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With so many different dog food brands on the market, shopping for hypoallergenic dog food for a dog with allergies can feel a little overwhelming. The expense of grain-free foods can make feeding your allergic dog a challenge, let alone the cost of rarer proteins like bison or venison. In this article, we’ll cover common problem foods for dogs, and explore hypoallergenic dog food options, from the best affordable hypoallergenic dog foods to the most deluxe, super-premium formulas available.
When dogs eat something they’re allergic to, their immune system responds with symptoms like itchy skin, sneezing, and sensitive stomach. If you think your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction, and you’ve ruled out other common causes, having them tested for dog food allergies is a good first step to understanding how to help your dog feel better.
Food allergies in dogs are genetic, passed down from parents to pups. The problem occurs when your dog tries to break down the proteins in the problem ingredient. Not surprisingly, the most common allergens are nearly all proteins.
The most common causes of food intolerance or allergies:
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 of this testing here.
The most thorough way to discover which foods your pet is allergic to is an elimination diet, however.
“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 think 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 items in your dog’s diet, the next step is avoiding them as much as possible. You can use a prescription food from your veterinarian, make your own food from scratch, or you can try a commercial food with limited ingredients.
Making your own food from scratch is hands-down the most reliable way to ensure your dog’s diet has not come into contact with anything they’re allergic to. 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.
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 bet. We’ve rounded up some of the best hypoallergenic dog food, including two bargain winners that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Keep in mind that not all foods are right for all food allergies, and higher quality or rarer ingredients are simply going to cost more than your average diet. We’ve included links and pricing from Amazon—you may be able to find these foods at your local natural pet store at a different price.
This is the food your vet is likely to recommend you start with and may sell right in the office. That said, this is a highly processed food with some unrecognizable ingredients that may be off-putting to some pet owners. The upside is that food like this can quickly get your dog’s health back on track, and then you can adjust foods once you nail down your dog’s food allergens.
The D/D formula is grain- and soy-free, using a single protein source. The Z/D ULTRA formula is a little more esoteric and uses hydrolyzed protein— which means the protein is broken down molecularly so there’s nothing left of the allergen. The D/D is available with venison, salmon, or duck as the protein.Shop on Chewy Shop on Chewy
This limited ingredient diet comes in four single protein varieties. A whopping 50% of the recipe is the featured animal protein. The rest is pretty much fruit, veggies, and a dash of probiotics. This is by no means an economy meal, but if pronounceable ingredients are important to you, this is ridiculously high-quality food. You can shop around for deals, especially if you buy in bulk.Find on Amazon Find on Amazon Find on Amazon Find on Amazon
The Wellness Simple line of foods uses both whole single protein 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 food at a medium price point.Shop on Chewy Shop on Chewy Shop on Chewy Shop on Chewy
With real chicken as the primary ingredient in this recipe, Purina’s limited ingredient dog food recipe was formulated by in-house nutritionists to include nine natural ingredients plus vitamins and minerals. This food doesn’t include any poultry by-product meal, wheat, soy, or corn and it’s a pretty affordable for hypoallergenic dog food.Shop on Chewy
Salmon is the first ingredient in this simple dog food recipe is made from only eight ingredients. With vitamins, minerals and a mix of probiotics, it’s designed to be easy for your pup to digest. Made entirely from whole foods like sweet potatoes and peas, you can give your dog complete nutrition without an upset stomach.Shop on Chewy
Earthborn Holistic Venture Turkey Meal & Butternut Squash Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
This 100% grain-free and gluten-free limited ingredient formula provides your dog with complete, balanced nutrition. Made without fillers, by-products, artificial colors, or preservatives, Earthborn Holistic’s limited ingredient formula is a rich source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.Shop on Chewy
With a single source of animal protein and easily digestible carbohydrates, this recipe is grain-free and gluten-free. This simple formula provides your dog with important amino acids, vitamins, and minerals without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help keep your pup’s skin healthy and coat shiny.Shop on Chewy
This Blue Buffalo Basics formula boasts a single source of animal protein as well as easy-to-digest carbohydrate sources. It’s balanced with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that promote healthy skin and a blend of anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that promote immune system health. Made with high-quality ingredients that are gentle on your dog’s stomach, this recipe doesn’t include chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy or eggs.Shop on Chewy
This grain-free dog food includes a single source of animal protein as well as the carbohydrate powerhouse, sweet potatoes. Formulated to provide complete, balanced nutrition for adult dogs, Natural Balance’s limited ingredient dog food makes it easy to identify your dog’s sources of protein and carbohydrates.Shop on Chewy
Limited ingredient food that won’t break the bank! What are the six ingredients, you ask? Lamb meal, brown rice, ground rice, beet pulp, chicken fat, and chicken meal. Meat meal provides concentrated protein. In higher quality (read: more expensive) foods, meat meal is more frequently seen further down the ingredient list to boost protein, not as the primary ingredient.
That being said, this is a very affordable, grain-free, limited ingredient food that is likely available at your local grocery story or box pet store.Shop on Chewy
Check out more about dog allergies in the articles below.
- 15 Organic Treats We Love for Allergies, Picky Eaters, and Healthier Snacking
- The 7 Best Dog Shampoos for Skin Allergies
- True Story: My Dog Has Food Allergies. Getting Him Tested Changed Everything.
Featured image: Chanchai Boonma | Dreamstime.com