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8 Best Dog Foods for Allergies, According to Experts

We asked vets to recommend the best dog food for allergies to keep your sensitive pup healthy and happy

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8 Best Dog Foods For Allergies, According To ExpertsRD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)

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Like humans, dogs have allergies, too. One of the most common culprits? The food you feed them. But before changing your dog’s diet or investing in some healthy dog treats, you must determine exactly what your dog is allergic to. This is best left to a vet—in fact, many of the best dog foods for allergies require vet authorization as a stopgap to ensure your pet gets the proper nutrition.

But once you figure out why your fur baby is suffering, you must take swift action. “If dealing with a potential food allergy, an immediate diet change is mandatory,” says Ivana Crnec, DVM at veterinarians.org. We consulted with her and several other vets to select these picks.

Best dog food for allergies

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Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Ha
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Best dry dog food for allergies

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA

Purina Pro Plan HA received votes from two of the vets we interviewed as their top pick. “This dog food features a single hydrolyzed protein source and a single carbohydrate source,” says Crnec. The process of “hydrolyzing” the protein breaks it down using enzymes to the basic components of amino acids and peptides. This means that the food is easily digestible and promotes healthy nutrient absorption, she says.

You may feed Purina Pro HA to dogs of any size—small, medium and large breed dogs—as well as senior dogs, because the hydrolyzed protein suits any dog that has trouble with digestion, says Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM, chief veterinarian at Petco. The food comes in 6-, 16.5- and 25-pound bags, and in salmon, chicken and vegetarian varieties.

Pros

  • Known throughout the industry as the best dog food for allergies
  • Easily digestible, even for senior dogs

Cons

  • Requires vet authorization

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Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Hp Canned Dog Food
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Best wet dog food for allergies

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Canned Dog Food

Easily digestible and highly palatable, the Royal Canin HP wet dog food tackles two issues in dogs with eating issues, according to Crnec: sensitive tummies and picky appetites. “Using hydrolyzed protein, this formula is perfect for allergic puppies and adult dogs,” she says.

The ingredients in this canned dog food support the skin’s natural barrier, making it a great option for dogs whose skin easily becomes irritated. In addition, it has prebiotics, antioxidants and omega fatty acids, considered cancer-fighting ingredients for dogs.

Pros

  • The best wet dog food for allergies, according to vets
  • Dogs love the taste
  • Formulated to ease skin itchiness

Cons

  • Requires vet authorization

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Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Oatmeal
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Best budget dog food for dogs with allergies

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Oatmeal

A lot of the best dog food for allergies is quite expensive, with some brands costing over $7 a pound. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet is recommended by Crnec for its wholesome ingredients—and value price. “Made with lamb as a single protein source, this grain-free, limited-ingredient diet is the best affordable option for dogs with allergies,” she says.

The included carbohydrates (oatmeal, millet, ground rice) are very digestible and easy on the stomach. “Plus, it has probiotics for digestion and fatty acids and glucosamine for skin health,” she says. You may choose from lamb or duck options, and both come in two sizes, 26- and 40-pound bags.

Pros

  • The best budget dog food for allergies
  • Made with a single protein source and digestible carbohydrates
  • Contains probiotics and glucosamine for gut, skin and joint health
  • Doesn’t require vet authorization

Cons

  • Not available in smaller bag sizes

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Canidae Pure Goodness Limited Ingredient Premium Puppy Dry Dog Food
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Best dog food for puppies with allergies

Canidae Pure Goodness Limited Ingredient Premium Puppy Dry Dog Food

Growing puppies have different nutritional needs from those of adults and seniors. If you learn that your little one has allergies, you need a puppy food up to the task. The Canidae Pure Goodness for puppies is Crnec’s recommendation. It contains only nine ingredients, including salmon, oatmeal and wholesome grains—all human foods that are great for dogs—and leave out corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

“It’s enriched with healthy fats, antioxidants and probiotics to strengthen the immune system, boost digestion, and promote skin and coat health while supporting growth and development,” Crnec says. It comes in 4-, 12- and 22-pound bags.

Pros

  • The best dog food for puppies with allergies, according to vets
  • Made with just nine ingredients
  • Doesn’t require vet authorization

Cons

  • Only available in chicken flavor

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Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet Np Novel Protein Alligator Ecomm Via Chewy.com
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Best dog food for adult dogs with allergies

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet NP Novel Protein Alligator

While you might shudder at the thought serving alligator-based food to your dog, hear us out. Novel proteins, in particular this reptilian one, happens to much better for dogs who experience allergic reactions to conventional dog food. “Alligator is rarely associated with allergies and therefore an ideal choice,” says Crnec.

The food also contains fish oil and flaxseed, both “healthy omega fatty acids that are vital for skin and coat health,” she says. Plus, the food is grain-free and reviewers report their dogs enjoy the taste. It comes in 6- and 22-pound bags—once you get your vet’s authorization.

