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Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food + How to Treat Canine Allergies

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Dog Food By Ben Team 30 min read April 19, 2023 20 Comments

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best hypoallergenic dog food

Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food: Quick Picks

  • Natural Balance LID Lamb [Lamb as Exclusive Protein] This limited-ingredient formula has lamb as sole animal protein, along with brown rice and brewers rice for carbohydrates. No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice [Best For Large Breeds] A large-breed formula featuring bison and ocean fish meal as animal proteins. Meats sustainably sourced from trusted countries. Includes healthy grains like brown rice and oatmeal. However, does contain eggs which could cause problems for some dogs.
  • Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Venison [Venison as Exclusive Protein] This limited-ingredient formula features venison as sole protein source (no chicken or beef) and is also grain-free, corn-free, wheat, soy, and dairy free. Has no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and is made with non-GMO ingredients.
  • Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream [Best For Fish Fans] Uses salmon and ocean fish as meat proteins – no chicken, lamb, beef, or other meats mixed in. Also is grain, dairy, and egg free.
  • Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato [Duck as Exclusive Protein] Relies on duck as the sole animal protein. Is grain-free, with potatoes, peas and pumpkin for carbohydrates. Contains no corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

Has your dog been itching and scratching himself, or been displaying an array of tummy troubles? Allergens in his food could be the culprit.

Many of the allergens that afflict people can also trigger an allergic reaction from dogs. Pollen and dust are common allergens, but some dogs exhibit allergies to poison ivy, cats, even their people. And dogs can be allergic to food as well – just like us!

Why Dog Food Allergies Are So Difficult to Deal With

Food allergies are a tough issue to crack in canines.

Treating your dog’s environmental allergies typically involves reducing your pet’s exposure to the offending allergen, and then starting them on a therapy to gradually desensitize their body to the substance.

Although there’s no guarantee of success, these strategies can help alleviate the symptoms of many canine allergy sufferers.

But food allergies present an especially challenging problem. After all, you can’t very well reduce your pet’s exposure to food – at least not for more than 12 to 24 hours at a time!

Accordingly, food allergies must be treated by altering your pet’s diet in very specific ways to help eliminate the allergens, without neglecting your dog’s nutritional needs.

Symptoms of a Food Allergy in Dogs

Dogs suffering from food allergies often exhibit a collection of relatively consistent symptoms. However, because these symptoms can mimic the symptoms of other illnesses, it’s wise to bring your dog to the vet for an evaluation if you suspect a food allergy is involved.

Fortunately, while food allergies are troubling and frustrating problems to deal with, they are rarely life-threatening as they are for humans – so that’s a plus!

Whereas humans often suffer from a swollen throat or difficulty in breathing after consuming an allergen, dogs most frequently suffer skin ailments as the result of allergic reactions.

Dogs express allergies a bit differently than us. It may seem natural for us humans that an environmental/inhalant allergy results in sneezing, while a food allergy results in vomiting or a swollen throat. 

However, most dogs exhibit nearly all their symptoms through itchy, irritated skin, and possibly chronic ear infections.

itchy dog

Some of the most common symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:

Other, less common symptoms that may also signify a food allergy include:

  • Poor growth in young dogs
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Excessive gas
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Temporal factors can also provide clues to your dog’s condition. Because dogs are typically exposed to food-born allergens on a consistent basis, their symptoms don’t wax and wane as they would with exposure to an environmental allergen, such as pollen, dust or dander (which are more common during certain seasons).

Dog Breeds That Frequently Display Food Allergies

Food allergies can afflict dogs of any breed or combination thereof. However, they appear to be more common among some breeds than others.

Some of the breeds that commonly suffer from food allergies include:

  • Lhasa Apso
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Dachshund
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Boxer
  • Dalmatian
  • German Shepherd
  • Retrievers
  • Miniature Schnauzers

If you own one of these breeds, be especially alert for signs of a food allergy.

Common Dietary Allergens for Dogs

Allergies are caused by proteins that over-stimulate the immune system.

The most common meat allergies for dogs are:

dog allergy foods

Beef, chicken, lamb, fish, and pork are all dog food meat ingredients that have been known to cause allergic reactions in dogs.

You’ll notice that they’re some of the most popular ingredients in dog food, and since exposure to these ingredients is common, they’ve become common allergens.

Other common dog food allergens that are not meat-based include:

  • Dairy
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy 
  • Yeast

As you can see from this list, allergens aren’t only caused by foods humans think of as “protein sources.” In reality, most foods – even vegetables and grains – contain some proteins. Accordingly, the proteins in things like wheat, soy and corn can also elicit allergic reactions.

Unfortunately, these are all common ingredients in commercial foods, and unless you actively work to avoid these ingredients, your pooch will likely be chomping them up in her kibble.

