Hypoallergenic Dog Foods


Hypoallergenic dog foods typically share one of three basic dietary designs:
Dog with Allergies and Scratching

  • Limited ingredient diets
  • Novel ingredient diets
  • Prescription or veterinary diets

First, because they contain fewer components, limited ingredient dog foods can make it easier to pin down the specific allergen to which a pet may be allergic.

Next, novel ingredient dog foods contain components the animal might not have been previously exposed to — so, therefore, less less likely to be sensitive to.

These foods contain obscure ingredients — like buffalo, pheasant, kangaroo or millet.

And finally, prescription or veterinary dog foods are diets that have been designed to contain hypoallergenic ingredients.

And as the names suggest, these products are typically prescribed and sold by veterinarians.

Most Common Allergens

Most hypoallergenic dog foods are designed to avoid the use of ingredients most likely to provoke an allergic reaction.

According to online pet food retailer, Drs. Foster and Smith, the most common canine food allergens include:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Yeast

Surprisingly, dogs aren’t naturally allergic to many of these items. It’s just that these are the ingredients most commonly used in dog food recipes.

So, they’re simply the ones dogs are most frequently exposed to.

And many times, it’s not even the ingredients that are the problem. Dogs can also be allergic to what’s in the ingredients, too.

Why Food May Not Be the Cause
of Your Dog’s Allergies

Contrary to popular belief, food isn’t the primary cause of a canine allergies.

According to Drs. Foster and Smith, food allergies account for just 10% of all canine allergies. They’re only the third most common cause — ranked well behind fleas and atopic (non-contact) allergies.

Yet food is the first to be blamed whenever a dog shows any sign of an allergic reaction — like itchy skin.

And that begs the question: Is it really an allergy in the first place?

Food Allergy
or Food Intolerance?

Food allergies and food intolerances are considered two different issues.

A food allergy occurs when a dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies a particular food ingredient as harmful. And then creates defensive antibodies to fight the invading enemy (the food).

A food intolerance is a digestive problem rather than an immune response. An intolerance occurs when a dog’s digestive system is unable to digest a specific ingredient.

For example, lactose intolerance is a common condition in which a dog is unable to break down lactose (a sugar found in milk).

Different Conditions
with Different Symptoms

The symptoms of an allergy can include skin rash, hives, itching, paw biting, obsessive licking and sometimes nausea or vomiting.

The signs of food intolerance include (mainly) digestive distress, gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Again, let’s use milk as an example…

A milk intolerance would look more like gastric distress. This can include symptoms like gas, bloating or diarrhea.

However, a true milk allergy would produce an immune reaction (for example, itching or a rash).

The Bottom Line

If you believe your pet is suffering from a food intolerance or a food allergy, you may wish to consider feeding a commercial dog food that’s been specifically designed to help manage these issues.

At the end of this article, you’ll find two lists — one includes a group of hypoallergenic dog foods prescribed by veterinarians and another using limited ingredient recipes.

These lists should not be considered a complete catalog of all hypoallergenic foods available.

In fact, if you know of a specific dog food you believe we should have included on these lists, please feel free to share your suggestions in the Comments section below.

Or if you’re looking for some suggestions yourself, be sure to look through our readers’ comments below to find some good ideas.

Veterinary Hypoallergenic Dog Foods

The following veterinary dog foods are marketed as hypoallergenic. However, readers are encouraged to consult a veterinarian before feeding these products.

Suggested Limited
Ingredient Dog Foods

The following limited ingredient dog foods may be helpful in tracking down specific allergens. However, these products are listed here only because of claims made by each manufacturer.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

  • Paloma Leon


  • Paloma Leon

    Hi jesica!

    I read ur comment and sounds exactly to what we going through with our Jack Russell. Where are u located!? Would love to visit ur new vet.

    Thank u!

  • Surisun

    Kefir cool I will look into it. Thanks!

