Food Sensitivity Guide: Best Dog Food for Allergies

PetGuide logo

Does your dog scratch and bite like a maniac even when there’s not a flea to be seen on their fur? Or are they gassy and have digestion issues like runny stool or constipation? If these things sound too familiar, it’s highly likely that your pet has food allergies. Sadly, allergies in dogs are much more common than we think, and more often than not, their owners don’t even know that their pet is allergic. The reason for this is that symptoms of dog allergies are not always so clear and can be mixed up with other conditions. Scratching and hotspots are usually mistaken for flea or mite infestation, and vomiting and diarrhea that can present with food allergies can also be a symptom of a variety of canine health issues. 

If there’s a reason to think that your pet is allergic, read on to find out how you can help them overcome their sensitivities with dog food for allergies.

Want to give your pupper fresh food that’s made with human-grade whole food recipes and formulated just for him or her. Of course you do, and that’s why we love Just Food For Dogs. It’s the product of extensive clinical research, featuring a variety of proteins like pork, chicken, beef, venison and more. It also has lots of superfoods dogs love, like blueberries, spinach  and sweet potatoes.

Feeding your dog Just Food For Dogs can help keep their skin and coat health in check, increase their energy, reduce allergy and inflammatory reactions and make them love meal time even more than they already do.

It’s easy to order online or in stores too, which makes good meals convenient for all.  

Shop Now

This grain-free kibble has real deboned chicken as the first ingredient. It’s also full of omega fatty acids that will help your dog’s skin and coat be healthier and less irritated. Too many foods for dogs with allergies have fillers that might upset their gut health and cause allergic inflammation, but not this one. Fiber-rich chickpeas and sweet potatoes help ensure optimal digestion for your dog – and with better digestion, they’re better able to fully absorb nutrients. This means fewer allergic and inflammatory responses from your dog, and overall better health and immunity.

There are no corn, wheat or soy ingredients in American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Dog Food, and dogs go nuts for the taste. They don’t even realize it’s full of nutritious fruits and veggies providing beneficial fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients!

Shop Now

This is a sponsored placement.

Formulated for better digestion, complete nutrition, and minimized risk of allergic reactions, CANIDAE PURE kibble is made with just 10 key ingredients. There are no common protein allergens in the mix, such as beef or chicken, and the primary protein is real bison meat. Other ingredients include lamb meal to boost the protein value without triggering reactions, and lentil and carrots as hypoallergenic carbs to give your pooch energy. This dog food for allergies contains no corn, wheat, gluten, soy, antibiotics, or hormones. To boot, CANIDAE PURE contains a proprietary blend of probiotics, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids to support your dog’s overall immune system.

Shop Now

Best Dog Food for Allergies: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet

Foods with a single animal protein source have long been lauded as an excellent choice of dog food for allergies. Blue Buffalo basics line of kibble uses only one type of real meat in their formula, and the choice is between deboned turkey or salmon. Your sensitive pooch won’t scratch or lick his paws anymore, as this dry food is free of all major allergens such as chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy or eggs. In addition to its hypoallergenic formula, this dog food for allergies is fortified by a holistic blend of blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help your pooch be in its top form. 

Shop Now

Best Dog Food for Allergies: Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein

Whether you’re looking for dog food for allergies you’ll use for the long term or need a good option during the elimination feeding diet, this veterinary-approved food fits the bill. Designed for adult dogs and growing puppies, this kibble contains hydrolyzed proteins to eliminate the possibility of an allergic reaction. Additionally, this formula is not “just” hypoallergenic but fully adjusted to the needs of dogs with food allergies–it will improve their digestive issues and recover their coat and skin to its previous glory. And it’s all thanks to an exclusive blend of fibers that promotes good digestion and EPA and DHA essential fatty acids. This is a prescription hypoallergenic dog food, so you’ll need your vet’s authorization to get it.

Shop Now

If you’re looking for budget-friendly dog food for allergies, Rachal Ray’s Nutrish Just 6 is a great solution. You won’t have to break the bank to afford it, and it will do OK for most dogs with milder allergy issues. As the name suggests, this dry food contains only 6 main ingredients, none of which is a known allergen. This kibble is made from lamb meal, which is not ideal in terms of quality but it will not trigger your pet allergies like chicken probably would. The rest of the ingredients include brown rice, ground rice, and dried beets, paired with essential vitamins and minerals. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 contains no corn, wheat, soy, gluten, potato, dairy, beef, or eggs.

