Best Dog Food For Allergies: Skin-Care, Novel-Protein Diets & More

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My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Georgie, was constantly having anal gland issues, and my vet said that a majority of the time it’s the result of food or environmental allergies. Since I can’t control environmental allergies as much as I can food allergies, I took the advice of switching my pup to a meat-free diet, and he’s been anal gland issue free ever since.

In the process of switching foods, I’ve discovered he’s a very picky eater, so I’ve tried my share of dog foods for allergies over the years. I wanted to share my experience of researching and analyzing all the options with you in the hope that it can help you if your furry friend suffers from allergies too.

Skin AllergiesFood AllergiesLimitedFresh Plant-Based
Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Dog FoodPurina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & StomachOpen Farm Grain-Free Venison DryCanidae Pure Salmon & Sweet PotatoOllie dog foodbramble dog food
Science Diet
Sensitivities z/d
Purina Sensitive
Skin & Stomach
Open Farm VenisonCanidae Pure SalmonOllieBramble
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What’s Causing Your Dog’s Allergies?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog eats from the hand of its owner.
I’ve spent countless hours trying to find the right food for our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who has allergies. Through trial and error we finally found a solution.

The best dog food for pups with allergies depends on what’s causing them. I won’t go into too many details about this here, but I suggest you learn more about the most common types of dog allergies and the symptoms of each. All types of dog allergies typically cause itchy skin. However, food allergies can sometimes only show up as gastrointestinal issues (or both).

  1. Protein Food Allergies – The most common food allergens for dogs are proteins. Beef, chicken, dairy, and egg products are frequent culprits. Dogs can develop an allergic reaction to proteins they have been exposed to over time. Novel protein sources such as venison, duck, or rabbit to avoid allergens commonly found in commercial dog food.
  2. Grain & Legume Allergies – While less common, some dogs may be sensitive or allergic to grains, like wheat or corn, or soy, a legume. These are often used as fillers in commercial dog foods.
  3. Food Additives – Some dogs may not tolerate additives, including artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Reading ingredient labels and choosing dog foods with minimal additives can help.
  4. Environmental Factors – Allergies to fleas, pollen, dust mites, and other environmental factors cause skin problems rather than GI issues. However, a healthy diet can typically help your dog with these issues too.


Dogs that are consistently fed the same type of food over an extended period may develop allergies to the ingredients in that food. Rotating protein sources and brands can help prevent this.

If you’re unsure what’s causing your dog’s allergies, you can give your pup an at-home dog allergy test. These kits test for sensitivity or intolerance to food and environmental factors that develop over time. You send a saliva or hair sample to the company’s lab and get results within a few weeks. You can then share these results with your vet to help further narrow down possible causes. I personally haven’t tried this with my dog yet but may in the future should his anal gland issues return because dogs’ intolerances can change over time.

It’s important to distinguish between a true food allergy and food intolerance. Food allergies involve the immune system, while food intolerances are typically related to the digestive system and do not involve the immune response. If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian. They can help identify the specific allergens through elimination diets or other diagnostic tests and recommend an appropriate dietary plan for your dog.

Best Dog Food For Allergies

In spending hours researching dog foods for my dog’s allergies, I narrowed down the top picks into categories for prescription options, food allergies, skin-care diets, limited-ingredient dog food, and more. I also considered several criteria, including the quality and type of ingredients, customer feedback, and the pet food company’s reputation.

I should note, that in talking with my vet about types of meat-free diets, I learned that some vegetarian and vegan dog foods are filled with peas and chickpeas as a protein substitute. Supposedly having peas as a main ingredient is an indication that a dog food is grain-free, which has its own debatable consequences for potential health risks.

Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food (Prescription): Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Dog Food Review

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Dog Food

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Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d is a special chicken-flavored kibble for dogs with skin and/or food sensitivities. This food, which requires a vet’s prescription, is formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians and clinically tested to help dogs avoid skin and digestive symptoms from adverse food reactions. It includes hydrolyzed animal protein and a single purified carbohydrate.

What is hydrolyzed protein? In my journey to understand more about foods for dogs with allergies, I now know that hydrolysation is a process that breaks a protein structure down into basic amino acids. In this form, the protein is small enough that it’s unlikely to cause an adverse immune reaction.

While it’s not cheap, many customers say Hill’s z/d worked wonders for their dogs’ symptoms and is worth the cost. If you’ve tried out several non-prescription hypoallergenic foods with no improvement, you may want to discuss this diet with your veterinarian.

My Experience With Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Food

Georgie tried the canned version of Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d and loved it. However, the consistency of the product did not sit well with him. My vet also recommended a few alternative kibble options including Purina Pro Plan HA Vegetarian and Royal Canin HP Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein. I opted for Purina because it had good reviews for picky eaters like Georgie (and it was easier to find and less expensive than Royal Canin).


Best Dog Food For Skin Allergies: Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Review

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach

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If you’re looking for the best dog food for itchy skin, then this may be the product for you. Many pet parents find that this Purina Pro Plan dog food formula is a huge help for their dog’s skin issues compared to similar products. Its primary ingredient is salmon, rather than traditional chicken, beef, pork, or other protein sources that aggravate skin allergies. It also contains no corn, wheat, or soy.

This sensitive skin dog food formula is also fortified with live probiotics for digestive and immune health and contains oatmeal as a healthy carbohydrate source. And if you’re looking for hypoallergenic puppy food, Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach also comes in a puppy formula.


