When it comes to the pet food industry, one of the things complained about most among dog owners is the fact that MANY dog food companies could simply care less about ingredients they include in their products that cause allergies in dogs.
Many companies prefer including these ingredients, which are useless filler 90% of the times, in order to bulk up their products and simultaneously keep their costs as low as possible.
Our List Of The Top 5 Hypoallergenic Dog Foods - (Updated List For 2018)
Top Pick: Orijen Adult Dry Dog Food
Pick #2: Royal Canin HP Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Food
Pick #3: Great Life Dog Food Limited Ingredients Dog Food
Pick #4: AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal and Brown Rice Formula Adult Dog Food
Pick #5: Wellness Simple Natural Grain Free Dry Limited Ingredient Dog Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Amazon.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
A Closer Look Into Our Top 5 Options
We've done all the research for you and have come back with this list of the best hypoallergenic dog food brands and formulas on the market today.
However, please note that not all dog food allergies are alike, as one dog may be getting allergic from one ingredient (such as rice) while another dog may be getting allergic from another ingredient (such as chicken).
So, it's best that you know what ingredient your dog is allergic to first in order to be sure that you're avoiding that ingredient. With that being said, all these hypoallergenic dog foods in this list do a great job in avoiding most, if not all, ingredients that cause allergies in dogs.
Pick #1 - Orijen Adult Dry Dog Food
Orijen has been featured as the #1 dog food choice in many of our lists on this website so far, and it's one of the most popular dog food brands that's loved and recommended by a very large percentage of dog owners around the world, very much deservedly so.
When looking for a specific hypoallergenic dog food, the first thing you should look for is how their meat-based ingredients were raised before they, well, became ingredients.
You'd be shocked to learn that some manufacturers that advertise their products as the best dog food oftentimes don't mention anything about how their meat-based ingredients were raised, as well as what the meat sources actually were. For all you know, it could be roadkill! Yikes!
Not with Orijen, though. The folks at Orijen are known to organically raise their own chickens and catch their own fish that end up as part of their dog food products in the freshest form possible.
This is very important when looking for a hypoallergenic dog food, as the last thing you want to learn is that the food you're feeding your dog contains additives or preservatives, both of which are major allergy causers.
As for the carbohydrate sources in this dog food, no allergy-causing fillers whatsoever made their way onto the ingredients list. That means your dog won't be eating ingredients like corn, wheat or soy. Instead, your dog will be getting an excellent mix of whole fruits and vegetables that offer them all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they need.
This formula from Orijen is not advertised or marketed as a hypoallergenic dog food in and of itself, but if you look at all the characteristics, properties and nutritional profile this dog food has, it has everything a top hypoallergenic dog food needs to have.
We've heard it hundreds and hundreds of times, time and time again, how Orijen was able to transform a paw-licking, ear-scratching and constantly-vomiting dog into an allergy-free angel in no time.
Pick #2 - Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein
For our #2 pick, we chose this awesome and specific hypoallergenic dog food from Royal Canin that has been exactly manufactured for dogs that suffer from food allergies.
What's special about this specific formula from Royal Canin is its hydrolyzed protein, which means that these ingredients are already broken-down to a large extent before they make their way inside your dog's system, ensuring your dog's immunity system doesn't issue a "fight the attackers" response against these ingredients (the response that's responsible for allergic reactions in your dog).
Besides the presence of hydrolyzed protein that makes it much easier for your dog to properly process and digest without getting allergic reactions, Royal Canin also made sure to include hydrolyzed minerals in this specific formula, which also ensures that your dog is able to best absorb all the vitamins and minerals they can without any digestive problems.
Not to mention that this specific formula includes plenty of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, which go a long way in helping your dog with any skin or coat problems they may be suffering from because of their food allergies.
One thing we also love about this specific dog food is that it's free from any lactose and wheat gluten, which means two less allergy-causing ingredients to worry about.
