Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods

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Hypoallergenic dog foods usually share one of three basic designs. They are typically products made with:
Dog with Allergies and Scratching

  • Limited ingredients
  • Novel ingredients
  • Hypoallergenic recipes

First, because they do contain fewer components, limited ingredient dog foods can make it easier to pin down the suspected allergen to which a pet might 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 relatively obscure ingredients — like buffalo, pheasant, kangaroo or millet.

And finally, hypoallergenic recipes avoid the use of ingredients most likely to provoke an allergic reaction. According to an article published by Drs. Foster and Smith, they 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 always the cause of a canine allergy.

According to an article by 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 (but are not limited to) 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 — by its manufacturer — to help.

At the end of this article, you’ll find a list of dog foods that meet two requirements. These are products that have been rated at least three stars by The Dog Food Advisor.

And they’ve been recommended by their manufacturers to be appropriate for dogs with food allergies or food intolerances.

Please keep in mind, of course, this list should not be considered a complete catalog of all the hypoallergenic foods on the market. We only provide this small group as a starting point.

As a matter of fact, if you know of a specific dog food you believe we should have included on this list, please feel free to share your recommendations 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.

A Final Word

The information included in this article is offered in good faith and represents the views and opinions of the author only.

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.

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.

Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods

  • Quita

    I have a pit bull. We currently feed him Pedigree complete. Since he’s started on this dog food I’ve noticed him scratching more. When he was on Purina he didn’t scratch as much. It’s getting to the point where he’s losing his coat in certain spots. Any suggestions…I’m ready to take him to the vet.

  • LaQuita Woodward

    I have a pit bull. We currently feed him Pedigree complete. Since he’s started on this dog food I’ve noticed him scratching more. When he was on Purina he didn’t scratch as much. It’s getting to the point where he’s losing his coat in certain spots. Any suggestions…I’m ready to take him to the vet.

  • Brittney

    Thanks for the advice! I’m hoping this works!

  • Crazy4dogs

    I think from the food description you are going to try Natural Balance. If it works for your allergy dog, you could slowly switch your other dog to the same food. You need to do it in very small increments so you don’t cause GI upset. You might even find that he does well on this food and, while it’s not the best, it’s a giant step up from what you’re currently feeding. People on this forum are always available to help! Good Luck with it!

  • Julie

    Thanks for the suggestions. I am going to try switching proteins and I never thought of canned before, so that could be an option. I did think about maybe her reacting to something in Kindly. I think the second ingredient is flaxseed and I know some dogs have issues with that. I will call THK today and see how I go about adding in canned food to make the complete meal.
    Any suggestions for a limited ingredient canned food?

  • Brittney

    I am cautious to switch my other dog to a different food because of his colitis and I don’t want to flare it up. I asked my vet that question and he said to leave my older dog (the one who has colitis) on the little bites so not to upset his system. But if it’s not good for him I don’t want to leave him on it either.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Purina little bites is not a good dog food. Why don’t you switch both dogs to a better food?

  • Crazy4dogs

    You might be able to use some of the “supplemental” cans of pheasant, duck, venison, to the Kindly to make it a complete meal. If that doesn’t work, it could be something in the Kindly formula.

  • Dori

    Thanks C4D. I only use the Zeal (Katie and her food issues, of course) so didn’t know that Kindly was a base mix. Oh, so I don’t know what’s in Kindly but maybe she just has to change whatever protein she’s adding.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi Dori, I use THK. Kindly is a base mix that you add the protein to.

  • Dori

    Try a different protein with THK. I would go from THK to Royal Canin. Whatever the protein is in Kindly just switch. Have you given your dog a meal of just the Zeal? If not, I would suggest feeding Zeal for a few days and see if the paw biting issue stops. It may be as simple as that.

  • Julie

    What food is he on?

