If you’ve made your way to this guide, you’ve likely exhausted all efforts trying to get your pup’s digestion back into excellent condition. Low residue dog foods have been found to be an excellent way to promote our canine pals’ digestion and make sure that they feel comfortable after each meal. In this guide, we’re going to talk about low residue dog foods, why your pup may need it, and help you choose the best one for your precious pal. Let’s get into it!  

Table of Contents

Low Residue Dog Foods: Intro

If you’re looking for the best low residue dog foods in 2024, then look no further! Low residue diets for dogs are often recommended by veterinarians when there are persistent digestive issues. They can also help manage certain medical conditions, such as pancreatitis or other similar diseases. 

These special low residue diets focus on providing maximum nutrition without the fear of your best pal getting an upset tummy. We’re here to help you find the highest quality low residue dog food options available, so your pup can get all the essential nutrients without any unwanted digestive issues.

What Is Low Residue Dog Food?

So, what is low residue food for dogs? Essentially it’s low fiber dog food. Low residue dog foods contain less fiber than the usual dog food formulas available on the market. The goal is to provide your dog a diet that’s easy for their body to digest. In addition to that, a low residue diet can help with absorbing all the essential nutrients from the diet that are necessary for their optimal health and wellbeing. 

Low residue diets for dogs are generally used to help with digestive issues or medical conditions that cause trouble with nutrient absorption. Some of the most common reasons for switching to a low residue diet include frequent diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), vomiting, or constipation. 

Your vet may also recommend a low residue diet for your dog if they’ve caught a virus that affects the digestive tract. In addition to that, sometimes dogs with chronic illnesses affecting the kidneys or liver also benefit from eating a low residue dog food, as they’re easier on their digestion and take off the excess strain from the affected organs. 

Low residue dog food typically contains highly digestible proteins, carbohydrates, and fats so that fewer ingredients are passed through the digestive system. Additionally, these formulas usually contain less of certain grains, fruits, and vegetables that are high in fiber and can cause digestive issues. However, the most crucial thing to look for is reduced amount of crude fiber in low residue dog foods. 

Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber

In general, fiber is an excellent way to promote good digestion in both humans and dogs. However, for some, fiber can, in fact, cause digestive issues instead. There’s also the matter of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. But what’s the difference between them?

Soluble fiber is the type of dietary fiber that dissolves in water. It forms a gel-like substance in the stomach and helps speed up the digestion. On the other hand, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Instead, it adds bulk to the stool. These two types of fiber go hand in hand to support good digestion and make sure that the stools are easy to pass.

But, as we learned, low residue dog foods should contain a reduced amount of crude fiber. Especially since some pups may be sensitive to higher quantities of it in their diets. 

How Do I Know If My Dog Needs A Low Residue Diet?

Low residue diet for dogs is often recommended when they experience digestive issues like diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, food intolerances, or irritable bowel syndrome. Some of the most common signs to look out for include frequent vomiting (especially after eating), loose stools, decreased appetite, and the consequent weight loss. If your dog is suffering from chronic diarrhea or has a history of digestive problems, your vet may recommend you to switch to a low residue dog food instead, as they’re generally gentler on the stomach. 

Of course, if you notice any of these symptoms we mentioned above and consider switching your dog’s regular formula to a low residue one instead, be sure to consult with your veterinarian first. Not all dogs benefit from going on a low residue diet, and the digestive issues may not be even caused by the indigestible fiber in their usual diet. 

That’s why it’s best to always consult these issues with your veterinarian first, as they will be able to figure out the root cause of your dog’s digestive upset. And if at any point you notice other worrying signs, such as lethargy or overall change in your dog’s behavior, it’s time for an urgent vet visit! 

Tip For Switching Your Dog’s Diet: If you put your pup on a low residue diet, it’s important that you do so gradually as to not upset their stomach even further. Making drastic changes to their diet can have adverse effects.