As you'll read on in a later section in this article, we're huge fans of underdog brands that are not nearly aggressively marketed as some other dog food brands that have much higher budgets.
When we find such a gem, we like to give it all the recognition we need.
And this is exactly what we've got for you as our #3 top pick, a dog food brand you've probably never heard of before, called Great Life dog food.
What we loved most about this specific dog food formula is its "limited ingredients" property, which as you'll see in the section about hypoallergenic dog food theories below, is a very important property when it comes to hypoallergenic dog food.
Thanks to its "limited ingredients" characteristic, we couldn't find any of the usual allergy-causing culprit ingredients that are oh-so common in dog food nowadays.
Moving on, we can also notice that this specific dog food has ingredients that you've most probably never came across in previous dog foods before, and ones that your dog has most probably never been exposed to before, such as Tapioca, Jicama and Freeze Dried Buffalo.
This is excellent because, as you'll be reading as well in the section on theories behind hypoallergenic dog foods, the more "unusual" an ingredient in your dog's food seems and the less they have been exposed to it, the less the chances are that your dog will be sensitive to these ingredients.
Last but not least on our list of the best hypoallergenic dog food is Avoderm Natural dog food formula, which despite of it's #4 position on this list is most certainly not to be taken lightly.
AvoDerm did their part perfectly when it came to including all the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to this formula that tremendously help out in keeping your dog allergy-free.
One thing we liked a lot about this specific dog food formula is that avocado fruit was included as an ingredient, which goes hand in hand with the idea that the more unusual ingredients that your dog hasn't previously been exposed to are included in dog food, the better it is from a hypoallergenic sense.
Introduction To Allergies From Dog Food
Some of the most common useless filler ingredients that cause food allergies in dogs are wheat, corn and soy. These are also INCREDIBLY cheap ingredients (does it make sense why dog food manufacturers love to use them now?).
This way, by bulking up their products with these ingredients instead of other ingredients that would prove to be more costly, these companies/manufacturers can increase their profit margins exponentially without having to increase their price.
Other ingredients that are also very common allergy-causers are Beef, Dairy, Chicken, Lamb, Fish and Yeast.
And when these ingredients make their way into your dog's system with the latter not being able to properly process and digest them, a food allergy takes place.
With that being said, not all cases of allergic reactions in dogs are related to dog food. Although certain allergens found in dog food as ingredients is most certainly a very common reason for food allergies in dogs, it isn't the only reason.
In fact, it has been found in some studies that food allergies are only responsible for around 10% of all dog allergies. Yet, whenever a dog is suffering from an allergic reaction, we immediately blame it on the food they're eating. Go figure!
This is why it's very important that you stay in constant contact with your veterinarian at all times about these problems so they're best able to determine and let you know about what exactly is causing these allergies in your dog.
However, for dogs that are indeed suffering from allergies because of the dog food they're eating, shifting to feeding them hypoallergenic dog food could be a very wise thing for you to do.
This way, you can be sure that the ingredients that used to trigger these allergic reactions in your dog are no longer being given to them in their food. If the allergies remain, then you can be almost sure that it's something other than the food they're eating.
The Theories Behind Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
In principle, there are three theories/concepts behind hypoallergenic food design.
Limited Ingredients: Dog food labeled as "Limited Ingredients" contain much fewer ingredients than other dog food that's not, hence making your job of determining what specific ingredient is causing the allergy in your dog much more easier than if there were a hundred and one ingredients in the dog food.
Novel Ingredients: Dog food labeled as "Novel Ingredients" basically means that the food contains unusual ingredients that are rarely found in dog food, ones that your dog has most probably never came across before.
The theory behind this is that your dog will be way less sensitive and allergic to ingredients they have never experienced before, thus reducing the chances of an immune response happening towards these new ingredients.
Dogs are believed to become more sensitive to ingredients that are very commonly found in dog foods and those they are always exposed to.
