Are you confused and unsure about what’s the best hypoallergenic dog food to choose?
Read my top 5 favorite review, and let me help you decide.
When a food allergy or intolerance is suspected in your dog or puppy, it is generally advised that their diet should be changed, under guidance from a vet. Your dog or puppy will usually require nutritional management indefinitely.
Specially formulated diets are a very important for a dog with an allergy or intolerance.
Other Factors That Maximize Diet Benefits:
- Feed little and often
- Always ensure access to fresh drinking water
- Exercise regularly
Even though food allergies account for only around 10-15% of allergies in dogs, there is such a large choice when it comes to commercial hypoallergenic dog and puppy food.
Do you have to choose the most expensive? Or can some of the more affordable foods really be just as good- in some cases, better, for your dogs needs? Read on to find out.
Before we get to the food reviews, a little more on those pesky allergies…
The Low Down On Food Allergies in Dogs
Allergens are everywhere. They are common and normally harmless to most animals. A dog with food allergies however will have noticeably extreme reactions to certain allergens, and they may be present in any one of the ingredients in their food.
What Are The Symptoms?
They can include:
- Itchy red moist skin. (Usually around the eyes, ears, & base of tail.)
- persistent scratching.
- excessive sneezing.
- swollen paws.
- excessive licking.
My Boxer snored so loudly from what we later learned was a swollen throat brought on by his food allergy, that the house nearly shook down! That’s another symptom to look out for then.
What Causes Allergies To Suddenly Start?
It’s most commonly believed that some dogs simply have a genetic predisposition to getting allergies. An allergy can go unnoticed for years sometimes, until a certain ingredient in food triggers the allergic reaction. Sadly for dogs prone to food allergies, the ingredients found in most everyday dog food can be the cause. These include beef, chicken, wheat, grains, soy, rabbit, and dairy to name just a few.
Food Allergy Vs Intolerance
There is debate whether what we think is an allergy, is really actually an intolerance. What’s the difference I hear you all ask?
Well, a food allergy is described as being an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Your poor poochs immune system mistakenly identifies a food ingredient as being harmful, and even the smallest amount of the allergy-causing food can trigger some of the unpleasant symptoms we just read about a few paragraphs back.
Think of a food intolerance on the other hand as being a digestive problem. Put less elegantly, it’s when a certain food ingredient causes your dog to have a “dicky tummy”. Your dogs digestive system is simply unable to digest a specific ingredient.
What’s The Hype About Hypoallergenic?
Hypoallergenic dog food recipes avoid the use of ingredients most likely to provoke an allergic reaction. Usually they have these three elements:
- Limited ingredients- this helps to find the specific allergen causing your dogs problem better.
- Innovative or unusual ingredients – examples include; blue whiting, tapioca, pheasant, buffalo, and kangaroo. Having had no previous exposure to an ingredient in theory is meant to mean your dogs stomach is less likely to be sensitive to it.
- Hypoallergenic content such as-
- High in Omega-3 fatty acids
- Lactose free
- Wheat-gluten free
- Cereal free (Cheaper foods are bulked out with these.)
- High in organic compounds such as niacin, biotin, zinc & pantothenic acid.
- Highly digestible.
- Packed with antioxidants.
Commercial or home-made?
There three feeding choices you have typically are:
- Commercial hypoallergenic dog food
- Au natural; Home cooked
- A bit of both.
Rather then simply going off the individual claims made by the dog food manufacturers, my top 5 hypoallergenic dog foods have been decided through:
- My own personal experience feeding my dogs over the years
- Vets recommendations
- Asking fellow dog owners at obedience & training classes their opinions
- Researching dog allergy & nutrition, and learning about the experiences of other dog owners on doggie related forums
Your Dogs Dinner In Your Hands: The Important Final Thought
IMPORTANT- Every dog and puppy is an individual. So while one type of hypoallergenic food could work wonders for one dog, it may not suit another.
I know this from experience. A certain brand of dog food I fed my dogs on once left one wagging his tail wanting more, but it really didn’t agree with my other dogs stomach. (Said brand is not included in the reviews.)