When your dog has a food allergy, your dog’s digestive system fails to digest some of the proteins in the allergy-inducing food. When these whole proteins contact specialized receptors in the intestines, the body treats them as dangerous invaders.

This causes the immune system to launch a disproportionate response, which causes the side effects associated with a food allergy.

Grains and Bugs: The Gross Connection

Some grains, such as cereal grains, also have the potential to cause allergic reactions in dogs. Interestingly, this isn’t necessarily due to the grains themselves — in some cases, it’s a result of the bugs that get into these grains.

Yes, bugs get into grain supplies on occasion. Sorry to share such gross news, but it is the truth.

Accordingly, grain-eating bug carcasses and their droppings can be found in some dog foods. And since grain mites are a close relatives of dust mites (which is a common allergen for humans), it’s no shock that the grain mites that wind up in your pooch’s food and possibly be the culprit of allergic reactions.

Whether it’s the actual grain or the bugs within the grains that are at fault, grains occasionally cause dogs to have allergic reactions. It should be noted though that there are plenty of great healthy grains for dogs that don’t usually cause any issues – the majority of dogs can handle grains just fine!

Distinguishing Between Food Allergies vs. Simple Food Intolerance

In addition to recognizing the possible signs of a dog food allergy, it’s also important to distinguish between true food allergies vs a simple intolerance.

When your dog has an allergy, it means that your dog’s immune system is overreacting to a normally harmless substance (called an allergen). Intolerance simply suggests your dog has trouble digesting something, in which case switching to a dog food for dogs with sensitive stomach may provide a quick fix!

You should always consult your veterinarian before self-diagnosing your dog’s food allergies or intolerances. However, in general, dogs that have true food allergies will generally exhibit skin problems, while dogs with a food intolerance will just display intestinal upset. This commonly takes the form of gas, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Some food allergies may also cause digestive upset, but skin conditions are almost always the most prevalent problem.

It’s very common for dogs to be intolerant of things like dairy products (in fact most adult mammals lack the necessary biochemistry to properly digest the whey protein found in dairy – humans capable of doing so are the exception!) and fatty foods.

While dairy and high-fat foods often cause digestive issues in canines, many pooches can eat one but not the other. For example, my Rottweiler is capable of digesting fast-food quantities of fat (just like her daddy), but a teaspoon of ice cream can make her hurl.

In an ideal world, you should probably avoid giving either type of food to your dog, regardless of the different biological factors at play.

Your dog may appear to take stomach ailments in stride, but you can bet they aren’t fun and they often lead to further problems.

What Causes a Dog to Develop a Food Allergy?

Unfortunately, while researchers understand that food allergies are the result of an immune system overreaction, they do not understand what makes some dogs more vulnerable to the food allergy phenomenon.

Some believe that food allergies are the result of a genetic anomaly (as they are thought to be in humans) – something your pup is simply born with.

Others believe that food allergies are environmental – that they happen as a result of what your dog is fed and exposed to.

The fact that some breeds and bloodlines appear to be more prone to food allergies than others supports the genetic argument, but the fact that dogs from similar regions often exhibit similar allergies supports the environmental hypothesis.

best hypoallergenic dog food

Despite the many questions surrounding food allergies, researchers are pretty sure of one thing: Allergies occur in response to exposure to a given allergen, and they often take some time to develop.

Dogs do not often show signs of an allergy to a food the first time they consume it; symptoms appear after repeated exposure.

Some veterinarians recommend limiting the number of proteins you offer your dog over the course of her life. This will hopefully limit how many allergies develop, and it can make treatment much easier, should a food allergy ever come up over the course of your canine’s life.

For example, a dog fed lamb, beef and chicken throughout her life will have been exposed to these various foods, which could cause them all to spark an immune response. This would drastically limit your options for a safe food source (you may soon find yourself importing kangaroo meat from Australia).

While a dog fed a vast array of protein sources may be at risk for several different allergens, by contrast, a dog raised solely on chicken can continue to be offered a variety of different protein sources to which she has never been exposed.

Are Antibiotics At Play?

Some veterinarians suspect that antibiotics administered early in a pup’s life may also lead to allergies.

As a potential solution, they recommend providing young dogs with a probiotic supplement to help bolster healthy gut flora.

However, this proposed treatment hasn’t yet been investigated thoroughly in dogs, and human-based research into this area has yielded mixed results, so there’s no guarantee of a solution quite yet.

dog getting vaccination

In all likelihood, the answer will eventually turn out to be a combination of factors, but only time (and more research) will reveal the answer!

When Do Dogs Develop Allergies?

No matter the case, dog food allergies can manifest at any point in your pup’s life.

You may, for example, feed your dog chicken-based food for most of her life, only to discover that at some point, she begins exhibiting signs of an allergy to the food. And because the proteins contained in chicken are very similar to those in turkey, she may become allergic to all varieties of poultry!

