If your dog has food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances, life can be miserable – for both you and your pup. Allergies and sensitivities can trigger an immune response, resulting in itchy skin, sneezing, and even digestive issues. Seeing your dog suffer is unpleasant, but you can help him. If you’re lost on where to start, though, let us help you start your research.
We reviewed dozens of dog foods for allergies to identify the best of the best. We sought out foods for a digestive allergies and those to help with sensitive skin. Whether your pup needs gentle ingredients or the absence of one specific common allergen, we found the right dog food for him.
If you’ve ruled out seasonal allergies, your dog’s diet is a likely cause of these symptoms. Common food allergies include wheat, chicken, dairy, beef, and eggs, although like humans, dogs can develop allergies to a variety of things. Typical allergy treatments may ease symptoms, but won’t eliminate them; you’ll need to eliminate the culprits from your dog’s diet. Looking to get more vitamins in your dog’s diet? Read our article on the best multivitamins for dogs. In addition to food, see our list of the best dog probiotics. For more canned dog food options, read our review of the top canned food for dogs.
If you are interested in seeing some other food or treat options for your pets, make sure to check out our pet food and treats articles.
Early in our research we determined there was only one choice for best overall dog food for allergies, and that had to be the Wag Dry Dog Food. By using real meat as the primary ingredient and with no added grains, you can easily provide your dog with the nutrition they need to maintain their health.
The 5 Best Dog Food for Allergies
|Best Dog Food for Allergies Overall||Wag Dry Dog Food||4.2|
|Best Grain Free Dog Food for Allergies||Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food Salmon||4.7|
|Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food for Allergies||Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food Salmon & Potato||4.5|
|Best Human-Grade Dog Food for Allergies||The Farmer’s Dog Pet Food||4.9|
|Best Dog Food for Digestive Issues||Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Adult Dog Food||4.7|
*Ratings are from Amazon and Google at the time of publication and can change
Best Dog Food for Allergies Overall: Wag Dry Dog Food
If you’re looking for a dog food for allergies that is formulated with high-quality, nutritious ingredients, Wag Dry Dog Food is our top choice. What makes this line of dog food so eye-catching is that it not only has no added grains, but also has no added corn or wheat. Speaking of being free of ingredients that can potentially affect your dog’s health, you’ll be interested to learn that it’s also free from added artificial colors, flavors, and chemical preservatives to boot.
Already intrigued to give it a try? You can get 40% off your first purchase for a limited time!
Each of the five tasty flavor options available are also made with real meat, poultry or fish as the number one ingredient. You can choose from lamb, beef, salmon, turkey, and chicken (for puppies). Whichever one you pick, you can rest assured that your dog will get the energy they need to remain active, despite any food or skin sensitivities. Each of the adult options offer 35% protein, while the puppy option offers 36%.
This dog food is formulated with the help of veterinarians and all ingredients are either made in the US or high quality ingredients from around the world. Its overall rating is a solid 4.2 stars and with more than 5,100 customer reviews on Amazon to support it, there are plenty of reviews to build your confidence in this purchase.
Wag Dry Dog Food Key Features
- Made with real meat, poultry, or fish
- 35% protein for adult varieties; 36% for the puppy variety
- No added grains, corn, or wheat
- Formulated with the help of veterinarians
Best Grain Free Dog Food for Allergies: Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food Salmon
The Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food gives your pup the flavor and quality to make sure he has a protein-rich diet, even without the allergen-common, protein-rich “traditional” ingredients. The fish oil included helps his skin and coat as well as his stomach and without the added filler of grains, he’ll have a rich diet without any extras.
Blue Buffalo always features real meat as the #1 ingredient, and in this case, it’s salmon, a flavor most dogs love. It’s made with deboned salmon, chicken meal, and fish meal to ensure your pup is getting all the protein he needs, plus wholesome fruits and vegetables for vital nutrients. This high-protein, grain-free dog food contains Blue’s exclusive Lifesource Bits, a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support immune system health, life stage requirements, and a healthy oxidative balance.
Over 6,400 customer reviews on this dog food have awarded it an overall rating of 4.7 stars on Amazon. And considering the size and flavor options available with this high-quality brand, we think you’ll be pleased with the result.
Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food Salmon Key Features:
- Grain-free; no corn, wheat, or soy
- Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
- Essential proteins and carbs to meet energy requirements
Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food for Allergies: Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food Salmon & Potato
If you’re looking for a limited-ingredient dog food, Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food Salmon & Potato is formulated with fewer ingredients to be easily digestible for dogs with food sensitivities, allergies, or food intolerance. Starting with a single source of protein (real, high-quality salmon) and mixed with easily digestible carbohydrates (potato), Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon & Potato offers the complete nutrition your dog needs, without any fillers or artificial additives.
