Skin allergies are very common in dogs. What some owners don’t know is that some commercial dog foods can actually aggravate skin sensitivity.
Thankfully, there are a number of products on the market that can help. Let’s take a look at some of the best dog food for skin allergies currently out there and exactly how they help.
Dogs & Skin Allergies
Canine contact dermatitis, sometimes called atopic dermatitis, is a common condition in dogs. It is when their skin is reactive to allergens such as pollen, plants, fleas, garden products, household dust, household cleaning products, topical agents, certain materials, and certain foods.
If your dog has an allergy, their skin may become red, rashy, bumpy, and feel itchy or sore. They may also scratch and lick the affected area to soothe it. It’s important to get to the bottom of allergies as excessive scratching can create sores that are vulnerable to infection.
Dog allergies can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines when the cause is unavoidable. Breeds prone to contact dermatitis include Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers, and most Terrier breeds.
In extreme cases, allergies can cause the throat to swell and cause trouble breathing. Should this happen, you should give them an antihistamine as soon as possible to calm the reaction. You can also soothe reactive skin with skin-soothing hypoallergenic dog shampoos or make your own DIY treatment. To make a homemade treatment, run a bath with lukewarm water, oatmeal, and chamomile.
Food Allergies in Dogs
Common food allergies in dogs include gluten, eggs, soy, and proteins, especially those from meat and dairy products. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, talk to your vet about doing a food trial to work out the problem. A food trial is a carefully planned diet plan in which you expose your dog to one common allergen at a time to see which one causes a reaction.
Certain allergens are easier to cut out of a dog’s diet than others. For example, dogs don’t need gluten, and it is easy to avoid with careful buying. However, they do need protein in their diets. Therefore, a process of trial and error may be needed to discover which protein sources are safe for them. Fish is usually a good option for these dogs.
All dogs should eat a healthy diet of high-quality, nutritionally complete/balanced kibble, natural protein sources, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. However, a lot of commercial dog foods use so-called “filler” ingredients that contain common allergens because low-quality recipes are cheaper to manufacture.
Most dogs who eat them won’t experience specific health problems because of it, but they will generally not be as healthy as they could be overall if they ate a better diet. For dogs with allergies, however, these foods can be very damaging to their health and wellbeing. Thankfully, nowadays, there are a lot of holistic and mainstream pet brands that provide high-quality foods that are free from filler ingredients. There are also hypoallergenic kibbles made specifically for dogs with skin and stomach sensitivities.
What To Look For in Hypoallergenic Dog Food
When looking for food for your sensitive dog, look out for the following things:
Age, Size, and Breed Appropriate Food
Buying your dog food that is appropriate for their age, size, and breed is important. Puppies need different nutrients than adult dogs because they are growing and developing. Elderly dogs generally need fewer calories than younger adults, but extra nutrients to support their aging bodies and minds.
Similarly, different-sized dogs need different nutrient densities. For example, large, muscular breeds need diets with high protein and low fat to maintain healthy muscles and avoid obesity. Smaller breeds also need physically smaller kibble pieces to avoid choking. That said, there are kibbles that are meant to be suitable for all breeds, and owners must be careful to portion the meals correctly to provide the right nutrient densities.
The type of breed is also important because different dogs have different activity levels and personalities. For example, Shepherd breeds tend to need more protein than other dogs because they are so energetic. Similarly, working dogs can need more protein fuel for their daily activities.
If your dog has sensitivities or allergies, it’s essential that you buy them food that is free from the ingredients that cause them problems. If your dog has multiple allergies or is just generally sensitive, you can buy hypoallergenic food that is free from all common allergens. Product listings and labels will tell you the ingredients in the product.
Packaging and product listings will also usually let you know if a product is organic, eco-friendly, or cruelty-free if that’s important to you.
Recommendations and Reviews
When looking to buy your dog a new kibble, ask your vet for recommendations or do some research online to find food that is approved or recommended by official health and veterinary bodies. Similarly, looking at online reviews by buyers can be helpful, especially those who own dogs that have similar problems to yours.
How To Change Your Dog’s Diet
Always talk to your vet before drastically changing your dog’s diet and ask them for their food recommendations. Vets suggest changing your dog’s diet gradually if you’re going to change it dramatically. For example, if you’re transitioning your dog from low-quality food with filler ingredients to high-quality food with all-natural ingredients.
