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Best dog food for allergies

Pinpoint allergies and customize your dog’s diet to reduce irritation

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
dog standing in grass

Just like people, dogs can suffer from allergies. Dogs can be allergic to fleas, dust, pollen, mold, grass and, yes, even the food we feed them.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs include:

  • Scabs or rashes on the skin
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gassiness
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Itching that leads to excessive scratching or biting at the skin, paws or ears

The top 8 best food for dogs with allergies

LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best Dog Food for Allergies Visit website
  • Formula: 4 to choose from
  • Price: Based on dog’s weight
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best Dry Food for AllergiesRead Reviews
  • Formula: Pure Sea
  • Price: Around $45 for a 25lb bag

Best overall
NomNomNow’s Customizable Food

NomNomNow sells pre-portioned, made-to-order fresh dog food via a subscription plan. Customers fill out a survey about their dog, including goal weight, and select a formula centered around beef, chicken, turkey or pork. Because NomNomNow is made with restaurant-grade ingredients, you won’t find the chemicals, preservatives and artificial flavors present in many processed kibble-based dog foods. Simple, quality ingredients are ideal for dogs with digestive issues.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: Based on customization
  • Fat: Based on customization
  • Calories per serving: Based on customization and recipe
  • Price: Based on dog's weight and delivery preferences
  • Who’s it for: Owners wanting to feed a fresh food (“home-cooked”) diet

Note: Because fresh food is less dense than processed kibble, protein and fat ratios will not be comparable.

Best grain-free diet
Canidae Grain Free PURE (Sea)

Canidae’s Grain Free PURE Sea is formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs and food sensitivities. The diet focuses on limited ingredients to lessen the chance of allergic reactions in sensitive dogs. “Sea” is a salmon-based diet, but the PURE line also comes in lamb, buffalo,venison, duck, boar and chicken formulas. Food from the PURE line never includes corn, wheat or soy.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: 32%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Price: $37.99 for a 12lb bag
  • Who’s it for: Dogs with grain sensitivity

Best for sensitive stomachs
Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient

The “Simple” line from Wellness is a grain-free limited ingredient diet designed for dogs with food sensitivities. Pet owners can choose from turkey, lamb, salmon and duck-based recipes, all with their own list of benefits and all rich in Omega fatty acids, which help promote healthy skin and coat. The limited ingredient diet provides a single source of protein and easily digestible carbohydrates free from fillers and additives.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: 25%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Price: $33.24 for a 10.5lb bag
  • Who’s it for: Dogs with a sensitive stomach

Best novel protein diet
Taste of the Wild PREY (Trout)

PREY is Taste of the Wild’s line of limited ingredient diet formulas. Taste of the Wild is focused on providing animals with diets that closely mimic that of what their ancestors would catch and eat in the wild. Prey is made with non-GMO ingredients and is grain free. They also have the lowest number of ingredients of any food on our list with just 4 ingredients or less in each of the PREY formulas, making it a true limited ingredient diet.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: 27%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Price: $54.99 for a 25lb bag
  • Who’s it for: Dogs starting an elimination diet

Best semi-moist diet
FreshPet’s Select and Vital

FreshPet is a refrigerated dog food cooked following FDA and USDA standards, something that is not required of dog foods. The food comes in rolls or pouches and is gently cooked without preservatives. FreshPet has a handful of brands, but their “Select” and “Vital” lines are those marketed for dogs with digestive issues. If you’re not sure which recipe will be best for your dog, their website has a product selector quiz that walks through all your dog’s needs, wants, allergies and goals to match your pup with the perfect food for them. Proteins available include beef, bison, chicken, egg, lamb, ocean whitefish, salmon and turkey. FreshPet diets do not include rendered meat or byproduct meals.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: 16%
  • Fat: 10%
  • Price: $8.79 for a 1.75lb pouch
  • Who’s it for: Dogs with digestive troubles

Note: Because fresh food is less dense than processed kibble, protein and fat ratios will not be comparable.

