- Limited ingredients
- Novel ingredients
- Hypoallergenic recipes
Or occasionally some combination of these designs.
First, because they do contain fewer ingredients, limited ingredient dog foods make it simpler to pin down the suspected “allergen” in the food a pet might be allergic to.
Next, novel ingredient dog foods contain elements less likely to be known to the “memory” of a specific animal’s immune system.
Since allergic reactions generally require a previous exposure to an allergen, 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 reaction1. They include…
Surprisingly, dogs aren’t naturally allergic to these ingredients. 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.
In any case, no matter which design you’re considering, you may be surprised to learn…
Why Food May Not Be the Cause
of Your Dog’s Allergies
Now, contrary to popular belief, food is not the leading cause of canine allergies.
In dogs, food allergies account for just 10% of all allergies. They’re only the third most common cause… well behind fleas and atopic (non-contact) allergies.1
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 truly an allergy in the first place?
Food Allergy — or Food Intolerance?
Food allergies and food intolerances are two completely 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 — 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 (bloating, gas, diarrhea).
However, a milk allergy would likely produce an immune reaction (itching or rash).
The Bottom Line
If you believe your dog is suffering from a food allergy (or a food intolerance), here are a few hypoallergenic dog foods for you to consider.
Suggested products must meet two requirements. They must be rated three stars or higher by the Advisor.
And they must have been recommended by their manufacturers to be appropriate for dogs with food allergies or food intolerances.
Of course, this list should not be considered a complete catalog of all the hypoallergenic foods on the market.
For there are others. Many others.
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 to find more good ideas.
Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
- Addiction Dog Food (Dry)
- Blue Buffalo Blue Basics (Dry)
- Bravo Balance (Raw)
- Brothers Complete Allergy Formula (Dry)
- California Natural (Canned)
- California Natural (Dry)
- Canidae Grain Free (Dry)
- Dave’s Delicate Dinner (Canned)
- Evanger’s Game Meats (Canned)
- Go Natural Dog Food (Dry)
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient (Canned)
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient (Dry)
- Natural Life Adult Lamaderm (Canned)
- Nature’s Variety Instinct (Canned)
- Nature’s Variety Instinct (Dry)
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet (Dry)
- Pinnacle Holistic (Dry)
- Skoki Dog Food (Dry)
- Wellness Simple Food Solutions (Canned)
A Final Word
This article is designed to help you make a more informed decision when choosing dog food. However, it is certainly not our intention to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific health benefit for your pet.
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 veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist for help.