Top 5 Benefits Of Low Residue Dog Foods

Low Residue Dog Food Is Highly Digestible

Low residue dog food is specially formulated with highly digestible ingredients that are gentle on your pup’s stomach. Not only are many low residue dog foods low in crude fiber, they also tend to have highly digestible forms of protein and carbs so that your dog can absorb all the necessary micro and macronutrients from their diet. 

Although a decent amount of fiber in a dog food formula is beneficial for most pups, it can actually cause issues for others. As low residue dog foods have less fiber, they’re designed to help reduce digestive upset and the symptoms that go along with it. 

Additionally, low residue dog food often has added vitamins and minerals that overall help support their digestive health. This type of diet is particularly beneficial for dogs suffering from chronic diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues.

Decreases The Frequency And Volume Of Stools

Low residue dog food is designed to decrease the frequency and volume of your pup’s stools. That’s because the excess fiber can lead to diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, and even vomiting. The goal of feeding a low residue diet for your dog is to slow the time it takes for the food to pass through the digestive tract. This in turn will help manage diarrhea and also prevent vomiting after eating. After all, one of the main reasons why veterinarians recommend low residue diets for dogs is to relieve the constant digestive distress and diarrhea. 

Additionally, since low residue dog food passes through the digestive system more slowly, it’ll also give the intestines more time to absorb nutrients from the food. One of the biggest concerns of frequent diarrhea and vomiting is that your dog won’t be able to absorb all the necessary nutrients from their diet. This could lead to severe malnourishment and a host of other health issues. Fortunately, that’s exactly what low residue dog food is designed to help with. 

Improves Pancreatic Health

Another excellent perk of feeding a low residue diet for your dog is that it can improve pancreatic health. The pancreas actually is one of the main organs that breaks down food and regulates blood sugar. However, if the pancreas is under constant stress and exhaustion, it could lead to more serious health issues. 

How it works is that the lower fiber content in low residue dog food doesn’t put nearly as much strain on the pancreas. This means that it can do its job much more effectively. If your vet has diagnosed pancreatitis or another related condition, they may recommend you switch your pup to a low residue diet instead. 

Low Residue Dog Food Can Help With Flatulence

As you probably have guessed by now, low residue dog foods can very much help with flatulence as well. A smelly fart once in a while is completely normal. However, if it seems like your pup just can’t stop passing gas, it may indicate that there’s a bigger issue to be dealt with. 

Thanks to the lower fiber content, low residue dog foods produce less waste in the digestive tract. As a result, there will also be less gas produced in the digestive system. It’s a win-win for everyone! Your dog won’t feel uncomfortable with all that gas in their tummy, and you won’t have to endure those foul-smelling clouds of gas around your best pal. 

Eases Constipation Or Diarrhea

Now, this might seem contradictory, but low residue dog foods can help with both diarrhea and constipation. Similarly, a high fiber diet can also help with both of these issues. Needless to say, this depends on a dog’s unique situation and health conditions. 

Low residue dog foods are designed to be gentle on the stomach, regardless if your pooch is struggling with constipation or diarrhea. If the issue is caused by excessive fiber in their diet, then a low residue formula will certainly help with that. What’s more, these formulas tend to also contain highly digestible proteins and carbs, which are also much gentler on the stomach, and help with proper nutrient absorption. 

How Do I Buy The Best Low Residue Dog Food

If your pup has been prescribed a low residue diet, it might sound all too confusing at first. What should you look for? Are there certain ingredients to avoid? To help you get started, here are some of our best tips on how to choose the best low residue dog food for your pooch. 

Look For Low Crude Fiber Content

First and foremost, when buying low residue dog food, it’s important to look for a formula that has a low crude fiber content. Just as the name suggests, the crude fiber content tells us how much fiber is in the formula. The lower the crude fiber content, the fewer irritating fibers it will contain. This ultimately translates to reduced gas, less frequent poop breaks, and overall bulkier poop. 

