Your cheat-sheet for the best dog food for acid reflux. Yes, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD in dogs, is a real thing. Keep reading for in-depth dog acid reflux analysis, including:
- What causes acid reflux in dogs?
- Symptoms (that horrible breath!!)
- What you can do at home (before going to the vet)
- And even some homemade dog food for acid reflux
Best Dog Food for GERD:
See all of the wet dog foods that made our list (including a budget pick that allows you to save a few bucks).
#1 Dry Pick
A Close 2nd
*A note about dry dog food and GERD: many dogs who suffer from acid reflux do better if you soak their dry dog food with liquid prior to feeding. Learn more here.
What is Acid Reflux in Dogs?
Just like in humans, acid reflux is a condition caused by intestinal fluid backing up into the esophagus. It’s actually a pretty common occurrence in the dog world, but most likely to affect senior dogs.
Mild cases are usually not that big a problem.
However, if it worsens or happens often, it can cause some major tummy upset and flatulence (gas).
If left untreated, acid reflux can damage the dog’s mucous lining of the esophagus and cause greater problems.
Not every dog will have all, or even the same, kinds of symptoms.
Symptoms can also be very mild in the beginning, leading you to think nothing of a symptom, even if you see it happening.
However, if you suspect your dog might have the condition, here are a few things you can be on the lookout for:
- Regurgitation of food, also known as “spitting up” can often occur with acid reflux.
- Signs of pain or severe discomfort when swallowing can also point to the condition. Your dog may howl, whine or whimper. Look for other physical signs as well.
- Gastric disturbances such as gurgling or burping after eating a meal can be another sign of acid reflux.
- You might even notice some wheezing, drooling or excessive salivation. These are also signs that acid has backed up into the airway.
- If your dog experiences pain while swallowing, it’s likely the next step will be a loss of appetite. If you have a finicky eater, this will be harder to detect, but still noticeable.
- The next step, after pain and loss of appetite, will be weight loss. Many other things can cause your dog to lose weight as well, but you’re likely to be able to tell the difference. This is especially the case if you’ve already seen prior symptoms of what you suspect is acid reflux.
Making notes of these symptoms with time of day, frequency, and when they happen (such as after a walk or a meal) can really help, especially if you visit your vet.
Dog Acid Reflux Bad Breath
Bad dog breath is another common symptom that can be associated with reflux.
If you notice that your dog’s breath is just horrible, but there are no other factors, you might want to keep your eyes open for other acid reflux symptoms (see above).
Those “other factors” might include:
- Teeth that are in poor condition, especially if your dog is older
- Getting into rancid materials if they spend a lot of time outdoors
- Ongoing health conditions
Aside from those, breath should not be unbearable.
You can try to mask it with dental treats and breath fresheners, but addressing the problem is the best course of action.
What Causes Acid Reflux in Dogs?
One cause of acid reflux can be the overproduction of stomach acids. If there is more acid in the stomach than is needed to deal with the food your dog eats, the excess will back up and create the problem.
While you might be tempted to give your dog nibbles of food from your own plate, try to control yourself. Many foods, especially spicy or hot foods, can cause acid reflux to rear its ugly head.
He may act as if he’s just dying for a bite, but you are doing him no favors, believe me!
A couple of other factors include obesity and high calcium content in the blood.
There are plenty of dog foods that help get your dog’s weight under control.
One of the foods we recommend for weight control is Artemis Fresh Mix Weight Management Dry Dog Food.
Not only is it great for helping your dog lose weight, but it’s so chock-full of wholesome goodness that your dog will never feel less than satisfied.
Following the directions can lead to a dog that is within the specified weight limits, but it usually takes about three months for that to happen.
And exercise is a must, even if he doesn’t want to participate.
The high calcium content, on the other hand, is something that will have to be taken care of with the help of a vet.
What is the pH of a Dog’s Stomach?
The natural pH level of a “wild” dog, eating a diet of primarily raw meat is about two. This is a very acidic environment and helps the dog to digest raw meats, bones and other substances that are harder to digest with a higher pH level.
The problem that comes into play with domesticated dogs that become use to a highly processed diet is that the pH levels in the stomach become much higher, or more alkaline.