  • Susan

    Hi Jessica your better of seeing a Dermatologist instead of a vet when you have a dog with skin problems…. Baths are the best thing you can do for an itchy dog that has environment allergies, I bath Patch weekly sometimes twice a week in Malaseb medicated shampoo, Malaseb leaves his skin & coat feeling so soft & silky & Malaseb
    shampoo can be used daily also kills any bacteria on their skin..Bathing washes off any allergens & pollens on their skin & paws relieving them from having itchy dry skin if your using the right
    shampoo..If a dogs skin/coat is dry they are lacking omega 3 fatty acids in their diet, Sardines are excellent source of omega fatty acids vitamins & minerals you buy the tin sardines in spring water or olive oil & give about 3 small sardines a day as treat or with their kibble also raw almonds I give Patch 3 raw almonds a day… Raw almonds are very high in vitamin E, Biotin & monounsaturated fats. will help with his dry flaky skin..
    Best food (Kibbles) with fish as the protein are the best to feed for dogs with skin problems, have a look at “Canidae” you have Canidae in the UK look at their Pure Formulas Pure Sea is excellent for skin problems & very high in omega fatty acids for their skin.. here’s the Canidae site also their kibbles are guaranteed money back..
    the only true way you will know what foods your dog is sensitive too is to do an elimination diet, you feed 1 novel protein a protein he has never eaten
    before & 1 carb like sweet potatoes. You feed this for 6 weeks then if dog is doing well then introduce another food/veggie but I’d say your dog has environment allergies as well as food sensitivities its very hard cause the dog may be having a reaction to a plant, tree, dust mites etc from the environment, normally with food sensitivities the dog or cat will have Intestinal problems, vomiting, sloppy poos, dragging bum on carpet, etc
    my boy has IBD he does really well on “Taste Of The Wild” Sierra Mountain Roasted Lamb kibble its just Lamb no other proteins & sweet potatoes, egg peas & potato in the kibble…. try & rotate & feed different foods & kibbles, build up his immune system give a dog probiotic & feed healthy foods,
    its best to introduce new foods thru winter months when environment allergies aren’t as bad…Keep a diary & over the years you will see a pattern like my boy good thru winter then bad thru spring & summer months..

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    The skin testing (Intra Dermal Testing) is the most important part. My dog receives Allergen Specific Immunotherapy with positive results.

    The steroids and other medications may be necessary for short periods of time to stop the suffering and prevent the constant intense pruritus (itching) that can lead to staph infections and open bloody scabs.

    Once the dog’s condition is under control she will need these meds less and less and hopefully not at all.
    See my posts over here http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/search/allergies/ anon101

  • Susan

    Hi Kellie what does she eat?? sounds like her diet is lacking in omega 3 fatty acids, she needs foods to help stop her skin becoming dry, tin sardines in spring water or olive oil are excellent for their skin & coat, heart, joints, brain ..gave a couple small sardines per day with food or as a treat..

  • Kellie Childress

    I bathe her at least twice a week. I also rub coconut oil on her. She likes to roll in the grass :/ I try to keep her wiped down. She still has VERY dry flakey skin, even with rx leave in conditioners. I am going to Amazon right now to order that shampoo. Thanks for the tip. I can’t take her being pitiful. She wakes me up in the middle of the night to scratch her. She stands on my chest and bops me in the nose with hers until I wake up. (Mini Schnauzer ) <3

  • Kellie Childress

    I’ve been to a veterinary dermatologist a few times. It was determined that she is allergic to fleas. She has not had the skin test for other allergies (that’s next.) Her outbreaks wax and wane but never completely go away. Her skin stays flakey. My vet is new and wants to give her steroids. I’m not comfortable with that.
    What did you end up doing for your dog? If you don’t mind me asking.

  • Pitlove

    Hi, yes I agree. Some of their diets are high in fat depending on the dog. My dog and cat did not care for THK, plus I can not justify the price, so we’ve have not used it again. Don’t think I ever would in the future.

  • Morgan Henry

    Your dog sounds like he’s having many of the same issues that mine is having! I look forward to seeing a response here. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Angela Hirt

    We tried HK and my dog had an immediate allergic reaction to it, wheezing, elevated heart rate, hyperactivity….it was horrible, we found out by elimination he is allergic to spinach. Plus the vet said it is very high in fat.

  • Angela Hirt

    Addiction uses Alfalfa and my dog had a reaction to it. 🙁

  • Angela Hirt

    Hi, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on probiotics. My vet told me just to get lifeway kefir, its lactose free, gluten free, no added sugar. My dog weighs 25 lbs. and I give him a teaspoon 3x’s a day. He loves it. I also give him coconut oil.

