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Best dog food for allergies: Settle their tummies and banish that itch

best dog food for allergies
(Image credit: Getty)

Skin and stomach problems can often be alleviated by switching to the best dog food for allergies. Indeed, it's been found that roughly 10 percent of all allergies in dogs are triggered by diet so it's definitely important to consider what food your canine companion is eating.

You'll generally know if there is an issue. Your dog may be itching or have red patches of skin. They may be vomiting, suffering from diarrhea or experiencing a bloated tummy or excess gas. If you spot symptoms such as these, you should speak to your vet for advice in the first instance and seek to determine the culprit. It can then be a matter of finding the perfect food formula.

It's certainly crucial to know what is triggering the problem before you start making a purchase. There are simply too many potential causes to start guessing or experimenting – it's your dog's health at risk, after all. Neither should you assume it's down to the type of food you're serving: even the best dog food – whether that's wet dog food or dry dog food – can trigger allergies. But cutting out common allergens could do the trick.

So what foods should you be wary of? Well, gluten, wheat, dairy, corn, soy, artificial colors and preservatives are known to trigger dogs. A gluten intolerance, for instance, will lead to the immune system attacking the gastrointestinal tract. 

On the flip side, though, there are foods that can be helpful. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are good for skin allergies. The same goes for those containing nourishing anti-inflammatory ingredients such as sweet potatoes, oats and coconut oil. Meanwhile, single-protein or grain-free formulas can help to settle tummies. The key is to provide a balanced diet that otherwise ensures your dog has all of the vitamins, nutrients and protein needed to be healthy.

With all of that in mind, let's take a look at the possibilities by examining the best dog food for allergies you can buy in 2021.

PetsRadar's pick of the best dog food for allergies

  • Best overall dog food for allergies: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat 
  • Best budget dog food for allergies: Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food 
  • Best science-backed dog food for allergies: Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin And Stomach Salmon And Rice Formula 
  • Best wet and dry mix dog food for allergies for small dogs: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Wet and Dry Cups
  • Best premium dog food for allergies: ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food
  • Best grain free dog food for allergies: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food 
  • Best vet-approved dog food for allergies: Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food Sensitive Stomach and Skin
  • Best easy-to-digest dog food for allergies: Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dog Food

best dog food for allergies: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat

(Image credit: Royal Canin)

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Low Fat

Best overall dog food for allergies

Item form: Wet | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Omega-3, prebiotics, antioxidant blend

Highly digestible proteins
Promotes healthy skin and coat
Antioxidants for a strong immune system
Contains grains and pork by-products

Dogs that love wet food but suffer from a sensitive stomach are often forced to miss out on their favorite fare due to the high-fat content. Thankfully, it’s Royal Canin to the rescue with this veterinarian-approved low-fat formula which is both tasty and gentle on the tummy.

Hailed as a lifesaver brand by many a pooch parent, Royal Canin has an outstanding reputation for delivering high-quality nutrition that you can trust and this offering is no exception. 

If your dog is prone to an easily upset stomach and bouts of vomiting and diarrhea then this is a great choice. Packed full of prebiotics to support the growth of good gut bacteria, dietary fibers for healthy digestion and Omega-3 fish oils to soothe the GI tract, this highly digestible formula is bound to get two paws up from your pooch.

Not only is this a great choice for supporting the stomach but it’s also a fantastic option if your dog suffers from frequent urinary tract issues as the formula works to prevent crystals from forming in the bladder. If you have an older dog that’s becoming more sedentary, you’ll love that the high-fiber and low-fat content boosts energy levels and prevents weight gain. 

The one drawback to this product is the choice to include grains and pork by-products. Grains can be hard to digest for dogs with more severe allergies and pork by-products do lower the overall quality of what is otherwise a great ingredient list. Those small issues aside though, and this is still the standout choice when it comes to the best dog food for allergies. 

Best dog food for allergies: Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food

(Image credit: Amazon)

Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food

Best budget dog food for allergies

Item form: Dry | Age range: All life stages | Key nutritional inclusions: Vitamins and minerals

Six easy-to-digest ingredients
Made without poultry by-products
Complete and balanced
Firm texture not suitable for dogs with dental issues

If you’ve ever watched Rachael Ray cooking up a storm then you know how mouth-wateringly good her dishes can be and guess what? Now your pampered pooch can get in on the action too. 

For a limited-ingredient kibble that won't break the bank, this formula is well worth considering. With just six easy-to-digest natural ingredients, plus a host of important vitamins and minerals, this is a recipe that's going to be gentle on your doggy's digestive system while still giving them everything they need to thrive.

Lamb meal is first on the list but please don't be put off by the word 'meal'. Basically, that's just a term that manufacturers use to describe a protein source (in this case, lamb) that has been dried and heat-treated then ground into a powder that is then turned into kibble.

Alongside lamb, you'll also find plenty of brown rice to give your pup the energy they need and beet pulp, which is a great source of fibre and ideal if you have a dog that struggles with constipation.

