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The 4 best hypoallergenic dog foods in 2021

Is your pup suffering from a pet food allergy or intolerance? We’ve reviewed the 4 best hypoallergenic food options that will help ease their symptoms

Updated August 20, 2021

Created By

Lauren Cocking,
Labrador eating hypoallergenic dog food out of a green bowl.

The best hypoallergenic dog foods

The best hypoallergenic dog food reviews

What we love: With just a single source of animal protein and a balance of high-quality carbohydrates and fats, Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet will help soothe your pup’s upset tummy. We love that it’s made from a blend of whole foods, has natural probiotics, and is suitable for all breeds and sizes.

What customers say: Reviewers note how well this hypoallergenic option cleared up ear infections and itchy skin. They consistently write that this dog food is a great novel protein source for allergy-prone dogs. However, some users mentioned the food’s strong smell so keep that in mind before you buy.

Ingredients: Duck, oatmeal, peas, ground rice, potato protein, tomato pomace, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), ground flaxseed, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, natural duck flavor, chicory root extract, choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, taurine, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, niacin, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, beta-carotene, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, calcium Iodate, vitamin B12 supplement, folic Acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green tea extract, and spearmint extract.

What we love: The focus on high-quality protein and carbohydrate sources make Purina Proplan HA one of our favorites, not to mention the fact that this is our only recommended vegetarian blend. That means it’s a great option for especially picky pups, as well as dogs allergic to all other commercially available meat sources. We also love the smaller sizing options, which make it easier for you to give this pet food a trial run before committing to a larger bag.

What customers say: Over 92% of Chewy users rate this as a five-star food, noting that it resolved ongoing vomiting issues. Reviewers were also pleasantly surprised by the vegetarian formula, adding that it was an easy transition. However, this is definitely a pricier hypoallergenic dog food option.

Ingredients: Corn starch, hydrolyzed soy protein isolate, vegetable oil, dicalcium phosphate, partially hydrogenated canola oil preserved with Tbhq, powdered cellulose, corn oil, potassium chloride, guar gum, choline chloride, Dl-methionine, salt, magnesium oxide, lecithin, taurine, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, niacin, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, garlic oil, vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), and sodium selenite.

What we love: Our favorite thing about the Hill’s Prescription Diet hypoallergenic dog food is its use of a lesser-seen novel protein source, venison. We’re also big fans of the way this veterinarian-formulated food helps clear up stomach issues, itchy skin, and coat conditions in pups. Plus, the addition of extra omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and the absence of soy is also great.

What customers say: Customers on both Chewy and Amazon rank as one of the best dog food options. Over 95% of people on Chewy recommend it to others. Many customers commented on their pups’ improved stools after switching to this food. Meanwhile, others said it dramatically helped their pets’ allergies. Just keep in mind that a recent formula change swapped out pork fat for coconut oil and upped the fiber levels.

Ingredients: Potatoes, potato Starch, venison, potato protein, soybean oil, coconut oil, powdered cellulose, pork flavor, dicalcium phosphate, lactic acid, fish oil, potassium chloride, glyceryl monostearate, calcium carbonate, iodized salt, choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin Supplement, thiamine mononitrate, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), DL-methionine, taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, zinc Oxide, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium Iodate, sodium selenite), mixed tocopherols for freshness, magnesium oxide, natural flavors, and beta-carotene.

What we love: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP Dry Dog food is our favorite hydrolyzed protein option, making it ideal for pet owners trying to figure out what provokes their pup’s allergic reactions. Plus, it’s formulated to improve your dog’s overall skin health and wellbeing. We also appreciate the presence of amino acids and B vitamins, which help maintain a healthy coat, as well as ‘smaller kibble’ options for petite pups.

What customers say: This is one of the top-rated hypoallergenic foods on Chewy, with a 96% approval rating. Pet owners note that their pups wolf it down and add that it helps with fur and IBS issues. Just don’t overfeed your pooch as this high-protein option can leave them packing on the pounds.

Ingredients: Brewers rice, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken fat, natural flavors, dried plain beet pulp, monocalcium phosphate, vegetable oil, sodium silico aluminate, fish oil, calcium carbonate, fructooligosaccharides, potassium chloride, salt, Dl-methionine, L-tyrosine, taurine, vitamins [Dl-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), niacin supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), D-calcium pantothenate, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A acetate, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement], choline chloride, trace minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, ferrous sulfate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate, calcium iodate], marigold extract (tagetes erecta L.), magnesium oxide, rosemary extract, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid.

What is hypoallergenic dog food?

