Diarrhea and loose stool are among the most common health problems dog owners have to face with their four-legged friends.
In fact, virtually every dog will have diarrhea now and again.
One of the best things you can do to combat this issue is switching to the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea.
Usually, diarrhea results from something minor – something the dog’s eaten, an allergic reaction, a bacteria, sometimes even stress.
Generally speaking, diarrhea is the body’s way to cleanse and remove toxins.
However, diarrhea can also be the symptom of something more dangerous, and it can also be quite prolonged.
Table of Contents
- Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea and Loose Stools and How to Feed Your Dog
- What Ingredients to Avoid
- What Ingredients to Look For
- Is Dry Food or Wet Food Better for Gut Health?
- Best Commercial Dog Foods for Diarrhea
- Common Questions About the Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea
- lethargy, blood in the stool
Your dog may also have a sensitive stomach if you notice the following symptoms:
- lack of appetite
- acid reflux
What can we do in such cases?
Obviously, the first thing that should pop into anyone’s head is to consult with a veterinarian.
Especially if your dog's loose stool has been continuing for more than 24-48 hours, a visit to the vet is a must.
Other than that, there are several things that you can do to help your Fido, including finding the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea.
Diet is crucial to fixing any GI issues, like diarrhea, gas, or vomiting.
Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea and Loose Stools and How to Feed Your Dog
Before You Switch Your Dog's Food
If you notice that your pet has diarrhea one time, you don't need to fret immediately.
Keep a close eye on his bathroom activity, and take him outside to do his business more frequently than normal.
If you notice the stool progressively getting more firm over the course of his next few bowel movements, you've got nothing to worry about.
However, if you notice a loose stool and then it gets progressively looser, it's time to get concerned.
If your pup just ate something that he shouldn't have, it will pass through his system in about 24 hours.
If there is something more serious going on, the bout of diarrhea will last longer, and you will need some upset stomach treatment.
Aside from switching to the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea, there are some other options that you can try first, including:
Feeding your dog during diarrhea is (a) pointless because diarrhea is the very act of pushing food out of the body overly fast.
Plus, (b) feeding the dog will further stress the stomach and aggravate the condition.
Diarrhea causes a lot of dehydration for the body, so your doggy must drink water.
Sometimes, diarrhea can cause some apathy, so you’ll need to encourage the dog to drink.
Make sure it doesn’t drink too much either; however – put a little water in the water bowl regularly and refill when the dog has drunk it.
3. End the fasting with a specialized food
Once the fasting period is over, it’s important not to go back to the dog’s regular diet.
Either consult with a veterinarian on a specialized prescription diet or try some bland food yourself.
We will go over some commercial alternatives in detail below, but the idea is to feed your dog with gentle food on the stomach – nothing fatty, rich, and spicy or with red meat.
Serve either some skinless, non-flavored chicken with rice/pasta/potatoes or prescription food for healing stomachs – nothing else.
Especially avoid all dairy and eggs – dairy is bad for dogs in general, but while eggs are acceptable overall, avoid them on a sensitive stomach after and during diarrhea.
RELATED RECIPE: Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Homemade Dog Food
4. Ration the food
Along with the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea, smaller portions are much better for the stomach in general.
That’s especially important when he is healing.
You don’t need to feed your dog less than you normally do once the fasting over. However, it would be best if you fed him far less per portion.
For a rule of thumb, make the portions two or three times smaller and feed the dog two or three times more often. This will prevent diarrhea and stomach problems from reemerging.
5. Take your time transitioning back to a normal diet
Once the diarrhea is 100% passed, don’t go directly back to the dog’s regular food.
Transition him slowly so that the bowl has had enough time to heal and is not irritated by the frequent changes.
Afterward, slowly take the next 2-3 days to transition from it to the dog’s regular food (or new food, if the vet has advised against what you’ve been feeding your dog so far).
During the transition, mix the food as follows:
- Mix two-thirds of bland food with one-third of regular food on the first day.
- Mix one-third of bland food with two-thirds of regular food on the second day.
- Go to regular food on the third day.
6. Add supplements if necessary
The best dog food for dogs with diarrhea may not be the only change you need to make to his diet.
You may also need to add probiotics or whatever other medication or supplements your vet has suggested.
Just as with humans, probiotics are essential after diarrhea.