How Likely Is It That My Dog Has a Food Allergy?

While allergies among dogs aren’t unusual, food allergies are somewhat uncommon.

According to Doctors Foster & Smith, food allergies account for just 10% of all allergies seen in dogs. They’re the #3 most common form of dog allergies, behind flea bite allergies and atopy (aka inhalant) allergies. Make sure to investigate these possibilities before moving forward with your food allergy hypothesis.

The truth is that your dog is much more likely to suffer from a different kind of allergy rather than a food allergy – although it’s still possible!

Treating Dog Food Allergies: What Is an Elimination-Challenge Diet?

When it comes to figuring out exactly what ingredients are messing with your pup, the elimination-challenge diet is really the only way to go.

Veterinarians often recommend an elimination-challenge diet for their patients who are suspected of having a food allergy. But elimination-challenge diets aren’t only useful for confirming your suspicions – they’re also helpful for treating the problem.

An elimination diet involves eliminating certain ingredients from your dog’s diet in order to detect which food is causing an allergic reaction.

How Does An Elimination-Challenge Diet Work?

Step 1: Eliminating Allergens

You begin implementing an elimination-challenge diet by trying to remove any potential allergens that may be present in your dog’s food.

This generally means switching to a food that features a novel protein source, like:

hypoallergenic dog food ingredients

 Kangaroo, bison, pheasant, as well as venison, are generally considered novel protein sources. Few dogs are exposed to these food sources as a matter of practice, so allergies are unlikely to have developed in response to them.

Other recommended hypoallergenic meat protein sources include:​

  • Alligator
  • Emu
  • Yak
  • Millet

A good elimination-challenge food usually draws its carbohydrate content from brown rice, sweet potato, or even possibly white potato, which rarely cause allergy problems for dogs the way wheat or corn may.

Additives, artificial flavors, yeast, and other supplements should also be kept to a minimum, to help reduce the chances of overstimulating the immune system.

Hopefully, the restricted diet will cause your dog’s symptoms to disappear (although it may take several weeks before this occurs). This will allow her to get the nutrition she needs, without suffering from a constant allergic reaction. This can help your dog start to feel better and heal!

When practicing an elimination diet, the following requirements must be met:

  • The dog must be fed a unique protein and carbohydrate source that the dog has not been previously exposed to.
  • The dog must be kept on this diet for at least 12 weeks.
  • Only the special diet and water can be consumed – nothing else! This means no rawhides, no chews, no treats, no flavored toothpaste, no flavored medication – nothing!
  • Keep an especially alert eye on your pooch during this time – don’t allow them to sneak into the trash or start chewing up something gross in the backyard, otherwise the process must be reset.
  • Don’t let your pooch in the dining room during meal times! Even a few crumbs dropped by a messy child can force you to restart the elimination diet for your dog.
  • Similarly, make sure to wash the hands and face of any small children, lest your dog go in for a tasty smooch.

You’ll need to be vigilant, but all the work will be worth it when you finally know exactly what ingredients your pup is allergic to, allowing you to pick the best food for their needs and provide a better quality of life.

What if you have other dogs? Ideally, the easiest way to conduct the elimination diet when you own more than one dog is to do the diet with all the dogs! If that’s not an option, feed the special diet dog in a completely separate room from the other dogs.

After several weeks, it’s time for the real magic to happen – the challenge portion of the diet can begin!

Step 2: Reintroduction!

If your dog begins to show a reduction or elimination of allergy symptoms after the 12 weeks, it’s time to reintroduce those problematic foods you suspect of causing your dog’s allergies.

This may seem counter-intuitive since your dog is finally allergy-free. However, the reintroduction of suspected allergy-causing foods ​is required to confirm your suspicions.

During this portion of the treatment, you slowly add back one food item that you suspect might be an allergen. If no change occurs with the first added food item, you can add another, one at a time. When one of the food items cause allergic reactions symptoms flare back up, you know which ingredients are to blame!

Then void those like the plague.

It’s also important to remember that many dogs are allergic to more than one type of protein. This can complicate your efforts to determine the cause of your dog’s allergies. You may need to test several ingredients!

Even with all that work, permanent safety is no guarantee – your dog may eventually develop an allergic reaction to the new protein source after being fed it for a long period of time.

I know – that’s the last thing you want to hear. Still, elimination diets are well worth the effort for your dog’s happiness and ability to enjoy and process their food.​

What About Blood Testing?

Elimination diets are a ton of work, so it’s no wonder owners often look to blood testing as a possible immediate solution to discovering what ails their pup.

Unfortunately, blood testing can’t provide an accurate diagnosis for your dog’s food allergies. Elimination diets are the only option!

