In today's guide, we recommend the hypoallergenic dog foods that can really make a difference. Find the perfect dog food for your sensitive dog below.
Just like us, dogs can develop various intolerances and allergies to certain foods including their dog food.
Typical culprits for dog intolerances or allergies are dairy, soya and wheat.
You might notice early on in your dog’s life but intolerances and allergies can develop anytime so it’s always good practice to remain vigilant to your dog’s digestive health and general behaviour.
If you’re looking for food for dogs with allergies then these are 5 of the very best hypoallergenic dog foods available right now.
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Our Recommended Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
Before you get to the detailed reviews, take a quick look at our recommendations in the comparison table below.
OUR TOP PICK
James Wellbeloved Complete
- No unhealthy additives
Burgess Sensitive Hypoallergenic Dog Food
- Wheat, gluten & maize-free recipe
Royal Canin Veterinary Hypoallergenic
- Uses a moderate calorie content to maintain ideal body weight
- Includes hydrolysed protein
Alpha Sensitive Extra
- Wheat & gluten free
- Naturally balanced for active dogs
OUR TOP PICK
James Wellbeloved Complete
This excellent and very well-respected hypoallergenic dog food involves a finely balanced carefully selected palette of ingredients designed to not aggravate allergies and/or intolerances.
Primarily, these dog foods use high-quality rice and protein from turkey, fish or lamb as the base ingredients. These provide protein and carbohydrates as well as many basic vitamins and minerals. These ingredients are known to be very hypoallergenic and well-tolerated by even the most sensitive dogs.
On top of these primary ingredients, this dog food contains several other carefully selected ingredients including oats, sugar beet pulp, yucca extract, and linseeds to provide a comprehensive array of nutrients.
There is no beef or pork, wheat or gluten, dairy products, egg, or soya. James Wellbeloved Complete is also fortified with beneficial compounds such as lysine and L-methionine for proper muscle and immune system function as well as vital omega-3 and omega-6 acids and glucosamine for bone health.
All additives and fillers are high-quality and kept to an absolute minimum - they also do not contain allergenic ingredients.
Burgess Sensitive Hypoallergenic Dog Food
This comprehensive hypoallergenic dog food uses gentle ingredients that provide the same full-spectrum of benefits as standard dog foods.
The main ingredients of Burgess Sensitive Dog Food are turkey and rice, both of which are easily digestible for most dogs. Turkey provides healthy proteins and rice provides a gentle source of carbohydrate.
Burgess Sensitive provides extra vital nutrients through oats, beet pulps, lucerne, seaweed and yucca. It is fortified with minerals and vitamins, A, E and D.
This is a high-quality dog food rich in easily digestible ingredients and should be suitable to dogs with an array of intolerance and allergies as it is free from maize, wheat and eggs (the three most common offenders).
The kibble is small enough for smaller breeds and is not too hard to be consumed by older dogs with weaker teeth and jaws. Buyers report their dogs feeling more energetic, happier and less lethargic after consuming it.
This is an excellent dog food for all breeds that require high-quality hypoallergenic dog food. It is also available in fish, lamb and salmon varieties.
Royal Canin Veterinary Hypoallergenic
This professionally-formulated hypoallergenic dog food is specially formulated for dogs that experience moderate to serious levels of intolerance and allergy.
It is recommended not only for more minor suspected intolerances to classic problem ingredients such as maize, but also for dogs experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and bacterial stomach infection.
It is only to be used under the direction or supervision of a vet and is additionally designed with low calories to help dogs moderate their bodyweight.
This dry complete dog food is made primarily from poultry protein and rice. It also contains vegetable fibres and proteins, animal fats, beet pulp, fish oil and seeds.
Marigold extract is provided as a source of lutein that contains vital vitamins and Royal Canin Veterinary Hypoallergenic is also fortified with minerals.
Royal Canin is professionally formulated and is purposefully designed for allergies or intolerances that have been officially diagnosed.
Whilst it contains easily digested proteins and carbohydrates, it does still contain soya and eggs so if you’ve been told these are the problem ingredients you need to watch out for then give this product a miss.
Alpha Sensitive Extra
Alpha offers a huge array of professional high-quality dog foods and their Sensitive range, available in both duck and chicken varieties, has been carefully formulated for dogs experiencing an array of allergies and intolerances.
Alpha Sensitive Dog Food is free from gluten, soy and dairy. It features easily digestible proteins and gentle carbohydrates derived from rice.
It contains maize but no grains that include gluten. This excellent dog food even features a prebiotic that is designed to aid digestion in dogs with digestive issues.
Enhanced with fish meal and linseed, this dog food contains a rich quantity of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals to encourage proper muscle and immune function, eyesight, dental health, skin health, coat, etc.
The kibbles are small enough to be consumed by all breeds and are not too tough or hard on the jaw and teeth. This is a complete dog food free with no artificial flavours or other additives.
