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

  • 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.