The good news is that intradermal skin testing is very helpful for diagnosing atopy / inhalant allergies! If you suspect your dog is suffering from allergies but are not sure what the cause is, intradermal skin testing is a great first step.

Since inhalant allergies are much more common than food allergies, skin testing may solve your issue.

What Exactly is a Hypoallergenic Dog Food?

Technically, the term “hypoallergenic dog food” is a bit misleading.

There really is no such thing as a universal hypoallergenic dog food – it’s mainly a marketing term. This is because, due to the nature of allergies, one type of dog food could be considered hypoallergenic for an individual dog, but not another.

For a dog allergic to chicken, any food that does not contain chicken would be considered hypoallergenic for that individual canine.

However, another dog may be allergic to rice, not chicken, and therefore will have different needs, changing what would be classified as hypoallergenic for that specific dog.​

Hypoallergenic dog food generally refers to a type of dog food that avoids common allergens – although what is truly hypoallergenic depends on your dog and her specific situation. Since common allergens can be avoided through a variety of different methods, there several types of hypoallergenic dog foods.

The main forms of hypoallergenic dog foods include:

  • Limited Ingredient Diet. Limited ingredient diets contain fewer ingredients than your standard dog food. Due to the lower number of ingredients, it’s often easier to narrow down which ingredients are giving your dog problems.
  • Novel Protein Diet. Novel protein diets revolve around introducing a unique protein that isn’t commonly seen in most traditional dog foods. Some popular novel proteins (as noted above) include kangaroo, pheasant, venison, and bison.
  • Hydrolyzed Protein Diet. Hydrolyzed protein dog food diets break up the protein and carbohydrate molecules down into such small sizes that they won’t trigger an allergic reaction in your dog.
  • Prescription Diet. These specialized diets prescribed by veterinarians are specially designed to be hypoallergenic and can only be obtained through a veterinarian’s office.
  • Homemade Food. Homemade food is often popular when conducting an elimination diet, due to the extreme control owners have over proteins and ingredients. While great for identifying your dog’s trouble ingredients, homemade food isn’t an ideal long term solution, as it’s difficult for owners to craft a complete nutritionally-whole formula – manufactured dog foods do it much better! That being said, if you work with your vet and use a homemade dog food nutrient supplement pack, you can make some fantastic, nutritionally-appropriate hypoallergenic dog food.

Note that a dog food can fit into more than one of these categories. For example, a hypoallergenic dog food relying on a novel protein source can also have limited ingredients.

Remember that you should look for single-source novel proteins and single-source carbohydrates (so for example, you would not want a food that uses pheasant as well as fish, or sweet potato as well as rice).

Common combinations include:

  • Venison & Potato
  • Duck & Peas
  • Salmon & Sweet Potato
  • Kangaroo & Brown Rice

Note: Lamb was once considered a novel protein, but has now become more common in dog foods. Still, if you haven’t fed your dog lamb before, it could be classified as a novel protein for your pooch.

Is Raw Food the Answer to Dog Food Allergies?

Some owners consider switching to a raw diet to alleviate their dog’s food allergies.

While it is true that some raw proteins may have a slightly different configuration than cooked proteins, and these may prevent them from triggering an allergic reaction, no evidence has been collected yet to support such a conclusion.

In addition to the lack of substantial evidence for alleviating allergies, raw diets have a number of drawbacks that limit their appeal.

In fact, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Veterinary Medical Association discourage pet owners from feeding raw meat to their pets.

The reasons for these recommendations are varied, but one of the most troubling problems is that raw meats often harbor a variety of bacteria, includingSalmonella spp., E. coli and Clostridium spp., among others.

While homemade and raw diets sound all well and good, it’s actually quite difficult to compose a homemade or raw formula that will match the nutritional profile of a commercial dog food. This can lead to problems that are often worse than the allergy.

Homemade diets must be balanced with the right vitamins, supplements, and minerals, and that is exceedingly difficult for the average owner to accomplish.

If you do choose to go forward with a permanent homemade dog food, make sure to consult a veterinary nutritionist.

Generally speaking, it is wise to provide your dog with a nutritionally balanced, bacteria-free, commercially prepared, hypoallergenic diet if your dog suffers from food allergies.

Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food for Dogs with Allergies

When you are seeking a good food to eliminate your dog’s allergies, you are really looking for a food that does not include the most common allergens (chicken, beef, wheat, eggs, and corn). But you should also avoid foods that contain additives and byproducts, which may contain allergens too.

Many such foods are labeled as “hypoallergenic,” but this just means that the food contains fewer allergens than a “normal” food does (the prefix “hypo” means less or fewer).

Obviously, there is a great deal of wiggle room in this definition, so it is important to consider all the ingredients contained in a given dog food, and not just the marketing claims.