Value for Money
Autarky make a high-quality renowned hypoallergenic dog food that's incredibly popular and has become a firm favourite of owners of allergy sensitive dogs.
This grain-free hypoallergenic dog food is free from the main two least tolerated ingredients in dog food, gluten and soya.
It does, however, contain a wide variety of natural additives including a wide selection of beneficial herbs ranging from rosehip to thyme, peppermint and fennel.
It also contains vegetable extracts such as kale and beetroot extracts. Autarky Hypoallergenic Dog Food is further fortified with taurine and carnitine as well as vitamin B and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
The comprehensive list of ingredients in this complete advanced dog food will not suit all sensitive dogs but for those where soya or gluten is definitely the culprit, this dog food is one of the finest available and provides a wide spectrum of nutrients.
It is available in several varieties suitable for mature dogs and puppies in either chicken or salmon flavour. There are no artificial preservatives or other additives.
Overall, this is a very high-quality dog food without soy or gluten and an excellent array of other beneficial ingredients.
Still a bit unsure if hypoallergenic dog food is right for your pooch?
Read on to find out in what instances you should give it a try.
What Problems Can Hypoallergenic Dog Food Solve?
If you notice your dog acts strange or is uncomfortable after feeding then you might be right to assume they have an intolerance or allergy to some of the ingredients in their food.
The most common signs are digestive symptoms including stomach ache, diarrhoea and bloating but skin allergies are also possible and your dog may become itchy, a telltale sign of an allergy.
It may not always be obvious if your dog is allergic to their food, they may simply go and hide in their bed or dog crate and wait it out until they feel better.
Resting after eating is normal but if you notice any signs of distress or anxiety then this could be a surefire sign that something in your dog’s food is not agreeing with them.
Hypoallergenic food uses ingredients that are extremely unlikely to cause intolerances, allergies or other adverse reactions.
This should ensure your dog can eat freely without complaint and actually enjoy their dinner from start to finish!
This benefits your dog for obvious reasons but also you, as you won’t have to deal with a sad, sick, anxious or smelly dog after their dinner time - and maybe fewer trips to the bathroom!
It must be said at this point that you should always consult your vet before making significant changes to your dog's diet.
Why Use Hypoallergenic Dog Food?
Hypoallergenic dog food is a necessity for some dogs that clearly don’t agree with conventional ingredients.
Like us, dogs may have complex dietary needs and these may be present from birth or could develop almost at any time.
Some breeds are more likely to have allergies than others, though it’s certainly possible for any dog to have intolerances or allergies.
Hypoallergenic food is designed to reduce the possibility of adverse reactions by cutting out problem ingredients that commonly cause allergies and intolerances.
They allow you to feed your dog the same as you would with any other dog food but without any harmful or otherwise unpleasant effects for you and your dog.
What Foods Commonly Cause Allergies in Dogs?
Dogs can be allergic to virtually anything, just like us humans!
However, there are some prime candidates that are more likely to cause intolerances and allergies.
Eggs, beef protein, soya, nuts, fish, wheat and dairy are all linked to allergies and intolerances but the truth is, any ingredient in dog food can as can preservatives, sweeteners and binding agents.
Whilst these should all be properly listed on any good dog food, it may be hard to narrow down the candidate(s) that are making your dog ill.
It’s always best to start off with the most obvious candidates, though.
The Common Symptoms of a Food Allergy in a Dog
The onset of allergic symptoms usually shortly follow meals but this may vary and symptoms can come on slowly and build steadily over time.
The most common signs of an allergy are:
- Wheezing, coughing, sniffing or sneezing
- Excessive drooling or excessively dry mouth
- Stomach cramps, gas and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin irritation, itching or hives (a visible rash)
- Swollen tongue, face or stomach
- Itchy and swollen eyes and eyelids
- Anxiety, stress and panic
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive urination
- Any other persistent change in behaviour, particularly after eating
What’s the Difference Between an Allergy & Food Intolerance?
Intolerances and allergies may have similar effects but they’re not the same thing.
Allergies involve an immune response and can be very severe or even life-threatening. Allergy symptoms may range from minor skin irritation and coughing, sneezing or wheezing to anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition where the throat closes up, eventually preventing respiration (breathing). This is very rare and most allergies are much more likely to be mild.
Intolerances, on the other hand, tend to be milder and confined to the digestive system. They do not generally involve the same kind of immune response as an allergy.
Allergies are more likely with ingredients such as eggs, soy, nuts and seafood whereas intolerances are common with dairy and wheat.
The Advantages of a Hypoallergenic Diet for Your Dog
Hypoallergenic diets may be crucial for dogs that have many allergies and intolerances.
This is particularly problematic with some breeds of dogs, such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Poodles amongst others but allergies and intolerances can occur in any dog at almost any time.
Depending on your dog’s needs, hypoallergenic diets might relieve irritating symptoms such as bloating and itching or maybe vital for avoiding life-threatening conditions such as anaphylactic shock.
