Like humans, dogs can also suffer from food allergies. This can be difficult to deal with since it’s hard to determine whether your dog is allergic to food or something else.
Plus, it takes a lot of time and effort to determine which ingredients are causing the allergy.
Luckily, some dog foods are designed to address this issue and prevent allergic reactions. The best dog food for allergies will contain fewer ingredients but still meet your dog’s nutritional needs. Let’s check them out!
Top 5 picks for best dog food for allergies in 2021
|Dog Food Recipes||Our Rating|
Best Overall Dog Food for Allergies (All Life stages)
|Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP
Best Budget Dog Food for Allergies
|Hill’s Science Diet: Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin
Best Puppy Food for Allergies
|Zignature Turkey Formula Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Best Dog Food for Adult Dogs with Allergies
|Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Chicken Flavor
Best Senior Dog Food with Allergies
|Brothers Complete Advanced Allergy Lamb Meal and Egg
What is the best food for dogs with allergies?
Choosing the right food for dogs with allergies can often be a long process. Hopefully, our list of best foods for dogs with allergies will help you out in this mission.
One of the few things to consider is your canine’s age or life-stage.
Best puppy food for allergies
Food allergies usually take time to develop. Still, puppies are more likely to suffer from food sensitivities, so here’s our top choice of puppy food for allergies:
1. Zignature Turkey Formula Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Turkey Liver
This grain-free puppy kibble is made with a single protein source and limited ingredients. It has high caloric content, suitable for growing puppies, along with other essential nutrients.
- Made from farm-raised turkey and other natural ingredients
- Rich in fiber, antioxidants, and fatty acids
- Expensive compared to similar products
Best dog food for adult dogs with allergies
Once your pup reaches adulthood, he’s more likely to suffer from food allergies. So we have chosen the top 10 adult dog foods for allergies that your fur buddy might like.
2. Hill’s Science Diet: Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal
This food is focused primarily on sensitive stomachs and sensitive skin, but it’s also good for allergies. It includes beet pulp as a healthy prebiotic fiber for digestion.
- A good choice for healthy digestion
- Has vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin
- More affordable than other options on our list
- Contains chicken as the primary protein source
3. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey and Potato
Top Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Potatoes
With fresh, deboned turkey as the main protein source and easily digestible carbs, this dog food is designed to support whole-body health.
It is limited in ingredients and contains omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, plus glucosamine and probiotics for digestive health.
- Doesn’t have any grains and gluten-free
- Made from natural, non-GMO ingredients
- Some dogs may not enjoy the taste
4. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Chicken Flavor
Top Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Soy Protein Isolate, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver, Hydrolyzed Chicken
This special diet is crafted with the help of veterinary nutritionists. It’s a grain-free dry kibble full of antioxidants and other essential nutrients.
- Offers instant relief for food allergies and sensitivities
- Moderate caloric content (322 kcal/cup)
- Contains partially hydrogenated canola oil, which is highly processed
5. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Real Salmon and Sweet Potato
Top Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal
This grain-free dry kibble contains salmon as the main protein source, while the main carb is sweet potatoes. The food has only eight ingredients in total, limiting the possibility of an allergic reaction.
- Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
- Fortified with a blend of antioxidants, probiotics, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Some dogs suffered digestive issues after eating this food
6. Merrick LID Grain-Free Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, Flaxseed
This high-quality dog food offers a great mix of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Limited ingredients are good for allergies, while dogs with food sensitivities benefit from the lack of grains.
- Great taste that will suit even the picky eaters
- No common allergens and artificial ingredients or additives
- Could benefit from more probiotics for healthy gut flora
7. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice
This dry kibble for adult dogs contains lamb as the primary source of proteins and brown rice for carbs. It has a limited number of all-natural ingredients, all essential nutrients, and the food is rigorously tested for quality.
- Gluten-free despite the inclusion of grains
- Good for healthy digestion and strong muscles
- Not a grain-free option
8. Taste of the Wild Prey Angus Beef Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Beef, Lentils, Tomato Pomace
This grain-free kibble is popular because its only protein source is high-quality Angus beef. It also offers a rich taste and a precise mix of other essential nutrients. The food is free of GMOs and artificial additives and flavors.
- Angus beef is good for strong and lean muscles
- Rich with proprietary probiotics for digestive health
- Beef as the main protein is not the best choice for allergies
9. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Food
Top Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Broth, Potatoes
If you’re looking for a grain-free wet food that’s good for sensitive stomachs and allergies, Blue Buffalo is a great choice. It’s made with all-natural ingredients for healthy digestion and fish oil.
