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Best Dog Foods for Allergies

Julia Ogden

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Julia Ogden
Julia Ogden

Julia Ogden

Content Director

Julia is the content director at the Dog Food Advisor and responsible for the overall strategy of the website.

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Updated: July 5, 2024

Verified by Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Pet Nutritionist

Laura studied BSc (Hons) Animal Science with an accreditation in Nutrition at the University of Nottingham, before working for eight years in the pet food and nutrition industry.

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Laura Ward

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What are the best foods for dogs with allergies?

From itchy skin, watery eyes and a runny nose, dogs can develop allergies, just like us, and the symptoms can be unpleasant. If left untreated, they can lead to nasty skin infections and, in some cases, respiratory distress. While the majority of allergens tend to be environmental, some dogs can also have adverse reactions to food, leading pet parents to be on the hunt for the best dog food for allergies.

The first step is uncovering the specific allergen with your vet, who will create an appropriate diet plan. Typically, limited ingredient and hypoallergenic dog foods are recommended. 

Limited ingredient diets contain fewer components, making it easier to pinpoint the specific allergen. Hypoallergenic dog food, on the other hand, is made with protein that has been “split” into its basic nutrient building blocks. This “hydrolyzed” protein is usually too small to stimulate an immune response.

Another option is novel ingredient dog food which replaces traditional proteins like beef and chicken with less common proteins such as venison, salmon, or duck. If your dog is sensitive to corn, wheat, or other grains, a grain-free dog food may be recommended. These foods also have the added benefit of being gluten-free.

Switching dog food can sometimes lead to digestive concerns, so it’s important to add a new food gradually. 

You’ll also see, at the bottom of this page, answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get about choosing and feeding limited ingredient and hypoallergenic diets.

The Dog Food Advisor - Editor's choice

Best Dog Foods for Allergies July 2024

  • 1. Best Premium Food for Dogs with Allergies: The Farmer's Dog Pork Recipe

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    Made from human-grade meat and vegetables, The Farmer’s Dog Pork Recipe is just one of four vet-developed formulas, cooked to destroy pathogens and then quickly frozen to lock-in nutrients. These grain-free recipes are made with limited ingredients and often novel proteins, to allow easy avoidance of triggers for allergies.

    This particular recipe gets 100% protein from fresh pork. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 28% fat and 28% estimated carbs, which produces a fat-to-protein ratio of about 78%. 

    Read our review of the full The Farmer’s Dog (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients Pork, sweet potato, potato, green beans, cauliflower
    Texture Fresh
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 36%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For All dogs including large breed puppies

    Sample buyer review...

    "This healthier diet may cost a little more than the dried or canned foods but has saved me hundreds of dollars on vet bills."

  • 2. Best Budget-Friendly Food for Dogs with Allergies: Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Turkey & Potato Formula

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    This turkey and potato formula is an excellent limited ingredient option for adult dogs with food and skin sensitivities. 

    Made by Wellness, it is one of six dry recipes in the Simple Limited Ingredient Diet range. This particular recipe derives the majority of its animal protein from fresh turkey and turkey meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 29% protein, 14% fat and 49% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 46%.

    Read our review of the full Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned turkey, turkey meal, potatoes, peas, dried ground potatoes
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 29%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adults only (not for puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "Our two Labs are having problems with yeast in ears, biting paws and itching. They needed some relief so I decided to try Wellness Simple Turkey & Potatoes. After three weeks there has been a noticeable improvement."

    Read more buyer reviews
  • 3. Best Dog Food for Skin Allergies: Just Food for Dogs Pantry Fresh Joint & Skin Support

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    Just Food for Dogs Joint & Skin Support is a limited ingredient diet containing novel proteins, omega oils and antioxidants for skin health, making it the best dog food for skin allergies. It is one of nine recipes in this range.

    This particular fresh recipe gets the bulk of its protein from pork, which is naturally rich in all 10 essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life. Dry matter label analysis reveals it contains 33% protein, 5% fat and 55% estimated carbs. . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of about 15%.

    Main Ingredients Pork, quinoa, kale, carrots, apples
    Texture Fresh
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 33%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult dogs

    Sample buyer review...

    "My dogs absolutely love it!! It is so fresh and healthy for them!! They go crazy for it and absolutely no issues switching to this new food!!"

  • 4. Best Dry Dog Food For Allergies: Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Salmon & Brown Rice

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    This Salmon & Brown Rice formula is one of 26 Limited Ingredient Diet recipes in a dry dog food range made by Natural Balance. With no soy, gluten, artificial colors, or artificial flavors, it is ideal for dogs with a sensitive stomach, skin irritations and allergies.

    This particular formula derives most of its animal protein from fresh salmon and fish meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 27% protein, 17% fat and 49% estimated carbs… which produces a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.

    Read our review of the full Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Salmon, menhaden fish meal, brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive (brown rice, brewers rice)
    Protein Percentage 27%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adults only, not for puppies

    Sample buyer review...

    "I have been looking for a new kibble for my pup who suffers from food & environmental allergies! The vet suggested we eliminate chicken and after much research, we decided to try this! Our dog loved it and it was easy on her tummy! Along with her meds and supplements, the New Balance Salmon & Brown Rice has been an amazing success!!"

    Read more buyer reviews
  • 5. Best Food for Dogs with Sensitive Skin: Zignature Turkey Formula Limited Ingredient

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    Turkey Formula is one of 11 limited ingredient recipes made by Zignature. It is free from common allergens such as corn, wheat, soy, and dairy and includes antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, along with added essential vitamins and minerals.