  • Julie

    I started my dog on honest kitchen kindly with cooked ground turkey or chicken after two years of chronic pancreatitis/IBD and a couple thousand dollars worth of vet bills. After a month, she is doing great. No more tummy issues and stool is normal. The only problem we are having now is that she is biting her paws. Vet said to switch her to a novel protein such as duck, rabbit or kangaroo and suggested royal canin select protein rx food. I hate to put her back on kibble if I don’t have to, but I know I can’t cook those novel proteins myself. I did try raw…I added a teaspoon of honest kitchen zeal to her food, but that made her vomit so now I’m a little hesitant to go that route. Any suggestions?

  • Brittney

    I have a year old corgi who constantly is itching near his mouth to the point where he bleeds. I have had him to the vet numerous times. The first time they said it was an ear infection and put him on an antibiotic and it clear up. The about a month to two months later he started itching again. I thought maybe it was because he was allergic to something at the groomers and when I took him back to the vets they said it probably was an allergy to something at the groomers and again put him on an antibiotic which his scratching stopped and his mouth was healed. I also have not taken him back to the groomers. But yet again his scratching is back. I did what the vet said and gave him Benadryl to help with the itching but it is not working. I am beginning to think he may have a food allergy. Has anyone had this issue before? What do I do? I have a call back to the vet and they will get back to me on Monday but I just feel so bad because my poor little boy just keeps scratching. Does anyone have any ideas for me?

  • Terri Castleberry

    Our cocker spaniel has allergies to all feathered animals like chicken or turkey. He lost one of his ear canals as a result. And we now feed him apples, carrots, pumpkin and Royal Canine Rabbit. He is also allergic to mold and still has some minor skin issues that require consistent bathing and attention. But the major problem with the ears has been fixed with the food.

  • marion

    My dog will not eat any chew dog product I just purchased acana turkey she will not touch this food. I tried several dog food nothing seems to workout.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Sorry I missed this. Dori gave you some good info. I buy it locally at an independent pet store. Several online retailers have it as well. I know Chewy.com and Pet360 carry it. I think Pet Supplies Plus carries it too. They do in my area.

  • Dori

    thehonestkitchen.com

    You can order directly from them at their website (above). Or on their site go to their store locater and put in your address or zip code.

  • Charlotte Dorris

    Where do you buy the THK Preference Base Mix? I’ve never heard of it. I cook for my dog too, ususally ground turkey /w organic veg. mix, but feel he needs something more.
    thanks,
    Toby’s mom

  • Capt Donna

    As an avid reader trying to do what’s best for my furr baby.. lost my big girl in 2013, yet it feels in my heart like today.
    Her bestest buddy still with me Daisey .. since Nov 2014 has had MAJOR yeasty paws << this was something I had NEVER even seen), itchy (corn-cobbing) on her paws, rump, thighs, forelegs and belly (These ear infections/itching previously were only once a year primarily Jan always a Kenalog shot). Which as we know steroids can be as harmful as well as quite frustrating – in this case now only giving relief for 2 to 3 weeks, whereas before it would clear it up until the next Jan

    This past Monday I requested an allergy test. At this time about a week and 1/2 until I get an answer.

    Prior to HomeMade Raw ( recipe found here and a few other places)
    Tried Zignature (All Dry) Trout and Salmon
    ZignatureTurkey (they were out of the Trout and Salmon)

