Allergies and intolerances in dogs can be a serious issue. An allergen is a usually harmless substance with the capability of triggering a response in the immune system. However, when the immune system perceives one as a threat, this leads to an allergic reaction. The allergen can be a substance a dog has eaten, inhaled or has come in direct contact with the skin. Regardless of the cause of the allergic reaction, most symptoms are evident in the skin.
While some allergens such as dust may not be easily avoidable, food certainly is. Grain allergies, for instance, are very common in dogs and usually manifest in the skin. The good news is that grain allergies are easily prevented with grain free dog food. Dogs that will benefit from eating grain free food still need to have a complete and balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients. Not all formulas can provide this, which is why we have completed the extensive research to accelerate your pooch’s road to recovery.
This article features the 5 best grain free dog food for skin allergies. We also describe some of the common symptoms of food allergies, what types of dog food can help prevent allergic reactions and what to look for in grain free dog foods.
- 1 Best Grain Free Dog Food for Skin Allergies: Reviewed
- 2 So Which Option Is Best? Our Winners
- 3 Is My Dog Suffering from Food Allergies Or Food Intolerances?
- 4 Types Of Dog Food Best for Skin Allergies
- 5 Benefits of Grain Free Dog Foods
- 6 What to Look for in Grain Free Dog Foods
- 7 How to Switch to a Grain Free Diet
- 8 Final Thoughts On the Best Grain Free Dog Food for Skin Allergies
What are the most common food allergens?
Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies to a variety of substances. The most common food allergens for dogs include chicken, beef, dairy and egg. Dogs can also become allergic to grains. As you may notice, these are also products commonly found in many commercial dog foods.
What are the symptoms of a food allergy?
The most common symptoms of a food allergy include skin rash, hives, hair loss, itching, paw biting or excessive licking. Dogs can also experience nausea or vomiting.
What other types of allergies could my dog be suffering from?
Food allergies can share the same symptoms of other health conditions or allergies. For example, itchy skin can be a sign of flea allergy. In fact, the most common canine allergy is fleas, followed by environmental allergies such as dust mites. If you notice that your dog’s symptoms come and go as the climate changes, it is likely to be a seasonal allergy. It is important to be attentive to any symptoms as they arise, as seasonal allergies can worsen and continue throughout the year.
If you have ruled out environmental or seasonal allergies, then your dog’s diet is a likely source of the symptoms.
Best Grain Free Dog Food for Skin Allergies: Reviewed
Understandably, dog owners want to do everything they can to help their canine companions with skin allergies. If you suspect your dog is experiencing skin allergies then the best way to identify and tackle the problem is to visit your veterinarian. They should be able to carry out tests to confirm what allergens your dog has.
In the meanwhile, you can help keep your dog healthy by preventing allergic reactions from occurring in the first place, by eliminating the allergens from your dog’s diet. Here’s a list of the best grain fee dog foods to help with skin allergies:
1. Instinct Be Natural Recipe Natural by Nature’s Variety
First up we have got this limited ingredient dog food from Instinct, who at the time of writing consider this to be their best dog food for allergies. When we say it has limited ingredients we really mean it, as it is made from 1 protein (lamb) and 1 vegetable.
- Weight: 4lb (available in various larger sizes)
- Age Range: Young adult, adult, senior
- Food Type: Dry
- Flavor: Lamb (others available)
Despite being lamb flavored, this product is also available in duck, salmon and turkey.
It is free from a range of ingredients that could trigger allergies. These include but are not limited to dairy, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, corn, wheat, soy and artificial colors or preservatives. Even if your dog is a picky eater, they will take well to the authentic lamb flavor of this food.
2. Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient
This Simple Limited Ingredient dog food from Wellness is one of our favorite dog foods for intolerances. It was also one of the products we reviewed when we looked at dog foods for sensitive stomachs.
As this formula is designed to be easily digestible and contains fewer ingredients, it makes the perfect food for dogs with sensitivities and allergies.
