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Usually, it's dog food ingredients first to be blamed when a dog shows food allergy symptoms. While it's not always an allergic reaction to dog food per se, your veterinarian may ask you to switch your pet's to a hypoallergenic dog food brand, or a limited ingredient dog food formula.

Signs of a dog's food allergy are typically itchy skin and digestive disorders. The most common allergens in dog food are proteins: beef, lamb, chicken (and chicken eggs), diary products as well as soy or gluten. While food allergies in dogs cannot be eliminated completely, they can be managed with a hypoallergenic diet.

Fortunately, there's a number of good hypoallergenic dog foods available today that make feeding an allergic dog fairly easy. They've been shown to be very effective at what they claim to do. Below we'll discuss such dietary approach, how to pick these foods and do a best hypoallergenic dog food review round-up.

What Makes Dog Food “Hypoallergenic”?

Hypoallergenic dog food is easier for dogs to digest and absorb due to its ingredient composition, which is more rare and unique compared to some popular brands. This is why these diets are often more expensive than regular brands (but cheaper the prescription foods from vet clinics).

Note that not every hypoallergenic dog food formula will work for every pet with food allergies. That said, they are still likely to be better than your standard brand. Although there is no officially defined term that governs laws regarding this part of dog food labels, a dog food is considered hypoallergenic when it contains:

  • A limited (very small) number of ingredients
  • Novel ingredient(s) that are high quality
  • Least offending ingredients (less likely to cause allergic reactions)

Most top rated hypoallergenic dog foods are prescription dog food diets that pet owners can buy from their vets. However, prescription diets can be very costly, and most pets don't really need to pay 3-5 times more for their dog food because over-the-counter brands will have same or similar ingredient composition.

Hypoallergenic Dog Food Labels

The term “hypoallergenic” actually has no legal definition in the pet food industry.

Also, hypoallergenic diets rarely name themselves using this term, but rather opt for a “limited ingredient diet” terminology which makes them more appealing to a wider range of consumers, since not all dogs with food sensitivities are allergic but may have other issues. These food formulas for dogs with allergies have been developed based on several scientific studies showing allergy sources (source).

When a hypoallergenic dog food is limited in ingredients, it will typically have under 10 ingredients, most commonly 5-7 ingredients. Some of the best limited ingredient dog foods make it easy to pin down allergens, i.e. causation. They may also contain hydrolyzed protein source, which was shown to be effective in dog food allergies (source).

Novel ingredients in hypoallergenic pet foods are something a sensitive stomach dog is much less likely to be allergic to, but that is not always guaranteed. For some dogs with food allergies, sensitive stomach brands can be a good option. However, only testing and/or elimination diet can tell you exactly what your dog is allergic to (source).

Top 5 Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food Brands

1P.S. 100% Hypoallergenic Food for Dogs
price to value: $13/lb (very expensive)

PS for Dogs offers a 100% hypoallergenic dog food that uses a single source for its high-protein content, which is either lamb or turkey. All of the ingredients are hypoallergenic, low-glycemic and grain-free. It's also the most expensive dog food brand out there.

As the saying goes, dogs are what they eat. Therefore, allergic reactions often need to be treated from within. With this specially-prepared food, dogs get their required high-protein diet without the ingredients that trigger allergies. According to many dog owners, their pets’ issues were actually resolved in just a matter of days after feeding this food.

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The skin reactions were significantly reduced, and after a few weeks more, the dog's skin visibly cleared up and hair even showed signs of growing back. Because of the limited number of ingredients, P.S. 100% Hypoallergenic Dog Food is great in isolating the cause of allergies. Optimum health and minimum to zero allergic reactions – nothing could make pet owners happier.

Buyers do admit that this product is on the pricey end, but they find great value in it. They say that they have spent so much more on vet visits and medicines just so they and their dogs can live happy, normal lives. The right food heals, and that is the reason why this brand is on our top 5 best hypoallergenic dog food list.

PROS:

  • Uses a single source for its high-protein content (turkey or lamb)
  • All of the ingredients are hypoallergenic, low-glycemic and grain-free
  • 100% money back guarantee if this best hypoallergenic dog food does not work
CONS:

  • More expensive than many of the top rated hypoallergenic dog foods

 

2Wellness Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food
price to value: $2.2/lb (affordable)

The key is in the ingredients. Fewer ingredients mean fewer components in the food to react to. This dry dog food from Wellness Natural Pet Food contains only natural components, a single protein source, and none of the usual allergens such as wheat, corn, soy and gluten. There are no fillers, meat by-products, eggs, and artificial color or flavor, just high-quality lamb meat and choice carbohydrate sources.

Protein variations include duck, salmon and turkey. This product is made in the USA and comes in packs of 4.5, 10.5, 24, and 26 pounds. Pet owners who purchased this product say the simplicity of the ingredients list suited their dogs, even the ones that were intolerant to most brands of dog food.

