When it comes to choosing the best dog food for labs with a sensitive stomach, the right ingredients are everything. A sensitive stomach is no bueno. It can lead to some very uncomfortable moments for your Lab. Believe it or not, lots of Labs actually have this issue. Although it’s a very broad phrase, sensitive stomach almost always means either a food allergy or a food sensitivity. So the question becomes figuring out which is the culprit and then addressing the problem.
Figuring Out What’s Causing the Sensitive Stomach
The first thing you’re going to need to do is talk to your vet. You have to find out if your Lab has a food allergy or a food sensitivity. They are two very different things.
With food allergies, your Lab’s body actually perceives the ingredients as dangerous, invading threats and will set off a cascade of allergic responses to combat them like the release of histamine. This leads to itching, redness, inflammation, and some severe discomfort. It can also be coupled with GI upset.
Food sensitivity is different. Your dog’s body doesn’t perceive the offending ingredients as dangerous; his GI tract just can’t handle them. When he eats them, your Lab with the sensitive stomach won’t have an allergic response. Instead, he’ll vomit, drool excessively from nausea, experience diarrhea, or sometimes just be lethargic from the discomfort.
What is the Best Dog Food for Labs with a Sensitive Stomach?
The best dog food for labs with a sensitive stomach really comes down to whether you’re dealing with food allergies or sensitivities. Once you have that answer, you’ll select the right food by choosing ingredients that avoid triggering the issues in your pup. Although treatments are similar between food allergies and food sensitivities, they address different aspects of the problem.
When addressing food allergies, you’ll be looking for foods with your vet’s help. You’ll have to narrow down protein and carb sources that work best with your dog’s allergies and/or sensitive stomach. In general, you’ll be looking at ingredients such as:
- Sweet potato
- Brown rice
These protein and carb sources are the least likely to affect your dog’s system. Also, you will ALWAYS be going grain free, as grain can be one of the absolute biggest allergic offenders. You’ll also be eliminating any food with corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and other weird starches that dogs weren’t meant to eat.
This is where the bulk of dogs with a sensitive stomach fall. That’s because food sensitivities directly affect the GI tract, causing discomfort, inflammation, and nasty symptoms. Your vet will immediately advise you to eliminate grain from your Lab’s diet entirely. Just like Labs with a food allergy, grain is generally the cause of a Lab’s sensitive stomach.
A Note on Grain
You’ll notice that in the case of a sensitive stomach due to food allergies or food sensitivities, there is one culprit that is in both camps – grain. Grain is NOT an appropriate source of energy for Labs or any other dog. In fact, even if your pooch doesn’t have food allergies or sensitivities, I recommend a grain free diet. Dogs weren’t meant to process grain, and they can develop allergies and sensitivities to it over time. The only exceptions to this are brown rice and oatmeal. For some reason, these are well tolerated by dogs and serve as excellent carb sources.
Feeding a Sensitive Stomach
The search for ingredients that your Lab’s sensitive stomach will tolerate begins with your vet. Your vet can help you determine if your Lab’s sensitive stomach stems from food allergies or sensitivities, and you can proceed from there. In either case, looking for foods with the ingredients I mentioned above can help your Lab’s sensitive stomach. They can also help keep your healthy dog from developing a sensitive stomach.
Have you already found the best dog food for labs with a sensitive stomach? Share your recommendations in the comments!