Have you got a puppy who needs to be on a special diet? Or maybe his vet has suggested that you try to avoid a certain ingredient?
Allergies or intolerances in canines can be tough to nail down, especially because there are so many ingredients in regular dog food. Even the best brands often feature different animal sources so that identifying a trigger ingredient can be tough. Often, it means that our puppies or dogs may need to go on what’s called a limited ingredient diet for a while.
In this review, we’ll look at how you can choose the very best hypoallergenic dog food for your fluffy friend. We’ll start with a look at what hypoallergenic actually means, then consider when it might be a good idea to think about switching to this special kind of diet. Then, of course, we’ll review our top picks from each of the most common kinds of hypoallergenic food.
Of course, if you already know what you’re looking for, you can skip ahead to our reviews of:
- The Best Dog Food For Skin Allergies;
- Best Chicken-Free Dog Food For Allergies;
- Best Potato-Free Hypoallergenic Dog Food;
- Limited Ingredient Food With Hydrolyzed Protein;
- Limited Ingredient Dog Food: Wet Food Reviews; and
- Limited Ingredient Dog Food: Puppy Food Reviews.
Quick Review: Top-6 Hypoallergenic Dog Food
What is Hypoallergenic Dog Food?
‘Hypoallergenic’ refers broadly to anything that’s unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction. You may have seen this on some skin products, or perhaps on baby products, where manufacturers carefully choose ingredients that will be gentle on our bodies. For dog foods, the idea is the same — the ingredients in hypoallergenic dog food will often be those which are least likely to cause an unwanted reaction.
But here’s where owners often get a little confused, and quite understandably so.
Hypoallergenic Can Mean Different Things
One dog or puppy may get gas, or have a sore tummy, even though he is eating a hypoallergenic food. His brother, friend, or sister may have no problem at all with it. Why?
Because all dogs are different, and ‘hypoallergenic’ can mean different things to each dog. Let’s look at one example:
A: Fido eats potato and chicken, and he has no problem with either of them.
B: Bonzo eats potato and chicken. He’s fine with chicken but feels sick when he eats potato.
For both dogs, chicken is hypoallergenic. For Bonzo, potato is not.
Let’s look at why some confusion still exists…
Hypoallergenic vs Limited Ingredient Dog Food
‘Hypoallergenic’ is used to refer to different things. Sometimes, the term is used to refer to dog foods which have only ‘novel’ animal proteins — ingredients that most dogs won’t be sensitive to. Sometimes, it’s used as a label for food that contains proteins which have been broken down into their smallest possible form.
Why are proteins broken down, or hydrolyzed, like this? Without getting too scientific, an allergic dog’s body has learned to respond or react (in a negative way) to certain chemical compounds in specific foods. When these compounds are hydrolyzed, it means the protein molecules in your dog’s food are no longer in a form that will trigger allergic reactions. Nice, right?
Limited ingredient food, on the other hand, doesn’t go through any complicated scientific processes like hydrolyzed food does. It simply keeps the number of ingredients in your dog’s food to a minimum. This way, it’s easier for you to know what he is, and is not eating. Got a dog that can’t eat potato? With limited ingredient food, you won’t have to scroll through a long list of ingredients to figure out whether there’s anything potato-related in there.
Does My Dog Need Hypoallergenic Dog Food?
Your puppy or dog will probably need to be on hypoallergenic dog food if you suspect that he or she is intolerant or allergic to a certain ingredient (or ingredients). There are a few common signs that your beloved pet is not reacting well to something, and these may include:
- He has a bloated tummy after mealtimes;
- Gassiness, cramps, or wind;
- Throwing up;
- Tummy upset;
- Diahorrea or constipation;
- Skin irritations, such as itching, scratching, or redness; and
- Fur falling out.
These can be very distressing for a loving dog owner to witness, so if you can, it’s a good idea to take your fluffy pal to the vet as soon as possible. Very often, a vet may recommend a limited ingredient dog food, so it helps to know what kinds are on offer.
What Brands Make The Best Dog Food For Allergies?
Dog allergies and intolerances come in so many different forms, which is why we’ve searched far and wide to get as many of the best possible options we could find. You may find some brands that you’re not yet familiar with in our reviews, but the same old favorites keep on popping up every time!