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Buyers surmise that with just five ingredients to deal with, their pets had fewer bouts of allergy or stomach disturbances, rarely over-ate and had better stools. Their coats turned healthier, too, with much reduced scratching and chewing.

As with all the best hypoallergenic dog food products, there are reviews from buyers who say that this food didn't help their pet. A few reviewers also noted that this food made their pet ill, but that could have been from a drastic change in diet.

PROS:

  • Contains only natural components and a single protein source
  • No fillers, meat by-products, eggs, artificial color or artificial flavors
  • Protein variations include duck, salmon and turkey
  • Made in the USA
CONS:

  • Some reports that this food made pets nauseous

 

3Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach
price to value: $1.4/lb (very cheap)

Probiotics, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants are three of the nutrients that dogs with sensitive skin and tummy need a good dose of in their daily meal. Purina Pro Plan has created Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon and Rice dry dog food to keep the correct balance of these key nutrients in your dog’s daily food intake.

The product is available in three bag sizes, including a 5-lb bag for those dogs trying this out for the first time or transitioning to this hypoallergenic diet.

The protein source for this best hypoallergenic dog food is premium-grade real salmon, but a lamb variant can also be had. Problematic dog allergies often mean constant visits to the vet, expensive treatment, and an unhappy dog. Stressed pet owners say they’ve searched every possible solution just to make life easier and more normal for their dogs. Finding this product saved the day for them.

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After successfully transitioning to Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food, their dogs showed significant improvement and seemed to like the food, which is often the first test on how a new dog food is going to work. Gone were the digestive upsets, skin irritation and infections that constantly hounded their four-legged companion.

Most dog owners don’t particularly approve of the food’s fishy smell but say that they can live with that as long as their dog enjoys the chow and evidently benefits from it. Many long time users of this food have also stated that Purina changed the formula recently and it upset their pet's digestion.

PROS:

  • Includes probiotics, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants
  • Protein source is premium-grade real salmon, and a lamb variant is also available
CONS:

  • This hypoallergenic dog food has a rather fishy smell that bothered our pup
  • Purina changed the formula recently and it upset some pet's digestion

 

4Outback Kangaroo Feast Hypoallergenic Dog Food
price to value: $14/lb dry matter (affordable)

If your dog is allergic to the usual protein sources like beef, chicken, fish or lamb, maybe it’s about time to try a totally new kind of dog food – dehydrated raw kangaroo meat. The chunky Outback Kangaroo Feast from Addiction Pet Foods is made from raw kangaroo meat that underwent a special dehydration process to preserve its nutrients and flavor and to protect it from spoilage.

It also contains apples, carrots, canola oil, papayas, potatoes, spinach, and sunflower seeds. This new alternative to the usual dog fare was carefully prepared to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs per AAFCO standards. Dog owners appreciate the convenience that this product offers. It has the advantage of being raw but without the hassle of preparing raw food – previously impossible with traditional raw dog food.

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Most dogs have not been exposed to kangaroo meat before, so they’re less likely to have developed allergies to it. Many buyers of Outback Kangaroo Feast have long used this for their dogs, and they recommend it to people with sensitive dogs. They say that this has resolved previous health issues and they now have a dog with a lustrous coat, happy disposition, and evidently healthy condition.

While the feed costs more than the above-average best hypoallergenic dog food brands, pet owners just can’t stop buying something that has reliably kept expensive bills and wearying therapy at bay. Some reviewers stated that their dog would not eat this food, and they questioned the amount of meat in it. Unlike other similar types of dog food, they say that it is all powder and there are no chunks of dehydrated meat.

PROS:

  • Made with dehydrated raw kangaroo meat
  • Contains apples, carrots, canola oil, papayas, potatoes, spinach, and sunflower seeds
  • Has the advantage of being raw but without the hassle of preparing raw food
CONS:

  • We question the amount of meat in this hypoallergenic food. Unlike other similar types of dog foods, it is all powder and there are no chunks of dehydrated meat

 

5Purina Hydrolyzed Dog Food
price to value: $9.3/lb (extremely expensive)

Dogs are meat-eaters by nature, but due to some genetic factors, there are dogs that are allergic to meat. Some develop rashes that lead to intense itching, while others react with upset stomach when fed with meat. Purina Veterinary Diets has created this vegetarian food that is designed to meet the dietary requirements of this particular group of canines. The main ingredient of this dry dog food is hydrolyzed soy protein.

This best hypoallergenic dog food is enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids to ensure proper nutrition and strong immune system. The vegetarian food is not for every dog, though. It was formulated as a therapeutic treatment for dogs with sensitivities to animal protein.

Pet owners say that Purina Veterinary Diets Canine HA Hypoallergenic Vegetarian Dog Food is one of the very few food products their sensitive dogs can take without developing adverse reactions. The vegetable ingredients are definitely easier on their stomachs as was evident from firmer stool. Itching has disappeared and the dogs are noticeably more comfortable.

