In humans, acid reflux is a relatively common condition. There's a good chance that you've experienced it yourself at some point! It's that uncomfortable feeling in the back of your throat you might experience after eating spicy foods.
In most cases, acid reflux is accompanied by heartburn, which is the dreaded burning sensation you feel in your chest. If you've ever had to deal with acid reflux, you know firsthand how uncomfortable it is.
Now, imagine what Acid Reflux feels like for your dog!
Believe it or not, dogs can experience acid reflux just like humans do. The condition can plague any dog breed. In severe cases, chronic acid reflux can lead to a host of other health issues. It's a debilitating issue for canines that can have a serious effect on their well-being.
Unlike us humans, dogs can't pop open a bottle of antacid and call it a day. They have to deal with the discomfort and all of the symptoms that come with it.
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from acid reflux, the best thing you can do is switch up their diet.
The best dog foods for acid reflux can help minimize symptoms, treat the condition, and give your dog the relief they so desperately need. Here are some dog food products worth trying out.
7 of the Best Dog Foods for Acid Reflux - 4 Dry and 3 Canned Options
1. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
The Pacific Stream formula from Taste of the Wild can do a lot to help dogs suffering from acid reflux or allergies. It is made up of highly digestible ingredients!
You won't find any unnecessary fillers or triggering chemical additives. It's a grain-free recipe with a good amount of fiber. The protein comes from salmon and ocean fish, which is easy on the stomach.
To complement the protein, there's a bevy of healthy plant-based ingredients. They provide a boost of nutrients while giving your dog plenty of antioxidants to support their overall health.
2. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Salmon & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food
The thing that makes this Wellness recipe good for acid reflux is its limited ingredients. Designed for pups with food sensitivities, the simple formula is easy on the digestive system.
Wellness got rid of all the unnecessary stuff and included all the things your dog needs to stay healthy. Protein comes from salmon. There are also beneficial ingredients like peas, potatoes, and chicory root.
The only "extra" you'll find in the formula is the prebiotics and probiotics. They improve your dog's system to minimize symptoms and help with digestion.
3. Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Adult Dry Dog Food
Here's another recipe that focuses on digestion. The Halo Holistic dog food is made up of ingredients that are safe for your dog. The main protein source is chicken.
The chicken used is sustainably raised without antibiotics or growth hormones.There are no meat meals or mystery byproducts, just wholesome chicken and liver! Those meat-based ingredients are complemented by non-GMO fruits and vegetables.
You'll find things like blueberries, carrots, and cranberries, which all contain antioxidants. Plus, those ingredients are a good source of fiber to help with digestion.
4. CANIDAE All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula Dry Dog Food
Canidae is no stranger to creating high-quality foods. This particular formula is made of digestible ingredients and no fillers that could trigger allergies.
The protein content comes from chicken meal, turkey meal, and lamb meal. Meanwhile, the fats come from healthy salmon oil and flaxseed.
This formula comes with the brand's HealthPLUS solutions, too. This includes a trio of probiotics that can keep your pup's system in check. The probiotics help to minimize acid reflux symptoms and help provide relief. It also contains omega fatty acids and antioxidants for good measure.
3 Wet Canned Dog Foods to Combat Acid Reflux
5. American Journey Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
This American Journey canned dog food contains all of the essentials without any unnecessary ingredients that could trigger acid reflux symptoms. It's a limited ingredient formula that utilizes lamb and lamb liver as the main protein sources.
The meat is swimming in a rich gravy. In total, the moisture content of this food is about 78 percent, which is great for diluting stomach acids. There are no unnecessary fillers and everything in the recipe is chosen to avoid allergic reactions.
6. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Canned Dog Food
Here's another moisture-packed canned food that can help your dog avoid acid reflux discomfort. The food is soft and easy to digest. Thanks to its high moisture content, it can prevent stomach acid from causing burn in your dog's chest.
The food is completely balanced. It uses simple ingredients like lamb, lamb liver, and brown rice. All of the ingredients help with digestibility and nutrient absorption. There's also Vitamins A and B12. The vitamins support your dog's overall health and immunity.
7. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Wet Dog Food Real Lamb Recipe
With no gluten, corn, wheat, or soy, this wet dog food from Merrick is great for treating acid reflux. It doesn't have any ingredients that are known to trigger allergies or cause digestive issues in dogs.
Merrick even chose to forgo using common protein sources to help sensitive stomachs. Deboned lamb is the only source of protein. This simplified the formula significantly, ensuring that you have full control over what your dog eats.
Thanks to the high moisture and low fat content, it's a suitable option that can minimize acid reflux issues.
What Exactly is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition that can start out relatively benign. But, it's capable of worsening over time and developing into a more serious problem.
Basically, acid reflux is when the contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus. It sounds similar to basic regurgitation. However, the primary difference is what flows back into the esophagus. In most cases, it's not food. Rather, it's the gastric or intestinal fluids.
This is what causes that bitter taste and burning sensation. The fluids that help break down food are highly acidic. The stomach is lined to protect against the acids. The esophagus, however, is not.
There are many causes of acid reflux. The primary cause is diet. Though, overall health can also come into play. Many believe that certain medications can trigger the issue as well.
Physically, the reason that those stomach acids can reverse flow is that the sphincter at the lower end of the esophagus relaxes at the wrong time.
This can happen at any point during your dog's life. In most cases, it's an occasional issue. That said, it can become chronic. When that esophageal sphincter weakens, standard acid reflux turns into gastroesophageal reflux disease.
This condition is also known as GERD. With GERD, your dog will feel the effects of acid reflux more frequently.
How Does Acid Reflux Affect Dogs?
Acid reflux affects dogs in the same way that it affects humans. Sure, your pooch's anatomy is a bit different from your own. But, they are suffering just the same!
It can be tricky diagnosing acid reflux in dogs. Canines never want to show weakness. Thus, they are very good at hiding their pain. Not only that, but the symptoms can be so minor that they go unnoticed until the conditions turn into a bigger problem.
Here are some common symptoms to look out for.
Changes in Eating Behavior
Most dogs are always eager when dinner time comes around! When eating starts to look more like a chore for your pup, it could be a sign that they are experiencing acid reflux. The condition causes dogs to pause a lot when eating.
You might also notice whining or whimpering whenever they swallow. This indicates that the esophagus could be inflamed.
Excessive Burping and Gagging
As the stomach acids flow back into the esophagus, your dog will do their best to keep things down. They often burp or gag to clear their throats. This will become increasingly common as the issue progresses, so make note of how often it occurs.
Audible Stomach Noises
Some stomach noise is to be expected. But when you start hearing loud gurgling sounds, take it as a sign of trouble! The sounds could be your dog's stomach acid flowing back into the throat.
Chances are, you'll witness some gagging, burping, or vomiting from your dog immediately after you hear these sounds.
Speaking of vomiting, don't be surprised if you see your dog throw up more frequently. Your dog may experience standard vomiting, which is usually accompanied by heaving beforehand, or sudden regurgitation.
The latter is one of the most common symptoms. It will happen more frequently the more your dog deals with acid reflux.
The pain caused by the acids in your dog's esophagus triggers more saliva production. Your pooch may start drooling excessively. This could also be joined by heavy wheezing.
Appetite Changes and Weight Loss
No dog wants to relive the pain of acid reflux! If it starts happening frequently, your dog may begin to avoid food altogether. They'll lose their appetite, which will ultimately lead to weight loss.
Monitor your dog's food intake. This isn't a symptom that you want to ignore.
Stomach acids have a very pungent and strong smell. You'll notice it immediately. It's far worse than any traditional bad breath smell that you're used to. If your dog's acid reflux causes the acids to go into the mouth, bad breath is likely to take hold.
Alongside bad breath, dogs with acid reflux usually experience tooth decay. Those acids are capable of breaking down tooth enamel. This puts your pup's pearly whites at great risk for damage.
How Diet Affects Acid Reflux
Diet plays a big part in causing acid reflux. When vets are trying to diagnose the condition, they may require more information about the food you're providing. Some will even recommend a feeding trial to figure out what ingredients are triggering the acid reflux response.