  • Jessica

    Hi all,
    I am from the UK so I appreciate that not all of the food stuffs mentioned will be available easily over here but I was just looking for some tips on caring for my dog really. We have had a bit of a nightmare with him (Smithy – a New Zealand Huntaway) and food/allergies.
    About two years ago he developed really itchy, red painful looking skin which he wouldn’t stop scratching and biting at. He also gave off a not very pleasant smell (from his skin). We took him to the vet and they said it was an allergy to something. We spent a fortune on blood tests, skin scrapes, steroids, antibiotics etc all to no avail. The steroids would clear him up for the time he was on them, but as soon as he finished the course it would come back. The vet said all the tests were non-conclusive……
    Eventually we changed vets. The new vet took one look at him and said it was a yeast infection. She explained that his body produced way too much yeast and that this was as a result of his food.
    She prescribed a hypoallergenic food and said she believes he is intolerant to wheat and gluten. She also provided tablets which block the signals in the brain so he doesn’t scratch and lick.
    He has only been on this medication and food for about 4 days but already the change in him is huge!! He is much happier and much more relaxed. His skin has lost all the redness and he has stopped scratching and licking it.
    However, his skin is still very flaky and dry. I wonder if it would be appropriate to buy some coconut oil and massage this into his skin before washing off with his shampoo? I am just looking for advice really on getting his coat back to its normal thick shiny state. He is bald in several spots so I am looking for tips on encouraging hair growth etc especially with winter coming! Also, the hair he does have is quite dry and brittle.
    Any advice would be much appreciated!!
    PS – Any tips on treats would be good too…. given that he is on a hypoallergenic diet and has allergies to wheat and gluten what types of treat would be appropriate? Can he still have animal bones?

  • Susan

    Hi Kellie, Baths are the best, I bath weekly or twice a week if Patch has walked past a bush or a plant he’s allergic too then he starts itching real bad, sometimes he gets hive like lumps on all his white sections of fur…. When you bath them you wash off any pollens & allergens that’s on their skin/body also their paws need washing as well. I use Malaseb Medicated Shampoo, it can be used everyday & the Malaseb leaves Patch feeling so soft & kills any bacteria on their skin as well..

  • Christy Hubbard

    Check out bigbearpet.com
    They’ve saved my little ones!

  • Christy Hubbard

    Poor babies! We did a full analysis through Spectrum Labs. After the first run I did an additional test to check a few novel proteins that weren’t included on the initial test. It’s such a frustrating process & my little guy went through a yo yo period for a little while and now he’s finally stabilized (his stool is firm, his hair has grown back and is soft, he still has some itching though but nothing like before). Hang in there! From what I understand it can even be the toys they play with, bedding, cleaning products, etc. The less obvious stuff, for example mine is crazy allergic to flies- he loves to catch them and sometimes eat them!

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Allergen specific immunotherapy is the most natural treatment for environmental allergies, no medications involved except for occasional flare-ups. The initial Intradermal skin testing done by a dermatologist is expensive, but if it works, it’s the best. The maintenance isn’t that bad.

  • Kawaii Kitsune

    Thanks you for the comment, but we are really trying to avoid any further use of medications like steroids, atopica and other sorts of medications. The side effects of them worry me greatly and as our girl is much older I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable putting more strain on her liver.

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    I would suggest having your dog examined and tested by a board certified veterinary dermatologist.
    That was the only thing that helped my dog (stable X several years).
    If your dog has environmental allergies, the food has nothing to do with it. Environmental allergies tend to wax and wane, they don’t go away and often they require lifelong treatment.

  • Kawaii Kitsune

    I’m so glad you’ve found what works for your furry family member! Reading posts like this gives me optimism on our girls problems, but so far we’re still struggling here. The home cooked meals have stopped her chronic ear infections and her itching slowed for the first week but again she’s overly itchy and it’s frustrating. Our last vet did do a few allergy tests on her and I know what some of her triggers are, but the problem was foods she showed no reaction too in the beginning she began having allergies with after a couple of months. We now have a new vet and a nutritionist who have been a huge help even though our problems still aren’t fully fixed.
    It might be a good idea have our new vet run allergy tests.

