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With so many dog food brands and formulas on the market, shopping for dog food that is hypoallergenic can be a challenge. It’s also expensive, as proteins like bison, venison, and duck—often part of hypoallergenic formulas—typically cost more. In this article, we take a look at the options, from the best affordable hypoallergenic dog foods to the premium formulas available. Let’s start with some basics about dogs and their food allergies.
Figuring Out Your Dog’s Allergies
When dogs eat something they’re allergic to, their immune system can respond with symptoms such as itchy skin, sneezing, and a sensitive stomach. If you think your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction and you’ve ruled out other common causes, testing them for dog food allergies is a good first step. With some data in hand, your vet or a veterinary nutritionist can help you figure out how to make your dog feel better.
Food allergies and intolerances in dogs are most often genetic, passed down from parents to pups. A dog with a food allergy is not able to digest certain proteins (the most common allergens are nearly all proteins). Removing that type of protein or proteins from your dog’s diet is likely to bring relief.
When it comes to allergies, these are the most common problem foods for dogs:
There are commercial skin and blood allergy tests on the market, and your vet may recommend starting there. You can read about one owner’s experience with this testing here. The most thorough way to discover which foods your pet is allergic to is an elimination diet, however.
Dr. Susan Wynn, a veterinary nutritionist, in an interview with Fetch by WebMD, describes the process: “What we do is take the dog off all the foods it’s eating and we put him on a food that he’s never had before. I’ve sent people out for alligator and yak. Once the dog has improved, we start reintroducing the old foods that we suspect caused the problems in the first place. If he has a reaction, which usually takes a few days to a few weeks, then we know he has a food allergy.”
Once you’ve determined the offending ingredients in your dog’s diet, the next step is to provide your dog with a healthy diet that avoids these problem foods. There are several routes to follow.
- Buy a veterinarian-prescribed food. These limited-ingredient foods are available from your vet or through a pet food store like Chewy. You will need to give the prescription, or your veterinarian’s contact information, to the store so they can verify the prescription and ask any necessary questions.
- Make your own dog food from scratch. It’s is a great way to control the ingredients your dog consumes. We’ve got some healthy dog food recipes to share with you and some great dog food recipe hacks to make cooking for your dog less of a chore.
- Purchase hypoallergenic commercial dog foods formulated with limited ingredients. We have a list of foods from the best brands, below.
The Best Dog Food That Is Hypoallergenic
If cooking for your pup is out of the question, then buying them pet food that doesn’t trigger an immune response is a good option. We’ve rounded up some of the best dog food that is hypoallergenic, including two budget-friendly formulas. These limited-ingredient diets (often abbreviated as LID) will help you keep track of what your dog is—and isn’t—eating.
Keep in mind that not all foods are right for all food allergies, and higher quality or rarer ingredients are going to cost more than your average diet.
Hill’s D/D formula is one food your vet is likely to recommend to begin to address your pup’s food allergies. It’s a basic dog food that is hypoallergenic to help get your dog’s health back on track. The grain- and soy-free D/D recipes—you have a choice of venison, salmon, or duck—each use a single protein source. You can also find wet versions of some of those recipes.
The Wellness Simple line of foods (available in both wet and kibble formulations) uses both whole single proteins and meat meals (meat meal is a low-cost, high-protein ingredient created by cooking all the water out of the meat) along with good, recognizable ingredients. The result is high-quality dog food that is hypoallergenic at a medium price point. You can get it in lamb, turkey, and salmon in addition to the duck and oatmeal recipe linked below.
Purina’s limited-ingredient dog food recipe was formulated by in-house nutritionists to include nine natural ingredients, with chicken as the first ingredient. This food has no wheat, soy, or corn; it’s a pretty affordable hypoallergenic dog food.
Salmon is the first ingredient in this dog food recipe that is hypoallergenic, made from only eight whole-food ingredients, with the addition of vitamins, minerals, and a mix of probiotics. The simple formulation is designed to be easy for your pup to digest and includes foods like sweet potatoes and peas for complete nutrition without an upset stomach.
This 100% grain-free and gluten-free limited-ingredient hypoallergenic formula is made without fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives. It’s turkey-based, from humanely raised turkeys sourced from family farms. It’s a rich source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.
With salmon as the single source of animal protein along with easily digestible carbohydrates, this recipe is grain-free and gluten-free. This simple hypoallergenic food provides your dog with important amino acids, vitamins, and minerals without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Omega-3 and omaga-6 fatty acids help keep your pup’s skin healthy and coat shiny.
This Blue Buffalo Basics dog food boasts a single source of animal protein (in this case, salmon, plus other options) as well as easy-to-digest carbohydrate sources, making it a good options for dog food that is hypoallergenic. It’s balanced with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that promote healthy skin and a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that promote immune system health. Made with high-quality ingredients that are gentle on your dog’s stomach, this salmon and potato recipe has no chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy, or eggs.
This dog food that is hypoallergenic for your pup includes a single source of animal protein (chicken) as well as the carbohydrate powerhouse, sweet potatoes—otherwise, it’s grain-free. Formulated to provide complete, balanced nutrition for adult dogs, the limited ingredients here make it easy to control your dog’s sources of protein and carbohydrates.
This limited-ingredient food that won’t stress your budget. What are the six ingredients, you ask? Lamb meal, brown rice, ground rice, beet pulp, chicken fat, and natural pork flavor. Meat meal provides concentrated protein, making this a very affordable grain-free, limited-ingredient, hypoallergenic food.
This popular limited-ingredient and grain-free dog food recipe leads with salmon, and replaces grain fiber with sweet potatoes, along with peas and beets. You can also find American Journey LID dog food that is hypoallergenic in turkey, duck, lamb, and venison versions.
Getting your dog’s allergies under control can be a challenge. Dog food that is hypoallergenic, with limited ingredients and single sources of animal protein can help. Below are additional articles on treats, shampoos, and testing that may further soothe that itchy, irritated pup.
Featured image Chris Benson/Unsplash
Karen Anderson is a writer at Rover. Before joining Rover, she was a writer and editor at Apple and a freelancer for companies including Cardiac Science, Houzz, the Home Owners Club, and the Seattle Times. Her hobbies are dancing, gardening, science fiction, and pet-sitting for friends and neighbors. She shares her house with a delightful clowder of quirky rescue cats.
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