Have you noticed an uptick in your dog’s scratching that cannot be linked back to actual ticks or fleas? Does your dog have gastrointestinal problems? If your pet is having chronic ear infections or his coat seems dull, he may be dealing with a food allergy. And you are going to need to buy one of the best hypoallergenic dog foods possible.
Usually, the dog’s food is the first thing to discuss when you start seeing signs of an allergy. The food may be the root of the problem, but it’s not always exactly an allergy. Still, as the first course of action, your veterinarian will probably ask you to switch to hypoallergenic dog food.
Here are the best hypoallergenic dog foods:
|HA Dog Food||Price||Quality||Rating|
|Purina Veterinary Diets HA Hypoallergenic||$$$||A+|
|PS For Dogs 100% Hypoallergenic Dog Food||$$||A|
|The Honest Kitchen Revel Dehydrated||$$$||A|
|Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Dog Food||$$||B+|
|Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach||$||B|
If you’re seeing signs of trouble, it’s usually a good idea to talk to your vet before making the switch. He or she may want to investigate other possible causes of the issue before you make any changes.
And it’s good to remember that dog allergies aren’t always triggered by food. Your dog could be allergic to something she breathes, eats, or touches. If you see constant licking, itching, and GI trouble, it may be an indication that something in your dog’s environment is awry.
In this article, we’ll cover how to identify an allergy and how to choose a hypoallergenic dog food for dogs with mild intolerances to dogs with severe hypersensitivity. We’ll also discuss how these foods will help your dog’s condition.
13 Best Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
The best way to tackle your dog’s food allergies and intolerances is to change their diet right now and transition to food having limited ingredients. Some dog foods are clearly labeled as hypoallergenic, while others aren’t labeled as such but still offer similar health benefits.
Here are the top 13 best hypoallergenic dog foods currently available, with the best ones named first.
1. Veterinary Diets Vegetarian HA Hydrolyzed
With over 18% of protein content and a low 8% fat level, Purina is offering a perfect vegetarian and hypoallergenic dog food for all dogs that are meat or beef intolerant. And believe it or not, there are plenty of those, so a complete and balanced meat-free dog food is very welcomed.
The price is one of the highest but this is because the quality is high enough to please the most demanding dogs and humans:
- Hydrolyzed Proteins — facilitates digestion thanks to already broken down nutrients
- Single Carbohydrate Source — nutritious and limited ingredients list to avoid allergic reactions
- Highly Digestible Formula — foods used are highly digestible even by a dog with sensitive digestive systems
Transition to Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed to reduce and potentially completely eliminate itchiness, skin bumps, and red patches, within weeks. Some dog owners have reported great results within two weeks:
Despite its very high price tag, it remains one of the absolute best hypoallergenic dog foods currently available. A no-brainer if you can afford it!
- Completely vegetarian diet for meat intolerant dogs
- Easy to digest and suitable for dogs with a sensitive stomach
- Relieves itchiness, red patches, and other skin problems
- It contains hydrolyzed protein from a single source
- A bit on the expensive side
- The kibbles are a bit hard
- It’s nearly fat-free and has to be supplemented with other food.
2. PS For Dogs 100% Hypoallergenic Dog Food
The best ways to treat a dog’s allergies and food intolerances are through a healthier diet; PS For Dogs has come up with a 100% hypoallergenic dog food for all of those dogs struggling with their sensitive skin and stomach.
With its limited-ingredient formula, PS For Dogs is ensuring a clean recipe that eliminates the most common allergens. It has a high protein content from a single protein source while remaining totally grain-free. This hypoallergenic dog food formula is suitable for dogs of all ages, from puppies to seniors, and it’s compatible with a raw-like diet since it has been air-dried rather than baked. The offals used in this dog food boost the nutritiousness through high-quality vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
Plenty of dog owners report a clear reduction of their pet’s itchy patches and paw licking once they fully transitioned to P.S. 100% Hypoallergenic Dog Food. The only downside is the price but it’s, I think, more cost-effective than courses of allergy injections.
