Dogs scratch and lick themselves, it’s a fact of life, but when this happens again and again, it could be a sign that they have an allergy or food intolerance.
As a pet parent, just watching that drives me nuts and so I can’t even begin to imagine how bad the feeling is for dogs.
In most cases, a dog’s diet is the culprit. But to be sure, it would be great to visit your vet and have them rule out seasonal allergies or other causes.
Meanwhile, you will be happy to know there’s an effective way to deal with skin allergies resulting from foods. Hypoallergenic foods, as they are generally known, are formulated with ingredients that won’t trigger allergies.
The two most common varieties include grain-free and limited ingredient diets. In this article, you will get to know the best food for dogs with skin allergies, how to choose the best one for your pooch, plus the signs to watch out for and ingredients to avoid.
Signs that Your Dog has a Skin Allergy
In addition to persistent scratching and licking, there are a few other things you should watch out for as they could possibly be a symptom of a skin allergy resulting from foods. They include:
- Hair loss
- Excessive shedding
- Dull coat
- Sores and hot spots
- Skin inflammation
As I mentioned earlier, whenever you notice such symptoms, take your pet to a trained vet so that they can help you figure out what the allergy trigger is.
Remember, there are several other conditions and occurrences that could trigger the same symptoms, including allergens in our environment (pollens, grass, mites etc.), hereditary reasons, parasites, infections, and so on.
Therefore, learn as much as you can about symptoms and treatments. Hopefully, the video below by ehowhealth will give you a great head start:
Don’t forget that your pet’s skin is what gives her protection from infections and unwanted elements. When it’s under attack, that exposes your pup to more serious health problems.
Ingredients that Trigger Skin Allergies in Dogs
Surprisingly, the common ingredients you see in dog diets also double up as the culprits when it comes to not just skin sensitivities but also other forms of dog allergy. They include:
- Filler ingredients such as wheat, soy, and corn (However, this is still a subject of debate.)
- Processed proteins and cooked foods (This was confirmed in a study done in London a few years back.)
- Artificial flavorings, colors, and preservatives
- Certain animal by-products and proteins that are more likely to trigger allergies such as beef, chicken, and fish
As you avoid these ingredients, here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Novel proteins – These are proteins your dog probably hasn’t eaten before. The possibility of a reaction with such proteins is little to none. Examples include bison, venison, rabbit, duck, rabbit, buffalo, etc.
- Limited ingredient diets – If a diet has lots of ingredients, it may be hard to tell which one is behind the allergy in your pup. But if the diet has only three or four ingredients, it will be easier to figure out which one is triggering a reaction by doing food trials.
- Grain-free diets – Grains are a common allergy trigger in most dog foods and so when they are left out, adverse food reactions are minimized.
What is the Best Dog Food for Skin Allergies?
Taking into consideration all the information I’ve talked about so far and with help from fellow doggie parents and several vets, here’s what I was able to gather as the best dog food for dogs with skin allergies.
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food - Potato & Duck Formula (4.4/5.0)
- Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food (4.6/5.0)
- SmartBones Skin & Coat Care Chicken Chews Dog Treats, 16 pack
- Zignature Kangaroo Formula Dog Food (4.2/5.0)
- Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food (4.2/5.0)
It’s absolutely normal for a dog to scratch, bite, or lick herself, but when it’s excessive, a diet like the Natural Balance limited ingredient diet will help you easily eliminate the ingredient that could be the culprit.
Unlike most formulas, this recipe is made from limited ingredients. Its’ formulated with only one source of protein and carbs, in addition to a few other nutrients.
With real duck as the first ingredient, you can be sure that your little buddy is receiving a healthy dose of premium protein with each kibble she ingests. This is necessary for building and maintaining her healthy muscle.
On top of that, the diet is grain free, making it an ideal option for pups that are allergic to gluten. The addition of easily digestible carbs such as potatoes means your pooch is guaranteed to stay active and healthy with plenty of energy.
Also, the diet is balanced out with a rich blend of antioxidants for a healthy immune system.
Even though it sounds simple, this allergy-free dog food is also tasty and nutritious and exactly what you require when your dog seems prone to skin allergies.
Hill’s Science takes great pride in their approach towards research and the resulting biological insights that allow them to produce quality, scientifically proven formulations.
For dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs, Hill’s Science has formulated this scientifically-proven dog food to help prevent and alleviate skin allergies. However, every dog is different and so consulting with a vet for proper diagnosis is always the best place to start.
In this allergy-free dog food, common culprits that are known to trigger skin allergies and other related health issues have been eliminated. That includes artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
The most obvious proof that this Hill’s Science dog formulation is wholesome and healthy is the use of quality protein from chicken meal, which has a higher percentage of protein due to its dry nature than real chicken. Animal protein sees to it that your pooch develops and maintains the proper muscle bulk.
