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There are a number of reasons that your dog may be suffering from itchy skin. Anything from environmental allergens to the wrong dog food brand can cause dogs to scratch incessantly. This problem might easily be cured a special dog food for itchy skin recipe, but it could also require a trip to the veterinarian.

In this article we'll cover the dietary guidelines for dogs with itchy skin, potentially helpful nutrients and review the best dog food for itchy skin brands. You can see all ingredients listed under each recipe review below, as well as pros and cons of each product.

Dietary Guidelines and Food for Dogs With Itchy Skin

The root cause of the itchy skin will dictate the proper treatment. It's important to seek the advice of your veterinarian, because there may be able issue that is causing your dog's skin trouble. A flea infestation, a tick bite, seasonal allergies or conditions like mange could be the underlying reason why your dog is scratching. In any of these cases, switching his food isn't going to help.

Your veterinarian may recommend a topical or oral treatment. They could also prescribe a medicated shampoo. However, your dog's dry skin problem could also be caused by improper diet. If this is the case, the best dog food for itchy skin help to moisturize and nourish the skin.

Dietary Guidelines and Food for Dogs With Itchy SkinIt's no secret that nutrition is directly related to health. Research has proven that adjusting your dog's diet with specific nutrients in mind can positively affect his skin and coat health. Even if the itching isn't due to food sensitivities, a diet change could fix the problem.

There are dog food recipes that are specifically focused on skin disorders, but they aren't all meant for dogs with itchy skin. Sadly, there are a lot of bad dog food brands out there. They are full of chemical preservatives, unnecessary fillers, artificial colors and flavorings and low quality by-products.

Poor quality ingredients can irritate your dog's skin or even cause a skin allergy. The best dog food for itchy skin will only contain high quality ingredients. These products may also have limited ingredients, which means there will be less things in the diet to trigger your dog's sensitive skin.

There are certain nutrients that you should be looking for if your Fido has itchy skin. They include:

  • A high quality protein source: Protein will make up a large part of the dog food recipe, and some sources (like beef, pork and lamb) have been shown to cause skin irritation in dogs. Less common protein sources like venison are a better option. Other high-quality protein sources include eggs, fish and poultry.
  • Essential fatty acids: The most important to look for are omega-3's, EPA and DHA. Fish and fish oil are common and natural sources of these essential fatty acids.
  • Vitamin A is needed for the health of skin cells and hair follicles. Common sources of Vitamin A include carrots, spinach, liver, fish oils, eggs and sweet potatoes.
  • Biotin – This vitamin promotes healthy tissue growth. Meat, milk and eggs are high in biotin.
  • Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that aids in the protection of skin cells against free radicals. It is commonly found in seeds, liver and leafy green veggies.
  • Zinc can help to prevent inflamed, itchy skin and. It can even aid in the prevention of bacterial and fungal skin infections. Natural sources of Zinc include poultry, beef and yogurt. Many vegetables are also rich in Zinc.

Finally, before switching to the best dog food for itchy skin, remember that a transitional period is very important. You need to make this transition as smooth as possible in order to prevent digestive upset.

The transition to a new diet should be very gradual – taking 7-10 days.

For the first 2-3 days, mix 3/4 of the old diet with 1/4 new food. If this goes well, mix 1/2 old food with 1/2 new food for the next 2-3 days. As long as you don't notice any vomiting, diarrhea or other GI symptoms, you can continue to mix 3/4 new food with 1/4 old food for 2-3 more days. If everything still seems fine, you can feed Fido 100% new food from here on out.

The Best Dog Food for Itchy Skin

1Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Blue Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula from Blue Buffalo is free from grains and gluten, which many times cause itching in dogs. This recipe starts with turkey, an animal protein source not commonly used in pet food. It is then blended with highly-digestible ingredients like peas and potatoes.

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The Blue Buffalo itchy skin dog food includes other natural ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidant, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, and probiotics. Some of these are flaxseed, fish oil, pumpkin, and blueberries.

The kibbles are triangular in shape and small in size about 1/4-1/3 inch on a side and 1/8 inch thick. Like all Blue recipes, this best dog food for itchy skin comes with LifeSource Bits which are rich in antioxidants. No grains were used in Blue Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula Adult Dry Dog Food, so dogs that are grain-allergic will be safe in this dog food. It also does not contain other common allergens like chicken, beef, dairy, and eggs.