- A grain-free diet with no fillers
- Rich sources of minerals and vitamins
- Reduces itchiness and scratching
- No added flavors or preservatives
- A balanced diet for dogs of all ages and breeds
- It can be pricey for most owners
- The kibbles are very small
3. The Honest Kitchen Revel Dehydrated
What few dog owners know is that sensitive stomachs react not only to the ingredients but also to how they are prepared. Skin conditions and upset stomachs are very often tightly linked to the dog’s current diet. To illustrate this empirical rule, Honest Kitchen surveyed over 6,200 customers and 75% confirmed their dog’s digestion problems improved!
Avoiding highly processed foods is always better and The Honest Kitchen formula prepares it perfectly. Ingredients are all-natural, safe for humans, minimally processed, and free of meat by-products, preservatives, or GMO ingredients. To make it even better, Honest Kitchen is not using any soy, rice, wheat, beet pulp, or corn whatsoever. Technically, you could eat it yourself (I still wouldn’t recommend that, though.)
Because the food is dehydrated, you need to pour water before serving it to your dog — don’t worry, it just takes a minute! Your sensitive dog will love the free-range chicken, barley, and peas; overall offering a highly nutritious dog food for the most difficult pooches out there.
- Improves digestive issues
- Promotes shinier and softer coat
- Reduces itchiness and skin rashes
- Free from meat by-products and added preservatives
- Some dogs do not like its taste or smell
- The kibbles are too big for smaller dogs
4. Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient
Wellness Natural Pet Food is a dog food manufacturer famous for its premium and natural ingredients. Limited-ingredient dog foods focus on delivering nutritionally complete and balanced dog meals while keeping the ingredients list as short as possible in order to avoid red-flag ingredients that could cause allergic reactions.
Made in the United States, their formulas are boasting a single protein source and a handful of main ingredients so your dog can avoid most food intolerances and food allergens. Because meats like poultry and beef can upset some dogs’ stomachs, this recipe is made with natural salmon, a complete and sought-after alternative to meat proteins.
Additionally, flaxseed and canola oils are providing your dog’s system with good fats to heal and improve their skin and coat health. This hypoallergenic dog food formula contains no eggs, dairy, meat by-products, gluten, wheat, soy, corn, and artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.
- A gluten-free formula made from a single carbohydrate and protein source
- It improves digestion and boosts the immune system
- It helps with shinier and softer coats and fur
- It contains high levels of antioxidants and omega fatty acids.
- Some customers complain of a foul odor in new batches
- Some dogs had anal gland issues after eating this
5. Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin
Hill’s Science has come up with arguably the best hypoallergenic canned dog food, more suitable for owners of difficult dogs who need a highly palatable meal. Using natural salmon, and carrots, green beans, and apples, this is a healthy grain-free alternative to those other dog foods packed with cheap grains and low-quality protein sources.
Many dog owners have failed while trying different premium dry dog foods (grain-free, organic, weight control) and they often have to go for very expensive vet-prescribed dog foods to get the desired results. Yet, going with a healthy and highly palatable hypoallergenic wet dog food can solve most allergic reactions! If you cannot afford wet dog foods in the long run, use grain-free dog food and buy a few cans of this Hill’s Science Sensitive Stomach & Skin to use as a dog food topper.
A piece of good news with this food is that the cans are packed with actual food instead of an overabundant gravy (cheap since it’s water) and very little food content. Here as well, several dog owners witnessed huge improvements in their dog’s coat and hair, as well as their dog’s stomach and stools.
- Grain-free recipe with salmon as the main source of protein
- Improves digestion and stool
- Recommended by veterinarians
- It contains vitamin E and omega-6 for fur health
- Some dogs did not like the flavor
- Dogs may have foul breath after eating it
6. Blue Buffalo Basics Grain – Free Natural Hypoallergenic Recipe
If your dog suffers from food allergies or sensitivities, Blue Buffalo Basics Grain should be your goto-product! The main ingredient of this product is high-quality deboned salmon, a healthy replacement for chicken, which, as per many dog owners, leads to bloating.
Some other essential ingredients included in the list include potatoes, flaxseed, cranberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. These are rich in proteins and omega-3, and six fatty acids. The recipe contains various minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for your furry friend to grow healthy, happy, and strong.
Even so, some owners complain that the price of this product is relatively high, and for a larger dog, it is difficult to keep purchasing this food regularly.