In fact, the ingredient list itself might not even list “fiber” as a separate ingredient. However, fiber is found in many natural ingredients, like many grains, fruit, and veggies. Fortunately, all reputable and AAFCO approved dog food formulas have the crude fiber content listed on the packaging. So, you can rest assured knowing that you’re choosing the right one for your pooch. As a general rule of thumb, low residue dog foods should contain less than 5% of crude fiber. Keep that in mind! 

Buy Foods With High-Quality Protein Sources

Another thing to look for is what type of protein sources are used in the formula. You should opt for low residue dog foods with high-quality protein sources. By the way, the protein should be listed as the first ingredient on the packaging. If your dog suffers from digestive issues, avoid formulas that contain meat by-products, as these tend to be more difficult to digest, and overall cause issues with digestion. 

Just like for us humans, protein is an excellent source of energy and it also promotes good muscle development. In addition to that, protein provides essential amino acids that are the main building blocks for healthy skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and hair. Protein even helps repair tissues inside your pup’s body. 

In low residue diets, there tends to be more protein to promote good digestion and soothe the stomach. However, you should opt for proteins sourced from animals, as plant-based proteins are not as easily digested. 

The Formula Should Contain Digestible Carbs

Likewise, you want to make sure that the formula you’re purchasing contains easily digestible carbohydrates. This helps minimize the risk of any potential digestive distress. However, as many carb sources are high in fiber, you have to be careful here.  

Some carbs are harder to digest than others, and if a formula contains too many of them, it can cause bloating and discomfort. Look for formulas that include easily digestible carbs like white rice or potatoes. Although many would recommend brown rice, it’s actually higher in fiber, which can result in digestive issues. Likewise, potato isn’t as high in fiber, and therefore it’s an excellent source of carbohydrates in low residue dog foods. 

Avoid Foods With High-Fat Content

Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing a low residue dog food formula is the fat content. It’s generally recommended to avoid formulas with high fat content, as excessive fat intake can cause digestive problems just as well. 

Many dog foods contain added fats like fish oil or flaxseed oil for a healthy balance of fatty acids. And there’s no arguing about their health benefits! However, too much fat can cause bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting, especially if your pup has a sensitive tummy. In low residue dog foods, the fat content should be moderate, about 6-15%, tops.  

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid any added fats and healthy oils at all costs. Dogs need some healthy fats in their diet, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The key is to make sure that the fat content isn’t too high. Again, the packaging should state the exact percentage of fat in the formula. Thanks to this, you won’t have to worry about figuring out every single ingredient separately. 

Check The Label For Healthy Digestive Supplements

Another perk of low residue dog foods is that oftentimes they contain ingredients like probiotics and digestive enzymes. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve intestinal health, while enzymes can help break down difficult-to-digest proteins. The formula may also include prebiotic fibers that have been shown to help reduce stomach upset and regulate bowel movements. Nonetheless, the overall crude fiber content should stay around the 5% range, as we mentioned earlier. 

Avoid Artificial & Low-Quality Ingredients

Finally, when looking for the best low residue dog food for your pooch, make sure you opt for a formula that’s made with high-quality, real ingredients. Although they may be pricier, they’re generally much better not just for your dog’s digestion, but for their overall health. 

Of course, you should avoid any artificial and low-quality ingredients. These include unnecessary fillers, excessive grains, meat by-products, artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. All of these ingredients can be difficult for your pup to digest. In fact, they can also cause many other health issues and even trigger allergies and intolerances. 

Moreover, you may want to avoid ingredients like dairy, wheat, corn, or soy. All of these can potentially trigger allergies and upset the stomach. This is especially true for breeds that are already prone to sensitivities and allergies. 

Our Top 5 Picks For Low Residue Dog Foods

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog FoodWellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog FoodPurina Pro Plan Focus Adult Classic Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Entree Canned Dog FoodNutro Natural Choice Small Bites Adult Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog FoodCANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
Crude Fiber 4% max4% max1.5% max3.5% max4.5% max
Crude Fat 15% min16% min5% min14% min14% min
Crude Protein26% min34% min7% min*(31% when converted)22% min32% min
Dry or Wet?Dry KibbleDry KibbleWet FoodDry Kibble
* Since wet food has a much higher moisture content, the overall percentage of protein will seem lower. 

