This Is the Best Dog Food for Allergies, According to a Vet Tech (Exclusive)

If your dog's been licking, scratching, sneezing, or getting ear infections, he might have an allergy. These are the best foods to switch to.


Jun. 17 2024, Published 10:26 a.m. ET

dog looking at a bowl of food
Source: iStock

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Don't you wish your dog could just tell you when something's wrong? Well, dogs actually do communicate distress through behaviors like repetitive licking, scratching, or sneezing. Maybe your dog's been experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or even ear infections, or you're noticing random bald patches in her fur. These are all signals that your pooch may have an allergy to something in the environment, something in your house, or the food they're eating.

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Allergies can affect up to 20 percent of dogs, but it's best to take your dog to a vet to diagnose a food allergy for sure. In the meantime, Green Matters spoke exclusively with veterinary technician Jennifer Freeman, M.S., RVTg, to learn more about the best dog food for allergies.

The 7 best dog foods for allergies:

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What is the healthiest dog food for senior dogs?

"Selecting the right food for a dog with food allergies involves choosing novel proteins, limited-ingredient diets, hypoallergenic options, and avoiding common allergens such as chicken, dairy, wheat, corn and soy," says Freeman. Here are a few things to look out for:

Novel proteins: These are proteins that your dog hasn’t been exposed to before, like duck, venison, bison, and salmon. Eating novel proteins can reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

Grain-free carbohydrates: You'll get the same effect by avoiding wheat and grain, and opting for grain-free carbs like sweet potatoes, peas, quinoa, and pumpkin.

Limited ingredients: The idea behind a limited ingredient diet is simple—the fewer the ingredients, the less chance of an allergic reaction. It's also easier to do an elimination diet this way, to identify a potential allergen.

Hypoallergenic foods: If your dog does have allergies, Freeman recommends a hypoallergenic diet with foods specifically formulated to be free from common allergens. "These may include hydrolyzed proteins that are broken down to a size too small to trigger an allergic reaction," she says. "Pets with severe food allergies may need to be on a prescription hypoallergenic diet."

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Soft dog food can help senior dogs with allergies.

Soft dog food, often called wet or canned food, can be beneficial for senior dogs for several reasons. One, dogs tend to lose teeth and their gums weaken as they get on in years, and wet food is simply easier to chew. It's also easier to digest than kibble and tends to be nutrient dense. And since its more aromatic and flavorful, a finicky old man or elderly lady might be more apt to gobble it down.

We've included a few soft options in our list below of the best dog foods for allergies in adult pups.

The seven dog foods below are excellent picks to get the ball rolling. A few of them are even vegan, and still meet all of your dog's nutritional needs.

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Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet, which is designed specifically for dogs with food sensitivities, is Freeman's top pick for dogs with allergies. (It's important to note that Freeman serves as the Director of Nutritional Science for Natural Balance Pet Foods.)

This product uses just one novel protein per formulation — in this case, it's salmon added to sweet potato. This dog food is crafted with premium ingredients that go easy on the tummy while soothing skin and making coats shine thanks to all those omega-3 fatty acids.

$48 at Chewy

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Selected Protein PD Dry Dog Food

By incorporating hydrolyzed soy proteins, this Royal Canin kibble — which also contains duck, a novel protein — keeps GI tracts clear and prevents allergic reactions. Ingredients deliver EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids that protect your dog's skin and give her a shiny coat.

Top review: "If your dog suffers from allergies caused by the proteins in their food, this food is definitely the way to go and will not only provide a balanced diet, but dramatically reduce the awful allergic symptoms as well."

$44 at Chewy
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Health Extension Grain-Free Venison and Sweet Potato Recipe

Health Extension Grain-Free Venison Recipe is a droolworthy choice for dogs. Venison is the novel protein here, and it's an ideal alternative for dogs allergic to more common proteins like chicken and beef. This formula is also grain-free, which eliminates common culprits like wheat, corn, and soy.

Top review: "I have a lab that has a lot of allergies and this definitely does not cause any problems."

$26 at Health Extension

V-dog Vegan Kibble Dry Dog Food, 24 lbs.

V-Dog makes thoughtfully crafted vegan foods for dogs, and this formulation is one of its highest rated on Amazon. It uses an amino acid called taurine as an anti-inflammatory to soothe allergic reactions and to calm sensitive stomachs. dietary solution for dogs with sensitivities.

A professional dog sitter wrote this glowing review on Amazon: "I sit many dogs and see so many all kinds of food my clients feed they dogs. But I noticed that most clients whose dogs have health issues such as allergies and stomach issues had no more issues with putting dogs on this food."

$85.50 at Amazon
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Crafted by Humans Loved by Dogs Human-Grade Dog Food

Leave it to the dog lovers of Portland to create Crafted by Humans Loved by Dogs, a nutritious line of dog food that's meticulously crafted to meet standards so high, they're human-grade. It offers several features that make it an excellent choice for dogs with allergies. That includes a short list of ingredients, one of which is USDA-certified meat.

Top review: "We have a dog with allergies and doesn't like his base food. We use this as a topper and his bowl is empty in minutes — to the point we are talking we might need a slow feeder bowl."

$33 at Amazon

Wild Earth Performance Formula Dog Food

Wild Earth Performance Formula Dog Food is a high-protein vegan option designed to cater to the needs of dogs with food sensitivities and allergies. While this one is chicken-flavored, all the sustainable proteins in this dog food are plant-based, and it's free of common allergens like wheat and grain.

The brand is also eco-friendly, as plant-based foods are responsible for significantly less carbon emissions, water use, and land use than meat-based foods.

$39 at Wild Earth

Pure Balance Pro+ Chicken Stew Wet Dog Food for Mature Pets

This grain-free formula caters to the nutritional requirements of senior dogs, who not only often have to look out for allergies, but also need to maintain muscle mass, protect their joints, and get a little boost with digestion. This single-protein food is easier for their mature systems to digest.

Top review: "My senior Shih Tzu will now only eat this! It's soft with just enough chunks in it to give it a good texture for his old pup teeth. Plus is doesn't break the bank."

$9 at Walmart
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