Food allergies are surprisingly common in dogs. Unlike humans, most canine food allergies develop over time. In other words, the more a dog eats chicken, the more likely he is to become allergic to chicken.
Food allergies can often cause itchy skin, which leads to secondary infections. To avoid these troublesome symptoms, choosing the right dog food can be essential. Often, it is enough to avoid your dog’s allergen when selecting food. However, if your dog is allergic to a widespread ingredient, this can be difficult.
To help you choose food your dog can tolerate, we wrote this article complete with reviews and a buyer’s guide. You’ll find all the information you need to choose the best food for your dog below.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Dog Food||
|Best Value||NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Wet Dog Food||
|Premium Choice||Taste of the Wild PREY Limited Ingredient Dog Food||
|Wellness Simple Natural Wet Limited Ingredient Dog Food Turkey & Potat||
|Canidae Grain-Free Pure Real Salmon and Sweet Potato||
The 8 Best Dog Foods for Allergies – Reviews 2020
1. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Dog Food – Best Overall
If your dog has a food allergy, this is the best dog food you can give them. It includes only a few ingredients, including high-quality deboned turkey and turkey broth, so the odds of your pooch reacting are quite low. Most of the ingredients in this dog food are turkey. If your dog isn’t allergic to turkey, they will likely be able to eat this food with no issues.
The macronutrient content of this food is also fantastic. It is about 41% protein, 23% fat, and 28% carbohydrates. Our dogs were designed to mostly live off of protein, making this food perfect for most.
This dog food line also comes in other flavors. If your dog is allergic to turkey, you could try their lamb or duck recipe instead. Better yet, you may want to cycle your dog between recipes if you can to prevent them from developing more allergies.
2. NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Wet Dog Food – Best Value
For those on a budget, this canned food by NUTRO is your best bet. It is a limited-ingredient recipe, which means it only includes a few ingredients. With fewer ingredients for your dog to react to, they’ll like to be able to tolerate this food better than others. This food only contains five ingredients. There are three different flavors: lamb, seafood, and turkey. They are all very similar besides the primary source of protein, though we reviewed the seafood option in particular.
Fish is the first ingredient in this dog food. We always prefer meat as the first ingredient, which is one of the reasons this food came in as our second pick. However, the other ingredients in this dog food are a bit disappointing. Whole potatoes, water, dried potatoes, and potato protein are the next four ingredients. Potatoes aren’t necessarily bad for dogs, but that is a lot of potatoes.
Overall, this food is also quite inexpensive, especially when compared to other limited-ingredient options. While it isn’t the best dog food out there for those with allergies, it isn’t the worst. For the price, it is the best dog food for allergies for the money.
3. Taste of the Wild PREY Limited Ingredient Dog Food – Best for Puppies
This dog food is suitable for all life stages, including most puppies. It is not formulated for giant-breed puppies, however. But, if your dog isn’t going to grow up into a beast, this food will suit them perfectly. Plus, you won’t have to switch their food when they get older.
Turkey is the first ingredient in this dog food, which is a pretty solid choice. Most dogs are not allergic to turkey, since it is a decently unusual dog food ingredient. It is also the only protein source in this food; no chicken is included. Lentils are the second ingredient, which is an okay selection. They are pretty high in protein and inexpensive as well. Besides these two ingredients, most of the others are nutritional supplements.
This food is about 45% carbohydrates, which is a little high for our liking. This is the main reason why this food only scored in as number three on our list.
We liked that this food includes probiotics, which can be very helpful for puppies with sensitive stomachs. This food also includes no grains or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The added omega fatty acids are also useful for supporting your dog’s skin and coat, which may have taken a beating during their last allergic reaction.
4. Wellness Simple Natural Wet Limited Ingredient Dog Food Turkey & Potato
This is a straight-forward dog food, which is why it works well for most dogs with allergies. It contains premium ingredients only and is made in the USA. There are a few different recipes available, but we looked at the turkey option in particular. All the recipes in this line are solid choices, however.
As far as ingredients go, this food just includes turkey, turkey broth, and potatoes. That is about as low ingredient as you can get. The inclusion of turkey broth over water provides an excellent protein and nutrient boost to the formula without introducing any new allergens.