Another important thing to mention: please do not feed your dog unhealthy human food. Even humans struggle to process burger and chips- and our dogs were defiantly not designed to digest all those rubbishy trans fats. This is a particular bug-bear of mine, and if you care for your dogs health, stick to nutritional food.
Top 5 Hypoallergenic Dog Food (In no particular order…)
All prices correct at time of posting. Please be aware that although I aim to do price checks as often as i can to keep the information in this review up to date, prices can often fluctuate daily with retailers.
Skinners Chicken and Rice Sensitive (dry kibble)
This is a brand i keep hearing being recommended. I fed my dogs on Skinners dry food with their wet food for a fairly long time and so personally i think it’s a great choice. There is lots of choice if you fancy going for anything from the rest of the range, their Skinners Field Trial Salmon and Dry Rice is also geared towards dogs with sensitive stomachs, and again personally, i have fed my dogs on this in the past. One dog loved the taste, the other stuck his nose up though! So as always, it can be trial and error when finding the perfect food for your individual dogs needs and tastes.
What’s In It? (Manufacturers description)
Like humans, some dogs can suffer from food-related sensitivities which can manifest themselves in many ways including dry, flaky or itchy skin, loose digestion or flatulence. Skinner’s Chicken & Rice is made with over 17.5% chicken meat meal, 15% whole rice, plus a high quality white fish meal.
- Crude Protein: 20%
- Crude Oils & Fats: 8%
- Crude Fibres: 2%
- Crude Ash: 5.5%
- No artificial additives, flavourings or preservatives
Arden Grange Dog Sensitive Ocean White Fish & Potatoe (dry kibble)
My late Pug Mollie was having a problem with losing hair in little patches, she had terribly sore skin. After trying the expensive stuff (Orijen, Science Plan namely), her improvement was only minor. After taking her to the vets, i was told it was a fungal imbalance in her stomach causing her problems.
My vet recommended a few brands of hypoallergenic food, and told me said it was probably the grains and cereals upsetting her tummy.
Arden Grange Sensitive was one of the brands recommended, and it worked a treat for my girl. Within 3 days she had stopped scratching herself constantly. Yay! I highly recommend this product from personal experience.
It’s worth noting also that a bag of the regular Arden Grange came with my rescue Collie from The Dogs Trust a few years ago, and he did brilliantly on that too even as we found out the hard way, he has an intolerance to many food brands.
I know this isn’t the cheapest option, but it seems to work for alot of breeds.
What’s In It? (Manufacturers description)
Adult dogs with a delicate digestion or sensitive skin. Can also be used for dogs who prefer fish based diets; Dogs who require a grain-free diet, and in particular those with dietary allergies; Older puppies with chicken or grain allergy/intolerance (12 wks+ – please ask for our special feeding guide under such circumstances)
- ARDEN GRANGE Ocean White Fish and Potato is a nutritionally complete dry food which is ideally suited to adult dogs with a delicate digestion or sensitive skin
- Ocean white fish provides a primary protein source that is easily metabolised for efficient bodily functioning
- An excellent omega-3 : omega-6 ratio which may help alleviate inflammation and supress adverse immune reactions
- Cereal and grain free providing all breeds of dog with a hypoallergenic, wholesome diet full of natural goodness
Size Options: 2kg / 6kg /12kg
Wainwrights Adult Tray Dog Food- Various Flavours (wet)
Wainwrights is a wet dog food with a high meat content, unlike many low grade tinned wet dog foods that can have as low as 4%! What’s worse, is that the ‘meat’ content is rather ambiguously described as being “meat and animal derivatives“. Just think what that could actually mean?
Wainwrights says it has at least 65% of the main meat ingredient in comparison to certain nasty tinned ‘food’. Pretty impressive, and pretty satisfying to know your loved pooch isn’t getting what could be any old dubious part of the animal in his/her food bowel.
This is another brand that I have fed my own dogs on; my Boxer cross ate this for the first few years we had him in fact. These are best brought in the Mixed Variety Pack with 12 x 359g trays for best value for money I reckon. A Basset Hound breeder i know swears by Wainwrights due to the high meat content.
What’s In It?
Flavor variations include lamb, turkey, duck, chicken and rice, and they also do a special Wainwrights Grain Free mulit-pack buy too. These include 4 x turkey, 4 x lamb, and 4 x rabbit.