High amounts of protein and fat are known to cause acid reflux. If your dog is obese, they could have deposits of fat around the esophagus as well. This could affect the performance and strength of the esophageal sphincter.
Finally, high amounts of calcium could cause your dog's body to produce more stomach acid than it needs. This increases the likelihood of acid reflux.
So many dietary factors come into play. The best course of action you can take is to modify your dog's diet and the way you're feeding them. Doing so can help you improve your dog's digestion while minimizing serious symptoms of acid reflux.
Key Considerations When Choosing the Best Dog Foods for Acid Reflux
So, what makes a dog food good for acid reflux? It's important to scrutinize any product you consider. The goal is to remove any potential triggers. You also want to find a dog food that's easy to digest and keep down. Keep the following things in mind while you shop.
Your dog still needs ample protein to stay healthy. At the very least, your pup's chow should have a guaranteed protein analysis of 18 percent. That said higher is always better.
The thing you'll want to pay attention to is where that protein is coming from. Simple and wholesome protein sources like chicken and fish are best. They are easy to digest and help support the muscles.
Stay away from any byproducts or low-quality protein sources. If you can't identify where the animal meat is coming from, choose a different product. Substandard protein sources could cause gastrointestinal issues, which will only make your dog's acid reflux worse!
Low Fat Content
Higher fat content is thought to trigger acid reflux response. A minimum of 5 percent fat is recommended. Try to keep levels under 12 to 15 percent.
Once again, the quality of the fat is important here. Stick with digestible sources. For example, natural fat from the protein animal is good. Salmon and flaxseed oil are good options, too. They contain omega fatty acids that will support your dog's body in other areas.
See: 5 Low Fat Food Brands for your Dog
Higher Moisture Content
Decent moisture content is recommended for dogs with acid reflux. There's no hard and fast rule to how much moisture you need. But, many owners see positive results with canned foods. You can also provide a broth to dry kibble.
Higher moisture content dilutes the stomach acid. This may reduce symptoms and make the condition less painful for your pooch.
No Unnecessary Fillers
Avoid corn, wheat, soy, and any other unnecessary filler at all costs. Fillers are frequently used in cheaper foods to drive down the sales price. Unfortunately, those filler ingredients can wreak havoc on your dog's digestive system.
Look for dog food products that only have the essentials. If your dog has serious acid reflux problems, you may even benefit from a limited-ingredients product.
No Unnecessary Additives
Finally, choose a dog food that doesn't have unhealthy additives. We're talking about chemical preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. Those additives have no place in dog food.
If the formula is right, your pup will consume the food without any issues. Plus, there are natural alternatives available.
Artificial ingredients will only upset your dog's system and make acid reflux problems worse.
Tips to Treat Acid Reflux in Dogs
Finding the right dog food to address acid reflux problems is half the battle. But, there are still some changes you can make to treat this condition.
Provide Smaller Meals
Larger meals can trigger this condition. Instead of providing two large meals, try splitting your pup's daily intake into several small meals. This can keep symptoms to a minimum.
Help Your Dog Lose Weight
As we mentioned earlier, obesity can worsen acid reflux problems. If your dog is on the heavier side, consult with your vet to see if weight loss could help.
Supplement with Probiotics
Probiotics can improve the environment in your dog's gut. They introduce beneficial gut flora, which may help with digestion and minimize symptoms. Many dog foods are fortified with probiotics. Alternatively, you can add secondary supplements into the mix.
Add More Moisture
Add a bit of moisture to your pup's food to dilute the stomach acids. You can do this by mixing in wet food. Or, you can add broth, gravy, or water. Either way, that boost of hydration can work wonders.
Of course, make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water, too!
No dog owner wants to see their canine companion suffer from acid reflux. The good news is that the condition is very manageable. High-quality dog food can reduce symptoms.
Avoid high-fat foods and adopt healthy feeding habits! A few simple changes can make all the difference. Before you know it, your dog will have their appetite back and enjoy eating again!