5 Best Low Residue Dog Foods For Sale In 2024

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is specially designed for small-sized breeds to provide them all the goodness they need to lead healthy and happy lives. It’s formulated with LifeSource Bits – a unique blend of nutrients that have been enriched with antioxidant ingredients. It also contains probiotics, which are super helpful for good digestion.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

This low residue dog food has a crude fiber content of 4% max, and a crude fat content of about 15%, making it a good option for sensitive pups. The first ingredient listed in the formula is deboned chicken, and the second is chicken meal, meaning that they put great emphasis on using high-quality protein sources in this formula. There’s no corn, wheat, soy, or chicken by-product meals added to this formula. 

What’s more, this formula is fortified with extra omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that support the skin, coat, and digestive health. There’s also added glucosamine, which is an excellent supplement for promoting good joint health.  

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food

If you’re looking for a grain-free option, then your pup might love this Wellness CORE dry kibble. This formula is packed with protein that provides your pup all the energy they need, but also helps keep them healthy and promote tissue repair. This kibble has a crude fiber content of a maximum of 4%, a minimum of 16% fats, and an astonishing 34% protein. 

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food

The first ingredient in this formula is deboned turkey, and it also contains turkey meal, which is an excellent source of joint-supporting glucosamine. In addition to that, the third ingredient listed is chicken meal, which is not only a good source of protein, but also provides extra joint support with the naturally occurring chondroitin. 

You’ll also find that this formula is fortified with omega fatty acids, probiotics, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals that are essential for your pup’s optimal health and wellbeing. It’s filled with natural ingredients like potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, kale, blueberries, and apples. The formula is grain-free, and it contains no meat by-products, soy, corn, fillers, wheat-gluten, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Classic Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Entree Canned Dog Food

The Purina Pro Plan Select wet food is specially formulated for dogs that have sensitive skin and stomachs. This wet food is made with real salmon, which is also listed as the first ingredient. Salmon is an excellent source of those essential omega fatty acids that support the brain, skin, coat, and digestive health. 

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Classic Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Entree Canned Dog Food

It also contains natural prebiotic fiber that supports your pup’s digestive health, and rice to soothe a sensitive tummy. Another thing to mention about this excellent low residue dog food formula is that it contains a whopping 23 essential vitamins and minerals, providing your pup a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, or soy or wheat used in this formula. 

Nutro Natural Choice Small Bites Adult Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

The Nutro Natural Choice dry kibble recipe is made with real, human-grade ingredients. The first ingredient listed is real deboned lamb, but it also contains chicken meal for that extra protein kick. It’s made with non-GMO ingredients, and you’ll find no chicken by-products, corn, wheat, or soy, or any artificial preservatives or unnecessary ingredients in their formula.

Nutro Natural Choice Small Bites Adult Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

These small-sized kibble bites are packed with antioxidants that support your pup’s immune system, and a ton of vitamins and minerals to ensure your dog gets everything they need from their diet. There’s also natural fiber that supports proper digestion, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that support your pup’s overall health. The formula contains just 3.5% crude fiber and about 14% fats.  

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Another high-protein option in this list is this grain-free dry kibble from Canidae. It’s a specially formulated limited ingredient dry dog food that’s designed for sensitive dogs. It contains a blend of whole veggies, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals to support healthy digestion, joints, immune system, coat, skin, and heart. 

CANIDAE Pure Goodness Real Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

This grain-free kibble has a high-protein content of at least 32%, a maximum of 4.5% crude fiber, and about 14% crude fat, making it a suitable choice for pups who need to be on a low residue dog food diet. 

The formula features premium proteins and clean ingredients, including real salmon as the first ingredient, but also salmon meal and fish meal. It’s fortified with probiotics that are essential for good digestion, and extra antioxidants and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to provide an all round support for your pup’s health. 