- Minimal ingredients with no allergens like chicken or dairy
- Made from a single animal protein source
- Reduces bloating and other digestion issues
- Grain and gluten-free
- It contains pumpkin, which is known to aid digestion in dogs
- It might be a bit heavy on your pocket
7. Taste of the Wild Prey Angus Beef Limited Ingredient
It is a recipe specifically formulated for pups who often deal with chicken sensitivity or fish allergy. It is made from Angus beef on pasture and includes ingredients that promote nutrition with zero by-product meat.
The main components of this product comprise beef, lentils, sunflower oil, and tomato pomace, which nourish your pup with omega fatty acids 6 (2.4%), omega fatty acids 3 (0.5%), zinc (150 mg/kg), protein (30.0%), fiber (3.0%), DHA(0.3%), and selenium (0.5%).
Some reviews did, however, mention that dogs who eat a completely grain-free diet like this may be at risk for congestive heart failure. You may add other food items to this diet to avoid this risk. Moreover, this product is a bit hard to find in stores.
- Suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes
- Includes omega fatty acids and micronutrients for fur health
- It has probiotics that aid digestion
- Protein-rich food
- Grain-free food might cause heart failure in some dogs
- Hard to find this product in stores
8. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Salmon and Sweet Potato Dog Food
The notable thing about Canidae-Grain Free is that it is made from only eight natural food ingredients for the complete nutrition of your dog.
The first and main ingredient of the recipe is salmon which ensures a high level of protein (32%) in this diet. Apart from salmon, the top ingredients include lamb, pasture-raised bison, lentil, carrot, and duck, which boast a premium protein recipe.
The presence of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, A, B6, and Vitamin B12, along with Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids, fiber, Taurine, Zinc, etc., ensures that your dog will be fed a balanced diet. Top veterinarians recommend the formula, especially for dogs prone to food allergies and sensitivities.
On the other hand, some owners feel the food might be too dry for some dogs. Moreover, the kibble goes stale too easily if left without packing, even for a few hours.
- Low ingredient recipe with premium protein sources
- Improves fur and coat health
- Increases your dog’s energy levels
- Promotes healthier joints and improves heart health
- It might be too dry for some dogs.
- The food may go stale or hard if not zipped or closed correctly
9. Just 6 Rachel Ray Nutrish Hypoallergenic Food
A lamb-based recipe with globally sourced ingredients, Just 6 Rachael Ray is formulated for pups who often suffer from chicken, fish, or beef allergies.
Made from 6 main components, including lamb meal, chicken fat, dried beet pulp, and brown rice, this is one product that will fulfill the need for a protein-based diet for your dog. It is also grain-free (no corn, wheat, or soy) and gluten-free with zero added artificial flavors or preservatives.
Some reviews say the product’s packaging is too flimsy and rips off easily. Moreover, it can cause hard stools and digestive issues in some dogs. Lastly, the kibbles are quite big for smaller dogs.
- It doesn’t contain by-product meat or fillers.
- Cooked in the USA with globally sourced ingredients
- Safe for dogs with food allergies
- The price is quite affordable for most dog owners
- The packaging is poor
- Can cause indigestion and hard stools
- Kibble size may be too large for small breeds
10. Merrick LID Grain-Free Hypoallergenic Food
Merrick LID Hypoallergenic food is a grain-free and gluten-free recipe, a salmon-based limited ingredient formula full of amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. The diet reckons to improve the digestion in dogs, including those with food allergies and sensitivities.
Made in the USA under the guidance of experienced nutritionists, Merrick LID mainly includes real deboned salmon, of course, and sweet potato free from grains like corn, wheat, dairy, eggs, or other added preservatives or flavors.
With 24% protein, 4.5% fiber, Omega 3 (1.0%), and 6 (4.5%) fatty acids in every pack, this product make for a perfectly balanced and nutritional diet for your furry friend.
On the other hand, some customers complained that despite being a low ingredient food, it was causing their dogs to have soft stools. If you have a larger dog, this dog food might not be good for you because the kibbles are small.
- Single source of protein with a limited list of ingredients
- The perfect diet for dogs sensitive to food allergies
- Improves digestion and immune system
- Closely monitored recipe
- No added preservatives or flavors
- May cause digestive issues such as soft stools in some dogs
- The kibbles are far too small for larger dogs
11. American Journey LID Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Deboned salmon is the only protein-sourced ingredient in the America Journey LID formula. The 25% protein is a popular limited-ingredient dog food that works well with sensitive and picky eaters.