At that point, the digestive abilities are then reduced.
This means that if you’ve been giving your dog a diet based on grains and fillers and then decide to give him a bone as a chew toy, he’s likely to start vomiting and spit up the bone fragments.
Thinking along those same lines, a raw food diet could be a step towards dealing with your dog’s acid reflux problems.
Since the disorder is characterized by an overabundance of acid in the stomach, giving your dog more raw food will utilize that acid. With more of the stomach acid being put to good use, there will be less to back up into the airways.
Do Dogs Get Heartburn?
You had better believe it!
The only problem is, they can’t go and get relief in the same way we can. They can’t tell anyone what’s going on either, so it’s up to us to figure it out.
Acid reflux pain in dogs feels much like heartburn does to us humans. He may feel the same burning sensation in the chest area that we do.
Nausea and vomiting may occur in bad cases of the disorder.
This can also be known as Gastroesophageal Reflux disease, also called GERD. You have probably only heard of this in humans, but it is a fact of life for some pets as well.
Many of the same symptoms are associated with GERD, but you are most likely to see regurgitation of undigested foods, liquid or mucous, or a combination of the three.
It might be important here to note the difference between “vomiting” and “regurgitation”.
Vomiting is something that involves a process and you can usually tell when it’s coming. You will notice your dog heaving and preparing for the act of vomiting.
Regurgitation happens almost without your dog even knowing it. He is likely to walking along and it happens quite suddenly.
Why Does My Dog Burp All the Time?
Lots of things can cause a dog to burp frequently, so there’s no need for immediate panic.
Burping is a natural way of ridding that excess air so that pressure doesn’t build up and cause pain.
It could be as simple as too much air being present in the stomach.
Food gulping and drinking too much too quickly are classic ways most dogs wind up with too much air in their stomach. It looks as if they’re starving or dying of thirst, but some dogs do this simply because it is in their demeanor to do so.
A good way to help keep this from becoming a problem is to limit the amounts of food and water you give at one time.
Slow-feed bowls are a great way to do this and you can find lots of them on Amazon.
These bowls have built-in obstacles around which your dog has to manipulate the food. Gulping is greatly reduced, unless his superpower is dog bowl flipping!
Can You Give Dogs an Antacid Like Tums or Pepcid for Acid Reflux?
You want to be very careful when giving your dog any type of human medicine.
Some are harmless and even a vet will recommend giving some human medications to your dog. However, certain medications could be incredibly harmful and even fatal.
Our list will tell you that while you can give your dog Tums, you want to wait until you’ve tried everything else.
Dog’s digestive systems work out problems much quicker than our own. You might find that the stomach upset is gone before the Tums is out of your dog’s system.
The same rule of thumb applies for Pepcid.
While it is not technically approved for use with dogs, vets have been known to recommend it. Dogs have taken it with no problem, but just like humans, dogs can react differently to different medications.
What one dog can tolerate with ease is a grave danger to another dog or another breed.
Exercise extreme caution when thinking about giving your pet a human medication!
We recommend trying pureed pumpkin before resorting to medication.
It is all natural, very soothing for your dog’s stomach, tastes great and has no side effects.
Best Canned Dog Food For Acid Reflux (Wet)
The limited ingredients mean there are no overly processed foods that can add to the problem you already have.
The first three ingredients are:
- Chicken broth
- Sweet potatoes
The chicken is the primary protein source and since it is wet, it closely resembles a raw food. We know that this is great for the pH balance of the stomach and can get rid of much of the extra acid in your dog’s stomach.
Sweet potatoes act very much like pumpkin for your dog’s sensitive stomach. It is soothing and soaks up a lot of excess stomach acid so that there is less to push back into the airway.
Canidae Pure offers your pup lots of natural, protein-packed ingredients with none of the processed grains and fillers you might get with other brands.
The list of ingredients here start off with foods such as duck, turkey, turkey liver, peas, and sweet potatoes, so you can feed with confidence.
Since the primary ingredients are all packed with protein, they are much easier on the stomach, easier to digest and take care of pH problems that might be present.
In addition to great, wholesome ingredients, Canidae also contains a vitamin-rich cocktail that will keep your dog’s coat and skin in top condition. These extra benefits will make him feel great and keep him coming back for seconds.