Hypoallergenic dog foods are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction in dogs with food allergies or food intolerances. There are a few different types of hypoallergenic dog foods, including ‘novel, single protein’ options and ‘hydrolyzed protein’ options.

  • Novel protein. This type of hypoallergenic dog food contains less common proteins, such as duck, kangaroo, or fish. As ‘novel’ means new, this kind of food must contain a source of protein your dog hasn’t tried before to work.
  • Hydrolyzed proteins. These foods contain proteins that have been scientifically broken down. The smaller ‘pieces’ of protein are therefore less likely to trigger an immune response in your pup.

Why does my dog need hypoallergenic dog food?

Your dog only needs hypoallergenic dog food if they’re suffering from suspected dog food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances. You might think your dog needs hypoallergenic dog food if they’re displaying symptoms of food allergies (see below). However, you should always consult your vet before switching them to hypoallergenic dog food. These diets aren’t suitable for all pups.

Difference between food allergies and food intolerances

Allergies and intolerances (or food sensitivities) are similar but not quite the same. While allergies tend to cause more symptoms, including sensitive skin and itchiness, intolerances usually only lead to upset tummies. However, there’s no definitive way to tell them apart. Whichever issue you suspect your pooch to be suffering with though, the right dog food with quality ingredients can fix the problem.

👉 Dogs can also suffer from environmental allergies too. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, and grass.

Canine food allergies

Just as we can be allergic to certain foods, so can our four-legged friends. And some breeds are more prone to food allergies than others, especially if they’re purebred.

However, while humans can be allergic to anything from peanuts to strawberries, dogs tend to develop allergies to the proteins found in their food. In fact, some of the most common allergens for dogs include chicken, pork, beef, lamb, eggs, and dairy products.

👉 In rare cases, your pup might even be allergic to grain but it’s far less common than you’d think. Grain-free dog food isn’t necessary, and can be dangerous, unless your dog has a confirmed allergy.

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs

  • Digestive problems leading to vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pruritus, also known as severe itching
  • Sensitive skin, irritation, and inflammation
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling around the ears, lips, and eyelids
  • Itchier than normal ears and frequent ear infections

Dog breeds prone to food allergies

  • Dalmatians
  • Boxers
  • Retrievers
  • Certain breeds of terriers
  • Shar-peis
  • Lhasa apsos

👉 While some breeds are more likely to develop food allergies, any pup can suffer with allergies, regardless of their breed.

Diagnosing and treating canine food allergies

Before you can begin to treat canine food allergies you have to figure out what’s causing the reaction. As Dr. Erica Irish, DVM, notes, “The only “test” for food allergies is a food elimination trial.” Food elimination diets involve swapping your dog’s current diet for one which contains a novel (new) protein or one containing hydrolyzed proteins designed to avoid an allergic response.

After a few weeks, you can begin to add different proteins back to their diet and see which (if any) provokes an allergic response. Got that figured out? Then it’s time to switch up your dog’s diet and there are several ways to do so.

  • Switch proteins. If they’re allergic to chicken, find a food that uses beef as the base protein.
  • Buy hypoallergenic dog food. Your dog’s immune system won’t recognize the allergen.
  • Go grain-free. Only if your pup proves allergic to grain, otherwise gluten-free foods aren’t necessary.
  • Try limited ingredient dog foods. These are good for dogs that have allergies to a number of ingredients.

👉 Keep in mind that some dog food brands may cross-contaminate foods. As a result, therapeutic vet-recommended elimination diets may be the only way to entirely cut allergens from your dog’s diet.

FAQS

Should I switch my adult dog to a hypoallergenic diet even if they don’t have allergies or sensitivities? No. Hypoallergenic dog foods are only suited to dogs with allergies and sensitivities. Plus, most hypoallergenic dog foods have to be prescribed by your vet, unlike standard non-hypoallergenic dog food brand options such as Blue Buffalo, Canidae, and Natural Balance.

Do I need to consult my vet before switching up my dog’s diet? Yes. You should always consult your vet before altering your dog’s diet in a drastic way, especially if you plan on feeding them homemade meals. In that case, you need to have your recipes approved by a canine nutritionist.

What should I look out for when shopping for hypoallergenic dog food? The most important thing to look out for is that the food doesn’t contain the thing your dog is allergic to. It might sound obvious, but commercial dog foods often have many ingredients and you’ll have to check the label closely. Keep your eyes peeled for byproducts of the protein source that causes your dog’s allergic reaction.

Why does my dog have a food allergy? Food allergies are passed on genetically, which is why purebreds tend to be more prone to them. The allergic reaction is triggered when they’re exposed to the allergen.