Even though this protein-based diet works quite well with dogs of all ages, American Journey LID is most suitable for puppies and growing dogs. Every serving of this carefully designed diet is full of zinc (100mg), selenium (0.35 mg), fiber (6.0%), omega fatty acids (1.8%), DHA (0.10%), and other minerals and vitamins.
American Journey LID usually receives excellent reviews from its customers, but it only has one seller across the US, which affects its availability.
- Grain-free and fish-based formula
- High-quality food that works well with picky eaters
- Small and crunchy kibbles
- Great for dogs with food allergies
- No added flavors
- The brand has only one seller across the country
- It might not suit the stomach of old dogs
12. Zignature Duck LID Formula Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Farm-raised duck is the main ingredient of Zignature Duck LID Formula. The duck meat is high in quality, so the chances of your dog catching an allergy to it are quite low.
A rich source of lean protein (8%), minerals, and vitamins, the duck meat of this grain-free recipe also comprises riboflavin, which increases a dog’s ability to absorb its nutrients.
The other ingredients include chickpeas, peas, sunflower oil, and flaxseeds, which are high in antioxidants, omega fatty acids, zinc, selenium, and more. Also, no artificial additives are included in the package, making it a completely balanced and nutritional diet for growing dogs.
Some dog owners complained that their picky eaters would not go near this food. The duck meat can be quite heavy, so your dog might have indigestion if it is unused to rich meats.
- Free from canine allergens like chicken
- Ideal food for picky and sensitive eaters
- The recipe is complete with antioxidants and fiber-rich ingredients
- It suits dogs of all ages and breeds
- Picky dogs do not like it
- It can cause soft stools and farting in some dogs
13. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Venison & Sweet Potato
Formulated with only ten ingredients, Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet is a limited ingredient food that contains non-GMO products: venison meals, canola oil, lentils, chickpeas, dried sweet potatoes, etc.
The main ingredient of this recipe is venison, a new albeit rich source of protein for dogs. The formula is thus, quite nutritional with zinc (250 mg), fiber (3.50%), biotin (2.5 mg), and niacin (250 mg) and brings more shine and softness to your pup’s fur. The recipe is also recommended for dogs who have digestive issues.
Even so, some dog owners have shown concerns about bloating problems with feeding a novel protein to their pups.
- It helps with dog’s allergies and contains zero chicken
- Small and scrunchy kibble
- Specifically formulated for sensitive eaters
- Non-GMO ingredients with zero artificial flavors or preservatives
- It can be a bit pricey.
- Food can go hard or stale if not zipped or packed properly
- Some dogs have suffered from digestive issues after having this diet
Surefire Signs of a Dog Food Allergy
Your dog cannot tell you what’s wrong, so it can be very troubling when you notice signs of a problem. There’s no way to know whether it’s something mild or severe. Your veterinarian can definitely help, but it is also helpful to be able to identify signs of common problems like allergies.
Your dog may be a victim of a food allergy or food intolerance if it is showing any of the following physical signs:
- Excessive scratching
- Chronic ear infections
- Licking the paws, flank, or groin
- Constant itching regardless of the season
- Continuous scratching may even lead to bacterial skin infections
- Bacterial, fungal, or yeast infections
- Signs of gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and frequent belching or bowel movements
Allergies can present themselves in more ways than just physical. If your pup is experiencing any of the signs above plus any of the following, it may be related to a food allergy:
- Loss of appetite
- Behavioral problems
- Signs of emotional distress
Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?
Although the symptoms are similar, food allergies and food intolerances are two very different things. If you notice the symptoms of allergy, you’re going to want to know whether you are dealing with an allergy or intolerance.
An allergy is much more severe. If your pet has an allergy, his or her immune system is reacting to something in their food.
Food allergies range in severity, but you should know that food allergies can be life-threatening. Even if your dog’s food allergy is not so severe that it threatens his life, you may want to treat the allergy as if it were life-threatening. Allergies change over time and there is always a possibility that they will get worse. You don’t want to find out that the allergy had progressed after it’s too late.