- No major food allergens, grains, and artificial ingredients and additives
- Extremely palatable and tasty
- May be too expensive as a staple diet
10. NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Dry Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Chickpeas, Dried Sweet Potato
Like other limited-ingredient diets, this dry kibble focuses on quality instead of quantity, which is good for dogs with allergies. It has lamb as a protein source, full of amino acids that contribute to lean muscles.
- Good for sensitive skin and stomach
- Includes glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
- Only suitable for large and giant breeds
11. Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP
Top Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Fish Oil
Designed by veterinary experts, this hypoallergenic dog food contains hydrolyzed protein to prevent allergies and stomach issues. It’s also rich in amino acids, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
- Has an exclusive blend of fibers to support healthy digestion
- Suitable for both puppies and adult dogs
- Includes chicken fat, but dogs are usually allergic to proteins from chicken
Best dog food for allergies for senior dogs
Senior dogs have different nutritional needs than puppies and adults, even if they suffer from food allergies. We have selected two of the best senior dog foods for allergies:
12. Brothers Complete Advanced Allergy Lamb Meal and Egg
Top Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Dried Whole Eggs, Turkey Meal
This grain-free dog food is suitable for all life stages, from puppies to seniors. The limited ingredients are selected to prevent allergic reactions, but it’s also ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- Provides digestive enzymes to help with nutrient absorption
- Includes encapsulated probiotics with live bacteria for a healthy gut
- Contains eggs, which are a common allergen
13. P.S. Grain-Free Complete Dog Food
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Pumpkin, Ground Lamb Bone
The single source of protein in this grain-free dog food is grass-fed New Zealand lamb. There’s also an abundance of essential vitamins and minerals. Ingredients are carefully selected for dogs with allergies.
- Suitable for all life stages
- Comes with a money-back satisfaction guarantee
- Recommended only for small breeds
Why do some dogs develop food allergies?
Food allergies are triggered when dogs eat certain foods and suffer an allergic reaction, but the cause behind food allergies is the immune system’s overreaction.
However, the exact reason why some dogs develop food allergies is still unknown.
Many veterinarians believe that the cause of food allergies in dogs is genetic, which means that dogs are simply born with them.
Others believe that it may be environmental and caused by your dog’s diet, as well as exposure to certain things.
The argument in favor of genetic reasons lies in the fact that some breeds are more susceptible to food allergies than others. The environmental argument says that dogs from certain regions often suffer from similar food allergies.
Proteins are the most common allergens, so some vets suggest limiting their number in your dog’s diet to reduce the risk of allergies.
Antibiotics given to dogs in puppyhood may have a role in developing food allergies.
Giving your puppy probiotic supplements can mitigate the risk and improve his gut flora. This treatment poses minimal risks, and it can provide significant benefits to your dog’s digestive system.
However, there are no conclusive studies linking antibiotics to food allergies. Even the studies done on humans show mixed and inconclusive results.
Whatever the actual cause is, food allergies often take some time to develop. Your dog may not show any signs of an allergic reaction to particular food the first time he eats it.
Instead, the symptoms may show after repeated exposure and at any point in your dog’s life.
How to tell if your dog is allergic to food?
Food allergy is just one type of possible allergies in dogs. Other types include inhalant and contact allergies. Also, only 10% of all allergies in dogs are food allergies.
Allergies in dogs are most commonly caused by fleas and other environmental factors, while food is the 3rd most common cause.
Pet owners may not be able to determine right away that their dogs are allergic to food since the symptoms of all allergies are similar.
The safest course of action is to take your dog to the vet if you notice any symptoms of an allergic reaction. They’ll help you determine what type of allergy your dog has and, after a while, precisely what he is allergic to.
Food Allergy VS. Food Intolerance
It’s important to note that there’s a difference between food intolerances and food allergies.
When the immune system wrongly identifies certain ingredients as harmful and triggers an immune response, food allergy occurs. An intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to digest certain foods.
The most common food intolerance is related to lactose, which is found in milk and dairy products. Another common culprit is gluten, which is found in grains.
Unfortunately, a definitive test to determine whether your dog has a food allergy or food intolerance doesn’t exist.
The main difference lies in the fact that food intolerance mainly causes digestive problems. Meanwhile, allergies mostly affect the dog’s skin.
Breeds frequently affected by food allergies
Some dog breeds are more prone to food allergies than others, probably due to their genetics. The same goes for any other type of allergy.
These are the breeds frequently affected by them:
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Cocker Spaniel
- English Setter
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Irish Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- Lhasa Apso
- Shar Pei
- Shih Tzu
Some dog breeds are hypoallergenic, but people mistakenly think that they’re not at risk of allergies. That’s not true – hypoallergenic means “relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.”
Hypoallergenic dog breeds don’t shed or shed very little, making them suitable for people with allergies.