Our favorite brands which produce hypoallergenic dog food and limited ingredient options include:
- Blue Buffalo – which offers a well-rounded hydrolyzed option;
- Purina – including quite a few limited ingredient dog foods and a hypoallergenic recipe;
- Wellness – providing balanced, healthy, and complete grain-free recipes;
- Iams – which makes specialized dog foods for sensitive skin;
- Hill’s Science Diet – another great brand creating nutritionist-developed food;
- Merrick – which makes a whole diverse Limited Ingredient Diet range;
- Nutro – a nice option is included for potato-free dog food; and
- Royal Canin – which has formulated a lovely hypoallergenic wet food for our doggies’ dinners!
In all the reviews here, we’ve tried to include both some puppy and adult food options. But at the end, you’ll also find a special section dedicated to puppies, and one for those dogs who love a wet food dinner!
Best Dog Food For Skin Allergies
- Purina One Smartblend Natural Formula
- The first ingredient in Purina One Smartblend is chicken;
- Contains peas and carrots for iron and Vitamin A;
- Omega acids help your pooch maintain a sleek, lovely coat; and
- Protein at 26%.
- Includes some by-products, although these are a key glucosamine source; and
- Contains corn, other maize-related products, and wheat.
- Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach
- Made, of course, with real yummy salmon as the primary source of animal protein;
- Contains healthy fish oil, which aids in combatting joint problems;
- Supplemented with skin-healthy Vitamin E, in addition to the Omega 6 and 3 acids that are found in salmon;
- 26% protein, a nice amount for dogs who are already all grown up; and
- 1% calcium, for lovely, robust and strong bones.
- Some brewers yeast has been used in this Purina formula, which some dog owners prefer to avoid for its reputation as a ‘filler’ ingredient.
- Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Large Breed
- Suitable for pooches of 50 pounds and upward;
- Offers not only salmon meal for Omega acids but also E Vitamin Supplements;
- Zero grains;
- Has real fruit and colorful vegetables;
- Has antioxidants, too, for an immune-system boost!
- Sadly, dogs who can’t eat chicken will need to try a different recipe.
- Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d
- Contains hydrolyzed ingredients—chicken liver, in this case—to reduce the risk of allergic reactions in your pooch;
- Gives adult dogs 19% of healthy protein;
- This Z/D formula has great reviews from pet owners with itchy or inflamed pets; and
- As it’s so frequently prescribed by vets, it’s developed quite a good reputation for alleviating the symptoms of sensitive skin.
- Developed by professionals and vets alike, you’ll find that the price for this Hill’s food is considerably high compared to regular dog foods.
- Iams Proactive Health Adult GF
- Lots of different and varied protein sources will give your dog a tasty dinner—expect fish, chicken, peas, and egg;
- Real green and multi-colored veggie sources in this Proactive dinner, including carrots and spinach;
- Fruits also give your best friend a hearty serving of vitamins, such as C, B2, D3, and more;
- It’s totally without any grains; and
- Those omega acids will also help contribute to your dog’s shiny coat!
- While all different breeds and sizes can enjoy this Iams formula, it’s only for adult dogs.
Best Chicken-Free Dog Food For Allergies
- Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet
- 347 calories in each cup, a healthy figure for…well, a healthy doggy figure!
- Various diverse protein sources, but not a chicken in sight;
- Made with natural antioxidants which come from flaxseeds;
- It’s even potato-free, too; and
- Completely without gluten.
- Nope, we’re huge fans of this healthy, nutritious limited ingredient option!
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets
- Potassium-rich for healthy hearts;
- You’ll find this also contains Omega acids from succulent salmon;
- Totally grain-free, so it won’t trigger any gluten-related problems;
- Natural Balance, as a brand, is well-known for carrying out pretty stringent safety and quality tests on its products; and
- It’s designed for each and every adult doggy breed—large and small!
- This blend is only really suitable for those adult dogs. Puppies and growing pooches will not get sufficient protein or calcium from this blend.
- Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient
- This recipe includes healthy bacteria to promote easy and smooth digestion;
- Made with natural ingredients, so there haven’t been any by-products used;
- Zero of the corn or wheat additions that can sometimes trigger gluten intolerances;
- All-natural additives only have been used to preserve and flavor this Simple product; and
- Contains potato.