Additionally, some good foods for dogs battling allergies feature hydrolyzed proteins, which should (theoretically) prevent allergic reactions from happening at all.

The following five products are all generally good choices for dogs with food allergies, although of course the best food really depends on your dog’s unique issues!

1. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet

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Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diet

Mid-priced limited-ingredient dog food

Limited-ingredient dog food that has lamb as sole animal protein, along with brown rice and brewers rice for carbohydrates. No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

About: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet is composed of relatively few ingredients, which is an important characteristic for allergy-friendly dog foods.

Additionally, this limited-ingredient dog food contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, further reducing the potential to trigger your pet’s allergies.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet uses lamb as the single primary protein source and brown rice as the primary carbohydrate – both of which are rarely implicated in food allergies. The recipe also contains canola oil, which provides a good source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

PROS

Many owners report that their dogs digest this dog food better than many similar products, and some have even remarked that the dog food reduced the amount of gas from which their dog suffered. Additionally, the kibble is reportedly designed to encourage your dog (particularly if it is a large breed) to chew thoroughly, which can help aid the digestive process.

CONS

Like some other hypoallergenic dog foods, Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet is a little pricier than regular dog foods ($49.49 for a 28-pound bag), but it is quite reasonable when compared to other hypoallergenic foods.

Ingredients List

Lamb, Brown Rice, Lamb Meal, Brewers Rice, Rice Bran...,

Brewers Dried Yeast, Sunflower Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, D-calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.

2. NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Venison

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NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Venison

NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Venison

Grain-free, non-GMO LID kibble

This limited-ingredient kibble features venison as sole protein source and is also grain-free corn-free, wheat, soy, and dairy free.

About: Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Venison features venison meal as the #1 ingredient. Venison is the sole animal protein, making this a fantastic option for dogs who are allergic to most other animal proteins.

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) is made with 10 key ingredients or less, keeping ingredient lists as short as possible and very manageable for owners of dogs with allergies doing an elimination diet.

This ultra-clean dog food includes no chicken, beef, or dairy protein – hurrah!

Nutro LID is also grain-free, corn-free, wheat, soy, and dairy-free to avoid those common allergens. It has no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

It’s also a dog food that’s made with non-GMO ingredients and includes beneficial vitamins and minerals.

PROS

Since it contains no chicken, beef, or dairy-protein, this is a great choice for dogs who normally have allergy issues involving those ingredients.

CONS

Venison can be a pricey protein, making this dog food more expensive than some other options.

Ingredients List

Venison Meal, Dried Potatoes, Lentils, Chickpeas, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)...,

Dried Sweet Potato, Potato Starch, Potato Protein, Sunflower Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid (preservatives), Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Selenium Yeast, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

3. Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato

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Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato

Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato

Grain-free, limited-ingredient duck-based food

This recipe features duck as the single animal protein source and relies on potatoes, peas, and pumpkin for carbohydrates, leaving out grains with gluten that can trigger allergies.

About: Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato is a grain-free, limited-ingredient dog food designed to help alleviate your dog’s allergies through the use of a shorter, less complex ingredient list.

This Blue Buffalo formula features duck as the single animal protein source, which means it’s perfect for dogs allergic to more common proteins like beef, chicken, fish, or lamb.

This dog food relies on potatoes, peas and pumpkin for carbohydrates, leaving out grains with gluten that are more liable to cause allergy issues with dogs.

Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato doesn’t contain chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

PROS

The food is created from a limited number of ingredients, and those that it does contain are rarely the source of allergies. The single-protein source of duck makes it a great choice for an elimination diet.

CONS

This dog food is fairly expensive, so it might be difficult to maintain this diet outside of an elimination diet phase.

Ingredients List

Deboned Duck, Potatoes, Pea Starch, Peas, Pea Protein...,

Duck Meal (source of Glucosamine), Tapioca Starch, Canola Oil (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potato Starch, Salt, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Pumpkin, Dried Chicory Root, Choline Chloride, Flaxseed, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, DL-Methionine, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Lysine, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Yeast, Manganese Sulfate, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

4. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

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Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

High-quality recipe made with fish proteins

This recipe relies exclusively on fish protein sources and is grain, dairy, and egg free.

About: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream is one of the best-selling hypoallergenic dog foods on the market.

This food relies exclusively on fish protein sources – no chicken, lamb, beef, or other meats mixed in. The recipe includes salmon and ocean fish meal as the first two ingredients, with smoked salmon and salmon meal further down the ingredient list.

It’s also grain, dairy, and egg free, avoiding those common allergens as well.

Many owners report that their dog’s allergic symptoms vanished after switching to Taste of the Wild, and some noted that their dog’s coat became softer and shinier. The product also contains the dried fermentation products of several Lactobacillus species, which may impart some pro-biotic characteristics to the food.

It also includes a mix of fruits and veggies for antioxidant benefits.