Wainwright’s Adult Dog Food Trays Mixed Variety Pack 12 x 395g has nutritious ingredients that are gentle on your dogs digestion.
- Hypo-allergenic and low allergen.
- No wheat gluten.
- No unhealthy additives.
- No dairy products or eggs.
- No soya or other fillers.
Size Options: Multi-pack- 12 x 395g trays
Burgess Sensitive- British Lamb And Rice (dry kibble)
Another good dry hypoallergenic dog food that’s fairly easy on the wallet too. A friend of mine feeds her Yorkie and German Shepard on this (what a combo!) as they both tend to get dry flakey skin. Her Shepard suffers especially from sore cracked paws. She confirms since starting them on Burgess Sensitive earlier in the year, the skin problems seem to be much better. Other Online reviews seem to be very favorable towards this brand too.
What’s In It?
- Lamb is a highly digestible protein for good muscle formation and retention
- Rice is a gentle carbohydrate which is a good source of energy
- Beet Pulp is an excellent source of dietary fibre for digestive health and good stool formation
- Fish Oil for a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids for a glossy coat and healthy skin
- Lucerne is a rich source of naturally occurring antioxidants
- Taurine is an amino acid that supports a healthy heart
- FREE FROM artificial flavours and colours
- NO ADDED preservatives
- Protein 20% Fat Content 10% Crude Fibre 2.5% Crude Ash 10%
- Rice (min 26%), Lamb Meal (min 26%), Unmolassed Beet Pulp (5%), Poultry Fat, Digest, Fish Oil (1%), Lucerne (1%), Limestone, Sodium Chloride.
Size Options: 2kg / 12.5kg
Chappie- Original (wet)
Ladies and gents, this is my personal favourite. Chappie seemed to be the brand i kept hearing recommended time an time again from vets, dog owners, and breeders. I turned my nose up at first thinking because it’s inexpensive it may not work for sensitive stomachs and allergies. For my dogs, Chappie is as effective as everyone raves on about. This is the brand i feed my dogs on now, along with home-cooked food on the weekends. I’ve listed the wet food here, but i also recommend Chappie Original Complete dry biscuits. I mix the kibble in with the wet tinned food.
Quote from a Labrador owner: “My 6 year old lab developed symptoms of colitis. The vet suggested very expensive (£50.00 for 7Kg) food which helped, but made her constipated. I did loads of research online & tried Chappie as so many people were praising it. No more dodgy tummy at last!! It’s so cheap compared to other stuff i’ve tried, i couldn’t be more pleased. I told my vet how brilliant Chappie has been when we had a routine visit, and she admitted she feeds her dogs on it too. (Why didn’t she tell me this months ago instead of recommending the expensive food?!)Myself and Zippie the lab recommend it highly.”
What’s In It?
(Pet Planet Product Description)
A great all-round feed that is low in calorie and developed under the watchful eye of experienced vets, this Chappie range is both delicious and healthy.
- Made with no added sugar, dairy, artificial colours/ flavours
- Containing chicken, cereals, whole wheat, oils and fats
- Developed with leading nutritionists and veterinarians of Waltham ® – The World’s foremost authority on pet care and nutrition
- Essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6, all key in supporting optimum skin and coat health
- Quality protein to help support strong muscles
- The kibble is good for their teeth as it has that great crunchy bite
- Low calorie – 100g contains just 332 kcal
Size Options: Dry biscuits: 2.5kg/15kg
Often it isn’t known exactly why a food ingredient causes the symptoms of food allergy. Remember on the homepage where I said unusual ingredients in dog food is a feature of hypoallergenic foods? This is believed to be the reason Chappie works so well; it contains fish. Fish is not only a good natural source of protein, it also tends not to be implicated in causing allergies. (In some cases fish can be an allergy trigger though, so don’t think this brand is the magic solution for all.)
A point worth mentioning also is that “whole-grain” is listed as an ingredient in most Chappie flavours. Grain can often be the culprit for causing food allergies in some dogs. So, while Chappie does work superbly well for countless dogs, be careful if your dog has a known specific whole-grain intolerance, as this may not be the right choice for you.