your dog’s immune system mistaking an innocuous molecule or ingredient for a toxin. Thus, the symptoms are actually caused by their immune system and not by the allergen itself!

As you may expect then, the symptoms are going to be similar to those you would see if you injured yourself or were ill. These include:

  • Ear inflammation
  • Excessive itching
  • ​Licking feet
  • ​Chronic gas
  • ​Diarrhoea
  • ​Swelling
  • ​Gastrointestinal problems
  • Itching their rear
allergies symptoms illustration

Ingredients That Cause Allergies

The next thing to identify is what might be causing your dog’s allergy – which is how you will know the best dog food for allergies in your particular case.

The bad news is that almost anything can cause an allergic reaction. The other bad news is that the most common allergens are the things found in pretty much all dog foods. These include:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • ​Chicken
  • ​Fish
  • ​Wheat
  • ​Corn
  • ​Soy
  • ​Lamb

With this in mind, how do you go about identifying what is causing the allergy in your dog and finding the best food for dogs with skin allergies or whatever other ailment is affecting your pup?

The answer is to conduct your own ‘study’ and to try and remove the confounding variables. In other words, try removing individual elements from your dog’s diet and then see if the symptoms lessen. If not, then try the next one and the next one. This way, you can narrow down the possible culprits until you find what is causing the problem and can thereby ascertain the best dog food for skin allergies in your particular case.

cute dog in a sherlock costume

Another consideration is that sometimes the allergy might be to do with the way that food is prepared, or something that is included in an ingredient. This can make it harder still to identify the precise cause of the allergy.

An alternative option is to get your dog tested. Allergy testing can be used to see how a dog reacts to specific chemicals or agents added to its blood and this can give you a very good idea as to whether they may be allergic to that specific ingredient. Another thing to consider, is that you may be able to get immunotherapy for your dog.

This involves gradually introducing increasingly large amounts of the problem substance until eventually, the allergic response stops. At this point, it will be safe for your dog to eat regular dog food again.

Where Allergies Come From

You might also be wondering where allergies come from. The answer is multifactorial but it is generally thought that that there is a genetic element (you can be genetically more inclined toward developing an allergy) and that it can also be essentially ‘learned’.

The idea is that if you have an illness or are otherwise unwell at a time when you also consume a specific food or other substance, your body can then mistakenly create an association. In other words, it believes that you are ill because of that ingredient and thus consuming it in future triggers an immune response. This is why immunotherapy can sometimes be effective in ‘sneaking’ that element back into your diet and routine.

How to Help Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs

If your dog appears to have a sensitive stomach, then this can be the result of numerous different things. This might once again be a sign of allergy, in which case you can try our recommendation of sampling the best dog food for allergies, or gradually eliminating specific ingredients from the diet. A visit to your vet may be able to get them tested and they might suggest immunotherapy.

Beautiful dog at the vet getting a checkup

But in other cases, a dog can simply have a sensitive stomach, meaning that certain ingredients will be likely to upset the balance of acids and thus result in vomiting, diarrhoea and discomfort.

Common symptoms can include:

  • Loose stools (on and off)
  • Vomitting
  • ​Flatulence
  • ​Indigestion (this might appear as retching or belching)
  • ​Bloating
  • Nausea

While all kinds of things can cause sensitive stomachs in dogs, some of the most important ingredients to avoid include:

  • Wheat bran
  • Salt
  • ​Corn syrup
  • ​Peanut hulls
  • ​Chicken byproduct (called ‘meat meal’)
  • ​Corn
  • Beef

Notice that many of these ingredients are actually sweeteners that are added to make the food tastier and more addictive artificially. Where possible, it is a good idea to get your dog into good eating habits when they are young and to try and avoid the use of sugary or overly flavored foods and treats.

cute corgi puppy licking a treat

Often a sensitive stomach comes from difficulty with digesting foods and that means that the best dog food for sensitive stomachs will be those that use plain, easily digested ingredients, while also avoiding the things above that we have already mentioned can cause an upset stomach.

Positive things to look for in your doggy diet are:

  • Rice
  • Chicken
  • ​Cottage cheese
  • ​Sweet potato
  • Oatmeal

Some of the best dog foods for sensitive stomach issues are labelled as being ‘limited ingredient’. This means that they have far fewer different ingredients than many of the other popular options and this is good news because it:

  • A) Helps make it easier for you to identify what is causing the problem
  • B) Gives your dog’s digestion a break while it gets back to some kind of equilibrium.