There's also a good amount of vitamins and minerals in this recipe, including omega fatty acids for a shiny coat and healthy skin, plus calcium and glucosamine for strong joints. At 20% protein and 13% fat, this is a well balanced and complete formula that will power your pooch through the day. 

The kibble is free from fillers, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives and there's no added corn, wheat, soy or gluten. This is a clean formula that sticks to the basics and does them well, so if you're after a gentle but delicious kibble, this offering from Rachel Ray is worth trying. 

best dog food for allergies: Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin And Stomach Salmon And Rice Formula

(Image credit: Purina )

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin And Stomach Salmon And Rice Formula

Best science-backed dog food for allergies

Item form: Dry | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Omega-3 and 6, zinc, calcium, glucosamine

Includes easy to digest carbohydrates
Omega-6 fatty acids and zinc for healthy skin
Nutrient-rich salmon is the first ingredient
Aimed at adult dogs

Purina is world renowned for good reason, and with the creation of this sensitive formula it has hit the mark again. 

Salmon is a great choice as the primary ingredient, with its high combination of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which are gentle on the stomach and help to keep your dogs skin and coat in premium condition, being highly positive inclusions. They’re also great  for joint health and mobility so it’s a good choice whether your dog is young and energetic, or old and a possible arthritis sufferer. 

The inclusion of easy to digest carbohydrates like rice and oatmeal, which are kind to sensitive tummies and nourish the beneficial intestinal bacteria, also gets our seal of approval. Oatmeal is rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and maintains blood sugar levels while contributing long-lasting energy. 

Moreover, we like the presence of live probiotics and natural prebiotic fibers, which both promote good digestion and aid a healthy immune system. For better value, you also have the option of purchasing this in a variety of different sized bags, with the 5lb size being something we would choose if you would like to give this a trial before committing. 

This formula is primarily focused on adult dogs, so if yours is a youngster then you might want to leave this now. This aside, this a great product that is definitely worth your time should your pup fit the right age demographic.

Dog food for allergies: Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet, Natural Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food and Wet Dog Food Cups

(Image credit: Amazon)

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Wet and Dry Cups

Best wet and dry mix dog food for allergies for small dogs

Item form: Wet and dog food mix | Age range: Adult - small breeds | Key nutritional inclusions: Omega 3 and 6 oils

Single protein source
Limited ingredients
Contains fish oils
Only aimed at small breeds

Some dogs just don't get on well with a purely dry food diet. Even if you know a specially formulated dry food is likely to be better for them, that's no good if they turn their noses up at it! Being able to add some wet food that won't upset their digestive tracts or skin health is a great way to get them eating the dry food that contains what they need. This tasty offering from Blue Basics is a limited-ingredient wet and dry dog food mix great for small dogs with food sensitivities that will get their tails wagging as soon as you peel back the lid.

The family behind the Blue Buffalo range of natural limited ingredient pet food created it after their own Airedale called Blue started getting health issues, so you can be confident they understand what it's like to have to deal with a food-sensitive furry friend. This wet food part of their limited-ingredient range is great for mixing with kibble or can be a meal by itself.

The food cups contain a pate-like meat mix which does not include chicken (or poultry) by-products, beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy or eggs. Instead, the single source of protein here is lamb combined with potatoes, flaxseeds, fish oil and pumpkin to help with digestion. The fish oil and flaxseed also provide naturally occurring Omega 3 fatty acids to help support skin and coat health. With no artificial flavors or preservatives, this is one dog treat your fur babies can enjoy without any adverse itching or stomach upsets.

Ziwi Peak Air Dried Lamb Dog FoodPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food

Best premium dog food for allergies

Item form: Pellets | Age range: All life stages | Key nutritional inclusions: No grains or fillers, all-natural, ethical and sustainable

Ethical and sustainable ingredients

With limited ingredients and a single-protein formula, these high-quality air-dried lamb pellets contain 96% meat and organs for a rich and meaty taste your pooch is sure to love. The slow and gentle air-drying process locks in all the vital vitamins and minerals for a nutritious dish that contains everything your dog needs and none of what they don’t.

Using ethical and sustainable New Zealand ingredients that are raised without added hormones or antibiotics, these lamb morsels also contain green-lipped mussels, a potent source of chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega-3 for healthy and strong joints. 

Free from grains and unnecessary cheap fillers that are high in carbohydrates, such as peas and potatoes, this formula is a great choice for those with sensitive stomachs and food allergies. Suitable for all breeds and life stages and available in a range of different sizes and flavors, ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Lamb Dog Food is gently nourishing and full of nutrition and tail-wagging goodness.

best dog food for allergies: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

(Image credit: Taste of the Wild)

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best grain-free dog food for allergies

Item form: Dry | Age range: 4.7 | Key nutritional inclusions: Antioxidants, prebiotics, Omega-3 and 6

Sustainably sourced salmon
Powerful antioxidants from fruit and vegetables
More expensive than other brands

If you’re looking to treat your furry friend to one of the most premium products on the market then this offering from Taste of the Wild is sure to impress.