Guaranteed Analysis Info

  • Crude Protein 25.0% minimum
  • Crude Fat 15.0% minimum
  • Crude Fiber 3.0% maximum
  • Moisture 10.0% maximum
  • Zinc 150 mg/kg minimum
  • Selenium 0.35 mg/kg minimum
  • Vitamin E 150 IU/kg minimum
  • Taurine* 0.12% Minimum
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids* 2.4% minimum
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids* 0.3% minimum

PROS

Most dogs seem to love the taste – some owners even use the food as a treat. The lack of animal proteins outside of fish make this food ideal for dogs with chicken, beef, or lamb allergies.

CONS

Some owners reported that their dogs were unable to digest the food very well, resulting in loose stools. However, such complaints were not common.

Ingredients List

Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas...,

canola oil, lentils, salmon meal, smoked salmon, potato fiber, natural flavor, salt, choline chloride, taurine, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid. Contains a source of live (viable), naturally occurring microorganisms.

5. Solid Gold Wolf King

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Solid Gold Wolf King

Solid Gold Wolf King

Holistic dog food for big dogs

A large-breed formula featuring bison and ocean fish meal as animal proteins mixed with probiotics, prebiotics, and a unique blend of 20 superfoods.

About: Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice is a large breed dog food featuring bison as the #1 ingredient, in addition to healthy fats and whole grains like oatmeal included on the ingredient list.

Solid Gold Wolf King includes probiotics, prebiotics, and a unique blend of 20 superfoods designed to support immune-system functions and aid in digestion.

It features bison and ocean fish meal as the first two ingredients and the animal protein sources.

While most other ingredients should be suitable for most dogs with allergies, the inclusion of brown rice and eggs may be problematic for some.

This dog food is manufactured in the USA. Meats are also sustainably sourced from North America, Europe, and Australia, so you know your pup is in good hands.

PROS

This high-quality dog food features bison and ocean fish meal for animal proteins, avoiding more problematic animal protein sources.

CONS

While this formula does avoid beef, chicken, and lamb, we wish it had bison as the exclusive protein to avoid mixing two animal protein sources. This formula is also designed for large breeds, so it may not be suitable for smaller dogs.

Ingredients List

Chickpeas, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Eggs, Sweet Potatoes, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Carrots, Pumpkin, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Blueberries, Cranberries, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Dried Chicory Root, Taurine, Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product.

6. Zignature Kangaroo

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Zignature Kangaroo

Zignature Kangaroo

Limited-ingredient formula with kangaroo

This recipe features kangaroo as the sole animal protein, making it best for dogs who can’t handle traditional meats.

About: Zignature Kangaroo is a limited-ingredient formula that features kangaroo as the sole animal protein, with kangaroo and kangaroo meal as the first two ingredients.

This recipe leaves out common allergen ingredients – it is chicken, corn, wheat gluten, soy, and potato-free. It uses low glycemic carbohydrates like chickpeas in order to promote stable blood sugar.

PROS

Zignature Kangaroo uses kangaroo as the exclusive animal protein, making it an ideal choice for dogs who can’t stomach more traditional meat proteins.

CONS

Some owners have seen DCM (Diet-Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy) after switching their dogs to Zignature due to the lack of grains and novel protein, but this is not something that all dogs are at risk for. Owners must way the risks of DCM against finding their dog a food that is free of allergens. Also, temporary use with an elimination diet is less of a threat.

Ingredients List

Kangaroo, Kangaroo Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour...,

Sunflower Oil (preserved with Citric Acid), Flaxseed, Red Lentils, Green Lentils, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Pea Protein, Natural Flavors, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Cobalt Proteinate, Selenium Yeast), Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin A, Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, d‐Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Lactic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols, L-Carnitine.

7. Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach

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Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach

Purina Pro Plan Focus

Salmon and rice-based formula

This high-protein recipe features salmon as the very first ingredients and mixed with vitamins, minerals, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and joints.

About: Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach is made without many of the most common allergens.

In fact, Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach contains no wheat, corn, soy or chicken by-products. Instead, it is a salmon- and rice-based formula, which provides the nutrition dogs need, without triggering their allergies.

Although Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach contains no artificial colors or flavors, it is packed with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your dog needs. Of particular note are the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids contained in the dog food, which help promote healthy joints and skin, respectively.

This is a great dog food for pit bulls as well as any other breed that commonly suffers from food allergies as well as joint issues, with the combination of omega fatty acids for joint health alongside the lack of common allergens.

PROS

Most owners report that the dog food helps eliminate hot-spots and similar itchy skin conditions. Additionally, most dogs find the food very palatable. The ingredient list is also very short and manageable compared to most others.

CONS

Salmon is the #1 ingredient, but there are no other meats at the top of the ingredient list.