It’s possible to use hypoallergenic dog food for skin allergies as well as intolerances and more severe allergies.
Your dog may spontaneously develop an intolerance or allergy in later life, so even if they agree with all foods when they’re younger, you can never rule out the chance of allergy or intolerances when your dog grows older.
A hypoallergenic diet allows your dog to consume its food without the risk of allergies, intolerances or other adverse reactions.
This will make mealtimes much more pleasant and enjoyable whilst avoiding the adverse effects created later on by any potential intolerances or allergies. For dogs, this can change their life.
Mealtimes are important to dogs just like they are to us and a proper diet that your dog can enjoy without harm will improve its wellbeing and health, both mental and physical.
Can an Elimination Diet Help?
One of the trickiest elements of adopting new dietary requirements for your dog is actually narrowing down the ingredients that your dog is allergic to.
Your dog might experience adverse reactions to their meal but how do you know what ingredients are causing the issue? The elimination diet is one way to find out!
An elimination diet involves moving your dog onto very simple base ingredients for a period of time before introducing them to different complete foods.
The simple base diet can be formed from one protein product (e.g. beans, pinto or lean meat such as turkey or beef) and one carbohydrate product (e.g. potato or rice).
Try one from each category and check for adverse reactions.
Once you can settle on a pair of base foods, continue this diet for 1 to 2 weeks. Do not give your dog any other foods.
Then, try and introduce them to different dog foods.
Start with normal non-hypoallergenic dog foods and verify these are indeed producing adverse reactions.
Then, if necessary, move onto hypoallergenic dog foods.
Of course, in the case of more extreme and serious allergies, the elimination diet may not be suitable and proper testing with the assistance of a vet will be necessary.
The Nutritional Needs of a Dog
Dogs and humans have quite different nutritional needs and a dog’s diet, though simpler in some respects, still requires many specific nutrients in the right proportions to maximise wellbeing and health.
Actually, whilst we might view dogs as carnivores with very simple and raw dietary needs, domestic dogs have evolved and adapted to need more complex diets.
Fundamentally, a dog’s diet must contain water and the same macro-nutrients that most other animals need including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.
Dogs, however, require more protein and carbohydrates than we do. They’re also less reliant on constant vitamin intake as they produce some vitamins in their livers, like vitamin C. Dogs can tolerate higher amounts of fats but less fibre that humans need in abundance.
Most of the minerals we need, such as iron, calcium and potassium, are also required by dogs but in different proportions. Iron and calcium are vital for bone and joint health in dogs are nearly all dog foods will be heavily fortified in these areas.
Dog diets also vary with the breed and size of the dog. Since some dogs can be very active and muscled, they may require extra protein and carbohydrates as well as iron and other minerals to support their muscle and bone growth.
Larger more active dogs may need many more calories than humans whereas smaller more sedentary dogs can put on weight rapidly if they’re fed too much.
Recommended Next: Check out our guide to the leading grain-free foods for your dog here.
Problems When Changing a Dog’s Diet
Transitioning your dog onto a hypoallergenic diet for dogs can cause short-term side effects.
Dog’s stomachs adapt to the food they’re consuming and depending on the ingredients, they might produce different enzymes in different concentrations to aid digestion.
When they consume new foods, these enzymes may no longer be useful or they might not be present in the right amounts to properly digest the food.
This means they sometimes cannot properly digest the new food for a period until they get used to it. This won’t always happen but still, it’s best to transition your dog carefully between old and new diets.
To do this, simply blend your dog’s new food with the old in increasing proportions over the space of 1 to 4 weeks.
The more sensitive your dog is, the more careful you need to be.
Start by mixing 25% of the new food in with the old for a few days and note any new symptoms. These will usually be digestive symptoms like diarrhoea or cramping.
If you begin to see these symptoms subside then add more new food until the transition is complete.
We recommend always consulting your vet before making significant changes to a dog's diet.
Always Consult Your Vet!
Allergies and intolerances vary massively in severity.
Allergies have to be dealt with swiftly and with the assistance of a vet that can confirm your suspicions and run allergen tests to reveal what the problem ingredient is.
This could save you time, cost and stress in swapping between different hypoallergenic foods.
Intolerances are milder and easier to deal with yourself but still, if symptoms persist or become more serious then involving a vet is crucial to rule out allergies or other health concerns.
It’s hard to narrow down the best hypoallergenic dog food or anti-allergy dog food.
Hypoallergenic food for dogs gives your dog the ability to really tuck into their meals once more without feeling sick or ill.
There’s a good deal of choice for hypoallergenic dog food but our 5 recommended products represent some of the very best available and are well-suited to a range of intolerances, sensitivities and allergies of various severity.
Remember to always consult your vet before moving your dog onto hypoallergenic dog food and keep an eye on how they behave once their dietary transition is complete.