Many people have fed this recipe to their dogs and even those with the most sensitive of stomachs never had any problems. It is known to be one of the easiest foods to take in if gastric problems have been noted.
Quality ingredients keep the stomach in good working order while grains, antibiotics, hormones and fillers are nowhere to be found.
Salmon is naturally rich in nutrients and omega acids that not only soothe your dog’s stomach, but gives him a beautiful coat as well.
With absolutely no fillers or byproducts, your dog will still get 100% of the nutrition he needs to stay healthy. Made with salmon, rice, potatoes and carrots, your dog will love the flavor and come back for more of this recipe.
Some vets will often ask that you switch your dog to a diet of fish if they are throwing up. In many cases, this solves the problems and works wonders for other gastric disturbances as well.
In addition to feeding this wet food at meal times, you can also use it to stuff toys for an extra treat. It’s a little sticky and takes some work to get to, so it’s as fun as it is healthy and beneficial.
Best Dry Dog Food for Acid Reflux*
*A note about dry dog foods: many dogs who suffer from acid reflux do better if you soak their dry dog food with liquid prior to feeding. It not only makes the food easier to digest once it’s in the stomach, but it can also cause less acidity. Soaking the food in bone broth is another good option, as the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in the bone broth can be very healing to an already upset stomach.
This is important in cases of acid reflux, because the more ingredients there are to break down, the longer it takes to accomplish.
Natural Balance also contains no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors, which can also be detrimental to a sensitive stomach.
In spite of having a limited amount of ingredients, this recipe provides completely balanced nutrition while at the same time, boosting digestive health.
The limited ingredients mean that this food is sourced with one primary animal protein and a limited amount of carbohydrates. This ensures that there is the least chance that your dog will be sensitive to anything in the food.
Since wheat gluten is known to trigger some cases of acid reflux, especially the more severe cases, this is a great food to go with.
Your dog will love the flavors, such as turkey and chicken, ocean whitefish and salmon, and wild game, turkey, boar and rabbit.
The high quality proteins in this food will ensure that your dog gets all the nutrition he needs. It’s packed with probiotics, vitamins and minerals as well, for an overall balance.
Many dog owners who have found other dog food brands like Blue Buffalo too acidic have been very happy with Wellness Core. The even lower acidity gives an extra level of protection against reflux and means a better night’s sleep for your dog.
Vets recommend this food often due to the nutritionally dense formula as well as the abundance of antioxidants and omega fatty acids included in the recipe.
One of the biggest perks with this kibble, that anyone with a dog that has reflux can appreciate, is the fact that you can feed this through all life stages. It’s hard to transition a dog to a new dog food in the first place, and it can be a real pain if your dog has medical issues like reflux.
Being able to feed the same food, throughout their lifetime, can equal less stress on both you and your dog. At the same time, you won’t have to worry about whether or not he’s getting what he needs.
Canidae packs in all the nutrition your dog needs, plus some extras as well.
You might even find, as other dog owners have, that the introduction of a great dry kibble can make them feel like a pup again.
When your dog feels better, his attitude and energy level will follow suit.
What Can I Do At Home If My Dog Has Acid Reflux?
There are actually several DIY treatments you can try if you suspect your dog is suffering from reflux.
As we mentioned earlier, pureed pumpkin is a great starting place. You can buy it already processed in the can or, if you’re more frugally-minded, you can even make it yourself and save some money.
Some people make their dog’s treats with a strong pumpkin base and still others choose foods that have pumpkin as a main ingredient.
Changing your dog’s diet is a great “treatment” if you suspect reflux is an issue for your dog.
You could start with some grain free formulas, sensitive stomach formulas, or go with the raw diet we mentioned earlier.
Any of these have the potential to curb the acidity of your dog’s stomach and help to alleviate symptoms of reflux.
Homemade Dog Food For Acid Reflux
Making your dog’s food at home can be much simpler than you may realize.
At the same time, it can save you tons of money, especially over the long term, and puts you in charge of every single ingredient.
No more worries about vitamins that may have come from China or some other overseas location.
No more worrying about when the next recall is going to happen. You will have everything within the realms of your control.
