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Best dog food for allergies: Keep your hound happy and healthy

Pets Radar logo Pets Radar 1/10/2022 Kathryn Rosenberg
a dog lying on a sidewalk: null © Getty null

Choosing a specially formulated dog food for allergies can be a real lifesaver for you and your pooch if they're prone to suffering from stomach upsets or skin issues. And the good news is that while these formulas can do a great job of managing particular health problems, there's no compromise on flavor, so you can rest assured that your pup will be getting a meal that's both nutritious and delicious.

While the best dog food is perfect for most pups, these commercial brands do contain ingredients that some of our canine companions may have adverse reactions to. If you notice your dog is itching or scratching a lot or is having problems with vomiting, diarrhea, stomach bloating or excess gas, it could be that there's something in their food that isn't sitting right with their digestive system.

We recommend that you first consult your vet if you spot any of the above symptoms. They'll be able to rule out any serious health conditions and once that's been done, they can offer advice and guidance on whether your dog requires any special dietary requirements.

Whether your canine prefers the best dry dog food or a wet dog food, you'll find both options available to you when it comes to choosing a food for allergies. For dogs with sensitive stomachs, it's best to stick to a simple ingredient list. Look for one animal protein and one vegetable as these are far easier to digest than multi-protein and multi-vegetable formulas. Novel proteins, such as venison, are easier to digest than prime proteins, such a beef.

It's also good to eliminate some common triggers. Ingredients such as wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy and artificial colors and preservatives have all been shown to cause digestive disturbances and skin issues in a small number of dogs. You may find that eliminating these is all it takes to get your hound back to their happy and healthy self.

Once you've eliminated these ingredients it's time to start thinking about what you do want to see on the list. When it comes to vegetables, sweet potatoes are very nourishing and gentle on the digestive system and tend to be well tolerated. Oats and coconut oil are anti-inflammatory and tend to have a very calming effect on the body. A good dose of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are also recommended for keeping the skin and coat in tip-top condition.

Now that you know a little bit more about dog food for allergies and what to avoid and seek out, let's take a peek inside the bags of some of our favorite products lining the shelves in 2022.

PetsRadar's pick of the best dog food for allergies

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat

Best overall dog food for allergies

Item form: Wet | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Omega-3, prebiotics, antioxidant blend

Highly digestible proteins
Promotes healthy skin and coat
Antioxidants for a strong immune system
Contains grains and pork by-products

Dogs that love wet food but suffer from a sensitive stomach are often forced to miss out on their favorite fare due to the high-fat content. Thankfully, it’s Royal Canin to the rescue with this veterinarian-approved low-fat formula which is both tasty and gentle on the tummy.

Hailed as a lifesaver brand by many a pooch parent, Royal Canin has an outstanding reputation for delivering high-quality nutrition that you can trust and this offering is no exception. 

If your dog is prone to an easily upset stomach and bouts of vomiting and diarrhea then this is a great choice. Packed full of prebiotics to support the growth of good gut bacteria, dietary fibers for healthy digestion and Omega-3 fish oils to soothe the GI tract, this highly digestible formula is bound to get two paws up from your pooch.

Not only is this a great choice for supporting the stomach but it’s also a fantastic option if your dog suffers from frequent urinary tract issues as the formula works to prevent crystals from forming in the bladder. If you have an older dog that’s becoming more sedentary, you’ll love that the high-fiber and low-fat content boosts energy levels and prevents weight gain. 

The one drawback to this product is the choice to include grains and pork by-products. Grains can be hard to digest for dogs with more severe allergies and pork by-products do lower the overall quality of what is otherwise a great ingredient list. Those small issues aside though, and this is still the standout choice when it comes to the best dog food for allergies. 

Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food

Best budget dog food for allergies

Item form: Dry | Age range: All life stages | Key nutritional inclusions: Vitamins and minerals

Six easy-to-digest ingredients
Made without poultry by-products
Complete and balanced
Firm texture not suitable for dogs with dental issues

If you’ve ever watched Rachael Ray cooking up a storm then you know how mouth-wateringly good her dishes can be and guess what? Now your pampered pooch can get in on the action too. 