- Weight: Available in 10.5 lbs and 24 lbs.
- Age Range: Adult
- Food Type: Dry
- Flavor: Salmon and Potato
This comes in salmon and potato flavor. Potato is a healthy low to medium carbohydrate. It is free from a bunch of ingredients that your dog could be sensitive to such as gluten, wheat, corn, dairy and eggs. This makes it a great option for dogs that have intolerances to these.
3. Nulo Puppy & Adult Small Breed Freestyle Limited Plus
Here we have another limited ingredient food this time from Nulo. For those of you looking to lower the amount of carbohydrates your dog is consuming, this is a great option.
It’s recipe has higher protein content and lower carbs intended for those dogs who require a simpler diet. It also contains Ganedenbc30 probiotics which help with digestion.
- Weight: 10 lbs (available in various sizes)
- Age Range: Puppy and Adult
- Food Type: Dry
- Flavor: Salmon (others available)
This dog food is made without many of the ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction including chicken, corn, wheat, soy, eggs, peas, white potato and tapioca. You are not just limited to the salmon flavor as there are also two turkey flavors to choose from.
4. Diamond Care Dog Food
Next up we have the Diamond Care Dog Food. What is interesting about this product is that it is available in three different options. Although we have focused on the sensitive skin option, this product is also available in sensitive stomach or weight management options.
- Weight: 25lb (smaller sized option available)
- Age Range: Adult
- Food Type: Dry
- Flavor: Sensitive Skin (others available)
This is another great example of a limited ingredient dog food and comes free of gluten, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.
The single protein source in this option is hydrolysed salmon. If you are looking for a dog food that has been designed entirely around skin allergies then this is the option for you. It is also impressively cost effective.
5. The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Limited Ingredient
Our final product on the list is this limited ingredient dog food from Honest Kitchen. The exotic fish and coconut flavor is made using fish caught in the wild.
- Weight: 4lb makes 16lbs (available in various sizes)
- Age Range: Puppy and Adult
- Food Type: Dry (add water)
- Flavor: Fish and Coconut (others available)
A point worth noting is that Honest Kitchens suppliers must meet very strict standards in a variety of areas. These include food safety as well as fair-trade practice. This gives you great peace of mind knowing that the ingredients come from compliant and trusted suppliers.
This food comes dry but requires you to add warm water as you serve it. We recommend adding the water slowly to suit your dog’s taste. You can always add more water later if you need to.
So Which Option Is Best? Our Winners
Every one of the foods we have looked at would make great options for dogs with skin allergies. It is now time to explore what we liked about our favorites. This should help you to narrow down your options even more and make an informed buying decision.
Overall Best Dog Food for Skin Allergies:
After careful consideration we decided that Instinct Limited Ingredient was our favorite grain free dog food for skin allergies.
- Buying a new dog food is a big commitment and you want to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible. This formula is a great option for fussy eaters.
- It has a good variety of flavors available including duck, salmon and turkey as well as the lamb option we reviewed.
- Value for money is a big factor for any buying decision. Given the overall quality of this product you get a great bang for your buck.
Despite this one being our favorite, we feel it is definitely worth mentioning the other dog foods we explored.
Best Cheap Dog Food For Skin Allergies:
Diamond Care Dog Food definitely deserves recognition. At the time of writing this review we found it to be the most cost effective option on our list. This makes it a great choice if your budget doesn’t stretch towards the premium priced products.
Best Puppy Food For Skin Allergies:
The Nulo Puppy & Adult Limited Plus is definitely worth trying if your puppy has skin allergies. It’s high protein low carb recipe makes it a real winner and there are several flavors available. As you may have guessed by the name, this is designed for adults as well as pups. This means if your dog enjoys the formula as a puppy it can stick with it for adult life!
Is My Dog Suffering from Food Allergies Or Food Intolerances?
Food allergies and food intolerances are two different concerns.