    Prior to this visit I had started her on Home-Made raw
    70/30 hamburger
    boiled eggs (shells included) NO rice as I was concerned grains were part of her allergy)
    Liver (20 oz container at wally-world)
    Fish oil capsules 1200mg f/o 360 omega 3
    White tuna (Albacore)
    Milled flax seed.
    TREATS only consisted of chicken gizzards/hearts, broccoli, cauliflower and frozen green beans
    UNFORTUNATELY it was recommended that I use a supplement
    Yep – I purchased DinOvite ..
    So since starting her on Jan22nd – STILL had a major flair up to the point where I could not longer watch her (baths, benedryl) of course the answer at DinOvite was this was a *PURGE* ok…. SMH
    As of April 6th she has now been tested for allergies. Since my Vet's office has no stock of *APOGUEL*, apparently doesn't KNOW about *RESPIT* .. yes another kenalog shot..
    Mind you she found me (my Daisey)…. so I can only make a guess that she's about 9 years old….
    A note about said Office visit – I was told my Raw Diet was too much protein which could be just as detrimental to her kidneys etc as the kenalog – I don't know I am NOT a Vet hence my need for help and doing whatever I could for her. I have read, read and read some more in these forums (meanwhile since Jan – no walks as even though I can wipe her down after a walk here in West Central FL it's SO hot/humid unless it's after dark.. I had stopped walking her altogether. She used our dog door to do her business in the back yard and is mainly a by my side inside…
    GUESS what this Vet said for me to put her on SD for Sensitive Skin – after just reading a few posts
    *NO WAY*
    So now I am in a full blow conundrum .. continue with say 1/2 of the Raw Homemade (NO I do not cook it) and (insert dry kibble such as Zig Turkey)

    I can tell you when I went to add kibble to her raw she gave me a look like MOM ! WHAT !???

    Many of us "parents" no this helpless feeling…. I'll update after test results. For now.. I have enough Home Made Raw left to add with Zig/Turkey until allergy results.
    FWIW yes, she's on TriFexis with no issues and has been for some time ( home and yard are treated but you can never know about your neighbor = KNOWN allergy to fleas) so baths ..7 to 10 days with a Anti-Fungal/Medicated (MALAPET or VETIQ medicates Shampoo – heck I've even used Neutrogena T-Gel) shampoo..
    If it's out there… I've probably tried it at some point in time….
    Finding a GOOD FOOD is why I come here.

  • Melissa

    Check out small batch…. Great product. It’s a raw based products but they have patties that yiu just thaw out with all good, healthy ingredients.

  • Melissa

    You can purchase yourself even though it asks for your vets information. You don’t have to give them your vets information if you don’t want to.

  • ShaneC

    Is Nutriscan something I can buy or must it be purchased through a vet?

  • TruBlu

    Please google ratings on Royal Canin Pet food in general. It is a disgrace that Vets can sleep soundly selling that product. Simply: Sell substandard pet food and attract middle America by giving it a catchy name that makes you think that professional breeders use this food; not! Multiple recalls in years past.

  • Melissa

    Hi there, have you looked into the Nutriscan test created by Dr.Dodds? It test for food intolerances. We just did this for our rescue dog and have just started changing his food. Some people think this test is bogus but after spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars at the vets trying to fix yeasty ear infections and other skin related issues, I thought it would be worth it.

  • Crazy4dogs

    That is a really good choice theBCnut. :-) I was going to suggest that, but some people don’t want to do any work when preparing their dog’s food. I am about to slow cook a whole chicken for my dogs to add to THK Preference Base Mix.

  • theBCnut

    Look into the Honest Kitchen Zeal.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I’m sorry I missed the pancreatitis issue, so the NV Instinct is probably too high in fat. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of low fat/limited ingredient diets. In your case I might try Wellness Simple Grain Free Salmon. It is a limited ingredient and low fat formula.

  • Rae

    I suspect that my dog has a ragweed allergy (as well as other environmental allergies). I will not feed her any dog food that contains chicory root or inulin (mostly sourced from chicory). I found out years ago that chicory is related to ragweed. It blows my mind that so many dog foods contain this ingredient, yet no one in the industry
    has put two & two together. If you suspects that your dog is sensitive to ragweed, or any possible outdoor allergens, and your dog has skin issues,excessive itchiness, or gastrointestinal upset, I highly recommend checking their food for this ingredient. I feel that a limited ingredient diet is best for allergic pets as they usually do not contain additives such as this.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Nature’s Variety Instinct has several limited ingredient foods that are basically the protein and peas. There are many foods that contain no potatoes or sweet potatoes and use peas or chickpeas instead. Here’s a DFA link on that topic:

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/grain-and-potato-free-dog-foods/

  • Tammi

    Sounds like your Brutus and my Lily suffer from similar issues. Lily was also on antibiotics and steroids many times. Her rashes got better but like Brutus, they came back after finishing each round of meds. The antibiotics had a negative effect on her bowels, and the steroids made her unable to control her bladder and she would pee in the house, something she had never done before. Fortunately, that stopped when she was off steroids. The Atopica worked very well. It’s very expensive and a competitive drug was due to come out early 2015. Another response to my post mentions the drug. I’m going to check into it.