However, even the hypoallergenic dog breeds are not 100% safe for people with dog allergies. The reason is that humans are allergic to dogs’ hair and proteins from a dog’s saliva and urine.
What are the symptoms of food allergies in dogs?
Dogs that suffer from food allergies can have a wide range of symptoms, like skin rash, itching, hives, ear infections, paw biting, excessive licking, and others.
Digestive issues nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting may occur in some cases.
If you notice some of these signs and they persist for a few days, take your dog to the vet to determine the cause.
As we already mentioned, your dog may also suffer from food intolerance. In this case, the symptoms will mostly include digestive problems, like nausea, gas, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the right food for dogs with allergies
Dogs with allergies have to eat high-quality dog food, but that alone won’t be enough to prevent allergic reactions. It’s also important to choose dog food specifically designed for dogs with food allergies.
For example, hypoallergenic dog food is often made with novel animal proteins like bison, venison, or duck. Additionally, these dog foods invest in research to find the perfect mix of essential nutrients.
Factors that you need to consider when choosing dog food include your pet’s reaction to the food, your vet’s recommendations, and food price.
Remember that hypoallergenic dog foods are often more expensive than regular dog food.
What kind of dog food is best for allergies?
There are different types of dog foods that are good for dogs with allergies. All of them come with certain benefits, so it’s up to you to find the most suitable pet food for your pooch.
Limited ingredient diets usually contain a single protein and carbohydrate source. Fewer ingredients in the food can reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, especially if you’re unsure exactly what type of food is causing it.
Dog food with novel protein sources is rarely used in standard commercial dog foods, so the risk of an allergic reaction is much lower.
Some of the most popular novel proteins include venison, bison, rabbit, herring, kangaroo, pheasant, alligator, etc.
Hydrolyzed protein diets contain hydrolyzed proteins and carbs. That means that protein and carb molecules have been chemically broken down into basic building blocks like amino acids.
This process makes the original food allergens “invisible” to your dog’s immune system.
Specialized or Prescription diets are designed to be hypoallergenic. However, they’re prescribed by veterinarians and nutritionists and only available through them. It’s also a bit more expensive than the other options.
Homemade dog food gives you more control over the source and quality of the ingredients, but it’s often not the best long-term solution.
It takes a lot of time to prepare and design a well-balanced food that includes all essential nutrients.
Raw food diets don’t have any fillers or additives. It’s another way to address his problem with allergies. While raw diet also has many other health benefits, it also comes with certain risks.
Whatever type of dog food you choose for your dog’s allergies, keep in mind that it will probably take some time to deal with the issue.
And if you choose to go with commercial dog foods of any kind, ensure that the food is certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Solutions for food allergies: What to look for when selecting a dog food
When buying food for dogs with allergies, the most important thing to focus on is the protein source.
Some protein sources are more likely to cause allergic reactions since they’re used more than others in commercial dog foods.
For example, chicken, beef, and lamb are the most common culprits, but other proteins can also cause allergic reactions.
The safest course of action is to try dog foods with a single protein source, preferably one that your dog wasn’t eating before. Limited ingredient diets are usually a good place to start.
It’s also important to consider other nutrients in dog foods since your dog still needs to have a well-balanced diet even if he is prone to food allergies.
Learn how to read the dog food label’s guaranteed analysis to understand the product’s nutrient content.
Common dietary allergens in dog food
Aside from animal protein, other ingredients can also cause allergies in dogs, including skin allergies.
Some dog owners may think that if a dog is allergic to chicken, he will be allergic to any poultry meat. That’s NOT true, and often dogs that are allergic to chicken are not allergic to turkey.
While any type of food can cause an allergic reaction, these are the most common food allergens for dogs:
Wet, semi-moist, or dry dog food? Which is the best for your dog?
Choosing between wet, semi-moist, and dry dog food for dogs with allergies can be difficult because each type of food has advantages.
Dry kibble is good for your dog’s dental health since it can clean his teeth and prevent gum disease.
Meanwhile, semi-moist and wet dog foods are more palatable and, in most cases, tastier than dry dog food. However, they can sometimes cause stomach distress, especially runny bowels, in dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Dry dog food is also more affordable than wet food, but the choice is ultimately yours.
Is grain-free dog food necessary for dogs with allergies?
Some grains have the potential to cause allergies in dogs since they also contain specific proteins.
And grains used in low-quality dog foods are often infested with insect carcasses and droppings.
This means that low-quality dog foods may be infected with grain mites, which can cause allergic reactions and other diseases.
Whether the grains themselves or insects are the culprit, grain-free dog foods are simply a better choice for dogs with allergies.
Some dogs are also sensitive to grains that contain gluten, which is another reason to avoid dog foods with grains.