Every ingredient serves a real nutritional purpose in this food. Both the salmon and flax seed are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that will help our dog’s skin sensitivity and build a healthy coat while the chicory root is a natural prebiotic to help aide his digestion. Wellness does nothing by accident and the limitations on the ingredient list is very likely to help any of your dog’s allergies.
Over 500 people felt so strongly about this dog food that they came back to review it on Amazon. That tells us that the overall rating of 4.7 stars definitely has the support to make it a believable rating.
Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food Salmon & Potato Key Features:
- All-natural, limited ingredients; single-source protein
- No wheat, soy, corn, gluten, artificial additives, or fillers
- Prebiotics and probiotics to support healthy digestion
Best Human-Grade Dog Food for Allergies: The Farmer’s Dog Pet Food
Complete nutrition customized to your dog’s unique needs.
The Farmer’s Dog Pet Food is a delicious human-grade pet food option that contains all natural ingredients such vegetables like parsnips, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and spinach, fish oil, sunflower seeds, USDA beef liver, USDA pork liver – ingredients may vary by recipe. These real, fresh, and healthy meals are a great protein-rich choice for dogs of all shapes and sizes. This dog food also is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (from the fish oil) which promote a healthy coat.
All meals are prepared in human-food kitchens, so you can rest assured that your dog is eating the best of food that has been specially formulated for dogs. If your dog has certain allergies, then there’s a good chance this all-natural, custom-made and carefully regulated dog food option will soothe your pup’s belly and make his meals much more enjoyable. Each ingredient is carefully selected to give him the exact nutrients your dog needs, while keeping his belly both satisfied and comfortable. Meals are delivered directly to your door, and are pre-portioned to suit your dog’s weight, breed, activity level, and more.
The Farmer’s Dog Pet Food Key Features:
- Available in 3 recipes: Turkey, Beef, and Pork
- Made from all natural, fresh ingredients
- Contains USDA proteins, vitamins and minerals
Best Dog Food for Digestive Issues: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Adult Dog Food
When you’re looking for a dog food for your pup’s sensitive stomach you love to see ingredients like those included in Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Adult Dog Food. The LifeSource Bits is a specialized formula exclusive to Blue, containing antioxidants, vitamins and minerals all meticulously selected by holistic veterinarians and nutritionists to build a healthy immune system and soothe and balance your dog’s digestion gently.
Blue Basics is an entire dog food line designed to help dogs with sensitivities. There are several different types of food from Blue Basics, and each one could provide your little guy with the nutrition he needs without the foods he can’t stomach. You may not be able to identify the exact ingredient that he’s allergic to, but there’s every possibility that you’ll be able to avoid allergy flare-ups after switching to Blue Buffalo.
An overall rating of 4.7 stars on Amazon is never something to scoff at, but when a product get is through close to 2,100 customer reviews, like this dog food does, you just know it’s a smart buy.
Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Adult Dog Food Key Features:
- Pea fiber and pumpkin to support gentle digestion
- No corn, wheat, soy, or eggs
- Foods specifically chosen to aid in digestion
Who Should Buy Dog Food for Allergies
If your dog has any kind of stomach allergies that make it difficult for him to keep food in his belly, then you’re definitely going to want to consider a dog food for allergies. When you’re awoken from the dead of sleep by your poor dog getting sick, you know there’s something wrong. When he’s acting not quite himself or when he’s just not keeping food down, you’ll know he needs to change his diet and if that’s the case for you, you’re going to want to pick a dog food that is specifically intended to deal with his allergies. Switching foods can be hard on your dog, though, even if he has absolutely no food allergies, so doing so often while trying to find the right food may proof a unique challenge. You can start by calling the vet to see if he has any specific recommendations, but even if you listen to your vet 100%, you may still need to try different foods before you find the right one. The best bet for your dog, is to start safe. Go for the most allergen-free dog food and slowly transition to another if you need to do so. Keeping him on a prescription dog food long-term may not be feasible but starting there may allow you to use the safest dog foods to transition him to the type of allergen-free foods on our list.
For skin sensitivities, your dog’s food can help him manage his discomfort. Even if he’s allergic to something in his environment (and even if you can’t identify it), you may be able to manage his skin inflammation and itching with a proper diet adjustment. When his licking and chewing and scratching keep you up at night, you’ll know it’s time to do something. The easiest fix is to buy a dog food that will help him adjust and cope with whatever is setting his skin aflame. A dog food that contains oils that will hydrate and soothe your dog’s skin is the easiest first step to help ease his suffering from skin allergies.
Important Features to Consider
Dog food for allergies should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a dog food for allergies:
- Meat vs. meal. Often times when your dog has allergies, it isn’t what you think. If your dog is allergic to a certain type of meat, for example, it may not be the meat but the meal that it also contains. When you look at the ingredients list, you should see a meat or vegetable listed as the first ingredient and no where on the list should it include a “Chicken Meal” or “Bone Meal” for your allergy-prone dog. “Meat Meal” or “Bone Meal” are terms used to describe the process in which the meat and bone is cooked, defatted, sterilized, ground, and sifted. That’s a lot of extra processing that leaves the food open to all kinds of allergy triggers. If your pup is struggling, you may want to try to avoid these, first.
