The symptoms for pets with digestion issues can vary greatly, but if you have a fur baby that experiences vomiting, diarrhea, gas, skin allergies, itchiness, or constipation, then they could be having a reaction to their food.
As a pet parent, it can be frustrating when this occurs, because often times that means a long trial and error type of game where you have to try to eliminate products which your pet may be sensitive too. Don’t worry though, because in today’s article we’re going to help remove some of this work for you by providing the best foods for pets with digestive issues.
What causes digestion problems in pets?
While there are some pets that may have a medical condition which leads to their gastrointestinal issues, for most animals this will likely lead back to sensitivity to certain food items. However, dehydration can also be a problem. If you have been feeding your cat an exclusively dry food diet, then you may want to consider adding more moisture to their diet for their health.
In addition to giving them problems with digestion, dehydration can also lead to urine crystals. Once enough of these crystals are present they can cause blockages that can be fatal to cats if not treated immediately.
Unfortunately, the hardest part about sorting out your pet’s issues will be finding out exactly what they have a problem digesting. Some animals have issues with grains, others have problems with certain protein items, and the only way to actually figure this out is by trial and error.
The good news is that there is a good way to narrow down the list. By purchasing a limited ingredient diet for your pet you’ll have much better odds of purchasing something that they can digest.
A limited ingredient food uses a very small selection of ingredients, typically focusing on one protein item. Diets constructed in this way are typically the easiest for sensitive animals to digest.
Should you feed dry or wet food?
Without a doubt, wet food is the best for your cat. Wet foods are easier to digest than dry kibble foods, and they help your cat get more fluids. Many domestic animals are actually severely dehydrated, but their owners don’t even know.
Animals tend to prefer to get their daily water intake by eating, but when most of them are eating dry foods with no moisture, this can quickly become a problem. Many pets simply won’t make up that water loss by drinking, and so the easiest way to better their health is to feed them foods with more moisture.
A fresh food is the premium choice. It offers not only fluids, but it also offers maximum nutrition. The more heavily processed a food is, the less nutrients that is left for your cat. Canned and freeze dried foods come in at number two.
These offers are more processed, but they still offer excellent benefits. At dead last is of course kibble. Many nutrients have been cooked out or lost, and they can be filled with unsavory ingredients of low quality as well.
However, we understand that some pet parents can only afford to feed their pets dry food. If this is the case for you, then you should make an effort to at least provide part of your cat’s calories in wet food.
You can do this by offering them a smaller portion of a canned food and then making up the rest of their calories with dry. This will allow you to stretch the food out farther. Several of our picks do have accompanying dry foods you can take advantage of for this such as Halo.
Our top picks for easy to digest cat food
Now that we know what we’re looking for it’s time to jump into our list of the most highly digestible cat foods. We’ve compiled this list using only brands that offer limited ingredient diets that are especially easy on your cat’s stomach.
We’ve also noted exactly what’s great about each item in the list to help you narrow down your choices and to make your decision easier. If you do know what ingredients your cat can not eat, then keep in mind that most of these options have multiple recipes to choose from, and there’s likely a flavor that will be acceptable to them in your chosen brand.
If you’re looking for a truly exceptional limited ingredient cat food, then this is the cream of the crop. NomNomNow is a pet food deliver service. They create custom tailored meals for your pets, and then they deliver them straight to your door.
All of their recipes use only human grade ingredients, and the recipes are super limited. Below you can see the ingredients for their fish recipe. There are only five components, and all of them are fresh food items. There’s no worries about whether your fur baby will be ingesting any unsavory by-products or heavily processed food items.
This diet is not only great for pets with sensitive tummies, but also for allergies or cats which may be at risk for struvite crystals. A fresh diet will provide your cat with adequate moisture which they do not typically get on their own since most cats aren’t big on drinking water, instead preferring to get most of their liquids through eating.
You can learn more about NomNomNow at their website if you’re interested in offering your cat the very best diet available. It’s certainly one of the pricier options out there, but they simply can not be beat when it comes to quality.
#2 – Halo Cat Food
If you can’t really afford to offer your cat a prime diet like NomNomNow, then Halo makes a good alternative that’s more affordable. This brand makes both dry and canned foods, and they still offer your cat excellent nutrition without compromising on the ingredients. Halo uses only human grade whole meat products, choosing to avoid any by-products or heavily processed meat meals.
This brand has actually done tests to prove that their food has superior digestibility to other brands, and you’ll likely see a huge difference in your cat after making the switch. Halo’s digestibility makes it a great cat food for loose stools.
