You have a beloved pet, a loyal pup who's been your companion through thick and thin. But recently, you've noticed that something is off. Your dog has been scratching and licking their paws more than usual, and it looks like an allergic reaction. You know that dogs can suffer from food allergies because of ingredients, just like people do. So, you figure it's time to switch up their food. Finding the best food for your allergic dog isn't always easy — but luckily, you've come to the right place!
Dogs with allergies need special care and attention, especially when it comes to their diet. While all dogs require a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, those with allergies often have more restricted diets.
Finding the best food for your dog's food allergies can be tricky because there are so many brands on the market that claim to provide optimal nutrition for allergic dogs with food allergies.
Fortunately, in this guide, we’ll discuss the best dog food for your allergic dog and what features make them suitable.
What Are Allergies in Dogs?
Before we get into the specifics, let’s define dog allergies. Allergies occur when a dog's immune system responds abnormally to proteins found in food, environmental allergens, or insect bites. When this happens, their bodies produce an antibody known as IgE, which triggers an inflammatory reaction and leads to sneezing, scratching, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Dogs may experience symptoms of adverse food reactions like skin irritations, excessive itching, paw licking, vomiting, or loose stools when exposed to an allergen. Despite how awful we know this sounds, allergies are actually a common issue for dogs — just like humans, they can have negative reactions to certain ingredients in their food.
What Causes Food Allergies in Dogs?
Food allergies in dogs are typically caused by proteins found in certain ingredients. Common allergens like beef, dairy, wheat, and soy can cause an allergic response if the protein is not broken down properly during digestion.
The thing is, it’s common for dog foods to contain common allergens like beef, wheat, dairy products, or eggs — so it’s important to read labels carefully and look for the best limited ingredient dog food options that don't include these ingredients. Additionally, look for brands that offer special formulas designed specifically for dogs with sensitivities or allergies.
Why is it Important to Choose the Right Dog Food for Dogs with Allergies?
Feeding your pup the right food is essential for their health and well-being, especially if they have allergies. The wrong diet can worsen existing symptoms or even trigger new ones, so it’s important to find a balanced formula that meets their individual needs.
Allergic reactions to proteins in food can be extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous — so finding a diet that eliminates the allergens is key. Many formulas suited for allergic dogs are made with novel proteins like duck or rabbit, which are less likely to cause an allergic response than common ingredients such as beef or chicken.
In addition to avoiding potential allergens, special diets and supplements for dogs with allergies also provide specific nutrients that help nourish their skin and coat while reducing inflammation and itching.
Types of Dog Foods for Dogs with Allergies
Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Hypoallergenic dog food is specifically designed for dogs with allergies and contains novel proteins instead of common allergens. These formulas are typically made with ingredients like duck, rabbit, or salmon, which have smaller molecular structures that can be better broken down during digestion. As a result, they’re less likely to cause an allergic reaction in sensitive pups.
Grain-Free Dog Food
Grain-free dog food is also a good choice for dogs with allergies. Grains like wheat and corn are common allergens, so eliminating them from your pup’s diet can help reduce inflammation and itching. Grain-free formulas often contain novel proteins like duck or rabbit, as well as healthy fats that nourish the skin and coat.
Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Limited-ingredient dog food is also a great option for dogs with allergies. These formulas contain fewer ingredients than regular dog food, so it’s easier to identify potential allergens and tailor the diet accordingly. Limited ingredient diets are typically made with novel proteins like duck or salmon and limited carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes or peas.
In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe a special diet for your pup. These diets are designed to meet the specific needs of dogs with allergies and typically contain limited ingredients or novel proteins. Depending on your pet’s individual needs, these diets may also include vitamins, minerals, or other supplements that can help reduce inflammation and itching.
Benefits of Feeding the Right Dog Food to Dogs with Allergies
Improved Health and Comfort for Your Pet
Feeding your pup the right food can have a huge impact on their health and well-being. Formulas with novel proteins and limited ingredients can help reduce inflammation and itching, improve digestive, digestive, and immune health throughout, and provide essential nutrients for their skin and coat.
Additionally, these diets are often more palatable than other types of food, making them easier to eat — even for picky pups!
Reduced Vet Bills
By feeding your pup the best food for their individual needs, you can also help reduce vet bills. Allergies can be tricky to diagnose and manage — but providing your pet's immune system with the right diet is one of the easiest ways to keep them healthy and comfortable.
Simply put, the fewer trips to the vet you have, the fewer bills.
Reduced Symptoms Associated with Allergic Reactions
Finally, feeding your pup the right food can help reduce symptoms associated with allergic reactions. Aim for formulas that provide essential nutrients to nourish their skin and coat, that eliminate potential allergens that may trigger an inflammatory immune response.
Well-balanced nutrition can help minimize uncomfortable symptoms such as itching, scratching, and paw licking so your pup can lead a healthy, comfortable life.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Dog Food Allergy?
Common symptoms of a food allergy in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, gas, bloating, itchy skin and coat, red and irritated skin (commonly referred to as “hot spots”), excessive paw licking or chewing, ear infections, sneezing, and coughing. If you notice any of these symptoms after your pet consumes certain foods or ingredients, then they may have an allergy. Luckily, several products, such as anti-itch oil, help dogs combat some of these symptoms.
In addition to these signs of a food allergy in dogs, other symptoms can include hives or swelling around the eyes or face. If you suspect that your dog is having an allergic reaction to their diet then contact your veterinarian for advice on how best to manage the issue.
How Do I Confirm If My Dog Has A Food Allergy?
To confirm if your pup has a food allergy and what exactly your dog is allergic to, you’ll need to work closely with your veterinarian. Your vet may recommend an elimination diet where certain ingredients are removed from the diet and reintroduced one at a time to see which ones cause symptoms. Blood tests, skin scrapings or intradermal tests can also be used to identify your dog's food allergies in some cases.
Finding the right diet for a dog with allergies can require some trial and error — but providing them with formulas that eliminate potential allergens is often the best way to reduce symptoms and improve their health.
Finding the right food for a pup with allergies doesn't have to be complicated. With the right diet, you can help keep your pet comfortable and minimize vet bills. The three dog foods mentioned above are all excellent choices for pups with allergies and provide the essential vitamins and nutrients to nourish their skin and coat health.
Remember that if you suspect your pup has an allergy, contact your veterinarian for advice on how best to manage the issue. With some trial and error, the perfect puppy food can be found!