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets
- Smaller, cuter kibble pieces let your puppy chew this food much more easily;
- Contains no chicken (or chicken-related ingredients) whatsoever;
- 24% protein is a nice, healthy amount for growing puppies;
- Made with a special formula that includes DHA for optimal development; and
- Both Omega acids 6 and 3 will help your puppy maintain good skin care.
- With only one ingredient, you may want to mix the menu up for your puppy once in a while.
- Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Premium
- Delectable smoked salmon flavor gives your pup a lovely refreshing break from common ingredients (including chicken!);
- USA-made, with zero unwanted filler add-ins;
- Contains no grains at all;
- Offers your little pup a natural source of healthy DHA; and
- Made with other animal proteins, too, such as venison and beef.
- Contains some potato products.
Best Potato-Free Hypoallergenic Dog Food
- Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula
- Real chicken, and not by-products, are the key source of muscle-building protein;
- Made with joint-healthy glucosamine, which is super-important for lots of different doggy breeds;
- One source for this glucosamine is fish oil; and
- At 30%, it’s protein-rich enough for fast puppy growth.
- Contains grains, as well as chicken, of course; and
- Some by-products have been included for their glucosamine content.
- Ultra Dry Dog Food – Puppy & Adult
- 23% protein, suitable for both adult dogs and some pups;
- Contains zinc for healthy canine coats and skin;
- Lamb, salmon, and chicken offer your best pal some nice variety while avoiding over-exposure to any one ingredient;
- It’s packed with healthy superfoods, such as spinach and chia seeds; and
- It’s great for all dog and puppy sizes!
- Some puppy owners may prefer food which offers slightly higher amounts of protein.
- ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient
- Both pups and adults can enjoy this potato-free recipe, as it’s crafted with the crucial ingredients for all different stages of doggy life;
- Also, small and bigger breeds can enjoy this formula, which contains DHA and glucosamine;
- A generous 31% protein in each meal;
- 60% of the ingredients in this food are either raw, fresh, or dried; and
- There are healthy servings of Omega acids to boost, boost, boost that doggy coat!
- This Acana food may be a little expensive for some owners’ preferences.
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets
- 32% protein with beef as the top meat ingredient;
- This is also actually an entirely chicken-free blend;
- Made with only two different sources of carbohydrates;
- Features flaxseeds for an antioxidant boost; and
- Lovely E Vitamins for healthy doggy skin!
- This formula contains beef, which some dogs cannot tolerate. Always ask your vet for advice if you feel your dog is not doing well on his food, hypoallergenic or otherwise.
- Earthborn Holistic Venture Grain-Free
- With only three ingredients making up 96% of this mouthwatering recipe, this really is a limited ingredient recipe;
- That doesn’t mean it’s light on the nutrients, however, with zinc for skin, manganese, calcium, and more;
- Zero dubious fillers in here, and no by-product nonsense either;
- No gluten, no potato; and
- 26% healthy protein.
- Sorry little puppies, this food is for grown-up dogs only!
Limited Ingredient Food With Hydrolyzed Protein
- Royal Canin HP Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Food
- Contains broken-down proteins, in a form that is much less likely to trigger unpleasant allergic reactions;
- Suitable both for little pups and their adults;
- This is also a nice source of glucosamine-rich fish oil;
- All doggy shapes and sizes can enjoy this dinner—that means big breeds, smaller dogs, and even toy breeds of 4 pounds; and
- Soft on our little doggies digestive systems!
- While it’s formulated as food for all different life stages, it contains 19% protein, which may be somewhat low for some puppies.
- Purina HA Hydrolyzed Dog Food
- Supplemented with loads of Vitamins, so your dog doesn’t miss out on the essential good stuff that regular food provides;
- Hydrolyzed protein can help avoid or prevent allergic reactions in even very sensitive or allergic dogs;
- Purina always uses stringent quality controls, and enjoys a great brand reputation for doing so;
- USA-made; and
- AAFCO-approved both for growing and grown pooches.
- 18% protein only, perhaps slightly low for developing, growing puppies.
- Blue Buffalo Blue Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed
- 24% protein;
- Contains Omega acids from nutritious and natural fish oil;
- Real pumpkin and kelp offer fiber for digestion, and vitamins for healthy functioning;
- Zero rendered by-products ingredients, no grains; and
- No synthesized chemicals for preservation or flavor.
- While this is a really excellent healthy option, it is priced quite highly.