PROS:

  • Grain and gluten free
  • Real turkey is the first ingredient, and deboned turkey is the single ingredient source
  • Made with easily-digestible carbohydrates like peas and potatoes
  • Contains pea fiber & pumpkin to support gentle digestion
CONS:

  • There are reports on the quality control of this food

 

2Brothers Complete Advanced Allergy Formula

At least 90% of the protein in Brothers Complete allergy care formula turkey meal and egg recipe is animal-sourced. Its ingredients are turkey meal, dried whole eggs, peas, tapioca, chicken fat, chicken liver, alfalfa meal, pumpkin, flaxseed, carrots, whole cell algae, vegetable pomace, inulin, and encapsulated probiotics. Tapioca starch provides carbs without the high glycemic index that other carb sources contain.

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Dogs that used to scratch a lot and had tummy woes were so much healthier and happier on Brothers Complete Turkey Meal and Egg Advanced Allergy Formula. We believe that the tapioca ingredient plays a big role here. Unlike other carb sources with high GI, tapioca does not feed the yeast or fungus in the colon which causes a host of health conditions like leaky gut, skin itchiness, allergies, and fungal infections, not to mention diabetes. This ingredient, together with prebiotics and probiotics, strengthens the gut and the immune system.

Also, dogs that are allergic to fish or fish oil are not deprived of omega 3 fatty acids (which are essential in their growth and development) because Brothers Complete obtains its DHA omega 3 from whole-cell algae, which is a good source of this fatty acid. Pet owners found this formula critical in their pets’ health because it addresses skin itching holistically – meaning it makes the dog healthy from the inside out.

PROS:

  • At least 90% of the protein is animal-sourced
  • Grain, GMO and potato free
  • Made with human grade proteins
  • Formulated with pre- and probiotics
  • Provides balanced nutrition for all life stages
CONS:

  • First ingredient is not turkey, but turkey meal

 

3Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin

Hill’s pet food formulas have always been resorted to for different health issues, including skin sensitivities and itchiness in dogs. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin is a specialized food for small breeds with dermatological and digestive problems as a reaction to food that cause itchiness.

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This itchy dog food from Hill's Science Diet is made with brewer’s rice, chicken meal, barley, whole-grain sorghum, and other wholesome ingredients. It reduces the chance of setting off allergy symptoms in dogs while providing them nourishment and strengthening their natural defenses at the same time. It also contains optimal levels of omega 3 and 6 and Vitamin E, which help nourish the skin and coat.

This best dog food for itchy skin has been instrumental in treating severe itching in dogs and saved them from miserable discomfort. Licking, scratching, and paw-biting have literally stopped in as short as 2 weeks to a month. A little goes a long way, too, since dogs feel fuller with just a little serving, so Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food is also perfect for dogs that need to shave off some weight.

This may not work for all dogs with itchy skin (no single formula ever will), especially for those with very discriminating taste. Most dogs don’t seem to find this very palatable, but they’d eat it with a little wheedling or when really hungry. The challenge would be to get your pet to eat it, but once done with that first step, the rest would be Science Diet’s job.

PROS:

  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Includes prebiotic fiber that aids in digestive health and helps to promote firm stools
  • Contains optimal levels of omega 3 and 6 and Vitamin E, which help nourish the skin and coat
CONS:

  • Only formulated for small and toy breeds

 

4Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Dogs react to food differently, so if your buddy has been having issues with its chicken- or beef-based formula, check out this limited ingredient diet (sweet potato and fish recipe) from Natural Balance.

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This brand s a grain-free and limit ingredient which makes it easier to eliminate potential allergens, maintains healthy skin and soft hair, and supports gastrointestinal health and immune system. It is made with salmon, sweet potatoes, fish meal, potato protein and fiber, salmon oil, canola oil, and vitamin and mineral

Dogs that can’t have chicken or beef (or other meat types for that matter) without getting rashes do very well on Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food. If your dog’s skin irritations are caused by allergies to meat and grains, then you could expect symptoms to wane and totally vanish in a week or two. For dogs that had been scratching most of their lives, this would really be life-changing.

The simplistic line of ingredients in this dog food makes it possible to avoid most meat proteins and grains without sacrificing taste and nutrition. How do we know that it’s tasty? It’s quite easy to tell by the enthusiastic yelps during mealtimes, and that includes dogs that are picky with their food. This is also not as calorie-dense and fat-rich as most meat-based formulas, so keeping the ideal weight for your dog will be a breeze.

