Senior Dogs And Sensitive Stomachs

Many senior dogs with sensitive stomachs thrive on Portland Pet Food Company, in part because all of our meals are limited-ingredient, some with only five ingredients! Try our five-flavor variety pack and save 40%.

As dogs get older, their stomachs can become more sensitive and less able to tolerate certain ingredients. Unfortunately, many common brands of kibble and canned dog food exacerbate digestion issues due to the ingredients' poor quality. At Portland Pet Food Company, we know this firsthand. In fact, we launched PPFC because we needed a healthier food for our senior dog, Rosie (pictured below.) In 2014, tired of a lack of healthy options for Rosie, founder Katie McCarron set out to create something different - fresh dog food toppers made from human-grade meats, vegetables, and grains.

Below, we dive into everything you need to know about senior dogs and sensitive stomachs, including how to spot a sensitive stomach/digestive issues in your senior dog and how to potentially correct it through a change in diet.

What Is "A Sensitive Stomach" In Senior Dogs?

While the term “sensitive stomach” can be a vague medical term, it’s often used to describe specific digestive issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive gas. Dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds can be affected by a sensitive stomach, but senior dogs and small dogs are the most likely to develop the condition. 

Why Senior Dogs Develop Sensitive Stomachs

Dogs often develop sensitive stomachs as they age, sometimes even to dog food and treats that they have been happily eating for years. This reaction is caused by natural changes in dogs' ability to digest foods as they age. Just as their legs, eyes, and ears might not work as well as they once did, senior dogs’ stomachs and intestines might not break down and absorb nutrients as efficiently as they once did.

When senior dogs develop sensitive stomachs, they tend to eat less, which deprives them of necessary nutrients and causes them to lose weight. That’s why it’s so important to find a dog food that your senior dog will love, one which is full of nutrients. But how do you know if your senior dog has a sensitive stomach? Below, we dive into a few common signs of sensitive stomachs in senior dogs.

Rosie Portland Pet Food Company Inspiration

Sensitive Stomach Vomiting In Senior Dogs

There are a varying reasons why a senior dog may vomit, and they aren't all something you need to be overly concerned about. For example, it's not out of the ordinary for dogs to vomit occasionally after being outside. This is because dogs, including older dogs, explore the world through their mouths. Dogs sometimes eat things that upset their stomachs and cause them to vomit, a natural response. 

Another cause of vomiting in dogs is the expansion of dry dog food as its moistened by digestive juices in the stomach. While your dog is only eating the amount of food that makes them feel full, the juices cause it to expand in the stomach and the volume becomes too much to handle, leading to post-mealtime vomiting. This is especially common in smaller dogs, which have smaller stomachs and are less able to tolerate changes in food size. 

If your senior dog's vomiting is persistent and/or is accompanied by diarrhea or lethargy, they may have developed a sensitive stomach or have another health concern, and you should schedule a visit with your veterinarian. 

Sensitive Stomach Diarrhea In Senior Dogs

In addition to vomiting, diarrhea can be an indication of a sensitive stomach in a senior dog. With dogs, diarrhea often accompanies a change in food, especially when transitioning from dry dog food to wet dog food. Oftentimes, it will resolve on its own as your dog adjusts to the new food; however, it can usually be avoided by simply following a slow transition to the new food to get them adjusted properly. 

For dogs who appear to have an upset stomach, try giving them a palatable snack that will be easy on the stomach to see if it helps. Scrambled eggs are a great option -- read more about how to safely serve your dog eggs in our blog, here. Of course, you could also try a little bit of a Portland Pet Food Meal topper, as all five options have simple, natural ingredients that are easy on the stomach. 

If your dog's diarrhea doesn’t improve after a few days, your senior dog may have developed a sensitive stomach and there may be something in the dog food causing an allergic reaction. Alternatively, your dog may have gotten into something they shouldn't have. Either way, at this point, it's time to visit the vet. 

Sensitive Stomach Allergies In Senior Dogs

Senior dogs commonly develop allergies to specific proteins or grains, and symptoms might look like persistent scratching, rash, or digestive issues. If your dog appears to have a sensitive stomach due to an ingredient in their dog food or treats, you might need to try different foods with varying protein to determine which is best for your dog. Check with your veterinarian if you have trouble finding a dog food that suits your dog’s sensitive stomach. 


There are many signs that your senior dog may have developed a sensitive stomach, including persistent vomiting or diarrhea, a rash, and/or itching. If you are suspicious that your senior dog may be having a reaction to their dog food or treats, try giving them a different dog food with a new protein source, such as salmon, to see if that resolves the issue. Oftentimes, switching senior dogs (through a slow transition) to a high quality dog food, one without preservatives or ingredients you can't pronounce, will help with symptoms. However, if your senior dog's health continues to decline after a few days or if you're nervous about changing up their food, ask your vet for help.   

At Portland Pet Food Company, our meal toppers were made with senior dogs in mind. Our natural dog food toppings are palatable for aging dog teeth, are full of vitamins that help aging dogs, and are microwaveable to entice the pickiest eaters. Plus, because they are natural and made with ingredients humans can eat, they are highly digestible and easy on the stomach! 

Portland Pet Food is the perfect food for senior dogs with sensitive stomachs.

We also have a line of gluten-free, grain-free dog treats that are healthy and tasty for senior dogs with sensitive stomachs.  

Give your senior dog the best – try Portland Pet Food Company! If your dog likes it, check out our fresh dog food toppers subscription for greater convenience and a discount on every order!