Shop Now

Best Dog Food for Allergies: Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet

The main advantage of Instinct dog food for allergies is that its made with just one type of meat (duck, lamb, salmon, or turkey) and one vegetable. There are no hidden allergens lurking in the ingredient list, and the formula includes essential amino acids and antioxidants for your pup’s immune system and health. Instinct dog food for allergies is unique because each piece of kibble is coated with freeze-dried raw ingredients that make this dry food super tasty for canines. This is a great choice for sensitive doggos, as it is made without grain, dairy, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, sweet potato, potato, chickpeas, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors or preservatives. They really covered all of their basis!

Shop Now

Best Dog Food for Allergies: Diamond Naturals

This grain-free dog food for allergies uses wild-caught salmon for its primary and only protein source. No chicken or beef, even in traces- which is fantastic, as these two proteins are usually to blame for that incessant paw licking and stinky farts. And, if your doggo happens to be one of those canines who have trouble digesting gluten, you can comfortably pour this kibble in their bowl. Instead of using grains as fillers, Diamond Naturals relies on a variety of veggies to provide fiber and give your pooch the nutrients they require. Specially formulated to promote healthier skin and coat while eliminating the possibility of further allergic flare-ups, this dog food for allergies will make your pet’s itches a thing of the past!

Shop Now

Best Dog Food for Allergies: NUTRO

NUTRO dry food is one of the few that proudly touts it’s made from non-GMO ingredients, so if that’s an important factor for your dog’s diet, you’ll be happy to know you can still have it even when you switch to hypoallergenic kibble. Their Limited Ingredient range is designed to suit the needs of dogs with allergies and food sensitivities, and you can choose according to your pet’s needs from four formulas: venison meal and sweet potato, lamb and sweet potato, duck and lentils, and salmon and lentils. The kibble is free from common allergens such as chicken, beef, dairy, corn, wheat, and soy.

Shop Now

What’s special about Earthborn Holistic Venture are the ingredients that are missing and not just those that are in the formula. This dry dog food for allergies is free of grains and gluten, beef, chicken, fillers, by-products, colorants, and artificial preservatives. The main ingredients in this kibble are rabbit meal sourced from France and California-grown pumpkin, for a novel protein source and a highly digestible complex carb. Their Venture line of dog food for allergies is also available in duck, squid, pollock, pork, and turkey–if you think your pooch would prefer these flavors over rabbit. 

Shop Now

You might not have done a lot of shopping for kangaroo meat lately, but the Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula also comes in Guinea Fowl, Goat, Duck, Venison, Catfish and more.  Each of their proteins come from quality sources around the world ranging from New Zealand to France, or the Pacific Northwest to Australia. Zignature Limited Ingredient formula uses only one meat source as it protein and then combines it with lentils, peas, and chickpeas, vitamins and minerals to fortify it. There is no beef, chicken, wheat, soy, dairy or potatoes used in this blend. The limited ingredients might help to determine and eliminate what your dog might be allergic to and certainly will eliminate some of the most common factors. The most common substances that dogs are allergic to are beef, chicken, soy and gluten and you won’t find any of those here! So you can tell your dog that there will be no more itching, rashes, hair loss or infections from his dog bowl, just delicious allergy free food!

Shop Now

The math is simple for the ACANA Singles limited ingredients line of dog food for allergies: 60 percent of the ingredients are reserved for protein from a single source and the remaining 40 percent is split between veggies, fruits, and botanicals. This is the so-called whole prey system that tries to mirror the ingredients (and their ratio) in wild prey. There is no beef, chicken, grains, or any unnecessary filler in this food’s ingredient list, making it a great choice for elimination diet or long-term choice of dog food for allergies. The options that are available for dogs with food sensitivities are duck and pear, lamb and apple, pork and squash, and turkey and greens. And, in the case it’s chicken that’s bothering your dog’s tummy and not beef, there’s also beef and pumpkin formula available.

Shop Now

The most common types of dog allergies are:

  • Environmental (seasonal) allergies
  • Contact allergies
  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Food allergies

Environmental allergies are usually labeled as dog seasonal allergies, as the culprits are dust, pollen, and mold. Your pooch might sneeze, have a runny nose or eyes, or have itchy skin (especially around the paws and ears) if they are irritated by seasonal allergies. Avoiding contact with allergens if possible and a visit to the vet will help your pooch manage the symptoms- even if seasonal allergies can’t be fully cured.