The dogs love the food, too, and that solves half of the problem. It's difficult to find a poor review of this product, but some buyers did claim that their dog would not eat it. Others said that their dog's condition showed no improvement when switched to this diet.

PROS:

  • Main ingredient is hydrolyzed protein
  • Enhanced with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids
CONS:

  • Some reports from other dog food reviews claim that their pets would not eat this veterinary formula

 

Best Limited Ingredient Dog Foods as Alternatives

The above list of five best hypoallergenic dog food brands contains the most popular based on their ingredient composition, but most of them are expensive. Below are ten cheap limited ingredient dog foods for dogs with food allergies that are more affordable.

Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet ($3.2/lb)6. Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet ($3.2/lb) – one of the most expensive hypoallergenic dog food brand out there but also one with the highest success rate, Instinct limited ingredient dog food contains only two ingredients – one animal protein and one vegetable source. No other dog food formula offers this. It's one of the best limited ingredient dog food brands due to its simplistic formula with no fillers, grains or otherwise unknown or suspicious ingredients. Its easily digestible protein source makes it perfect for majority of dogs with food allergies and food sensitivities.

CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Land Formula ($2.5/lb)7. CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Land Formula ($2.5/lb) – the company are well-known for sourcing unique, high quality ingredients for their dog food formulas. This one contains bison as the main source of protein and six additional ingredients made up of wholegrains. This may not be suitable for every dog with allergies since the number of ingredients is still longer than some other formulas.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Food ($2.1)8. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Food ($2.1) – this grain free formula contains premium quality protein and carbohydrate sources (no grains). However, even though Natural Balance is known for their best limited ingredient dog food formulas, this one may not be the top option for a lot of dogs due to comparably higher number of ingredients. Nevertheless, the recipe is very simple and easy to digest.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Food ($1.07/lb)9. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Food ($1.07/lb) – a very similar formula to the above mentioned Canidae, this hypoallergenic dog food may be a good alternative to Natural Balance formula (and vice versa). The recipe is simple with only six ingredients and added vitamins and minerals, no byproducts or fillers, but it does contain grains, ground and brown rice.

BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Diet ($2.08/lb)10. BLUE Basics Limited Ingredient Diet ($2.08/lb) – another one of the best hypoallergenic dog foods due to its low number of ingredients, high protein source and no grains. While some of the BLUE dog foods have been under heat in the past, their limited ingredient formula is still one of the best hypoallergenic dog food brands you can find, but it may not fit every dog with sensitivities.

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient High Protein Food ($2.5/lb)11. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient High Protein Food ($2.5/lb) – this hypoallergenic dog food is a better alternative to the above mentioned Natural Balance limited ingredient dog food due to larger percentage of high quality protein (32% real beef) in it. However, it also comes with hefty price tag when compared to other best hypoallergenic dog food brands. It doesn't contain any grains either.

The Honest Kitchen Hope Dehydrated Minimalist Food ($10/lb)12. The Honest Kitchen Hope Dehydrated Minimalist Food ($10/lb) – the most expensive hypoallergenic dog food brand on this list. The Honest Kitchen company hasn't been very popular among dog owners, which is unjust since their human grade, FDA approved dog foods are actually very high quality, and this formula is easily one of the best hypoallergenic dog foods out there. It's one of the best rated dehydrated foods resembling raw feeding and only contains six quality ingredients.

Merrick 1 Count Limited Ingredient Diet ($2.5/lb)13. Merrick 1 Count Limited Ingredient Diet ($2.5/lb) – one of the best grain free dog foods out there, Merrick is a favorite among pet owners looking for high protein dog food with no grains. Their limited ingredient dog food formula is another winner with 34% real chicken and the rest filled with five quality ingredients. The recipe, however, will not fit a lot of dogs with food sensitivities and allergies.

NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet ($2.5/lb)14. NUTRO Limited Ingredient Diet ($2.5/lb) – although NUTRO's dog foods are generally high rated five star brands, they're not known for their limited ingredient formulas or best hypoallergenic dog foods, and this one as well is mostly an alternative if you can't pick any other limited ingredient dog food brand. It contains ten ingredients, no grains and claims to have eliminated popular food sensitivity ingredients.

 SportDogFood Elite Food ($1.9/lb)15. SportDogFood Elite Food ($1.9/lb) – final contender on the list for best hypoallergenic dog food brand is a fairly new company SportDogFood with their Elite formula for advanced allergic reactions in dogs, and contains no grains as well as eliminates most popular allergy causing ingredients for dogs with food sensitivities. On paper this hypoallergenic formula looks good but many pet owners have reported allergic reactions nonetheless.

Have you tried any of these hypoallergenic dog foods? How did you pup react to any of these limited ingredient dog food brands? Share your experience below so more dog owners are aware of any issues.

READ NEXT: How to Feed Dogs with Food Allergies

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