  • Kawaii Kitsune

    I’m sorry to hear about your girl! I know it’s very hard and frustrating having a dog with allergies. And so far we’ve made progress but the results are so small I’m not sure it should be considered such. Her constant ear infections have ceased but the tremendous itching is still there. The nutritionist says it may take time for the itching to completely stop but I have my doubts.

  • theBCnut

    Both beef and chicken are common allergens, so not good choices for an elimination diet, but it is also possible that there are environmental allergies at play.

  • Dave Potter

    I have tried a strict ground beef for two week w/o noticeable effects. I then tried strict chicken for two weeks with similar results. My dog loved it.

  • Christy Hubbard

    I’ve recently been through something similar and eventually after trying countless foods (raw, kibble, canned, prescription) I finally switched vets. Mine was convinced it wasn’t a food allergy and I wasn’t willing to refill the steroids. My new vet immediately recommended testing and we discovered allergy levels for animal & carbohydrate proteins (beef, poultry, fowl, lamb, peas, potatoes, barley, and many more). Basically he can only have kangaroo or bison for protein. I give him raw bison (from a small distributor) and mix in a blend of fruits/veggies plus a probiotic. It’s only been six weeks and already all skin lesions are gone and his hair is growing back and is soft and shiny (it started feeling brittle and dry- like an over processed blonde). It’s been life changing. I buy all organic fruits and veggies that I know are safe and dehydrate them, then blend them down even further in a blender creating my own custom varieties (mixed berries & kale; apple, sweet potato, & pumpkin to give you an idea) since he’s so darn picky and won’t eat any of the commercial ones that are available.
    I’m not sure how effective the testing is but there is one called Immune IQ (I recently heard about from the local pet food place where I buy raw bison bones) and it’s on Groupon for under $50. Testing at the vet starts around $200-250 and goes up considerably depending on what you test for. It might be a good starting point. My vet was astonished to see my little guys worst allergy is Rabbit, considered a novel protein by some, followed by Venison. Because of our particular combinations of sensitivity there isn’t a commercial option for bison that I’ve found so I do what I described above. After 90 days I will slowly transition him to a kangaroo option which includes treats/bones.
    Good luck.

  • invalidnametwo

    Do you understand the meaning and proper usage of the word: “novel?” Me thinks not.

  • Kathy Stephens

    Excellent GSDsForever. I couldn’t have said it better. I have been through all of this myself and am home cooking one protein and one carb, all pureed for now. The weekly water rinses, vacuuming, washed bedding, all a must. Dermatologist an absolute must to do skin allergy testing. It is imperative that she start getting some lists of known allergies started and skin allergy testing will give her half the picture. The food is really a trial-by-hope solution. And keep a daily journal of stools, skin condition, etc., to be taken to every appointment. I also have a kiddie pool with about 2 inches of water (I dump and change daily) next to my back door for my dog to walk through, then across a towel inside the door, to keep her feet rinsed of some of the outside allergens. Cudos to your answer for this unfortunate situation and possibly help lots of others.

  • Kathy Stephens

    I too have a dog that has food and environmental allergies. We just spent 6 months recovering from a near-fatal inflammation with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) brought on by her intolerance to some foods. We have gone through food trials, prescription diets, limited ingredient diets and all brands of commercial food, all failures. I am now cooking her food and have her safely eating rabbit meat and oatmeal, with natural supplements. I have an “intregrative” veterinarian/holistic nutritionist that has helped me calm everything down with natural food and supplements. We finally learned that my girl has a leaky gut and a problem with synthetic supplements and is the reason why she cannot eat commercial dogfoods. There are just too many ingredients. We still have some minor itching which I believe is the oatmeal. Lectins are inflammatory to dogs with allergies and IBD. Lectins are grains, legumes, dairy, and nightshade vegetable. When my dog develops an allergic skin reaction, I simply back down her food to just cooked rabbit with natural food supplements until the skin clears up. I use raw organic coconut butter on the hives and rashes until they clear. She also must have a clear water rinse bath once a week to keep allergens from building up on her skin. She is allergic to dust mites so vacuuming is in order once or twice a week, plus her bedding is washed once a week. It is work, but she is worth every minute of my time. At 80 lbs, I cook 20 lbs of rabbit each week.

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