For a limited-ingredient kibble that won't break the bank, this formula is well worth considering. With just six easy-to-digest natural ingredients, plus a host of important vitamins and minerals, this is a recipe that's going to be gentle on your doggy's digestive system while still giving them everything they need to thrive.

Lamb meal is first on the list but please don't be put off by the word 'meal'. Basically, that's just a term that manufacturers use to describe a protein source (in this case, lamb) that has been dried and heat-treated then ground into a powder that is then turned into kibble.

Alongside lamb, you'll also find plenty of brown rice to give your pup the energy they need and beet pulp, which is a great source of fibre and ideal if you have a dog that struggles with constipation.

There's also a good amount of vitamins and minerals in this recipe, including omega fatty acids for a shiny coat and healthy skin, plus calcium and glucosamine for strong joints. At 20% protein and 13% fat, this is a well balanced and complete formula that will power your pooch through the day. 

The kibble is free from fillers, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives and there's no added corn, wheat, soy or gluten. This is a clean formula that sticks to the basics and does them well, so if you're after a gentle but delicious kibble, this offering from Rachel Ray is worth trying. 

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin And Stomach Salmon And Rice Formula

Best science-backed dog food for allergies

Item form: Dry | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Omega-3 and 6, zinc, calcium, glucosamine

Includes easy to digest carbohydrates
Omega-6 fatty acids and zinc for healthy skin
Nutrient-rich salmon is the first ingredient
Aimed at adult dogs

Purina is world renowned for good reason, and with the creation of this sensitive formula it has hit the mark again. 

Salmon is a great choice as the primary ingredient, with its high combination of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which are gentle on the stomach and help to keep your dogs skin and coat in premium condition, being highly positive inclusions. They’re also great  for joint health and mobility so it’s a good choice whether your dog is young and energetic, or old and a possible arthritis sufferer. 

The inclusion of easy to digest carbohydrates like rice and oatmeal, which are kind to sensitive tummies and nourish the beneficial intestinal bacteria, also gets our seal of approval. Oatmeal is rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and maintains blood sugar levels while contributing long-lasting energy. 

Moreover, we like the presence of live probiotics and natural prebiotic fibers, which both promote good digestion and aid a healthy immune system. For better value, you also have the option of purchasing this in a variety of different sized bags, with the 5lb size being something we would choose if you would like to give this a trial before committing. 

This formula is primarily focused on adult dogs, so if yours is a youngster then you might want to leave this now. This aside, this a great product that is definitely worth your time should your pup fit the right age demographic.

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Wet and Dry Cups

Best wet and dry mix dog food for allergies for small dogs

Item form: Wet and dog food mix | Age range: Adult - small breeds | Key nutritional inclusions: Omega 3 and 6 oils

Single protein source
Limited ingredients
Contains fish oils
Only aimed at small breeds

Some dogs just don't get on well with a purely dry food diet. Even if you know a specially formulated dry food is likely to be better for them, that's no good if they turn their noses up at it! Being able to add some wet food that won't upset their digestive tracts or skin health is a great way to get them eating the dry food that contains what they need. This tasty offering from Blue Basics is a limited-ingredient wet and dry dog food mix great for small dogs with food sensitivities that will get their tails wagging as soon as you peel back the lid.

The family behind the Blue Buffalo range of natural limited ingredient pet food created it after their own Airedale called Blue started getting health issues, so you can be confident they understand what it's like to have to deal with a food-sensitive furry friend. This wet food part of their limited-ingredient range is great for mixing with kibble or can be a meal by itself.

The food cups contain a pate-like meat mix which does not include chicken (or poultry) by-products, beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy or eggs. Instead, the single source of protein here is lamb combined with potatoes, flaxseeds, fish oil and pumpkin to help with digestion. The fish oil and flaxseed also provide naturally occurring Omega 3 fatty acids to help support skin and coat health. With no artificial flavors or preservatives, this is one dog treat your fur babies can enjoy without any adverse itching or stomach upsets.