It’s best to start off with ¾ of your dog’s meal consisting of their old food, and ¼ new food. Then, after 3-4 days, up it to half and half. After a few more days, make it ¾ new food, and after a week, transition them fully to the new food. If your dog has a stomach upset at any point, reverse a step or leave it a couple of days before taking your next step. If their stomach doesn’t improve, try different food.
12 Best Dog Food for Skin Allergies
These are the best commercial dog foods on Amazon for dogs with skin allergies.
1. Canidae PURE Grain Free
Canidae’s PURE grain-free dog food contains a simple recipe of only eight all-natural ingredients with no additives or fillers. It contains salmon, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, canola oil, sun-cured alfalfa, potatoes.
It comes in 4 lb, 10 lb, 12 lb, 21 lb, and 24 lb bags and there are different options for dogs of different ages and sizes. There are also several different flavor combinations to choose from including salmon & sweet potato and lamb & pea.
The food is fortified with Canidae’s HealthPLUS blend of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants, and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, to support dogs with extra sensitive systems. Buyers love the product and reviewers love the different flavors, saying that it’s great to have so many different options to stop their dogs from getting bored.
2. Amazon Brand – Wag Dry Dog/Puppy Food
Amazon’s own pet brand Wag makes a dry dog food containing no added grains that are made in the USA. There are five different flavor options including chicken, beef, salmon, turkey, and lamb. All of them are powered by 35% protein and contain nutritious veggies such as lentils and peas.
The food also has added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and is suitable for all adult life stages. There’s an option for puppies, too, and several size options including 4 lb, 5 lb, 15 lb, 24 lb, and 30 lb bags. Reviews are mostly positive, but some buyers warn that the food is best for dogs with mild sensitivity, not severe allergies.
3. VICTOR Select – Grain Free Yukon River Canine, Dry Dog Food
This food by Victor is 74% protein, 26% plants and veggies, and 0% grains. It’s perfect for dogs with food allergies and sensitive stomachs, especially those with high protein needs like working dogs and super active pets.
It’s also fortified with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Fish is the first ingredient and the food is available in 15 lb bags. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive and buyers say that their dogs love the taste.
4. Acana Singles Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food
Acana’s limited ingredient dry dog food is available in several sizes and flavor combinations including lamb & apple and turkey & pumpkin. Sizes range from 0.75 lb bags to 25 lb bags and all of their protein sources come from free-roaming farms in the USA.
65% of the food comes from meat sources and it contains no filler ingredients. It’s also fortified with key vitamins and is nutritionally complete. Reviews call the food great value for money.
5. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Purina’s sensitive skin and stomach formula food are ideal for adult dogs with allergies of all kinds. It’s suitable for all breeds and comes in a 5 lb, 16 lb, 30 lb, and 41 lb bag. The food is fortified with live probiotics and prebiotic fiber for digestive and immune health.
It is also free from filler ingredients and made in the USA. Purina is highly regarded and trusted among dog owners around the world, and this food is no exception as it barely has any negative reviews.
6. Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Real Salmon and Potato Recipe
This food by Diamond Naturals utilizes all-natural ingredients like wild-caught salmon and contains zero grains or fillers. It’s easy to digest and great for dogs with high protein needs. It comes in 15 lb and 30 lb bags and contains extra vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The brand is an American family-owned business and is trusted by pet lovers. Reviews are very complimentary and many buyers highly recommend the product.
7. Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food
Hill’s dog food for adults with sensitive stomachs and skin is crafted with beet pulp, a nourishing prebiotic fiber. It also contains vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and a beautiful, shiny coat. It comes in 4 lb, 15.5 lb, and 30 lb bags and is recommended by vets.
The recipe is scientifically proven to improve digestive and skin health and reviews rave about the difference they have seen in their pets’ overall health and energy since eating the food.
8. Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement for Dogs
These grain-free soft chews by Zesty Paws are not dog food, but they can be added to your dog’s food as a supplement to support immunity and histamine for good skin health. They’re tasty, nutritious, and made out of natural ingredients like Alaskan salmon fish oil.
They also contain vitamins, protein, fiber, antioxidants, prebiotics, and probiotics for good overall health. There is an adult option and a senior option for older dogs, and the supplements come in a handy pot for easy storage. It’s an Amazon’s Choice product and reviews cannot praise it highly enough. Many buyers note a positive difference in their dog’s skin, gut, and joint health since using the supplements.
9. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo’s life protection formula food for adult dogs comes in 6 lb, 15 lb, 30 lb, and 36 lb bags. It’s available in several flavors including chicken & brown rice and fish & brown rice. All of them contain real meat, brown rice, garden veggies, and fruits.
They also contain antioxidant-rich “life source” bits; a precise blend of nutrients and minerals that have been carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support a strong immune system and good overall health including that of the coat and skin. It’s free from animal by-products, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial flavors and preservatives.
10. Forza10 Dermo Sensitive Skin Dog Food
Forza10’s fish-flavored dog food with sensitive skin comes in a 6 lb bag and a 22 lb bag. It’s specially formulated to help improve dry skin and provide relief from allergies and minor skin ailments like dandruff.
It’s rich in raw hydrolyzed fish proteins, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids. Hydrolyzed protein is derived from the hydrolysis of a protein source into its component amino acids and peptides, which are very beneficial nutrients to a dog’s overall health. The food is also free from GMOs, grains, and artificial additives. Reviews are very positive, with buyers saying it is worth the price and that their dogs love it.
11. AvoDerm Natural Duck Recipe
AvoDerm’s natural duck recipe kibble contains a limited ingredient recipe with real duck as the main ingredient. It’s free from filler ingredients and all common allergens like wheat and soy. The food comes in bags of 4 lbs and 22 lbs and reviews say that the food works wonders with even the pickiest of eaters.
12. Hill's Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food
Hill’s prescription dog food for skin and food sensitivities is specially formulated and clinically proven by dog nutritionists and veterinarians to support dogs with severe food and skin allergies. It comes in 7 lb, 8 lb, 17 lb, and 25 lb bags and is chicken flavored.
It contains highly hydrolyzed animal protein, single purified carbohydrate sources, and is enriched with essential fatty acids to promote a healthy skin barrier. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive and some buyers praise the food for saving their dog’s skin.
Dog Skin Allergies: FAQ
Feel free to check out our FAQ for more details. If in doubt about your dog’s health, always ask your vet for advice.
Canine contact dermatitis, sometimes called atopic dermatitis, is a common condition in dogs. It is when their skin is sensitive and reactive to allergens such as pollen, plants, fleas, garden products, household dust, household cleaning products, topical agents, certain materials, and foods.
If your dog has an allergy, their skin may become red, rashy, bumpy, and feel itchy or sore. They may also scratch and lick the affected area to soothe it. Breeds prone to contact dermatitis include Dalmatians and Terriers.
The most common food allergies in dogs are gluten, eggs, soy, and proteins, especially those from meat and dairy products. That said, dogs can be allergic to all kinds of things, just like humans.
If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, make an appointment with your vet to discuss doing a food trial. A food trial is a carefully planned diet plan in which you expose your dog to one common allergen at a time to see which one causes a reaction.
Once you know the cause of your dog’s allergies, you can eliminate it by buying kibbles that are free from the allergen or hypoallergenic kibbles if your dog has multiple allergies. If your dog’s allergy is more complex, such as proteins, you’ll have to do some trial and error to find out which protein sources are acceptable. It’s essential to avoid low-quality foods containing filler ingredients like grains and additives.
Vets suggest changing your dog’s diet gradually if you’re going to change it dramatically. It’s best to start off with ¾ of your dog’s meal consisting of their old food, and ¼ new food. Then, after 3-4 days, up it to half and half. After a couple more days, make it ¾ new food, and after a week, transition them fully to the new food.
You can soothe reactive skin with hypoallergenic calming dog shampoos or make your own treatment with a bath containing lukewarm water, oatmeal, and chamomile.
There are several over-the-counter antihistamine medications that combat the symptoms of allergies in dogs. There are also a few prescription medicines for extreme reactions. Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl®, Zyrtec®, and Claritin®.
If your dog develops swelling around the face in response to an allergen, it can be serious if it includes the tongue or throat, as it can affect their breathing and make them panic. However, vets can treat it with an antihistamine and it will likely look worse than it is.
That was our list of the best foods for dogs with skin allergies. Sensitive skin in dogs can be a worry for owners as it is horrid to see our beloved pets suffer. However, they don’t have to! Try out one of our recommendations and talk to your vet before drastically changing your dog’s diet.