Contact allergies leave their mark on your pet’s skin, leaving rashes, inflammation, sore patches, blisters, bald patches, and even wounds in their wake. These allergic reactions happen when your pet’s skin has been in contact with a trigger–usually, plants, chemicals, an ingredient in flea and tick medication or shampoo or cream, but the list goes on. If you spot a suspicious spot on your pet’s fur or skin, take them to a vet- after cleaning the irritated spot, they’ll have to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and antihistamines.

Flea allergy dermatitis happens when a dog’s immune system is sensitive to flea saliva. When a flea bites the skin, it causes strong irritation and will make your pet scratch and bite their fur like crazy. Most commonly, the “target” areas where flea dermatitis happens are around the base of the tail and lower back, but it can be anywhere where these pesky parasites bite them. If it’s flea allergy that’s causing your pet’s woes, you’ll know easily enough- just watch their fur for fleas or flea dirt. Usually, this resolves with efficient flea treatment–choose between spot on treatments, chewables, collars, shampoos and many other flea medications.

Last but not least, it’s the most common type of dog allergies out there–food allergies. Dog food allergies are rarely true allergies but rather heightened sensitivities to certain foods or food groups. Dogs who are textbook allergic to food would go into anaphylactic shock after eating that ingredient, but it doesn’t happen for dogs who are sensitive to certain foods. Their issues with food result in skin conditions, itchiness, and gastrointestinal problems. The treatment for dog food allergies is much more complex as includes switching them to a special diet and trying to discern what exactly is the food your dog is allergic too so you can eliminate it from their nutrition for good.

You might be wondering if you can just take your dog to the vet to get tested for allergies instead of trying to pinpoint different allergens on your own. While you should definitely consult your vet for opinion and treatment options, allergy tests for pets are pretty limited in scope and you might need to visit a specialist to get them. 

There are two types of allergy tests for dogs. Intradermal skin testing includes injecting allergen serums on a shaved spot on your dog’s skin and the other is serum allergy testing which is done a blood sample. While these types of tests are necessary for certain types of allergies, in case of sensitivity to food, the most reliable method is not testing- but elimination diet. 

An elimination diet is about trying to figure out what is making your pet scratch, vomit, fart, or exhibit any of the other common symptoms of food allergy. This involves introducing a novel protein and carb source to your pet. E.g. if up until now your dog has been munching on chicken and rice kibble, you’d swap that for grain-free beef dry food to see how it goes. And so on, until you find what’s the culprit for your dog’s allergies.

As food allergies are sensitivities to certain foods and/or food groups that were a part of your dog’s regular diet, switching them to dog food for allergies can completely solve their problems. In fact, your dog might have to eat dog food for allergies permanently to keep symptoms at bay, and not just for a short period of time. So, what are the options? What kind of dog food for allergies works? As it is usually the case, the answer to that question is highly individual and what works for some pooches might not be ideal for others. 

The recommended diets for dogs with allergies are:

  • Limited ingredients diet
  • Novel protein diet
  • Prescription hypoallergenic food

Limited ingredients diet is just what the name suggests- food that has a reduced list of ingredients. This could be store-bought, commercial pet food with fewer ingredients or homemade food that uses only one type of protein and a single source of carbs. By downsizing the ingredient list, you should be able to eliminate allergy risks. Naturally, to ensure that limited ingredient dog food for allergies is good for your pet, you’ll have to choose a brand that’s nutritionally complete and well-balanced despite the minimal amount of ingredients.

Novel protein diet means introducing a type of protein that your pet hasn’t yet eaten, in an effort to pinpoint a type of food that won’t cause a flare-up. As most regular kibble brands use chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, or fish as their protein source, novel ingredient dog food for allergy is usually based on exotic protein sources. These include kangaroo, buffalo, bison, rabbit, venison, cod, herring, or duck. If the elimination diet test shows that it’s the protein in your pet’s diet that’s causing an allergic ruckus in their system, novel protein diet is the way to go.

Prescription hypoallergenic food is specially formulated for dogs with food allergies. They are clinically tested and backed by veterinarians–mainly because they tend to contain hydrolyzed protein. This results in protein molecules too small to cause an allergic reaction, regardless of their origin. If all else fails, hypoallergenic food might be what your pet needs to be symptom-free.

Needless to say, there are many different types of dog food for allergies, each with its downsides and advantages. To help you make the right choice, we’ve rounded up the 11 most popular foods for dogs with allergies that will suit any type of sensitivity.

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works