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food

Best premium dog food for allergies

Item form: Pellets | Age range: All life stages | Key nutritional inclusions: No grains or fillers, all-natural, ethical and sustainable

Ethical and sustainable ingredients

With limited ingredients and a single-protein formula, these high-quality air-dried lamb pellets contain 96% meat and organs for a rich and meaty taste your pooch is sure to love. The slow and gentle air-drying process locks in all the vital vitamins and minerals for a nutritious dish that contains everything your dog needs and none of what they don’t.

Using ethical and sustainable New Zealand ingredients that are raised without added hormones or antibiotics, these lamb morsels also contain green-lipped mussels, a potent source of chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega-3 for healthy and strong joints. 

Free from grains and unnecessary cheap fillers that are high in carbohydrates, such as peas and potatoes, this formula is a great choice for those with sensitive stomachs and food allergies. Suitable for all breeds and life stages and available in a range of different sizes and flavors, ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food is gently nourishing and full of nutrition and tail-wagging goodness.

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best grain-free dog food for allergies

Item form: Dry | Age range: 4.7 | Key nutritional inclusions: Antioxidants, prebiotics, Omega-3 and 6

Sustainably sourced salmon
Powerful antioxidants from fruit and vegetables
More expensive than other brands

If you’re looking to treat your furry friend to one of the most premium products on the market then this offering from Taste of the Wild is sure to impress.

The ingredient list for this formula reads like a health lover's dream with red salmon leading the pack, a novel protein that’s great for dogs with allergies as it’s easy to digest. Sweet potato provides energy that is slowly released into the bloodstream and the antioxidants from the tomatoes, blueberries and raspberries help support the immune system and overall health and wellbeing. 

We love that this grain-free formula steers away from common allergens and instead chooses to go with fiber-rich alternatives like lentils, which are gentle on the digestive tract. The recipe also omits eggs, another common trigger for dogs with sensitivities, and the inclusion of chelated minerals help maximize the absorption of valuable nutrients.

This high-quality product uses chicory root as a prebiotic to support healthy digestion and comes packed with Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E and Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, all of which will keep your mutts mane looking its best. The addition of Taurine is great for eye and heart health and also stimulates bile acid in the stomach to help break down and metabolize fat.

While more expensive than other brands, if ethical and sustainable food practices and quality of ingredients are an important consideration for you, then this is definitely a brand worth considering. Made in the USA by a family-owned and run company, Taste of the Wild has a standout reputation for ensuring their ingredients come from trusted and sustainable sources so you can rest assured you're giving your dog the best nutrition money can buy.

Hill's Prescription Diet Derm Complete Environmental, Skin & Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food

Best vet-approved dog food for allergies

Item form: Kibble | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Prebiotics, vitamin E, Omega-6 fatty acids

Visible skin healing in as little as 21 days
Reduces nighttime scratching
Supports the skin barrier against environmental irritants

Backed by rigorous research, it's hard to beat this standout formula from Hill's Science that has been specially formulated by Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians to help manage your dog’s environmental or food sensitivities.

Formulated to support the skin's barriers against environmental irritants, this kibble has been proven to result in visible skin healing within 21 days and it has also been clinically tested and shown to improve a dog's sleep quality by reducing nighttime scratching. 

Crammed full of all the goodness you'd expect from this brand, this tasty kibble has all the vitamins and minerals your pup needs to power through their day, plus plenty of added fruits and vegetables for a powerful hit of antioxidants. 

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dog Food

Best easy to digest dog food for allergies

Item form: Kibble | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin D3, Zinc, Selenium

Great for skin, coat and digestive issues
Less than 10 ingredients
Impressive range of vitamins and minerals

We’re loving this natural and nourishing formula from Nutro with a simple ingredient list and a vast array of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. With a single salmon protein and a healthy mix of chickpeas, lentils, and sweet potatoes, doggy nutrition doesn’t come much cleaner than this.