Pros

  • Novel alligator protein makes it a good choice for adult dogs with allergies
  • Contains fish oil and flaxseed to promote skin and coat health
  • Owners report dogs like the taste

Cons

  • Requires vet authorization

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Hill's Prescription Diet Food Sensitivities Z D 
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Best dog food for senior dogs with allergies

Hill’s Prescription Diet Food Sensitivities z/d 

This easy-to-digest kibble is Crnec’s pick for senior dogs with food allergies, as it is made with chicken and chicken liver that’s highly hydrolyzed. This single protein combined with the single carbohydrate of cornstarch helps “to minimize the risk of allergic reactions,” says Crnec. But why is Hill’s Prescription Diet especially good for aging pups? “The food is available in dry and wet options that can be mixed, which is great for older dogs struggling to chew.” It comes in 8-, 17.6- and 25-pound bags.

Pros

  • Made with ultra-hydrolyzed protein and a single carbohydrate
  • Mix it with the wet version for dogs who struggle to chew

Cons

  • Requires vet authorization

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Blue Buffalo True Solutions Perfect Skin & Coat
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Best dog food for skin allergies

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Perfect Skin & Coat

Made with real salmon as the first ingredient, the True Solutions food is a good choice for dogs with itchy skin. “The formula is loaded with fatty acids which strengthen the skin barrier and help reduce skin inflammation,” she says. Additionally, it supports skin health with vitamin C and E. It comes in 4-, 11- and 24-pound bags.

Pros

  • Formulated for dogs with skin allergies
  • Salmon is the first ingredient
  • Fatty acids support skin health
  • Vet authorization not required

Cons

  • Only for adult dogs

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Wholehearted Simple Blends Lamb, Sweet Potato & Egg Recipe
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Best dog food for wheat allergies

WholeHearted Simple Blends Lamb, Sweet Potato & Egg Recipe

If your vet diagnoses your dog with a wheat allergy, you have plenty of grain-free dog food options to choose from. But Miller suggests WholeHearted Simple Blends. “Not only is it grain-free, it includes a range of ingredients selected to help support your pet’s whole health,” she says. This includes lamb, sweet potato, lentils, egg, ginger, dried chicory root, salmon oil and flaxseed, offering protein, probiotics and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It comes in 4- and 22-pound bags and can be fed to puppies and seniors, too.

Pros

  • A grain-free, expert-recommended food for dogs with wheat allergies
  • Contains probiotics and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Doesn’t require vet authorization
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • Some vets recommend dogs eat some grains

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What to consider when buying dog food for allergies

You have several things to consider when selecting the best dog food for allergies, according to Crnec. In particular, look for:

  • A limited number of ingredients
  • High-quality (preferably organic) ingredients
  • Hydrolyzed or novel proteins
  • AAFCO-approved formulas
  • No cheap fillers and artificial additives
  • No unspecified ingredients
  • Brand reputability and trustworthiness
  • Positive feedback from other customers

Evaluation criteria

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FAQ

What are common allergies for dogs?

Beef, wheat and chicken are common food allergens for dogs, explains Miller. “However, many times, allergic dogs have multiple factors contributing to their allergies, not just food,” she says.

Environmental irritants like grass, pollen and plants can cause similar allergy symptoms in dogs as those that humans experience. Within the home, your dog may be sensitive to dust, mold or dander. Environmental allergies can also manifest as ear infections or gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs.

“Finally, if your dog has a flea allergy you may see increased skin irritation around bites, so keeping your pet on pest prevention is critical,” she says.

What are common symptoms of allergies in dogs?

The number one most common symptom of allergies in dogs is itchiness. “It can be localized to one area of the body or generalized (affecting the entire body),” says Crnec. Other allergy symptoms in dogs are obsessive paw licking/chewing, hives, red and inflamed skin, diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing and frequent ear infections.

The most common symptoms of food allergies to look out for are itching and GI upset, according to veterinarian Dr. Amber Karwacki, DVM, of Heart + Paw petcare centers. Other symptoms to look out for: irritated eyes, a runny nose hair loss and ear infections.

“If food allergies are suspected, your veterinarian will either recommend an elimination food trial to determine what your dog can eat or a food allergy [blood] test,” Karwacki says. She warns against relying on seemingly convenient “at-home” tests and panels using hair and saliva samples. “Studies have shown that commercially available tests marketed for environmental and food allergies are inaccurate,” she says.

What foods are best for dogs with allergies?

There is no universally best dog food for allergies. But generally speaking, dogs with allergies need formulas with a small number of high-quality and carefully selected ingredients.

“It all depends on the type of allergy and the dog’s nutritional needs, including age and lifestyle,” says Crnec. “For some dogs, the best food features hydrolyzed protein, and for others, novel proteins from animals the dog has never tasted before, like venison, rabbit, bison, kangaroo or duck.”

Is wet or dry food better for dogs with allergies?

Neither one is better than the other for allergies. “The key is the ingredients present in the food,” says Karwacki. However, if you have a picky eater or a senior dog with sensitive or missing teeth, your pup may find wet food more palatable.

About the Experts

  • Ivana Crnec, DVM, is a veterinarian at veterinarians.org
  • Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM, is chief veterinarian at Petco.
  • Dr. Amber Karwacki, DVM, is a veterinarian at Heart + Paw petcare centers.

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Leah Groth
Leah Groth covers everything from cleaning hacks and consumer products to travel and pets for Reader’s Digest. When she isn’t working on a piece, you’ll find her chasing after her four children (two humans, a Vizsla and a German Shorthaired Pointer) or working on her 100-plus-year-old home outside Philadelphia.