- Limited ingredients. It may go without saying, but the fewer ingredients in your dog’s food, the fewer opportunities to have an allergic reaction. The sad reality of having dogs who are allergic or sensitive to foods is that you may never know exactly what’s causing his allergic reaction. To make your life easier, rather than resorting to expensive tests and prescription drugs from the beginning, you could start by trying a limited ingredient food that don’t contain any unnecessary foods.
- Grain-free. If you think about it, the wild wolves of your dog’s ancestral line never ate grain. They didn’t eat these ingredients because they wouldn’t have harvested and processed the wheat, of course, but the bigger issue is that without ever having done this, their stomachs never developed a way to process the grains internally. While a domestic dog has adapted some to accommodate a more modern diet, grains are still harder for their bodies to digest than the meats and vegetables they were able to acquire without a human parent. A grain-free dog food may be just what he needs to make sure he’s getting the foods he needs while also avoiding the extra strain on his digestion.
- Raw. Some puppy parents feel uncomfortable giving their dog food that is so far distanced from the type of food their bodies have adapted to eat. Since wolves in the wild don’t skin and roast their kill on an open fire, raw dog food is closest to your dog’s biologically preferred diet. It may seem gross to you, but the truth is, manufacturers can preserve the food so that you’ll be giving your dog the food his body craves. And if that’s what helps him digest and prevent allergic reactions, then all the better.
- Additives to soothe. If your dog is struggling with his digestion or skin irritants, you may be able to soothe him with the right additions to his diet. An antioxidant or a probiotic may help his digestion and an Omega-3 oil could help his irritated skin. There are also actual foods that can be added to traditional ingredients that will soothe him, so if you can find foods that include apple cider vinegar, or coconut oil, maybe even herbs like thyme, you may be able to help relieve his symptoms. (But keep in mind relieving symptoms won’t cure the cause.)
Frequently Asked Questions
How is dog food for allergies different from regular dog food?
To cope with food allergies, most pet owners start by putting their dogs on either a grain-free diet or a limited-ingredient diet. Grain-free dog foods are made without wheat, corn, soy, and similar ingredients that are often linked to food allergies. A limited-ingredient diet, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily grain-free (but often is). Limited-ingredient dog foods typically contain one primary protein source, such as salmon, duck, or bison (instead of the usual chicken or beef, both common allergens), and a single carbohydrate source. Limited-ingredient dog foods can also be used for elimination diets – a food-trial process for determining the specific ingredients that a dog is sensitive to – but they’re also used as a regular diet to avoid known allergens.
How can you tell if your dog is allergic to food?
Determining what he’s allergic to may be difficult, but for stomach issues, you’ll want to take it easy until his reaction is over (giving him some homemade meals with no extras – just ground beef or boiled chicken and plain rice may be the best way to do that). And then you can begin to introduce a strict allergy-friendly dog food, and then give him a more sustainable dog food a little at a time, making sure he doesn’t react before you wean him from the allergy-strict food.
For example, if he reacts to a new dog food that has beef meal in it, or you suspect he’s reacting to a specific type of meat, then you can start slow and ease him back to regular eating. You could give him a few meals of chicken and rice, then give a limited ingredient, vegetarian dog food as a baseline. Mix in a more sensitive stomach protein dog food until he’s stopped the vegetarian food entirely and is only eating the sensitive stomach food. If this doesn’t help his allergic reaction, you’ll need to consult the vet.
What can I give my dog for allergy relief?
Your first step may be to try some home remedies for his allergies, and that’s entirely reasonable – as long as it’s safe. You will need to call the vet or take him directly to a pet emergency clinic if he’s exhibiting any signs of strained breathing, vomiting profusely, or if his face is swelling. If you’re just not sure if he needs seen, then call your vet and get some advice. It’s better safe than sorry because allergic reactions can end your pup’s life. You can never be too careful.
What is the best protein for dogs with allergies?
Lamb also tends to be easier on your dog’s stomachs (as long as it’s not combined with other meats), and you may have better luck with that (and lamb may be just slightly less expensive than salmon). Eggs may not be the primary source of protein in these dog foods, but they’re still helpful to see on the ingredient list (unless your dog proves sensitive to that specific ingredient). If it’s a vegetarian dog food, though, the eggs will be much higher on the ingredient list and it will also include several bean varieties to ensure your dog is getting the protein he needs.
“Rare” proteins often have a high success rate at preventing allergic reactions. Herring, duck, lamb, and several types of wild game may very well eliminate your dog’s stomach allergies. Venison, elk, and even buffalo are available for your dog – but expect to pay a premium for the premium ingredients.
Feature Image Credit: TamaraLSanchez, Shutterstock