What do you feed a dog with severe skin allergies?

What do you feed a dog with severe skin allergies?

As a loving dog owner, you’ve probably encountered situations where your furry friend experiences itchy skin, leading you to wonder if they might have allergies. Allergies can stem from contact allergens, insect bites, environmental allergens like plants and pollen, or even certain food ingredients. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of dog food that can help alleviate skin allergies, making your pup more comfortable and happier.

How Common Are Food Allergies in Dogs?

It’s essential to understand that while food allergies in dogs can manifest as itchy skin, they are relatively rare. Only about 5% of dogs are affected by true food allergies. Contrary to common belief, most dogs suffer from allergies caused by environmental factors like plants, pollens, insects, and dust mites. Even when food allergies do exist, they are more likely to be triggered by meat proteins such as chicken, beef, or pork rather than grains.

Food Solutions for Dogs with Allergies

You have two choices for food for your allergic dog: hypoallergenic food or limited ingredient food

Limited Ingredient Food

Diets with a limited number of ingredients might help identify the precise substance that your dog is sensitive to. When you identify the allergy, you may offer your dog a diet with few components to be sure they are avoiding it. You may choose a limited ingredient meal suited to your dog’s particular requirements among the large variety of flavours and styles available.

Hypoallergenic Food 

A dog’s antibodies typically do not identify the special protein sources used in hypoallergenic dog food diets as being antigens, therefore they won’t trigger a reaction. Proteins are divided into tiny building parts known as amino acids in hypoallergenic diets. Hydrolysis is the name of this process. This renders the original protein that can cause allergies almost “invisible” to the immune system of your pet. One protein that could be included in hypoallergenic food is hydrolyzed soy protein.  Your veterinarian might need to provide hypoallergenic food on occasion.

Different Approaches for Different Allergies

When dealing with your dog’s allergies, the approach to their diet may vary depending on the specific allergen causing the issue. Below, we outline four major categories of dog food designed to address different types of allergies.

Hydrolyzed Diets

The best and most reliable way to conduct elimination diet trials to identify food allergies in dogs is thought to be using hydrolyzed diets. Your vet could advise feeding your dog exclusively the hydrolyzed diet for a few weeks during an elimination trial. This enables you to determine whether your pet is allergic to any food components. These diets contain proteins that is broken down into smaller components, reducing its ability to cause allergies.

Top Hydrolyzed Diets for Allergies:

Royal Canin Allergenic: Uses hydrolyzed feather protein source.

Royal Canin Hypoallergenic: May be more cost-effective for large breed dogs with soy-based diet tolerance.

Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D: Completely hydrolyzed diet with essential fatty acids and antioxidants.

Royal Canin Sensitivity Control: Combines hydrolyzed and novel proteins for sensitive skin or stomach.

Drawbacks: Hydrolyzed diets may be more expensive, less palatable, and not suitable for all dogs (e.g., puppies, pregnant/lactating dogs, and those with pancreatitis).

Skin Care Diets

Skin care diets, also known as “everyday” diets, provide extra support for mild skin allergies, dry skin, and seasonal allergies. These diets are formulated to include skin-supporting nutrients like B group vitamins, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants.

Top Skin Care Diets for Itchy Dogs:

Royal Canin Derma comfort: Contains B vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Skin and Stomach: Includes antioxidants and omega fatty acids.

Advance Sensitive Skin and Digestion: Contains fish as the primary protein source and extra vitamins and antioxidants.

Proplan Sensitive Skin and Stomach: Highly palatable with fish as a natural source of omega fatty acids.

Novel Protein Diets

Novel protein diets feature meat sources that your dog hasn’t encountered before, making them suitable for dogs with allergies to common proteins like chicken or beef. Common novel protein sources include venison, rabbit, bison, kangaroo, and fish.

Top Novel Protein Diets for Dogs:

Zignature Grain-Free Duck: Uses farm-raised duck as the meat protein source.

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Venison Dog Food: Contains venison and New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel.

K9 Natural Lamb Feast: Utilizes tasty lamb as the primary protein source.

Instinctive Bite Kangaroo: Contains lean kangaroo meat and is highly palatable.

Fish-Based Diets

There are a lot of benefits of the fish-based diet. They are rich in protein source and contain high levels of skin- enhancing nutrients from natural fish oil. These diets are good for dogs with common food allergies, unless your dog is allergic to fish.

Below are the top Fish-Based Diets for Dogs:

Open Farm Grain Free Whitefish: Sourced from wild-caught seafood with sustainable methods.

Canidae Grain Free Pure Sea: Utilizes fish as the only protein source and includes antioxidants.

Wellness Core Ocean Fish: Protein-rich diet with White Fish for lean muscle support.

Ivory Coat Grain-Free Ocean Fish: Highly palatable, Australian-made, and grain-free.

Home-Cooked Diets

While preparing your dog’s food at home allows for complete control over ingredients, it’s essential to consult with a veterinary nutritionist to ensure a balanced diet. Home-cooked diets might not be suitable for growing animals or pregnant females.

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free – Best for Large Breeds

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free is specially formulated for large breeds with food sensitivities. Made with real lamb and sweet potato, it offers high-quality protein and nutrients to keep your large dog healthy and strong. Contains a blend of fruits and vegetables for vitamins and antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system.

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed is a protein powerhouse designed to help manage food allergies and sensitivities in adult dogs. It features hydrolyzed soy protein, which is broken down into smaller components to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.


When it comes to finding the best dog food for skin allergies, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Working with your veterinarian to identify the specific allergen and selecting an appropriate diet tailored to your dog’s needs is crucial. Whether it’s a hydrolyzed diet for food allergies, a skin care diet for mild skin issues, a novel protein diet for common food allergies, or a fish-based diet for dual benefits, the goal is to alleviate your furry friend’s discomfort and provide them with the nutrition they need to thrive.

Remember, every dog is unique, so it may take some trial and error to find the best food that suits your dog’s needs. Consulting with a veterinarian is essential in determining the best hypoallergenic dog food for your furry friend. By paying attention to their symptoms and providing the right nutrition, you can help your dog live a healthy, allergy-free life!