During diarrhea, the organism loses many of the bacteria that help with digestion, so probiotics should be administered to cultivate a new population of bacteria in your dog’s bowels.
Usually, 5 days of probiotics mixed into the dog’s food are enough but consult with your vet if the diarrhea was more extreme.
Keep in mind that the natural digestive bacteria in dogs is very different from that in humans.
Do NOT give your dog human probiotics!
Dog probiotics are available, usually without prescription, at your local pharmacy, veterinarian's office, or pet store.
Other than probiotics, don’t give your dog any medication that isn’t recommended by your veterinarian.
Don’t give your dog any human medication, although that should go without saying in general, not only after diarrhea.
RELATED: Top 7 Best Dog Probiotic Supplements
How Can Dog Food Help With Chronic Diarrhea in Dogs?
No, the quality of the food is essential for the well-being of the dog, both during, as well as after diarrhea.
Dogs may be omnivores, but that doesn’t mean that they can literally eat anything and get away with it.
If you don’t care for your puppy’s tummy when it has diarrhea, you risk making it worse and causing some serious, long-lasting damage to his bowels.
Plus, a lot of dogs have sensitive stomachs and loose stool in general. Such dogs need a specialized diet all the time, not just after extreme episodes.
Diarrhea and loose stool make the dog’s stomach highly susceptible to many bacteria, diseases, allergic reactions, and other health concerns.
The best dog food for dogs with diarrhea has many advantages, whether it is prescribed or homemade (given that it is well-made).
The benefits of the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea include:
- It prevents additional/prolonged diarrhea. Diarrhea may go away within a day, most of the time, but improper food can prolong it quite a lot and even turn it into something much more unpleasant than what it already is.
- It prevents inflammatory bowel diseases. After diarrhea or loose stool, your dog’s stomach is at much more risk of bowel diseases.
- It prevents allergic reactions. A loose stomach is in danger of many possible allergic reactions that it hasn’t experienced before. A proper bland diet prevents that.
- It offers proper nutrition for your dog. a loose stomach has a hard time absorbing the nutrients from the food, which is why you need a more specialized diet to make up for that.
What Ingredients to Avoid
As you sort through the various options for dry dog food for your pup’s sensitive stomach, there are some ingredients you want to do your best to avoid.
Whenever possible, stay away from soy, gluten, corn, and wheat. You also want to avoid corn syrup, rendered fat, animal by-products, artificial colors, BHA/BHT, and propylene glycol.
What Ingredients to Look For
Just as important as knowing what ingredients to avoid is knowing which ones to look for and include.
- Ingredients that are highly digestible – You want to look for ingredients that your dog will find easier to digest. Good options include chicken, lamb, rice, and potatoes. You can also look for foods with high fiber content to help solidify your dog’s stools. Moderate fat content is also ideal, as too much can cause pancreatitis. The ideal would be about 5-20%.
- Probiotics – These helpful bacteria can improve digestion. Just keep in mind that formulas with probiotics will have expiration dates that are potentially shorter than with other foods, as the bacteria must still be viable.
Is Dry Food or Wet Food Better for Gut Health?
As with the normal food you give your dog, there are pros and cons to both dry and wet food.
Dry food tends to make storage easier, and it tends to be more affordable. You have to be extra careful with the ingredients, though, as dry foods frequently have gluten and grains and more carbs overall.
Wet food tends to be tastier. The fact that it is softer can also make it easier on the stomach. However, you will need to refrigerate it and pay attention to the expiration date. It is also more expensive.
Overall, the ingredient list is more important than whether you go with dry or wet food.
Best Commercial Dog Foods for Diarrhea
There are quite a few great commercial foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs, whether due to chronic reasons or after diarrhea/loose stool episodes. We’ve done the research and culled through thousands of reviews from pet owners who have used these products as the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea. Now, we'll list the 10 commercial brands that made our list.
Don't forget; you must speak with your veterinarian before changing your dog's diet, especially if you're changing it for a medical reason.
Choosing the best puppy food will be different from picking an adult dog food brand. And some of these foods may not be right for your Fido, but your vet can help you select an option that will meet your dog's nutritional needs, match your budget and help clear up your pup's upset stomach.
1. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Formula
Famous as not just one of the best dog foods, but one of the best dog foods for sensitive dog stomachs.
This Purina formula offers everything that a doggy stomach in distress requires.