PROS:

  • Grain-free
  • Offers complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs
  • No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
CONS:

  • There are reports on the quality control, a few reports of mold in the food received

 

5Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient

Wellness Simple LID itchy skin dog food formula uses salmon as its single protein source and easily digestible vegetables like potatoes and peas for its carb sources. Supplemental vitamins and minerals were added to ensure that the nutrients required by dogs are adequately supplied.

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Prebiotic fiber and probiotics were blended into this recipe from Wellness Natural Pet Food to support a healthy digestive system and strong immune system. This short list of ingredients matches the sensitivities of dogs that need allergy care.

If the ingredient that causes their skin to itch has been identified, management of their condition mainly involves avoiding that ingredient. For most cases, though, the allergen is not yet known, so the best option for them would be to choose the food with the least ingredients, like Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food.

Wellness offers this option with a very simplified, yet nutrient-packed, ingredients list. This has alleviated tummy issues and helped clear itchy skin. For much worse skin issues, such as recurring rashes and lesions, it may take from a month or even longer before the skin clears up completely and hair grows back on bald spots. But they will, what’s important is that the scratching stops and does not cause new hotspots.

PROS:

  • Formulated to be easily digestible
  • No meat by-products, gluten, wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, fillers or artificial additives
  • Contains a minimum of 25% protein and 12% fat
  • Made in the USA
CONS:

  • First ingredient is ground rice, not the protein source

 

6Brothers Complete Itchy Skin Dog Food Recipe

Like the Brothers Complete formula in number 1, 90% of the protein in this lamb meal and egg recipe is animal-derived. It contains novel meat meal from lamb and turkey and whole eggs, which is considered the perfect food (because of its 100% bioavailability).

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Another ingredient is tapioca which is a carbohydrate source especially chosen in this formula for its low glycemic index. For its omega 3 source, Brothers uses whole-cell blue algae instead of fish oil. This best dog food for itchy skin is a good alternative for dogs allergic to fish and its derivatives. Other ingredients include chicken fat, chicken liver, pumpkin, carrots, flaxseed, and alfalfa.

Brothers Complete Lamb Meal and Egg Advanced Allergy Formula is well-tolerated by dogs with dietary restrictions. It did not cause runny stools or stomach upset in dogs when properly transitioned to it. Also, dogs love its taste, and that’s important because what good does healthy food bring if your dog snubs it? Brothers got it right by using healthful ingredients that not only bring the desired benefits but also taste great together.

This recipe significantly reduces itching. We think that it’s the combination of digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and encapsulated probiotics that does the trick. It ensures a healthy digestive system, which in turn supports a strong immune system. Thus dogs are better able to defend against invading pathogens, including those that cause allergies and skin reactions. Optimal levels of omega 3 and 6 help the dog’s skin to heal faster and its coat to grow shinier.

PROS:

  • At least 90% of the protein is animal-sourced
  • Grain, GMO and potato free
  • Made with human grade proteins
  • Formulated with pre- and probiotics
  • Provides balanced nutrition for all life stages
CONS:

  • First ingredient is not lamb, but lamb meal

 

7California Natural Adult Limited Ingredient Food

California Natural Grain-free Limited Ingredient Diet provides relief from itching, whether as an indication of allergies or food sensitivities. It only contains 4 ingredients – lamb meal, peas and pea fiber, green lentils, and sunflower oil.

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It’s the perfect food for dogs that are allergic to grains, potatoes, soy, dairy, chicken, beef, fish, or eggs, which are commonly used in dog food formulas. Many dog owners have come to rely on this food stuff for good reason. It has done wonders on their pet’s overall health and itching.

Another impressive thing about this product is its short list of ingredients. Since California Natural Adult Limited Ingredient Grain Free Dry Dog Food contains only 4 ingredients, it has become easier for pet owners to avoid ingredients which their dog reacts to. The ingredients are novel, too – even the carb sources are not what you would call common to dog food.

The kibbles are round with about 1/2-inch diameter. This is small enough for small pets to chew easily but large enough to discourage large dogs from inhaling their food. We’ve noted that California Natural also has other recipes with only 3-4 ingredients, and this affords a wide range of choices in case your dog starts looking around for other flavors.

PROS:

  • Contains only 4 key ingredients plus vitamins, minerals and other trace nutrients
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial preservatives, white potatoes, corn, soy, dairy or eggs
CONS:

  • Lamb meal, not real lamb meat, is the first ingredient

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