Exposure to environmental pollutants weakens your dog’s immune system over time and leaves him vulnerable to developing allergies. So, even if your 3-year-old dog has been eating the same food throughout his life, he could have just developed an allergy that can become serious.
As we’ve seen, when it is allergic to a specific type of food, a dog’s body will reject it once digested. On the other hand, if your pet has a food intolerance, it is incapable of digesting that specific ingredient.
Food intolerances can lead to a lot of discomforts. As you can imagine, if your dog cannot digest something, it has to exit the body somehow. This can lead to vomiting, gas, and diarrhea.
If your dog has an intolerance and not an allergy, it does not need to be approached with the same level of urgency as an allergy. Food intolerances are virtually never life-threatening. However, it should still be addressed to avoid discomfort and messy situations.
Either way, if your dog has an allergy or intolerance, you’ll want to be careful about everything that could enter your dog’s mouth. This includes food that you or your children may drop on the floor. It can feel like a full-time job, but it will be worthwhile when your dog is finally feeling comfortable again.
Unfortunately, dogs cannot manage their own diet and food intake. They are much more likely to eat everything in sight. So it is up to you to monitor and control what goes into your dog’s mouth – especially when an allergy is involved.
Common Dog Food Allergens
Just like you, your dog can be allergic to virtually anything. However, if you’re just starting to investigate potential triggers, you may start with the following list of common dog food allergens:
If this reminds you of what you read the last time you looked at the list of your dog’s food ingredients, you may be on to something. These are all very common ingredients in most dog foods. This is exactly why there is a need for hypoallergenic dog food.
The ingredients on this list aren’t necessarily bad for your dog. In fact, many of them are a part of a healthy canine diet. But if your pup happens to be allergic, they could be deadly.
And if your dog has one allergy, there’s a chance it has others too.
How to Treat Dog Allergies
If you want to take a conservative approach and make small changes before moving to a complete hypoallergenic diet, start by giving your dog foods that only have one source of protein. For example, if your dog food has fish, chicken, and lamb, put it aside for now and opt for food with only one of those protein sources instead.
If you want to take a more aggressive approach, as you should in the case of a severe allergy, place your pet on a hypoallergenic dog food diet immediately. Studies have shown that dogs respond well to dietary changes within 8-10 weeks.
Best Ingredients for Hypoallergenic Dogs
As soon as you realize that you’re dealing with an allergic reaction, put your dog on a hypoallergenic food plan. After you have identified the trigger food, you can relax a bit and begin introducing other foods again.
Start by choosing food that eliminates every known allergen. Because the list of common allergens contains so many everyday ingredients (e.g. dairy, beef, grains), you may want to choose a dog food with a short ingredients list, without too many chemicals, and ideally, with a single source of proteins. These may include pheasant, buffalo, or kangaroo. Rabbit and fish are on the list of common allergens, but they aren’t as likely as the others on the list to cause problems. So, these two offer a good place to start. You could also try vegetarian dog treats temporarily.
Choose a dog food to try for about 10 weeks. After this time, you should notice that your dog’s symptoms have subsided. Now, you can begin introducing more common ingredients one by one. If you see the allergic reaction reappear, you can associate the latest ingredient you’ve added and come to a conclusion. Wait 10 weeks between each ingredient you have added back to ensure there is no reaction.
What to Do After Changing Dog Food
After you’ve chosen a dog food, be sure that your dog eats nothing else. This means avoiding all dog treats, biscuits, and scraps. Even in small amounts, the food your dog is allergic to can wreak havoc.
This may go without saying, but you should also avoid giving your dog common allergens like cheese, bread, or peanut butter. Doing so during the 10-week period would negate your efforts.
Since symptoms of a dog food allergy are triggered by the immune response, consider doing anything that would build your dog’s immune system naturally. This may boost your efforts by detoxifying your dog’s filter organs (like the kidneys and liver) and the lymphatic system, thus bringing back your dog’s immune system to a healthy state. Many animals are affected by the myriad of air pollutants around us, and a general cleanse or detox can help with those types of allergies as well.
Make sure your dog gets enough water and exercise, and consider homeopathic remedies to help treat allergies. Dog food allergies can be devastating, so you’ll want to make every effort to remove the culprit ingredients and restore your pet’s health.