It is made with high-quality salmon meat that’s rich in nutrients, giving your dog all the protein it needs.
The recipe also has rice and oatmeal, making it very easy to digest by even the gentlest stomach.
Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Formula have zero corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or colors.
Instead, it has all the vitamins and supplements it needs to have, including Omega 6 Fatty Acids and Zinc.
2. Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
To stay in the Purina family for a moment is another great choice for them.
Purina Pro Plan is made out of the finest salmon meat together with oatmeal and rice.
This is a great choice for a dog with a sensitive stomach, either after diarrhea/loose stool episodes or to prevent them altogether.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food also has prebiotic fiber to further digestion.
This recipe lacks any meat by-products or wheat, corn, soy, or artificial colors and flavors.
3. IAMS Sensitive Naturals
This food for adult dogs with sensitive stomachs is made out of high-quality real fish meat.
It is straightforward to digest and provides everything a stomach in distress needs, including a rich set of vitamins and antioxidants.
This recipe features a rich blend of vitamins and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system.
IAMS Sensitive Naturals has zero artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, resulting in great dog food for your dog’s stomach and immune system.
4. Instinct Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet
Known for its higher digestion rates, this Instinct food is processed with no gluten or grains.
Instead, it is made out of high-quality animal proteins and vitamins, Omega 3, Omega 6 Fatty Acids, and more.
Instinct Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet contains no dairy, eggs, potato, corn, wheat, or soy.
This best dog food for dogs with diarrhea is made in the USA with easily digestible ingredients to aid dogs with a sensitive stomach.
5. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet
Another premium choice as the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea, Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet stands up to its name.
No soy, corn, or wheat, but instead, is made out of the highest quality ingredients – novel protein (lamb, duck, or salmon), canola oil, vitamins, minerals, and tomato pomace.
It has no by-products and preservatives, no artificial flavors and coloring, and no dairy or eggs, which are also bad for a sensitive stomach.
It is specifically formulated for dogs with food sensitivities.
6. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin
Another dog food brand that’s famous both in general and for its sensitive stomach foods, this Hill’s formula is a prime example of why this is so.
Hills Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin is made only out of the highest quality ingredients, plus a clinically approved blend of vitamins like vitamin C and E, as well as antioxidants.
This best dog food for dogs with diarrhea is very likely to be what your vet recommends as well. This food contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It is made with natural ingredients and high-quality protein sources.
7. Blue Buffalo Basics Grains-Free Formula
Using high-quality deboned turkey as its single protein source, Blue buffalo also cuts with this grain-free diet.
It contains zero corn, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, or any meat by-products.
Instead, together with the turkey, it also has oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, pea fiber, and pumpkin to further help with digestion.
The addition of a great blend of vitamins and antioxidants makes Blue Buffalo Basics Grains-Free Formula an ideal choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs recovering from or prone to diarrhea and loose stool.
One of the benefits that make this the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea is that it includes pumpkin, a key ingredient for healthy digestion.
8. Nutro Natural Choice Adult Chicken, Whole Brown rice and Oatmeal Formula
A great formula of wholesome chicken, whole brown rice and oatmeal, Nutro Natural Choice Adult Chicken, Whole Brown Rice, and Oatmeal Formula is another great option for dogs with a susceptible stomach.
It has all of the vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids required to rebuild the flora in a troubled stomach.
This recipe lacks all the artificial flavors and colors that plague other dog foods or any soy corn or meat by-products.
The first ingredient is farm-raised chicken that is sourced in the United States.
9. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food
As with all other entries in our list, this Holistic Select dog food formula has no meat by-products, no corn, wheat, or soy, as well as no artificial flavors or colors.
Instead, it is made out of the highest quality lamb meat.
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food also contains a great cocktail of probiotics, prebiotics, natural fibers, botanicals, and digestive enzymes.
All of these ingredients are intended to help your dog’s disturbing stomach heal.
10. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Dog Food
Devoid any artificial flavors and colors and any meat by-products, soy, corn, or wheat. This diet is made of the highest quality free-range chicken and sweet potatoes.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Dog Food has added vitamins and antioxidants to help your puppy get through the tough times and live a healthy life.
In fact, this recipe is formulated for dogs in every stage of life.
Although the following foods did not quite make our list, they are still better options than many others when your dog’s stomach is sensitive, or he has diarrhea. Remember, you can also always ask your vet for more advice or suggestions.