They don’t use anything GMO, anything artificial and they make grain free varieties, but it should be noted that not every Halo cat food is grain free. If you’d like a grain free product (which we recommend) then make sure it is labeled as such on the packaging before purchasing.
If you don’t want to feed your cat an entirely wet food diet for cost reasons, then it would be a good idea to at least offer them a partial wet food diet for health reasons. For example, you could feed them a partial can in the morning, and then make up the rest of their calories using the corresponding dry food option in the evening.
This allows you to make sure your cat is getting more liquids without breaking the bank if cost is a concern for you. You can learn more about this great food here.
#3 – Stella and Chewy
This low carbohydrate diet for cats is made of freeze dried meats and choice veggies. Most of the common allergy vectors are not present here, and it focuses on a single protein source.
The manufacturer has also added pumpkin which is a great food item to settle sensitive stomachs. That makes this an excellent addition to our list and a solid choice if you’re looking for a highly digestible food.
As this is a freeze dried item, you’ll want to add water to it to make it into a sort of wet food for your cat. This gives it a better moisture content than feeding a dry food, and freeze dried meats are often very palatable to cats if your kitty is a picky eater.
All of Stella and Chewy’s recipes are 98% meat, and they have added probiotics, the good gut bacteria needed for digestion health. Interested in seeing the full ingredients list? Make a quick hop this way to see everything you need to know about this food.
#4 – Dave’s Restricted Cat Diets
Dave’s is not a well known brand, but they make exceptional foods for pets. If your cat has very serious digestion problems that prevent them from keeping food down, then this could be the solution.
This particular food is a bland diet. These diets refer to recipes which are very plain in nature but still very nutritious. A food like this is often fed to animals with severe food sensitives or animals who are ill.
This food is primarily meat based. It is low in carbohydrates and phosphorus as well. Dave’s uses high-quality whole meats and organ meats, providing excellent nutrition for your cat.
This particular food also includes pumpkin, this ingredient is especially good for digestion, and it can help to settle the stomach of animals who are frequently throwing up or having bouts of diarrhea. If you’re interested in learning more about this great food you can do so here.
#5 Wysong – Archetype
Wysong has been making high quality pet products since the 70’s. They were likely one of the first companies to actually care about pet health, and they continue to provide quality offerings for pet parents. One of the other attractive things about Wysong is that their foods are usually very fairly priced as well.
This particular food is a freeze dried, raw diet for both cats and dogs. It provides you with all of the nutritional benefits of a raw food diet, but with the convenience of dry foods.
When feeding this item to your cat you can actually feed it as is, but we recommend adding water to it to re-hydrate it. This will provide your cat much needed moisture as well as a diet that is 95% real meat. These diets are also extremely limited in ingredients, making them a great choice for pets who are very sensitive to different foods.
If you’re look for some bonus savings on your pet food, then if you purchase it directly from the manufacturer, not only will you get the best price, but their auto-ship program will also save you a cool 10% on every order. Interested in learning more about this awesome pet food? You can see the whole ingredients list, including explanations for each entry here.
While these are our top picks, you should keep in mind that your animal is an individual. Tending to their digestive woes might not be a quick fix, and you may need to try more than one food before you find a brand that works well for them. Once you start using a limited diet like the ones above though it becomes much easier to begin weeding out bad ingredients and getting to the root of the problem.
Tips for transitioning your pet to their new food
While some animals may be able to take right to a new food, in other cases this may be very difficult. Unfortunately, this is probably most likely to happen in animals with a sensitive digestive tracks.
You may find that you need to ease your pet into the new food either to get them to eat it or to keep them from being ill. If you’re having trouble with the transition then try doing it slowly.
Mix the new food in with their old food, or perhaps put a little of the new food on top so that the dish is not entirely unfamiliar to them. You can then gradually increase the amount until they are only eating the new food and your transition has been made successfully.
Keep in mind that this can take up to two weeks. Remember to be patient with your cat and realize that there’s not a one size fits all solution here. It could take some serious trial and error to find the right option for your cat.
Make sure to stick to one food!
If you are the type who likes to save by purchasing a different food every month, then you should stop immediately! This is one of the easiest ways to mess with your pet’s digestion. Fast diet changes can be extremely damaging to them when it comes to digestion. Instead, find a food you like in your price range and stick with it.
If you really need to save money then consider purchasing foods online where they are cheaper and sign up for auto-ship programs to save extra money. You’ll likely save more in the long run doing this than with couponing. Amazon offers you up to 15% savings on auto-ships for virtually any pet foods that they stock. It’s a pretty good deal for pet parents to take advantage of.