Best Dog Food For Food Allergies: Open Farm Grain-Free Venison Dry Review

Open Farm Grain-Free Venison Dry

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Introducing a novel protein (one that your pup has never had before) to your dog’s diet may help ease food allergies. If you’ve already tried out the common proteins (chicken, beef, pork, lamb), you may want to introduce venison, salmon, duck, or another novel protein into your dog’s diet. These less-common protein sources may not trigger food allergies as much as the usual suspects.

This grain-free dry dog food formula from Open Farm contains pasture-raised venison as its primary ingredient, a mix of nutritious non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and essential vitamins and minerals — all without any artificial preservatives or flavors. It also doesn’t contain grain, corn, or soy, which could also cause food allergies.

Open Farm is also a popular choice for pet parents who are devoted to eco-friendly and cruelty-free practices. This company has extremely high standards for humanely and sustainably sourced ingredients. They also offer salmon, whitefish, and many other varieties, as well as dry food with grains, freeze-dried raw dog food, wet food, and treats.


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In-Depth Open Farm Review

Read our full review of Open Farm for more detail on their plans and features, plus consumer feedback.

Best Limited-Ingredient Dog Food: Canidae Pure Salmon & Sweet Potato Review

Canidae Pure Salmon & Sweet Potato

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Many pet parents choose limited-ingredient dog foods to help with food sensitivities. Canidae’s pure salmon and sweet potato formula only contains eight key ingredients, with no wheat, grain, soy, or artificial preservatives which are often linked to food allergies. It’s fortified with vitamins, minerals, taurine, and a probiotic mix. This is also one of the best grain-free dog foods for skin allergies. Salmon-based dog foods can also be a double blessing for pups with allergies because salmon is less likely to trigger food allergies, and it also contains omega-6 and 3 fatty acids to help ease dry, itchy skin and can promote healthy skin too.

Our Personal Experience With Limited Ingredient Dog Food

My dog Barley was suffering from anal gland issues, so we did an elimination diet and found he was allergic to poultry. When I was looking for poultry-free dog food for Barley, I also focused on higher fiber to further support anal gland health. So I landed on American Journey limited ingredient wet food which is fish-based and also 6% fiber (a little higher than average). Since switching to American Journey food 6 months ago, Barley has had zero anal gland issues.

Michelle Schenker, rescue dog mom


Best Fresh Dog Food For Allergies: Ollie Review

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Ollie is a company that delivers personalized fresh dog food right to your door. Their all-natural meals contain fresh, whole-food ingredients with no soy, corn, or wheat. Ollie can customize ingredients based on your dog’s specific allergy issues — you can let them know about your pup’s allergies when you fill out your dog’s profile on their website.

Ollie offers five fresh vet-formulated recipes (beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, and pork). Each includes high-quality proteins, fresh produce, and healthy oils, vitamins, and minerals, with no artificial preservatives or ingredients. They ship in bulk every four or eight weeks, so you’ll need plenty of freezer room.


Our readers can get 50% off their first order. Use this link to take advantage of this offer (no discount code needed).

In-Depth Ollie Review

Read our full review of Ollie for more detail on their plans and features, plus our personal experience.

Best Plant-Based Dog Food For Allergies: Bramble Review

bramble dog food

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Bramble offers two fresh vegan dog food recipes both made with human-grade, whole-food ingredients and gently cooked to preserve nutrients. In addition, they are lab-tested to ensure quality and nutritional value.

The Cowbell recipe is grain-free with over 31% protein, organic pea protein, lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots, organic flax oil, peas, and apples. The Roost contains more than 35% protein and features organic pea protein, long-grain brown rice, potatoes, garbanzo beans, carrots, blueberries, butternut squash, peas, and organic sunflower oil. Both are fortified with taurine for heart health.

One feeding trial found that Bramble’s protein is just as digestible as animal protein, and its fat is even more so. It also found that dogs fed Bramble had lower cholesterol and triglycerides and healthier microbiomes than dogs fed a chicken-based kibble.

Our Personal Experience With Bramble

Since finding a kibble that didn’t upset our picky eater’s tummy, Georgie started to refuse to eat after a while. I started sprinkling Bramble on top of the crunchy kibble, and now he can’t wait for mealtime (before we had to beg him to eat). While a full-fresh meal could be on the expensive side, I recommend using it as a topper with a more affordable kibble. I use the Roost recipe because it’s not grain-free but he loves the Cowbell option too.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of our readers’ most commonly asked questions about the best dog food for allergies. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments.

What Are The Most Common Dog Food Allergies?

Dogs can develop sensitivities to food ingredients at any point in their lifetime. The most common food allergens in dogs include beef, chicken, chicken eggs, soy, and gluten (from wheat).

What’s The Best Dog Food For Ear Allergies?

Does your dog have chronic ear infections? If so, food or environmental insensitivity could be the culprit. Some experts say that an excess of grain and/or sugar in food contributes to ear infections. But we encourage you to speak to your vet if your dog has a lot of ear infections to help determine the cause and get proper treatment.

What Do Elimination Diets Involve?

In this brief video by JustFoodForDogs, Dr. Laura Wilson, DVM, DACVD, discusses food elimination diets for dogs with food allergies. JustFoodForDogs is another company that delivers all-natural fresh dog food. For a $250 formulation fee, you can have their vet specialists personalize your pup’s food for allergies or other health problems.

If there’s any advice I have for you and your dog with allergies, it’s to be patient. You will not notice a change right away. In fact, it could take up to six months after switching for your dog to fully get the old food out of their system and for improvements to happen. So don’t fret or get frustrated if switching food isn’t doing the trick. It’s not a quick fix.

It’s also important to note that finding the right dog food isn’t always enough to relieve allergy symptoms. If your dog experiences more severe allergies, your vet may recommend giving your dog allergy medication or administering allergy shots to help reduce symptoms.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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