Ingredients List

Salmon, Barley, Ground Rice, Canola Meal, Oat Meal...,

Fish Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salmon Meal (Source of Glucosamine), Natural Flavor, Sunflower Oil, Chicory Root Inulin, Salt, Fish Oil, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1),

Don’t Forget to Use Hypoallergenic Treats Too

Even though they don’t make up a huge percentage of your pup’s diet, treats can also trigger allergic reactions. Many treats are made from potential allergens, such as corn, wheat, chicken, pork or beef, and these could undermine your efforts to eliminate allergens from your dog’s diet.

Fortunately, there are several hypoallergenic dog treats on the market, which are made of ingredients that are unlikely to trigger allergic reactions, such as pumpkin,sweet potato and duck.

***

Dietary allergies are often frustrating problems for both you and your pup, but they aren’t the end of the world. Work to determine the causal allergen and find a dog food that does not include it. With a little hard work, determination and perseverance, you can probably find a dog food that eliminates your dog’s itchy skin.

Does your dog have a food allergy? We’d love to hear your experiences and opinions on the matter. Let us know what dog foods have worked and which ones have not. Your experiences may even help someone else treat their dog’s food allergies.

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the managing editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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20 Comments

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Sarwar Abdullah

I agree with your review for “Taste of the Wild”. Which is pros of digestive system, and general state of health and wellness. Were feeding our dog another brand that was twice as expensive and first ingredient was rice. This is much more affordable, grain free and dog loves it. It is a struggle to get him to finish off his old food as he eats around it.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Sarwar.
We’re glad you liked the article and that your doggo enjoys Taste of the Wild.
🙂

Reply
Jim Scarborough

Thanks for posting such a great article. It is the most detailed, comprehensive guide to food allergies in dogs that I’ve found. I have a 14 month old Yorkie/Lhasa Apso crossbreed who has suffered from skin allergies her entire life and I’ve been working with a great veterinarian for almost a year to identify and solve the problem.

After eliminating the most common causes, external parasites and environmental allergens, the vet suggested elimination food trials, exactly as detailed in your article.

First, we had to eliminate all of the animal proteins she had been eating in her regular food and treats. Unfortunately, I was still trying various foods and treats and, collectively, they included almost all of common meat proteins used in dog food. I really didn’t want to resort to exotic meats like kangaroo, etc., unless it was absolutely necessary.

Fortunately, there was one meat protein she hadn’t been eating, salmon. I initially switched her to Merrick Lil Plates Salmon and Sweet Potato dry food, together with salmon oil bites skin and coat supplement and a probiotic supplement, and after a couple or three months, her skin problems had pretty much been solved.

However, she didn’t really like the food and I had to top it with the salmon oil bites in order to get her to eat it. Additionally, Merrick and most of the other salmon based dog foods are also grain free, which neither my vet nor I really wanted.

I finally discovered Purina Pro Plan Focus Small Breed Salmon Sensitive Stomach and Skin formula, which includes healthy grains, but no wheat, corn or soy.

I made the switch a few weeks ago. My dog loves the taste and eats with no bribes or prompting. Also, she seems to be thriving on the food and has better formed, bulkier stools.

I’m well aware of of the criticism and controversy of the Purina brand and probably wouldn’t have made it my first choice but I’m satisfied that I’ve made the best, healthiest choice for my dog.

BTW, we haven’t gone on to stage two of the food trials, re-introducing other meat proteins. I’m fine sticking with salmon as her single meat protein in both her food and dog treats.

Reply
Ben Team

Thanks for the kind words, Jim, and we’re so glad you figured out a solution for your pooch!
Best of luck with the re-introduction phase, if you decide to go through with it.

Reply
Joan glasner

Good article. Very helpful.

Reply
Donna Tramel

I have a miniature Schnauzer and this information has been very good and detailed. I had previously began using the Limited Ingredient food and noticed a significant improvement. Thanks

Reply
Shaik

Which food do you recommend for skin allergies?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Shaik. It really depends on what your dog is allergic to, but any of the recipes recommended above may prove helpful.

Reply
Kelly

Just my experience so others in my position don’t waist all the time I did with the Elimination Diet.
Kelly, 8years, Maltese. Itching, licking paws, dandruff, slowly started loosing hair on her back. Cortisones did help the itching, but not the skin condition. After put on Apoquel, as started with cortisones side effects of skin thinning which was not ideal for new hair growth as her back after MANY trial diets was completely bare.
She already had a no cereal diet with always preference to healthy dog food brands. Finally after 9months of various combination trials.. her vet and I not knowing what else to do decided to do the allergy blood test which as they say is not very reliable, but for us resolved the case.
She’s allergic to food mites! So there is NO dry food or combinations that exist to keep her safe. Food mites are anywhere in anything DRY.. so we wasted months of 60day trials giving her more ‘food-mites’ to only make things worst.
The fact is even if the best brand of dogfood is bought.. how do we know if there’s no mites in there? Then they’re stocked? Shipped? Stored? Finally on shelves? In our homes?
Food Mites cannot be seen in basic products of dry food, snacks, treats. They’re also in 100% dry meat/fish. So boil those potatoes and veggies with meat or fish in one of the trials. She immediately became lively and eyes were not red anymore. Slowly we’re eliminating Apoquel and a new wet-diet will be studied. So don’t always believe in the ‘DRY’ food diet, even if the ingredients are perfect!