However, grain-free or gluten-free recipes are more expensive, so consider that too – especially if your dog is not sensitive to grains.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can you help your dog with allergies?
If your dog suffers from food allergies, take him to the vet to determine further steps. Most likely, your vet will suggest an elimination-challenge diet to determine which food causes the allergic reaction.
What is an elimination-challenge diet, and how does it work?
An elimination-challenge diet is the best way to determine what ingredients are causing your dog’s food allergies by eliminating certain foods from his diet.
Step 1 – Eliminating Allergens: The challenge begins by eliminating the most likely culprits, which are proteins.
That means removing all protein sources that your dog used to eat and switching to other proteins, like novel protein sources.
In addition to this, focus on dog foods with carbohydrate content from brown rice, sweet potato, or even white potato. These sources of carbs rarely cause allergies, unlike corn or wheat.
Avoid dog foods that contain artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, additives, animal by-products, yeast, and other supplements which can overstimulate your dog’s immune system.
It’s necessary to keep your dog on the restricted diet for at least 12 weeks, during which time only this special diet will be consumed and nothing else.
This includes treats, rawhides, chews, flavored medication or toothpaste, etc.
Keep an eye on your dog to prevent him from chewing things found in the backyard, during walks, or in the trash.
Once all this is done, your dog’s symptoms should disappear, but keep in mind that it may take several weeks for this to happen.
Step 2 – Reintroduction: Once your dog is feeling better and shows no signs of allergies, it’s time to reintroduce those foods that you have eliminated, one by one.
This is done to determine exact foods that are causing your dog’s allergic reaction, so it’s important to do it slowly and one ingredient at a time.
Your dog’s reaction to reintroduced ingredients will tell you which foods are the culprits.
If nothing happens when you reintroduce a food item, that food is safe for consumption, and you can try other ingredients that you eliminated. If your dog has an allergic reaction, avoid that ingredient in the future.
Remember that some dogs can develop allergies to certain foods later on, so don’t think that your pooch is permanently safe. He may be, but there is no guarantee.
Can blood testing speed up the elimination process?
Blood testing is not efficient enough to provide an accurate diagnosis for your dog’s food allergies, so an elimination diet is the only reliable option.
That being said, intradermal skin testing can be helpful with inhalant allergies, so if you’re unsure whether your dog is suffering from a food allergy or some other type, you can get this test done.
Inhalant allergies are also more common than food allergies, so this test may resolve your problem.
What can you give to your dog for allergy relief?
Taking your dog to the vet should be your first step, along with the elimination diet they’ll likely recommend.
Still, there are a few things that could help your dog with his allergies, like certain probiotic supplements, an oatmeal bath to calm his skin, or coconut oil spread across his skin to help with the itching.
Certain topical solutions can also help with rashes and itchy skin, while apple cider vinegar may help with stomach issues.
Some vets may recommend giving your dog Benadryl for children, but you shouldn’t do this without consultation with your vet.
Does a high-protein diet trigger allergies?
Yes, it can. Protein from meat is the most common culprit behind food allergies, so a high-protein diet may trigger your dog’s allergic reaction.
Is raw food the answer to dog food allergies?
Raw proteins may have a bit different configuration than cooked proteins, which may prevent allergic reactions. However, there’s no real evidence that switching to a raw diet can help alleviate your dog’s allergies.
Furthermore, raw diets come with certain dangers, and they’re discouraged both by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Can probiotics help my dog with allergies?
Since allergies are related to the immune system, probiotics can’t directly help against them. However, they can alleviate digestive issues caused by allergies.
Is homemade food better for dogs with allergies?
Yes, as long as you meet your dog’s nutritional requirements. That being said, homemade diets are rarely a long-term solution.
Why are dog foods for pets with allergies so expensive?
Hypoallergenic dog foods are usually more expensive because they contain novel proteins and limited, high-quality ingredients. Additionally, it takes a lot of time and effort to find the right formula for dogs with food allergies.
Should I give hypoallergenic treats to my dog?
Yes. If your dog is suffering from allergies, it’s important to give him treats that will not cause an adverse reaction. So, don’t forget to use hypoallergenic dog treats, too.
Talk to your vet before deciding which is the best dog food for allergies
You probably figured by now that dealing with food allergies in dogs takes time and effort., and choosing the right food is crucial.
Despite the many options, focus on high-quality, limited ingredients. Avoid common food allergens and look for foods rich in probiotics to support your dog’s digestive system.
And it won’t hurt to mention it again – take your dog to the vet if you notice allergy symptoms before you do anything else.
What do you think is the best dog food for allergies? Leave your suggestions in the comment section.
Further reading: Best dog foods for other dietary issues
- Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach
- Best Dog Food for Diarrhea
- Best Dog Food for Picky Eaters