The ingredient list for this formula reads like a health lover's dream with red salmon leading the pack, a novel protein that’s great for dogs with allergies as it’s easy to digest. Sweet potato provides energy that is slowly released into the bloodstream and the antioxidants from the tomatoes, blueberries and raspberries help support the immune system and overall health and wellbeing. 

We love that this grain-free formula steers away from common allergens and instead chooses to go with fiber-rich alternatives like lentils, which are gentle on the digestive tract. The recipe also omits eggs, another common trigger for dogs with sensitivities, and the inclusion of chelated minerals help maximize the absorption of valuable nutrients.

This high-quality product uses chicory root as a prebiotic to support healthy digestion and comes packed with Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E and Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, all of which will keep your mutts mane looking its best. The addition of Taurine is great for eye and heart health and also stimulates bile acid in the stomach to help break down and metabolize fat.

While more expensive than other brands, if ethical and sustainable food practices and quality of ingredients are an important consideration for you, then this is definitely a brand worth considering. Made in the USA by a family-owned and run company, Taste of the Wild has a standout reputation for ensuring their ingredients come from trusted and sustainable sources so you can rest assured you're giving your dog the best nutrition money can buy.

best dog food for allergies: Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food Sensitive Stomach and Skin

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food Sensitive Stomach and Skin

Best vet-approved dog food for allergies

Item form: Kibble | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: Prebiotics, vitamin E, Omega-6 fatty acids

High in prebiotics
Gentle on the digestive system
Vitamin E and Omega-6 for skin and coat health
Contains grains

Gentle on the stomach while nourishing the skin, this kibble has been formulated for optimal nutrient absorption and easier stool pick-up. Packed full of vitamin E and Omega-6 fatty acids, this blend promotes a lustrous coat and healthy skin.

We love the addition of beet pulp in this recipe, a potent source of prebiotic fiber that fuels gut bacteria and supports a balanced microbiome. The smaller kibble size is ideal for all dog breeds and a grain-free version is also available if your furkid needs an even gentler formula.

Backed by vets and using only real meats and the highest quality ingredients, this kibble is free from artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and packs a hefty vitamin and mineral punch. 

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dog FoodPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dog Food

Best easy to digest dog food for allergies

Item form: Kibble | Age range: Adult | Key nutritional inclusions: B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin D3, Zinc, Selenium

Great for skin, coat and digestive issues
Less than 10 ingredients
Impressive range of vitamins and minerals

We’re loving this natural and nourishing formula from Nutro with a simple ingredient list and a vast array of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. With a single salmon protein and a healthy mix of chickpeas, lentils, and sweet potatoes, doggy nutrition doesn’t come much cleaner than this.

Grain-free and with no corn, wheat, soy, or dairy, this gentle kibble soothes sensitive skin and promotes a soft and shiny coat. In fact, Nutro is so convinced about the health benefits of their product that they’ll happily give you a full refund if their chow doesn’t work for your canine companion.

We love the high-fiber content with added beet pulp to keep the digestive tract running smoothly and the recipe is made with non-GMO ingredients, so you can be sure your pup is getting the purest nutrition possible. 

Nutro has been getting some rave reviews for this product, with one pet parent writing: “My dog loves this food. She eats it every day with no complaints. She has had zero stomach issues with it. In fact, her mood and fur and her eyes are the best I have ever seen since we got her 1.5 years ago. The kibbles are small enough for her as well. I am glad we switched to this food!”

Over 90% of reviews are from owners who say this kibble has transformed their dog, eliminating their health issues and allowing them to thrive. The limited negative reviews mostly point to dogs simply not enjoying the taste, but if you find this to be the case with your pooch, there are plenty of other great products in this guide to try out. 

How to choose the best dog food for allergies

If your dog seems more interested in pawing at his ears or scratching her skin than hanging out with you and you’ve ruled out other causes, then it could be time to consider experimenting with their diet. 

But with as many free-from foods on the market for dogs as there is for people, knowing where to start can be daunting. Thankfully, we’ve come up with a few simple guidelines that will help point you in the right direction.

Look for products that have short ingredient lists, generally with one form of protein and one form of carbohydrate which makes it easier to identify the potential allergen. While there are both risks and benefits, raw dog food is another option worth looking into. With few ingredients and zero additives, our guide to the best raw dog food is a great resource if you’re not sure where to start. 

Novel proteins and other ingredients can work well for a lot of dogs as they won’t have been over-exposed to them in the past. Think venison, rabbit, kangaroo, pheasant and bison, and gluten-free ancient grains and seeds like quinoa, millet, and chia.

Look for added vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and probiotics. Vitamins C and E and probiotic strains like lactobacillus and acidophilus are great for soothing the GI tract and ensuring good digestive health. Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables and Omega-3 fatty acids are also great additions. 

Finally, if you’re noticing your dog displaying any of the symptoms of a possible allergic reaction be sure to consult your vet who will be able to help identify the cause and recommend the best course of treatment. 

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer with a passion for creating health and wellness, travel and wildlife content. Originally from New Zealand, her nomadic lifestyle has her currently fur baby-less. She scratches her pet parent itch by stealing frequent cuddles with any neighbourhood cat kind enough to indulge her.