Dogs can be allergic to certain foods, just like people. Though some breeds (like golden retrievers and boxers) are more prone to allergic reactions, all breeds are susceptible. Fortunately, many pet food brands have developed dog foods for allergies. They typically fall into one of two categories:
Hypoallergenic: Formulated with hydrolyzed proteins (which means the protein is chemically broken down into minuscule parts) to make it harder for the immune system to identify and react to the potential allergen. It sometimes takes a vet visit and a prescription to obtain hypoallergenic foods.
Limited ingredient: Contains far fewer ingredients than traditional dog food, so it’s easier to figure out which ingredients cause your dog’s allergies. This is where most pet owners start, especially if the allergy is a new development.
How do I know if my dog has allergies?
According to VCA Ark Animal Hospitals, the most common sign your dog suffers from allergies is itchy skin. Some dogs will scratch one spot to death; others itch all over, all the time. It’s also important to watch for cold-like symptoms, diarrhea and vomiting. The tricky part is identifying the cause of the allergic reaction.
What causes food allergies?
In canines, food allergies usually stem from proteins and carbohydrates in recipes. So, anything from meat to soy to eggs to wheat can cause a reaction. This is why limited ingredient diets are popular. By feeding your pup fewer ingredients, it’s easier to figure out which one is causing the allergic reaction.
One major piece of advice before embarking on this journey and choosing a dog food for allergies: Go all in. If you’re switching to a limited ingredient or hypoallergenic diet, everything you feed your pup needs to meet the diet guidelines. Treats, table scraps, supplements—everything. If your dog ingests anything other than his specific diet, it’ll be impossible to identify the allergen and make him feel better.
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Wellness Simple’s Limited Ingredient line comes in several different formulas, depending on your dog’s needs. This one contains chicory root, a natural prebiotic that helps your dog’s digestive system better process foods.
Buy it ($62 for 26 lbs.)
Though puppies can develop or display signs of allergies by just six months old, many dog foods for allergies are designed only for adult canines. Ollie, on the other hand, literally crafts a meal plan with your pup’s age, breed, allergies and activity level in mind. It’s a great option for pet owners who want vet-crafted recipes, real food ingredients and no inflammatory reactions.
Plans start at $3/day
With the exception of their beef and barley recipe, Spot & Tango offers five unique gluten-free recipes that they deliver to your door (hello, convenience). Choose from their dry Unkibble recipes or their fresh options which you freeze until mealtime. Tons of proteins and vegetables; no fillers or GMOs.
Plans start at $7/day for Unkibble and $15/week for fresh
Though you’ll need a prescription from your vet for this food, it’s worth it if your pup has exceptionally itchy skin from food allergies or other irritants. With omega-3 fatty acids and zero gluten, it’s easy on the stomach and healthy for the skin.
Buy it ($105 for 25 lbs.)
Allergies and obesity?! Royal Canin has you covered. Keeping dogs at a healthy weight significantly decreases the likelihood that they’ll develop health issues later in life. This recipe keeps calories in check while providing your pup with hydrolyzed protein.
Buy it ($100 for 22.4 lbs.)
With ingredients like lamb, apple, duck and pear sourced from local farmers, these protein-rich formulas provide ample nourishment with few ingredients. For example, the lamb and apple recipe contains “60% grass-fed lamb and 40% fresh apples, and vegetables, and botanicals.”
$65 for 13 lbs. at Amazon
Though dogs definitely do need grains to maintain a healthy diet, it might be smart to venture into grain-free territory when fighting allergies. There are no fillers, eggs, artificial flavors or weird colorants in this recipe.
Buy it ($69 for 22 lbs.)
Dogs who love wet food and need a limited ingredient recipe should try one of Merrick’s many options. Choose from duck, beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb. Unlike many foods on our list, these formulas do not contain any potatoes or soy.
$36 for 12 cans at Amazon
One common denominator among dog foods for allergies? The high price-point. However, Blue Buffalo offers a hefty 22-pound bag for under $50. The only meat source is salmon and, like all Blue formulas, it contains the brand’s patented and veterinarian-developed LifeSource bits that are full of antioxidants that support the immune system.
Buy it ($48 for 22 lbs.)
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