Food allergies take place when a dog’s immune system mistakenly labels a particular ingredient as harmful. As a response, the immune system creates defensive antibodies to fight the invaders (the ingredient) leading to an immune reaction such as skin rash and itching.
On the other hand, food intolerances are a digestive-related issue the digestive system is unable to digest a specific ingredient. Lactose intolerance is a common condition for dogs. It is experienced when a dog is unable to break down lactose, a sugar found in milk. You may notice digestive related symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.
Types Of Dog Food Best for Skin Allergies
To cope with food allergies, most owners opt for a grain free diet for their pooch. As well as being grain free, dog foods should contain limited ingredients or be hypoallergenic.
Grains are small seeds that originate from specific grasses that are a high source of carbohydrates. A grain free diet consists of dog foods made without wheat, corn, soy, rice, oats and similar ingredients that are usually related to food allergies. As a bonus, the carbohydrates used in grain free foods are often healthier options such as sweet potato. This is a great option if you are looking to lower your pup’s weight and carbohydrate intake, as well as managing their food allergies.
Typically, these foods consist of a single primary protein source, such as salmon or duck (rather than the usual chicken or beef which are both common allergens) and one carbohydrate source. With fewer ingredients, it reduces the exposure to potential allergens and decreases the likelihood of a break out. Look for formulas that exclude unnecessary additives. Limited-ingredient dog foods can also be used for elimination, making it easier for identifying the specific ingredients that a dog is allergic to.
Additionally, hypoallergenic dog foods are great to look out for. These foods are often created using proteins that have been broken down into their basic building blocks. This process can make the allergen somewhat undetectable in a dog’s immune system. This then reduces the likelihood of your dog experiencing an allergic reaction to the food.
Benefits of Grain Free Dog Foods
Whether or not your dog experiences allergies or stomach issues, they can benefit from a grain free diet. Some examples include:
- Easier digestion. Dogs find it difficult to digest refined grains. A diet that is free from grains is less likely to cause stomach problems because it is easier to digest.
- Nutrition. Many manufacturers use a carbohydrate as the main ingredient in their formula. This is not found in grain free food.
- Weight management. Grain free formulas consist of healthier carbohydrate sources such as from vegetables. As long as a dog is fed moderately, this type of food will aid weight management and prevent obesity.
- Allergies. Wheat and soy are one of the most common grain allergens, so excluding grains in a diet will prevent allergic reactions.
What to Look for in Grain Free Dog Foods
In order to look for the best grain free dog food for skin allergies with nutritional value, we recommend looking for the following qualities:
- Protein as the main ingredient. Formulas that will fulfil a dog’s dietary requirements should have a meat-based protein as the first ingredient.
- Sources of carbohydrates. Some manufacturers will substitute grains with unhealthy carbohydrates. Try to avoid these and look for formulas with healthy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and peas.
- All natural ingredients. A healthy, complete and balanced diet should be free from artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. Like with all dog foods, try to look for products made from high-quality fresh and natural ingredients.
How to Switch to a Grain Free Diet
All food transitions should always take place in a gradual manner.
petMD suggests starting with 20% of the new food with 80% of the old. Increase the new food by 20% while decreasing the old food by 20% per day (e.g. day 2 involves a mix of 40% new food and 60% old food), until eventually your dog is consuming 100% of the new food. The whole process should take around 5-7 days.
Final Thoughts On the Best Grain Free Dog Food for Skin Allergies
Finding the best grain free dog food for skin allergies can be a challenging task and it highly depends on what allergens a dog is allergic to. All health conditions can compromise your dog’s quality of life, so visiting the veterinarian to find the root cause of the problem is important.
Once a food allergen has been confirmed, it can be beneficial to switch to a grain free diet. This is because some dogs can become allergic or have issues digesting certain grains. When it comes to switching diets, make sure it is a slow and gradual process.
We hope this article has helped find the best grain free dog food for skin allergies for you and your pooch. What kinds of improvements have you seen since introducing a grain free diet? We would love to hear from you in our comments below!