- Diamond CARE Recipe Specialized Diets for Dogs
- 22% protein, great for older and grown-up dogs;
- Skin- and coat-healthy acids from salmon aid in protecting your pooch’s first layers of immune defense;
- Limited ingredients (there’s also zero gluten);
- E Vitamins also play a role in keeping your dog’s coat healthy; and
- They contribute to a well-functioning immune system.
- Not really, it’s even quite an economical choice, considering that it is specially formulated.
Limited Ingredient Dog Food: Wet Food Reviews
- NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Wet Dog Food
- Uses non-genetically-modified foods, for a natural take on limited ingredient food!
- No synthetic colors, artificial chemicals for flavoring, or chemical preserving agents;
- In total, it has under ten ingredients; and
- Includes zero chicken products at all—that means no by-products, either.
- While there are no chicken ingredients or wheat ingredients, there’s potato in this recipe.
- Royal Canin Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein
- Fish oil in this Royal Canin hypoallergenic dog food means your pooch will get glucosamine;
- The smallest pooches, all the way up to the largest gentle giants can eat this food, so you won’t need to buy loads of cans if you have more than one dog;
- It’s specially formulated to reduce gastrointestinal upset (also known as tummy aches!);
- Developed especially for dogs who have a known allergy to certain foods; and
- It can even be used for short periods for feeding trials.
- This contains chicken liver, so is not suitable for dogs who can’t eat chicken!
Our Verdict: 4/5
- Ziwi Peak Grain-Free Canned Dog Food Recipe
- Lamb and mussels (yes mussels!) are the main meaty ingredients – now that’s definitely a novel protein combination;
- Zero chicken;
- No gluten-containing grains, either;
- No potato; and
- There is 92 percent fresh meat, bones, and organs.
- None that we can find, it comes as a chunky, tempting loaf for your puppy or dog!
Limited Ingredient Dog Food: Puppy Food Reviews
- CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Dry Dog Food
- Fish meal, egg, lentils, and genuine chicken are four of the simple, nutritious ingredients in this formula;
- Suited for puppies of between 5 and 100 pounds;
- Contains antioxidant-rich flaxseeds;
- Omega acids and Vitamins make this an appropriate dog food for sensitive skin; and
- Includes many of the essential minerals for proper puppy function and growth.
- This is a slightly higher price than some other well-known brands; and
- Of course, it’s not suitable for pups who can’t tolerate potato or chicken.
- Merrick Grain Free Puppy Food
- Real blueberries and fiber-rich apples give your pup both vitamins and antioxidants;
- Not one chicken- or poultry-derived ingredient to be found in here;
- Safe for our gluten-intolerant little pooches;
- Provides your growing pal with 28% protein; and
- All the Omega acids and Vitamins for healthy puppy skin!
- Contains some potato protein.
- Nutro Natural Choice Limited Ingredients
- You’ll find DHA inside to help that cute puppy’s brain develop;
- Omega acids come from salmon oil, and are known for keeping pups’ skin healthy;
- 24% protein;
- No potato; and
- Suitable for all differently sized pups!
- Please note that there is fat from chicken in here; and
- While there is no potato on the ingredients list, it’s always best practice to contact the manufacturer if you have any concerns about cross-contamination.
What should I do if I think my puppy needs a hypoallergenic food?
If you’ve noticed your puppy having some unpleasant reactions to his or her food, the very best thing you can do is consult a vet. Sometimes, if these symptoms are only very mild, it may be enough to switch him over to a limited ingredient diet and see what happens.
It is fairly easy to transition your puppy to a grain-free, gluten-free, or hypoallergenic dinner within a week or so, and this may, in fact, clear up the problem. If you suspect that another ingredient may be triggering your pup’s allergies, then you should waste no more time in heading to the vet. Often, he or she will be able to provide good advice on how best to proceed.
How can a vet help my puppy if he has allergies?
When you take your pup to the vet, he or she will most likely ask about or observe your pup’s symptoms. In some cases, they may be able to tell right away what is causing your pup to itch, sneeze, or similar. Things may not be that simple, however, quite frequently your vet will also be able to provide medicine or treatment that curbs your pup’s symptoms. As this is not something you can do at home, it’s always better to get a professional to look at your beloved pet. At some future stage, your fluffy friend may need to be on a hypoallergenic diet, either for a short while or for life. Either way, some veterinary advice will put you in a better position to avoid these things happening again.
Last update on 2019-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API