Prescription/Veterinary Dog Foods: As is apparent from the name, these dog foods are the ones you'd usually get a recommendation for from your veterinarian when asking them about hypoallergenic dog food, simply because they contain hypoallergenic ingredients.
Food Allergies VS Food Intolerance
Two things we always seem to notice get confused for one another in the dog owner community are food allergies and food intolerance.
When a food allergy happens, also known as a food hypersensitivity, it's simply your dog's immunity system issuing a "fight back" response to a certain ingredient deemed harmful that made its way inside your dog's body.
Usually, food allergies require your dog to be previously exposed to the food/ingredient that's acting as the allergen, and require your dog to be consuming that specific allergy-causing ingredient frequently over a period of time before the symptoms start to occur.
Typically, dogs exhibit food food allergies towards specific proteins found in animal-based or plant-based ingredients in the food they're eating.
Meanwhile, when a food intolerance exists, that simply means that your dog's digestive system isn't able to properly process and digest a certain ingredient found in a dog food. Usually, food intolerance can happen when your dog is first exposed to a certain food/ingredient and without them being previously exposed to it.
The two are close and we can see how it's easy to get them confused for one another, but we hope this clears things up a bit.
Here are some of the most common symptoms your dog will show when a food allergy has taken place:
- Dry and itchy skin (which takes place most of the times), with ears and feet being the most scratched areas
- Ear infections
- Skin infections
- Paw biting
- Excessive licking
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive gas
- Gastrointestinal distress
On the other hand, here are some of the most common symptoms your dog will show when they have intolerance towards a certain food or ingredient in a dog food:
- Digestive distress, which is apparent most of the times
- Nausea & vomiting
With that being said, whether your dog has issues with food allergies or food intolerance, any dog food from the list of the best hypoallergenic dog food we stated above will do a world of good for them.
Time Before Seeing Results With Dog Food For Dogs With Allergies
Supposing that it was confirmed that your dog is suffering from a food allergy/food intolerance and indeed needs to be shifted to eating hypoallergenic dog food, you should continue feeding your dog this hypoallergenic dog food in a consistent manner for at least 8-10 weeks before you can make any conclusions about the progress.
In most cases, you will notice some improvement when it comes to your dog's food allergies during the first 4-6 weeks. However, that's not always the case, as no two dogs are alike and some dogs may require less time than that, while other dogs may require a longer time than that to show signs of improvement.
The key here, though, is to continue to CONSISTENTLY feed your dog only this hypoallergenic dog food, and not mixing it in with another dog food brand with a non-hypoallergenic formula, as you'll only be messing up your dog's system and won't be contributing to the solution of the problem at all.
A Note About Veterinary Practices
When it comes to problems like this with your dog, we almost always recommend talking to your veterinarian about these things first, because an expert medical opinion always exceeds everything else.
And this issue is no different, we also advise you to talk to your veterinarian about this problem and ask for their professional input about what is the best food for dogs with allergies.
Trying to do this all by yourself isn't always a good idea, especially if you don't have a proper educational background about problems with food allergies/food intolerance and are just going with that mainstream media and advertising deems as "the best hypoallergenic dog food".
With that being said, you should also be wary of a very important issue that's going on in veterinary practice nowadays, especially when it comes to the recommendation of specific dog food such as hypoallergenic dog food.
Many veterinarians nowadays are promoting specific dog food brands and promoting them as the best hypoallergenic dog food not because they indeed are the best options for you to go with, but because these veterinarians are getting a decent commission out of it without properly telling you about that.
Obviously, this is unethical practice and abuse of authority at its best, as you're wasting your hard earned money and trusting what's supposed to be an authoritative figure in the industry.
And, obviously as well, we're not saying ALL veterinarians are doing this nowadays. Just like there's still a great number of veterinarians that do their job to the utmost professional levels possible, we're just saying that there are veterinarians out there as well that are abusing their expert authority figure for materialistic goals.
So, before you take up on any recommendation from any veterinarian about hypoallergenic dog food, do your own due diligence about the dog food brand being talked about.