If you want to find these types of foods, then look out for examples that contain only one kind of protein (chicken, fish or beef – not all three or any other combination) and that use just one complex carbohydrate as filler.

Gut Bacteria For Your Dog’s Tum

We are learning new things about our own health and our own diet all the time. That is to say that we are constantly discovering new approaches to losing weight and feeling healthier, more energetic and generally healthier.

energetic australian shepherd running on a grass field

An example of something that is coming to the forefront relatively recently, is the critical role of gut flora – the good bacteria that lives in the stomach. Our stomachs are filled with bacteria and it’s their job to break down food for us by producing enzymes, while also producing numerous crucial neurotransmitters and even affecting the way we think.

And of course, when our gut bacteria is imbalanced, this can lead to numerous problems including general sickness and stomach problems.

Many of these new discoveries end up being true for our pets as well and this is no different. Your dog also needs to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria and that’s why it is becoming increasingly common practice to feed dogs with probiotics to do just that. Probiotics are foods that contain living cultures of bacteria – precisely the ones that we need in our guts to do all that good work.

Dogs need a number of specific bacteria, which include:

  • B. thermophilum
  • L. acidophilus
  • ​B. longum
  • ​B. bifidum
  • ​L. fermentum
  • ​L. casei
  • E. faecium

The best dog food for sensitive stomach issues will often include foods that contain these bacteria too then.

Note that if your dog has a number of conditions, then it might be given antibiotics – just as you likely will have at some point your life. While antibiotics are a crucially important tool for combating what can otherwise be fatal infections, they also have the serious, unwanted side effect of killing off all our gut bacteria.

dog getting a spoon of sirup

The same goes for dogs and thus a sensitive stomach might be caused by a lack of flora in this case. Look for the best dog food that includes doggy probiotics!

Other Causes of Sensitive Stomachs in Dogs

There are numerous other things that can cause sensitive stomachs in dogs too. These include:

  • Changes to the diet – Even switching to a healthier diet that is high in raw meats can actually result in stomach problems. This is because the dog has become accustomed to domestic food and might not have the necessary tools to digest this properly yet.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • ​Worms
  • ​Other parasites
  • ​Bacterial or viral infections
  • Ingestion of foreign bodies – Our dogs do have a bad tendency to eat whatever they find on the floor during walks and this can of course lead to stomach pain and vomiting.
  • Pica – This is a condition that causes dogs to eat unusual things. This can include grouting from the pavement, as well as grass and all manner of other odd things. The reason is actually that the dog has a deficiency in some kind of mineral and is trying to get it. This is why it’s important to look for the best dog food ratings – to ensure nothing crucial is missing from your dog’s diet.
  • ​Colitis
  • Pancreatitis, kidney disease, liver disease
  • ​Gastritis
  • ​IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • ​Metabolic disease

For these reasons, it is always a good idea to get your dog checked out by a doctor because trying to treat the problem yourself with the best dog food for sensitive stomachs.

With all that out the way, let’s take a look at what the best foods for dogs with allergies and stomach issues really are!

The Best Dog Foods For Allergies And More

So now you know what causes some of these issues and how you can go about combating them, you should have a better understanding of why we have chosen the following products for our recommendations. These are the best food for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomaches.

Keep in mind though, that every dog is different and every condition is different. There’s a good chance that what works for your neighbor’s dog, won’t work for yours – so make sure you try different things and don’t give up.

Wilderness Blue Buffalo High Protein Dry Adult Dog Food

When looking to treat dog allergies, it’s important to avoid grains. Grains are one of the most common causes of dog allergies and all the best dog foods for allergies will try and leave this ingredient out for that reason.

Wilderness Blue Buffalo High Protein Dry Adult Dog Food

This brand comes in a variety of different flavors to suit your dog and is naturally tasty to ensure they eat up without the need to stuff the product full of unwanted additives. It’s well priced too, especially if you buy in bulk.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food – Potato and Duck Formula

As we have seen, switching to a limited ingredient dog food is a great move when looking to try and find the best food for dogs with skin allergies and other issues. This is just such a limited ingredient product that largely relies on two ingredients: duck and potato.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Potato provides the filler and is very easy to digest, while the duck is a single protein source and one that is unlikely to cause allergies. There are no unwanted additives and nothing else is included that could have negative health effects.