Some Homemade Dog Food Do’s and Don’ts To Keep In Mind
Making food for your dog is incredibly simple and to make it even simpler still, we have a few do’s and don’ts to help you along the way.
- Feed your dog like the meat-eater that he is. Add in plenty of raw meats, bones, fat and cartilage, which acts quite like a chew toy.
- Feed as many unprocessed foods as possible. This means no Vienna sausages, hot dogs, brats or chicken nuggets, however tempting it may be to do so.
- Feed treats that are nice and meaty. Become a label reader and you will see that many of the most popular treat brands are filled with chemicals, preservatives, dyes and other unsavory ingredients.
- Feed a high carb, highly processed diet. If you are making your dog’s food, stick to ingredients that are wholesome and, if possible, organic.
- Feed your dog a vegetarian diet. His natural design is that of a carnivore and he should be allowed to eat a diet rich in meats. This provides the best forms of protein, which are great for his stomach.
- Give up! Making dog food from scratch can be a process. It can take time to learn exactly what your dog’s favorite ingredients are. It can also take time to learn the combinations he likes best. Be patient with yourself!
Homemade Dog Food Recipes for Acid Reflux
Easy Raw Dog Food:
- Ten pounds of raw ground beef
- Eighteen hard boiled eggs, including the shell
- Fifteen cups of cooked white rice
It’s easy to half or double this recipe, depending on the size of your dog or if you have multiple dogs in the household.
To Make The Food:
- In a large area, such as a plugged up kitchen sink or bucket, crush the hard-boiled eggs into bits, shell included.
- Add the cooked rice.
- Add 8 oz. LickOchops supplement (one whole tube)
- Add ground beef.
- Mix until completely and thoroughly combined.
For storage purposes, you will want to place the food in freezer containers or ziplock baggies and freeze any amount that you will not immediately be serving. Freezer containers are easier to fill, but ziplock bags are cheaper.
You can also form meatballs or meat patties and freeze them in layers on a cookie sheet, forming stacks by placing parchment paper or wax paper between them. Once they are frozen, you can put them into baggies or containers for much easier prep when you’re ready to use them.
Since you are handling meat in its raw form, please use the same precautions you would use if you were preparing a meal for yourself or your family.
Serving sizes per day for this recipe:
- For a 10 lb. dog – ½ cup raw dog food
- For a 20 lb. dog – 1 cup of raw dog food
- For a 40 lb. dog – 2 cups of raw dog food
- For a 60 lb. dog – 3 cups of raw dog food
- For an 80 lb. dog – 3 ½ to 4 cups of raw dog food
Notes for introducing this recipe:
Twenty-four hours prior to starting your dog on the raw food diet, make sure to only give him water, causing him to fast the whole day. You want all of the old dog food out of your dog’s digestive tract so that upset stomach will be greatly decreased.
- For the first and second day, feed only ¼ of the normal meal size.
- On days three and four, feed ½ a meal size.
- On days five and six, feed ¾ a meal size.
- On day seven, you can feed the entire meal size for the day.
Cooked Chicken and Rice Dog Food
- Ten pounds of chicken leg and thigh quarters
- Eighteen hard boiled eggs including the shells
- Ten cups of cooked white rice
- One tube of super omega fish oil
- Dinovite dog supplement
This recipe can easily be halved or doubled, depending on your needs. As is, this recipe yields about 32-35 cups of dog food.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large roasting pan, or in multiple pans if need be, bake the ten pounds of chicken pieces for one hour, allowing it to cool afterwards.
- Debone chicken, but save all juices and cartilage.
- Pour meat, juices and cartilage into a large mixing pan.
- Add the rice, which has been cooked and should equal about ten cups.
- Add the hardboiled eggs with their shells on.
- Add super omega fish oil and 2-4 cups of Dinovite.
- Mix with your hands until all ingredients are completely incorporated
Store this food the same way you stored the raw food recipe, in freezer containers or zipper bags.
The serving amounts and method of introducing this new food are also the same as for the raw food recipe.
There are many other recipes to be found for homemade dog food that can be of benefit if you think reflux is a problem for your dog.
As a matter of fact, just about any homemade dog food that consists primarily of raw meat, or starts with raw meat as the main ingredient, will often help.