Grain-free and with no corn, wheat, soy, or dairy, this gentle kibble soothes sensitive skin and promotes a soft and shiny coat. In fact, Nutro is so convinced about the health benefits of their product that they’ll happily give you a full refund if their chow doesn’t work for your canine companion.

We love the high-fiber content with added beet pulp to keep the digestive tract running smoothly and the recipe is made with non-GMO ingredients, so you can be sure your pup is getting the purest nutrition possible. 

Nutro has been getting some rave reviews for this product, with one pet parent writing: “My dog loves this food. She eats it every day with no complaints. She has had zero stomach issues with it. In fact, her mood and fur and her eyes are the best I have ever seen since we got her 1.5 years ago. The kibbles are small enough for her as well. I am glad we switched to this food!”

Over 90% of reviews are from owners who say this kibble has transformed their dog, eliminating their health issues and allowing them to thrive. The limited negative reviews mostly point to dogs simply not enjoying the taste, but if you find this to be the case with your pooch, there are plenty of other great products in this guide to try out. 

Instinct Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Best limited ingredient dog food for allergies

Item form: Dry | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Zinc, Folic Acid, Vitamin E, Vitamin A

Free from a wide range of common allergens
Simple and clean ingredient list
High level of vitamins and minerals
One of the more pricey brands on the market

One of the cleanest formulas on the market right now, this kibble from Instinct has a purposefully simple ingredient list containing one animal protein and one vegetable, making it ideal for any dog with allergies or food sensitivities. 

Made with nutrient-rich and easily digestible lamb, this kibble is free from a wide range of common allergens, including grain, dairy, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, sweet potato, potato, chickpeas, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors and preservatives. 

While it may be limited in ingredients, it still packs a powerful nutritional punch, with a variety of vitamins and minerals to keep your pup firing on all cylinders. With high levels of natural Omegas and antioxidants for healthy skin and coat and immune health and Vitamin A for muscle and nerve function, this protein-packed formula has everything your dog needs to thrive.

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Dog Food

Best wet dog food for allergies

Item form: Wet | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D3

Grain free
Easily digestible
Supports skin and coat health

If your foodie fur baby isn't a huge fan of kibble and prefers a hearty wet food dish to dive into at mealtimes, then this limited ingredient formula from Wellness is definitely worth considering.

Grain-free, this limited-ingredient recipe features a single source of protein and easily digestible carbohydrates, with no extra fillers or additives, making it ideal for dogs with sensitivities.

Made with all natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals, this wet food contains no meat byproducts, fillers, or artificial preservatives and it's super high in prebiotics and fiber, making it great for gut health. 

You'll also find this formula great for your dog's skin and coat with plenty of nourishing Omega fatty acids from the flaxseed and lots of additional vitamins and minerals to support heart health and the immune system. 

How to choose the best dog food for allergies

If your dog seems more interested in pawing at his ears or scratching her skin than hanging out with you and you’ve ruled out other causes, then it could be time to consider experimenting with their diet. 

But with as many free-from foods on the market for dogs as there is for people, knowing where to start can be daunting. Thankfully, we’ve come up with a few simple guidelines that will help point you in the right direction.

Look for products that have short ingredient lists, generally with one form of protein and one form of carbohydrate which makes it easier to identify the potential allergen. While there are both risks and benefits, raw dog food is another option worth looking into. With few ingredients and zero additives, our guide to the best raw dog food is a great resource if you’re not sure where to start. 

Novel proteins and other ingredients can work well for a lot of dogs as they won’t have been over-exposed to them in the past. Think venison, rabbit, kangaroo, pheasant and bison, and gluten-free ancient grains and seeds like quinoa, millet, and chia.

Look for added vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and probiotics. Vitamins C and E and probiotic strains like lactobacillus and acidophilus are great for soothing the GI tract and ensuring good digestive health. Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables and Omega-3 fatty acids are also great additions. 

Finally, if you’re noticing your dog displaying any of the symptoms of a possible allergic reaction be sure to consult your vet who will be able to help identify the cause and recommend the best course of treatment. 


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