The formula is made with zero corn, wheat, soy, or grain, and it contains no fillers or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. What’s more, Canidae partners with US farmers who adapt new forms of regenerative agriculture to minimize impact on farmlands. 

How To Make Low Residue Dog Food At Home

Although the low residue dog foods we listed above are excellent to manage those uncomfortable digestive problems, some people choose to make their own dog food at home instead.

Homemade low residue dog food can be a great way to provide your pup with the nutrition they need while limiting their exposure to certain ingredients that are harder to digest. On the other hand, there are also potential risks associated with feeding your dog homemade food. Namely, the food may become contaminated if not stored properly, and it may also be lacking essential nutrients that dogs so desperately need to get from their diets. On top of that, it may be very difficult to manage the actual fiber content in homemade dog food, especially if you add in fruit, vegetables, and grains. 

If you do decide to cook some homemade low residue dog food yourself, the instructions are rather similar to choosing a commercial low residue formula. You should opt for high-quality lean meats and poultry, a moderate amount of healthy fats, and make sure the fiber content stays low. For added benefits, you can also add in tummy-supporting supplements like probiotics and dog-safe digestive enzymes. 

As the goal is to feed your dog a diet that’s easily digestible, you should always cook the ingredients before feeding them to your pup. This aids in digestion and also helps minimize potential risks. 

Ingredients To Choose

Some of the most commonly used ingredients in homemade low residue diets include high-quality animal proteins (about 50-80%), and cooked vegetables that are low in fiber. You can also add in a small amount of well-cooked peeled potatoes or white rice. To make sure that the fiber content stays low, you should avoid any whole-grains, such as brown rice or even sweet potato, as they tend to have a higher fiber content. We also recommend you avoid dairy products, as they may cause digestive issues for already sensitive pups. 

Sarah Whitman has posted a healthy low residue dog food recipe on The Nest that we recommend you check out. 

Best Low Residue Dog Foods: FAQs

What Foods Are Low In Residue?

Low residue foods include high-quality animal proteins, such as fish, poultry, and eggs. Basically, any food that has a low fiber content is low residue, as it’s the fiber that’s the main culprit in these cases. When looking for a low residue dog food formula, the meat should be listed as the first ingredient, and the crude fiber content should be no more than 5%. 

What Is The Most Digestible Dog Food?

The most digestible dog food is one that is tailored to your pup’s needs and preferences. Look for options that are low in grains and fiber, fillers, and artificial preservatives, as well as those with the right balance of proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, and other real ingredients. Generally, highly digestible low residue dog foods have a more straightforward ingredient list to ensure that the formula is as gentle on the stomach as possible. 

What Foods Are Low Fiber And Low Residue?

Foods that are low in fiber and low in residue include cooked lean proteins like meat, poultry, and fish. You should also opt for non-starchy and low fiber veggies and fruits that are cooked, and healthy fats in moderate amounts. Additionally, white potatoes (without the skin) and white rice can be a good low fiber source of carbs.  

Is Rice A Low-Residue Food?

Yes, rice is a low-residue food. It’s easy to digest and provides energy without adding too much fiber or bulk to your dog’s diet. However, when choosing which type of rice to give to your pet, opt for white rice, as it’s lower in fiber compared to wild or brown rice options. 

Is Potato A Low-Residue Food?

Yes, peeled potatoes are low residue. Potatoes provide your pup carbs with minimal fiber content. Sweet potato, on the other hand, has a higher fiber content, which means that it’s not as easily digestible. 

Best Low Residue Dog Foods: Final Thoughts

Just like us humans, our canine pals can often struggle with digestive issues, inflammation in the gut, and other similar conditions that can prove to be difficult to manage. The low residue diet for dogs can often help with these issues, as it’s low in fiber that’s known to cause diarrhea, flatulence, and vomiting. On the other hand, if your pup is experiencing any of these issues, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should switch to a low residue diet plan. As always, you should consult with your veterinarian before introducing any type of new food into your pup’s diet, as they will be able to make personalized recommendations based on your pet’s health and unique needs.

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