Also, the recipe has ingredients that generate glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which are key in maintaining healthy bones and joints.
The addition of brewers rice and cracked pearl barley, together with adequate levels of pork fat, means your pup will have an adequate supply of energy.
Also worth mentioning is the dried beet pulp and oats which offer dietary fiber for better digestion. Flaxseed has also been incorporated into the formula for the sake of your pup’s skin and coat.
Apples, carrots, and cranberries make the diet balanced enough to meet the diverse nutritional needs of your pet. Unless your pooch is gluten-sensitive and allergic to chicken, don’t hesitate to give this formulation a try.
If dog treats and snacks can come in the form of biscuits or jerky, why not in the form of bone? This company is creating some amazing dog treats in the form of smart bones.
Ingredients include vegetables, real chicken, and enriched vitamins and minerals, making the diet balanced and nutritious. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also present, both of which are vital for developing stronger bones and joints.
Something unique I noted about SmartBones and which I’m truly impressed with is the calming effect it has on dogs. This because the diet has been infused with chamomile and lavender which are known to bring about calm and a sense of wellness.
Whereas most formulas try to incorporate rawhide, SmartBones has excluded it owing to the fact it’s hard to digest, often causing stomach upsets and diarrhea in pooches.
Another interesting thing about this product is the chew comes in a variety of flavors and sizes to suit different needs and stomach sizes. SmartBones also contains essential fatty acids which are vital for building healthy skin and maintaining a vibrant and glossy coat.
Generally, it can be a good treat for dogs with sensitive skin such as those allergic to grains and novelty meats such as bison, rabbit, or venison.
However, be sure to read the ingredients on the pack carefully before taking the plunge. What works for another dog might not work for yours.
One reason Zignature Kangaroo Formula dog food is an excellent alternative for dogs with sensitive skin is the diet seeks to eliminate the most common allergy triggers in dogs, particularly grains.
Zignature mimics nature in its approach to dog food. Canine ancestors mostly lived on high protein and a limited diet. Although there was variety in the prey they killed from day to day, their diet was limited in content which allowed for better digestion and less skin allergy triggers.
For this diet, the first ingredient is kangaroo meat, an animal protein rich in vitamins B12, iron, omega-3 fatty acids as well as lean protein for adequate muscle growth and maintenance of healthy skin and coat. A single source of meat protein in a dog formulation such as this one makes elimination of possible allergen triggers much easier.
In addition, the formulation is grain free and contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Dairy, chicken, eggs, and chicken by-products have also been left out. What this does is help to create a great hypoallergenic dog food that would work with a majority of dogs that are prone to skin allergies.
Also, the formulation noticeably uses low glycemic carbs such as chickpeas and red lentils which are known for promoting stable blood sugar. Furthermore, a blend of powerful antioxidants and minerals see to it that your pooch develops a strong immune system.
Apart from being tasty for your dog's palate, Zignature is easily among the best grain-free dog food for skin allergies.
Looking at what pet owners and vets have to say about this formula, it’s evident that Purina dog food has helped numerous dogs from the discomfort of allergens that trigger skin and stomach discomfort.
The high-quality animal protein in this formulation is from salmon and salmon meal. Both are excellent sources of protein which your pup needs for building lean muscle mass.
Also present are barley and ground rice, both of which are rich sources of carbohydrates. Additional dietary fiber comes from the presence of oatmeal as well as chicory root. These carbs, with the help of dietary fiber, make the diet easy to digest and promote healthy bacteria in the gut for a healthier digestive tract.
The addition of fish oil and salmon oil means that this formula is rich in omega-3- and -6 fatty acids, a fact that makes it ideal for maintaining healthy skin and coat.
Note that this recipe will work for most dogs that are allergic to corn, wheat, or soy and also meats such as chicken, pork, or beef. However, if your pooch is gluten sensitive, this may not be the best option as it contains rice and oats.
Let’s face it, it hurts to see our canine friends in any sort of discomfort. Yet allergies do just that.
If you’ve seen a pup deal with this before, then you know allergies can cause untold misery to dogs and to you as a pet owner, especially if you are not able to pinpoint with certainty where the trigger is coming from.
If it turns out that the allergy afflicting your dog, say skin sensitivities, is food related, then there is little to worry about as there are numerous dog food options made to fix such issues.
Limited ingredient diets are a good place to start from because they make it easier to track and nail the problem.
The other good news is there are more than enough dog food formulations designed to meet the needs of your allergy-prone pet.