- AvoDerm Original for Skin and Coat
- Canidae Grain-Free Pure Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free
- Purina ONE Smartblend Sensitive Systems Formula
- Merrick Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet
- Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Recipe
- Royal Canin Digestive Care
- Nulo Freestyle Limited Turkey Grain-Free
- Solid Gold Leaping Waters Grain-Free
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie
- Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free
- Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula
You will notice that these and the foods that made our list are mostly hypoallergenic, limited-ingredient, or prescription gastrointestinal dog foods.
MORE OPTIONS: 10 Vet Recommended Dog Food Brands That Are Inexpensive
General Tips for Dogs with Sensitive Stomach
Before we go, a few things must be said about dogs with a sensitive stomach and how to feed a dog with stomach upset.
These few tips below will help you care for a dog with a sensitive stomach to avoid further complications.
As I mentioned earlier, finding the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea isn't the only worry you'll have. Keep these tips in mind as well:
Avoid giving your dog any human food and avoid threats from strangers in general. Make sure you know everything that’s going in your dog’s mouth.
Know all of your dog's allergies.
Always check your dog’s poop not just for diarrhea but also for blood and mucus.
Make sure your dog doesn’t eat too much fat and carbohydrates.
Limit all grains from your dog’s diet as well.
The foods to focus on are – brown rice, liver, beef, garlic, tuna, chicken, lamb, carrots, and broccoli – they will strengthen your dog’s stomach and intestinal linings.
Get a food bowl that slows your dog’s eating. Fast eating is a serious problem for proper digestion.
When buying commercial dog food, always go for the highest quality diet. Select certified dog food is worth it in the long run. It’s better to pay for food than for vet fees.
Change your dog’s diet regularly. Once every 2-4 months, you should change things up by adding and removing ingredients. Nothing too drastic; make sure that your doggie’s stomach sees enough variety.
Never change your dog’s diet too suddenly. Always change it just a little bit and in the span of a couple of days.
Avoid chocolate, raisins, ice cream, milk, or coffee at all costs. It’s important not just to give them to your dog but also to keep them out of its reach. Also, never give your dog any nuts like macadamia, walnuts, or peanuts.
Ensure he doesn’t have access to the garbage, as eating it can easily turn into a very unhealthy (and nasty) habit.
Avoid easy-splintered bones of poultry at all costs – they do far more harm than good.
The ideal intake of water for your dog is one ounce per pound of body weight per day.
Avoid raw eggs. If you are going to give eggs to your dog as a part of its homemade diet, always cook them beforehand – raw eggs bring the risk of salmonella not just for humans but for dogs as well.
Make sure to feed your dog with small but regular portions. He will generally eat everything you put in front of him, but smaller and more regular is better than bigger and less frequent when it comes to food.
Common Questions About the Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea
If you still have some questions about what foods to give your pup with a sensitive stomach, then the following questions and answers should help you out.
What dog food is best for dogs with diarrhea?
If your dog has diarrhea, try to give him bland foods. Some great options of dog food for diarrhea include cottage cheese, yogurt, rice, cooked oatmeal, and cooked macaroni. If your pup needs protein, opt for chicken without any skin or some eggs.
What is the best gastrointestinal dog food?
Some of the best options for dry dog food if your pup has gastrointestinal issues include Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin, Diamond Care Sensitive Stomach Formula, Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin and Stomach, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat, and Wellness Core Digestive Health. You can find even more options on our list above.
Why does dry dog food give my dog diarrhea?
If your dog is getting diarrhea from dry dog food, think about if you recently changed his food. Anytime you change your dog’s food for a new brand or product line, you need to do so gradually. Switching the food too quickly can upset your dog’s intestinal tract and stomach, leading to diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.
What to feed dogs with gastrointestinal problems?
If your dog has gastrointestinal problems, your vet will likely suggest switching to a bland diet, at least for a little bit. Stick to bland foods, such as plain rice and boiled chicken without the skin or any seasoning. Some dogs also appreciate pumpkin when their stomach is acting up.
What meat is easiest for dogs to digest?
The easiest meats for dogs’ stomachs to digest are chicken and lamb, as protein is the most digestible. Beef is the next good option.
How can I firm up my dog’s stool?
Some great options for firming up your dog’s stool include giving him white rice, rice water, or canned pumpkin. If he needs protein, stick to something easily digestible like chicken.
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