This food also includes no wheat gluten, corn, dairy, or eggs, eliminating many possible sources of allergens. There are no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors as well.
The macronutrient content of this food is also pretty good. Protein and fat are both high, while carbohydrates are low. This matches what our canines would naturally eat in the wild, which we will discuss in-depth in our Buyer’s Guide below.
5. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Real Salmon and Sweet Potato
This adult dog food contains many high-quality protein sources, including salmon, salmon meal, and menhaden fish meal. Despite what many people think, meal is not necessarily a harmful ingredient. For example, salmon meal is just salmon that has been cooked down to remove most of its water content. This makes it more suitable for dry foods, which have low water contents and makes the meat denser. An ounce of meal is going to contain more nutrients than an ounce of whole meat.
We loved how many meat sources this food contains, though they all come from fish. Dogs are rarely allergic to fish because it is not commonly found in dog food.
Sweet potatoes are included as the fourth ingredient, with peas included as the fifth. Peas aren’t the best option in dog food, as they may be related to some dietary health conditions. We will discuss this more in-depth below. But, for now, all you need to know is that the FDA is investigating possible connections between peas and certain heart conditions.
6. Earthborn Venture Smoked Turkey and Butternut Squash
This is mediocre dog food. It isn’t our favorite, but it may work for some who need a limited ingredient dog food. Like many dog foods on this list, the first ingredient is turkey. Turkey meal is the second ingredient, and then there is a short list of vegetables, such as pumpkin. We did not have a problem with any of the ingredients. They’re all high-quality and safe for our dogs to eat.
However, the food includes about 43% carbohydrates, which is far higher than our dogs would naturally eat. This isn’t necessarily a problem for all dogs, but it makes this food only an okay option. This is mostly why this dog food ended up as our number six pick.
This food is free of many different ingredients and chemicals, including grains, artificial colors, by-products, GMO, and egg. We also loved that this food is contained in a resealable bag – a huge plus when you’re buying in bulk. The packaging is also planet-friendly, which may be extremely important to some buyers.
7. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Chicken Flavor
Before you’re automatically put off by the chicken flavor, this food is made with hydrolyzed protein, which means it will not cause allergic reactions. Even if your dog is sensitive to chicken, they will not react to this food. Because of this, it’s often owners’ go-to choice. However, there are many reasons why you may not want to choose this food.
Firstly, it is costly. You can purchase much cheaper food that your dog will tolerate. Just check out some of our options above. Secondly, this food is not made of high-quality ingredients. Corn starch is the first ingredient, with soy protein as the second. In other words, there is no meat in this whole dog food, making it extremely low quality.
The protein content is also very low in general. There are a lot of carbohydrates in this food, which we usually don’t recommend.
In general, recommend avoiding this food. It just isn’t a good option for most canines.
8. Hill’s Prescription Diet Original z/d
This is another typical dog food for those with skin sensitivities. However, we don’t recommend it if you can avoid it. If your dog is allergic to absolutely everything, you may not be able to avoid this food. In almost all cases, though, you’ll be able to select a much better dog food for your canine.
The biggest reason we don’t recommend this dog food is because of the ingredient list. Corn starch is included as the first ingredient, which is not a high-quality protein by any means. Overall, this food’s protein content is extremely low in general. Our dogs were made to live off of protein and fat, which this food just doesn’t provide.
Furthermore, this brand is riddled with recalls – many of which resulted in the death of some dogs. Because of this, we generally cannot recommend this dog food or the brand in general except under extreme circumstances. Just choose a different dog food.
There is a lot to consider when purchasing dog food for your pooch. Luckily, if you know a few essential pieces of information, sorting through all the brands and recipes becomes much easier. In this section, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about choosing the best dog food for your pooch.
How Do Dog Allergies Develop?
Dog allergies form after a canine has been consuming the same protein source for an extended period. Specifically, one study published in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that most dogs ate the same protein for at least two years before developing a food allergy.