Reply
Meg Marrs

Wow, this is amazing Kelly, I’m so glad you found a solution!

Bugs are indeed a problem for many dog allergy sufferers. Sounds like canned or freshly made dog food will be best for you in the future. Good advice to owners to make sure you test a non-dry food as part of the elimination diet in case your dog also suffers from mite allergies!

Thanks so much for sharing your experience Kelly.

Reply
Charles Chernoff

Any recommendations for my 12 year old Lab. Poor guy chews his paw, has a hot spot and fistula. He’s taking gabapentin, an antibiotic and Omega 3 oil. He eats Pedagree and loves it. I think switching foods is like buying a lottery ticket. I’d like to go in the right direction if possible with regard to a change in food
Thanks

Reply
Meg Marrs

Hey Charles – check out our list of healthiest dog food, you’ll find some good suggestions there. I’d say it’s worth avoiding Pedigree, as they have a pretty bad reputation for quality dog food. Merrick, Nutro, Blue Buffalo would all be solid upgrades from Pedigree. I’d say start with one of those!

Reply
Charles Chernoff

Thank you
Is canned better than dry?

Reply
Bo

Our Tibetan Spaniel has many allergies, especially ALL fowl, including emu & ostrich. But we learned it is not limited to proteins. With a strict limitation diet, and help of our holistic vet, we found him to be very allergic to potatoes, tapioca starch, carrots, & rice. Most importantly, foods must be rotated, else he reacts to anything he’s had consistently for 3+ weeks. What has worked best is KOHA brand Kangaroo, alligator, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, millet, hemp seeds, sweet potato, most veggies & legumes–provided they’re given in a rotation diet. Daily omega-3s have been helpful, however he has to have plant-based dues to allergic reactions to salmon + other fish.
We have also learned that hypoallergenic proteins do not serve those who are severely allergic to the protein source.

Reply
Shelly Blomberg

I have 2 dogs with allergies of some sort. Scratching licking and one that’s the big dog licks and licks carpet. She just started that. Thank you for all the advice.

Reply
Phyllis Klugas

Our Cavalier is on a prescriptive diet, Royal Canine Hydrolyzed Protein, moderate calorie formula. She loves and does well on canned green beans and canned carrots as treats. Our vet recommended rabbit as a protein source, but haven’t been able to find any already processed. I was hoping to find a recipe for a home made food that would be complete.

Reply
Meg Marrs

We’re actually working on an article right now about rabbit dog food! Stay tuned! Update: Here’s our article reviewing the best rabbit dog foods!

Reply
Marly Dombrower

My Basenji is on TOTW Prey formula because after eliminating most proteins, I figured it was the grain. She’s still itching up a storm and has little to no hair from her lip to her belly. She is always in a good mood though and is very playful despite what must be annoying (not to mention when she scratches herself to the bleeding point). She’s been on Apoquel to ease some of the itch but that didn’t really help either. In Colorado nothing is growing in the winter so we are 99% sure it’s not environmental. Maybe she’s allergic to one of us! 🙂 Her litter mate is suffering from very similar symptoms mixed with diarrhea and vomiting. Seeing the Vet again for the 5th time tomorrow. Just wanted to say that I really liked your informative article, one of the best I’ve read. Bummed to hear that blood testing won’t work, because that was my last resort. Now I don’t know what to do. Thanks again! Marly

Reply
Judy Morgan

Hi Marly, I got a rescue dog a few months ago and he had parvo. After that was cleared, he continue to have very bad diarrhea all the time. I found out that he has a condition called IBD, inflammatory bowel disease. My vet took an x-ray and showed me all the inflammation going on in his intestines. He told me to give him Hill’s Science Diet Venison and potato for the rest of his life. Not one bite of anything else, except raw peeled potatoes would be alright. This food worked wonders for Murphy. No more diarrhea! He does have skin allergies and he is on apoquel which has taken care of those allergies. I had never heard of this condition or ever had a dog with this before. Just wondering if this might be the case with your dog. Judy

Reply
Sherry Brewer Taylor

My dog just had surgery for a hernia and a biopsy on enlarged lymphnodes. She was diagnosed with IBD. Can I ask if you are still using the same food?

Reply

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