    We moved back to Minnesota and she has had infrequent rashes since the grass was snow covered. The snow is gone for the most part and since then she has started licking her paws non-stop. This is one of her allergy symptoms. She hasn’t developed a skin rash yet. Time will tell.

    Thank you for your response and for Brutus’ story.

  • Paula

    Paula
    Hi
    I have a Golden Doodle called Charley and he has had blood tests and they came back that he was allergic to Lamb Beef Chicken Vension and Rice also Salmon.
    So now he is on a diet of James Wellbeloved Turkey and Vegetable Kibble and Pets at home own wet food Wainwrights Turkey and vegetable.
    He seems to have settled down with his itching but still does now and again.
    Also I have to buy only vegetable treats as all the other treats have meat derivitives in which Cahrley is allergic to.
    P.Robinson
    Bedfordshire

  • Tammi

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate the information you shared. I knew there was a new drug coming out this year that does the same as Atopica, but far less that the $3 per pill that Atopica costs. I’ll look into it.

  • http://InfoCraver.com/ InfoCraver

    Tammy- We have the same problem with our French Bulldog. He is currently on a prescription dog food, Iams KO. It consists of kangaroo and oats and he seems to do well with it. Sweet potatoes are one of the main food allergies that he suffers from, so I understand the battle. You can read more on what we have done for our frenchie here: http://infocraver.com/2012/08/my_frenchie_and_his_allergies/

  • Kathi Crawley

    Try Annamaet Option 24%. Vet recommended this food for my havanese since it has limited ingredients. Have been feeding her the food for over a year and she is doing great!! Do have to wet the food a little since she has a problem chewing it. Good luck!!

  • Justsayin50

    My boxer had pancreatitis and we fed him Ukanuba brand and he did good with it. He also had to be on meds for life with Pig pancreas enzymes. Hope it helps some.

  • Justsayin50

    You may want to try washing the feet weekly with a Chlorhexidine shampoo to relieve the itching and to clean off the allergen. You need to leave it on as long as possible (10 mins) which isn’t easy to do. Its only a relief and not a fix. There’s just an allergen in your area that is irritating the paws. Maybe even try some doggie shoes when she is outside. You can also rinse them whenever she comes in from outdoors so the allergen is not brought into the home.

  • Justsayin50

    Very true. Thyroid and pancreas can look like allergy issues. Poor baby.

  • Justsayin50

    I would get her off of that food asap!! They know when food is not good for them. Try an allergy food with no animal, egg, wheat, dairy, corn or soy in it. My dog eats Live Free brand and it works well. I found it at a holistic pet food store. You can also try coconut oil on her skin for moisture and relief. It may be an environment allergy along with food. The only thing that can help with environmental is an allergy medicine. My baby had red bumps on her stomach and I believe it was from laying in the sun on the deck. She loves the sun but sometimes the sun isn’t so good for them especially if they have white fur. Just light fair skinned humans, they have fair skin where the fur is white and it burns easily. The bully breeds (boxers, pits, staffordshires, boston terriers, bull dog) have notorious allergies. Just be careful of what you feed them. Do your research for common canine allergies.

  • Justsayin50

    Live Free brand is made especially for food allergy issues. I found it at a holistic pet food store. It has worked well for my boxer. She has environmental allergies also but the only thing that helps with that is a new drug called Apoquel. The manufacturer is having a hard time keeping up with demand right now but it should improve by 2016. I have to give it to her every other day instead of daily until there is more available.