Best vegetarian diet
Purina Pro Plan Hydrolyzed (Veterinary Diet)

The Hydrolyzed diet from Purina Pro Plan is a veterinary diet, meaning you can only get it with a prescription. The hypoallergenic formula is a soy-based vegetarian diet that includes a single carbohydrate source and hydrolyzed protein (soy), which is protein that is broken down into small parts to make it easier to digest for dogs with sensitivities. Your vet will be able to determine if a hydrolyzed protein will help your dog.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: 18%
  • Fat: 8%
  • Price: $71.99 for a 16.5lb bag
  • Who’s it for: Dogs with irritable bowel syndrome, dogs that require a vegetarian diet

Best for dogs with food intolerance
Blue Buffalo Natural (Veterinary Diet)

Three of Blue Buffalo’s veterinary diets are designed to aid dogs with allergies and/or sensitive stomachs. HF (Hydrolyzed), GI (Gastrointestinal Support) and NP (Novel Protein) are good for dogs who have displayed intolerance to common proteins. The food comes in kibble or canned varieties, which are sold exclusively through veterinarians.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: 24%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Price: $72.49 for a 22lb bag
  • Who’s it for: Dogs with food intolerance

Best limited ingredient diet
Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet

Good for dogs with beef or chicken sensitivity, Nutro’s Limited Ingredient Diets avoid common pet allergens (including corn and wheat) to focus on novel protein sources like lamb and venison, and also fish-based formulas rich in Omegas, which are ideal for skin allergies. The formulas include no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protein: 16%
  • Fat: 10%
  • Price: $55.09 for a 22lb bag
  • Who’s it for: Dogs with beef or chicken sensitivity

What is my dog allergic to?

If your dog is suffering from a food allergy, you’re most likely to see irritation concentrated to the paws and ears and an increased potential for stomach upset. Proteins that come from ingredients like beef, dairy, wheat and chicken can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. An elimination diet can help determine which ingredient is causing the allergic reaction in your dog.

If your dog seems to suffer from itchiness or distress sometimes more than others, they may be suffering from an environmental or seasonal allergy and not a food allergy. The best dog food for skin allergies will have high levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which help promote healthy skin.

Common dog food allergies

The most common allergy-inducing ingredients in dog food include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Wheat
  • Yeast
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Egg
  • Dairy

Dogs with food allergies

Allergies can affect any dog, but some breeds are more susceptible than others.

Dog breeds most prone to allergies:

  • Beagle
  • Bichon Frise
  • Boxer
  • Bulldog
  • Chinese Crested
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Collie
  • Dachshund
  • Dalmatian
  • German Shepherd
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Maltese
  • Pekinese
  • Poodle
  • Pug
  • Retrievers
  • Setters
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Terriers
dog sitting in shopping cart in dog food aisle

What to feed a dog with food allergies

A number of dog foods are formulated for dogs with allergies of all kinds:

  • Limited ingredient dog food has become popular due to concerns over allergens present in many dog foods. It often only has one protein source, like chicken or lamb, and may also have one carbohydrate source. A “complete and balanced” claim is the most important thing to look for in limited ingredient dog foods like this one, along with an endorsement from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO).
  • Grain-free dog food and grain-free dog treats are for dogs with sensitivity to grains like wheat, barley, corn and rye. Grain-free dog foods are always gluten-free. However, not all grains contain gluten, which means a gluten-free dog food is not necessarily grain free. Grain-free dog food is also corn-free dog food, which can help dogs who have corn sensitivity. Switching foods can be unappetizing—mixing in a gluten-free or grain-free wet food might be more palatable for your pup.
  • Novel ingredient dog food refers to a diet centered around a protein your dog hasn’t been introduced to before. Instead of opting for a common protein like beef or chicken that may be causing irritation in a dog with food allergies, a novel diet may be centered around a less-common protein like venison, duck or salmon. Novel proteins are often found in limited ingredient dog foods, as well.
  • Prescription dog food can be pricey, but if your dog is suffering from severe reactions it may be necessary. Prescription dog foods can only be obtained from a veterinarian. Often, veterinary nutritionists will suggest other dietary changes before trying prescription dog food. Be sure to consult your veterinarian to discuss whether prescription dog food is necessary.
  • Hypoallergenic dog treats are generally limited ingredient treats and can be found in most pet food stores.

How can I help my dog with allergies?

The first step to helping your dog with allergies is to consult a veterinarian. Only a professional will be able to verify whether your dog’s symptoms are truly caused by food. Once you’re sure it's a food allergy, you’ll need to identify the allergen.

Veterinarians often recommend an elimination diet to help you determine what ingredients are causing your dog’s allergies. An elimination diet entails switching to food with a different protein source and carbohydrate source than before—you could switch from chicken and rice to lamb and sweet potato, for example. If you find that your dog responds better, you’ll know to make the switch to chicken-free dog food.

Switching to a hypoallergenic dog food is a reliable way to find your dog’s food allergy. Hypoallergenic dog foods are made with “novel” proteins and carbohydrates (ones that your dog has never had before), like venison and potato, or duck and pea. Your dog must eat hypoallergenic dog food for at least 8–10 weeks to notice any change.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.