Because of this, it is essential to change your dog’s food often. If you regularly switch the source of protein, the odds of them developing an allergy are quite low. This can be done quickly, just by switching recipes.
Still, some breeds are more prone to allergies than others. If your dog has already developed an allergy, the odds of them developing another may be higher. In this case, it is even more important to change their food often, though keep avoiding their allergens.
What are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Every animal needs a specific ratio of these nutrients to survive and thrive.
Dogs, in particular, need a diet consisting of 30% protein, 63% fat, and 7% carbohydrates, according to a study published in Behavioral Ecology. When selecting dog food, you should aim to select food that matches this ratio as closely as possible.
Sadly, this is very difficult to do in today’s market. Still, we recommend finding a dog food that is as low in carbohydrates as possible.
To make things even more complicated, figuring out the number of carbohydrates in dog food is not straightforward in the least. Currently, companies are only required to list the guaranteed analysis on their dog food recipes, which does not include the number of carbohydrates.
However, the guaranteed analysis does include protein, fat, and moisture content. This will allow you to compare dog foods of similar types.
If you really want to know the percentage of carbohydrates in a particular dog food, you can find many calculators online that will turn the guaranteed analysis into the dry matter basis, which is the percentage of macronutrients minus the water content. This allows you to compare all types of dog food and choose the best one for your pooch.
We did this on each dog food we reviewed in this article, so you didn’t have to.
The FDA Investigation
Currently, there is an FDA investigation into the sudden surge of Canine Dialed Cardiomyopathy, which is a severe heart condition. Currently, it appears to be linked to specific diets, particularly those that are grain-free.
This has caused many owners to avoid grain-free dog food altogether. However, this is not necessary. Not all grain-free dog foods have been implicated. Instead, the link appears to be related to peas, lentils, and potatoes, which are commonly found in grain-free foods.
Many dog food companies use peas as fillers in their grain-free dog food since this veggie is cheap and high in protein. Pea protein is often used to boost the food’s overall protein content.
The problem is that peas are low in taurine, which is necessary for your dog’s heart function. By replacing some of the protein content with pea protein, the dog food companies may be unintendedly providing too little taurine in their food.
With that said, dogs with DCM do not appear to have low-taurine blood levels. However, their heart appears as if they do have low taurine levels. Because of this, it seems that some chemical found in peas is getting in the way of the canine’s body using taurine. Therefore, it is not the grain-free dog food that is causing the problem, but the inclusion of peas that is common in dog food without grains.
They are still investigating this link, so they will likely find more information in the future. We can’t say for sure why this disease is suddenly increasing, but all the current information points to specific ingredients like peas and lentils causing the problem, not grain-free dog food as a whole.
Furthermore, some breeds seem to be more affected by these taurine-related heart problems than others. These include Golden Retrievers. If your dog belongs to this breed, you may want to avoid peas and lentils just in case.
Some brands, in particular, seem to be related to this disorder as well, including Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health, and Blue Buffalo. You may choose to avoid these brands at this time until the problem is thoroughly researched.
There are many good limited-ingredient dog foods out there that are suitable for dogs with allergies. Out of those listed in our reviews section, Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Dog Food came out on top. This dog food is simply made with the best ingredients, free of the most common allergens, and contains the best macronutrient breakdown.
We also loved NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Wet Dog Food. This dog food includes decent ingredients as well and excellent macronutrient content. Plus, it is a bit cheaper than most, making it a good option for those on a budget.
If you have any additional questions, take a look at our buyer’s guide. We hope this article has made it easier for you to sort through the plethora of dog foods available on the market.
Featured Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 8 Best Dog Foods for Allergies – Reviews 2020
- 1. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Wet Dog Food – Best Overall
- 2. NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Wet Dog Food – Best Value
- 3. Taste of the Wild PREY Limited Ingredient Dog Food – Best for Puppies
- 4. Wellness Simple Natural Wet Limited Ingredient Dog Food Turkey & Potato
- 5. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Real Salmon and Sweet Potato
- 6. Earthborn Venture Smoked Turkey and Butternut Squash
- 7. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Chicken Flavor
- 8. Hill’s Prescription Diet Original z/d
- Buyer’s Guide