    This wet recipe gets the bulk of its animal protein from farm-raised turkey, a lean source of protein to help keep your dog’s muscles strong. Dry matter label analysis reveals this food contains 43% protein, 34% fat and 15% estimated carbs. . . with a fat-to-protein ratio of about 79%.

    Read our review of the full Zignature Dog Food (Canned) range here

    Main Ingredients Turkey, turkey broth, turkey liver, peas, turkey meal
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 43%
    AAFCO Standards All life stages
    Best For Puppies & adult dogs

    Sample buyer review...

    "As a pet care professional for over 12 years I always strive to give my dogs the best. Zignature has been a staple for our three dogs for three years and counting! We will continue to recommend this food to our clients and friends. "

    Read more buyer reviews
  • 6. Best Food For Puppies With Allergies: Nom Nom Pork Potluck

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    Pork Potluck is an excellent limited ingredient recipe. . . and a solid place to start an at-home elimination diet if you’re looking for the best food for a puppy with allergies.

    The first time you visit the brand’s website you’ll answer a few questions about your dog’s age, weight, breed and suspected allergies, Nom Nom will then create a customized, single protein diet to help reduce allergy symptoms.

    This recipe is one of four fresh dog foods made by Nom Nom and gets the bulk of its animal protein from fresh ground pork. Dry matter label analysis reveals a wet recipe containing 28% protein, 20% fat and 44% estimated carbs… with a fat-to-protein ratio of about 71%.

    Read our review of the full Nom Nom Dog Food (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients Ground pork, russet potatoes, green beans, squash, kale
    Texture Fresh
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 28%
    AAFCO Standards All life stages
    Best For Adults & puppies (including large breeds)

    Sample buyer review...

    "Nom Nom is an excellent product! Not only does our girl go crazy over it, but she's been displaying more energy since she started on Nom Nom. I am delighted with the quality. "

  • 7. Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food For Allergies: Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Real Turkey & Brown Rice Recipe

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    This limited ingredient dog food by Merrick offers a balanced, wet alternative to dry kibble. A practical option for those seeking to pin down a possible offending ingredient. It is one of four recipes in this range.

    This particular formula derives the bulk of its protein from fresh deboned turkey. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 27% fat and 28% estimated carbs… which results in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 75%.

    Read our review of the full Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food (Canned) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned turkey, turkey broth, turkey liver, brown rice, oatmeal
    Texture Wet
    Type Grain-inclusive (brown rice, oatmeal)
    Protein Percentage 36%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adults only (not for puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "I love the idea of limited ingredients. It feels healthier. My pups love it mixed with the Merrick Limited Dry Dog Food."

    Read more buyer reviews
  • 8. Best Dog Food For Small Dogs With Allergies: Canidae Grain-Free Pure Petite Salmon Recipe for Small Breed Dogs

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    This salmon recipe is a vet-formulated, hypoallergenic food made from premium limited ingredients; ideal for small dog breeds with allergies and/or a sensitive stomach. 

    It is one of four freeze-dried raw formulas in the Grain-Free Pure Petite range by Canidae Pet Food. This recipe gets the bulk of its animal protein from fresh salmon and salmon fish meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals it contains 32% protein, 13% fat and 46% estimated carbs . . . creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.

    Read our review of the full Canidae Pure Petite Grain-Free Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Salmon, salmon meal, peas, lentils, tapioca
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 32%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Small breed adult dogs only

    Sample buyer review...

    "This is the only food we can feed our sweet little pup. He has been on it for years - allergic to every food we have tried, except for this!"

    Read more buyer reviews

Here are the most frequently asked questions we get about feeding dogs with food allergies:

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I switch to a new food without making my dog sick?

In this video

Dr. Gary Richter shares a simple feeding tip that can help lower your dog’s risk of getting sick when you switch to a new recipe designed to help with food allergies.

It’s best to switch your dog to a new food gradually.

Start by mixing 20% “new” with 80% “old” food. Then, slowly increase that amount to a full 100% over the next 8 to 9 days.

Schedule Old Food New Food
Days 1 and 2 80% 20%
Days 3 and 4 60% 40%
Days 5 and 6 40% 60%
Days 7 and 8 20% 80%
Day 9 0% 100%

What are the most common causes of food allergies in dogs?

The 6 most common canine food allergens1 include…

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Chicken egg
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Wheat gluten

Keep in mind, dogs aren’t naturally more allergic to these items. It’s just that they are the ingredients most commonly found in many dog food recipes.

Which also makes them the ones dogs are most frequently allergic to.

What are other causes of allergies and dry itchy skin in dogs?

Dog food isn’t the only cause of dietary and skin allergies.

Truth is…

Food allergies account for just 10% of all canine allergies.2

They’re only the third most common cause, ranked well behind fleas and environmental allergies.

 

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

What's the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?

A food allergy occurs when a dog’s immune system identifies a particular ingredient as harmful.

And then creates defensive antibodies to fight the invading enemy (the food).

On the other hand…

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 digest lactose (a sugar found in milk).

How do the symptoms of dog food allergy and intolerance compare?

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

Final word

The Dog Food Advisor does not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Sources

1: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Catherine Barnette, DVM; Ernest Ward, Food Allergies in Dogs, VCA Animal Hospitals


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