- 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…
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.