Better yet, this product comes in a smaller kibble option, which means that it will be suitable for small dogs and that you won’t cause further digestion problems with large, hard-to-swallow pieces.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Dog Food

Blue Buffalo is a great choice of dog food and has some of the best dog food ratings. This is a recognized brand that specializes in healthy, natural ingredients for a healthier and happier dog. This product is aimed at smaller dogs and is based on chicken and brown rice.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Dog Food

It’s simple, has no added ingredients and should be easy for dogs to digest. That said, there are a ton of important nutrients while there is no by-product, corn, wheat, soy or any of the other ‘problem ingredients’.

PS for Dogs 100% Hypoallergenic

The incredibly long title on Amazon claims that this product can put an end to paw licking and scratching, while freeing your pet from painful shots and injections. This is very possible thanks to the truly hypoallergenic ingredients that keep out anything that could potentially trigger a reaction from your dog.

PS For Dogs 100% Hypoallergenic Dog Food

The ingredients are air dried and designed to remove any trace of mold or yeast. The key ingredient is ‘human-grade’ lamb and the stellar reviews suggest this is really perhaps the best dog food for sensitive skin.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Here is a recipe specifically designed to be the best dog food for sensitive skin. It combines a lot of great ingredients that should help to improve skin health – including vitamins, zinc and omega-6. As with the others on this list, it contains no wheat or soy, no artificial colors and flavors and no by-product.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food

This is also one of the more affordable options on the list. It is based mainly on salmon and rice, which is a simple and non-allergenic meal for any dog.

Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

This is another limited ingredient blend that does what it says on the tin (well, pack). This is simple and uses only a single protein with easy-to-digest complex carbohydrates. All ingredients are premium with zero wheat, fillers or artificial additives.

Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild

This is not a dog food designed specifically for allergies but it is nevertheless among the best food for dogs with allergies. That’s because, as the name suggests, it is a very natural blend that uses all-natural ingredients and keeps things simple.

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food High Prairie

This is a taste of the wild indeed and you can choose whether to feed your dog salmon, lamb, bison and venison or any other meat. By avoiding chicken and beef, you’re avoiding some of the most common allergens while also varying your dog’s diet. This food is packed with antioxidants which help to fight cancer and support a healthy immune system!

Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

Last on our list is somewhat more special and arguably controversial. This is a vegetarian dog food, which is something some vegetarians will want to give to their dogs. If you’re strictly avoiding meat, it can feel very odd to freely give your dog massive quantities of chicken and beef! Of course dogs need the extra protein though and many would say it is bad for your dog to go fully vegetarian. That is your choice to make.

Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

But one thing that is true, is that protein can be hard to digest. If you’ve tried everything else, then switching to a vegetarian diet – at least for a while – might just be the answer you’re looking for. This is a vegan formula that provides lots of carbohydrates and adequate protein through peas and other ingredients. This all makes it one of the best food for dogs with allergies in many cases!


As you can see then, a dog’s health is just as complicated as a human’s and there are just as many ways that the wrong diet can be bad for them.

Your primary goal is to make sure you are feeding your dog a balanced, varied and nutritious diet. You can avoid countless problems by ensuring that your dog is getting all of the vitamins, minerals and amino acids it needs to thrive. A poor diet won’t affect your dog today but in the long run, it can lead to obesity, joint problems and ultimately a shorter lifespan.

That’s job one. But from there, it’s a matter of tailoring your dog’s diet to suit its specific needs. And if your dog is itching or being sick, that means you need to find the best dog food for sensitive stomach problems, or the best grain free dog food for skin allergies. Don’t assume there’s nothing you can do to help – make the switch and then monitor your dog’s health to see what’s working and what isn’t.

cute golden retriever puppy with an ice pack on its head

If you can do this, then your pup will be healthier, happier and that much more energetic and active to play with! Remember though, every dog is different so you might need to try a few different products and a few different diets before you find what works. If nothing is working, take your pup to the vet!

Sometimes it can take a little work to find the answer that’s best for your dog but it is more than worth it for the sake of your little friend’s happiness!

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