In order to identify the best dog food for allergies, it’s a good idea to first understand the meaning of food allergies and what exactly causes them. There are many words used to describe this abnormal reaction at food. Terms such as “allergy” and “hypo sensitivity” are among the commonly used words to describe this immunologic reaction which occurs due to food allergens.
Note that, a previous exposure to the allergen is required by the reaction to bring about the symptoms. On the other hand, food “intolerance” doesn’t involve the immune system though it can occur with the first exposure to particular foods. Both reactions are however similar and hard to differentiate so veterinary guidance is highly advised.
According to a professional clinical assistant in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Bio medical Sciences Dr Adam Petterson, reaction of the human body due to allergies is quite different as compared to those of dogs. For instance, a person who is allergic to shellfish may experience a critical fatal reaction such as throat swelling. In dogs, the reaction is exposed via the skin where it’s seen most often as an itch.
Common signs of food allergies
Symptoms of food allergies in most dogs may be similar or vary at times. You should however know that there are those primary symptoms which are experienced such as non-seasonal itching which may primarily affect the face, ears, feet, armpits and areas around the anus. Other symptoms which are likely to be experienced include chronic or recurrent ear infection, loss of hair, excessive scratching, skin complications and hot spots.
Other notable symptoms which are likely to be experienced include continuous vomiting and diarrhea. Note that some of these symptoms are likely to occur when dogs are young (less than a year old).
There are other symptoms evident with dogs and food allergies which include increased bowel movements. According to studies, non-allergic dogs are estimated to have around 1.5 bowel movements on a daily basis while allergic dogs may have up to 3 or more bowel movements per day. It is difficult to distinguish a dog suffering from food allergies or intolerance based on the physical outlook.
However, signs such as ear problems particularly yeast infections and severe skin problems are enough to tip you that your dog is likely to have a food allergy. You will notice that some dogs develop very itchy skins which fail to respond to steroid treatments.
What causes this diseases?
Research has revealed that most dogs which develop food allergies are typically allergic to particular ingredients that are more likely to develop food allergies as compared to others. Since most of these ingredients are proteins, what happens is that after being broken down to small molecules, the immune system identifies them as potential threats. Among these common ingredients include: yeast, beef, dairy, chicken eggs, lamb, fish, wheat, corn and soy.
Note that, most of these allergic ingredients are the same ingredients found in most dog foods. Though some of these proteins may be more allergenic than others, incidents of allergic reactions are mostly experienced depending with the amount of protein exposure.
Best food options for dogs with allergies
When determining the best food for dogs with allergies, it’s important that you first seek some advice from a professional veterinary nutritionist. This is because most of the prescribed dog foods contain trace amounts of common allergens as compared to food bought over the counter. Among the notable ingredients present in such dog food include:
- Limited ingredients: foods with limited ingredients contain fewer components which break down any suspected allergens which your dog might be allergic to.
- Novel ingredients: novel ingredients dog foods contain unique components which your dog have never been exposed to making it less likely for the immune system to sense them as potential threats.
Such food types usually contain relatively obscure ingredients such as kangaroo, millet, pheasant and buffalo. Note that, it’s not advisable to randomly remove particular ingredients from your dog’s diet without consulting a veterinary nutritionist as it can lead to a nutritional imbalance.
With that said, allergies are not the only reason to consider feeding your dog a specialized diet. If you’d like to know more, you can read our article on the symptoms of and food options for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Special hypoallergenic formulas
If your dog’s health problems persist, it is advisable that you switch to hypoallergenic dog food. The best thing about these foods is that they contain a limited number of ingredients which means that your dog is likely to get well when allergic substances are removed from his/her diet.
Like we have previously reviewed, some dog food companies provide an option of novel foods which contain unique ingredients which your dog has never been exposed to. These foods act as a perfect alternative for dogs which are highly allergic to proteins such as chicken and corn. You can further seek advice from a professional veterinary nutritionist who will conduct tests to determine the exact cause of your dog’s distress.
Most companies have reacted to the issue of food allergies through introducing hypoallergenic formulas which are less likely to aggravate skin allergies and intestinal distress to dogs. Since most allergies are manifested through the skin, choosing the best hypoallergenic dog food rich in seafood ingredients is likely to improve your dog’s condition. These two types of seafood are likely to benefit your dog in either of these two ways:
- They will introduce rich Omega-3 and fatty acids into your dog’s diet which is very essential in skin treatment and alignment.
- They introduce new food components in the digestive system which the immune system has never experienced before.
Hypoallergenic foods are highly available in numerous outlets which include veterinary health care facilities, stores which specifically deal with dog products as well as a variety of online retailers.
Among the best brands of hypoallergenic foods include the following:
- Holistic Radiant Adult: unlike other hypo-allergic foods, this dog food contains grains as its primary ingredient. Grains are essential in your dog’s diet since it contains fiber and unprocessed micro-nutrients which creates a complete meal for your dog. Basically, this dog food is designed to accelerate the healing process of your dog’s digestive tract by introducing a complete natural diet.
Some of the common ingredients incorporated in Holistic Radiant Adult dog foods include pre-biotics, digestive enzymes and pro-biotics which help to heal your dog’s digestive disorders and clear unhealthy waste buildups. Note that, Holistic Radiant is not meant to cure your dog though most customers have revealed that this dog food acts perfectly well where your dog’s health will significantly improve after consumption. Other ingredients present in brands of Holistic foods include chicken, lamb, seafoods and duck which adds more flavor to your dog’s diet.
- Wellness Natural Dog Food: these types of dog foods are among the best and offer a complete range of hypo-allergenic ingredients which are useful in a dog’s diet. They contain both gluten-free and grain-free ingredients and further offer novelty meats which not only supplement your dog’s diet but will satisfy its distressed stomach.
Wellness Natural are the best hypoallergenic dog foods to start with when trying to identify an allergy. This is because the company offers different brands of dog foods for dog owners to try out. This offers everyone a chance to switch between different dog foods to identify which ones are allergic and which ones are not.
Among the best ingredients contained in Wellness Natural Dog Food is their limited ingredient named ‘Simple.’ This ingredient doesn’t contain allergenic components such as wheat, corn, eggs, meat byproducts or any artificial flavors. They are further rated by most customers among the best dog foods in the Amazon coverage.
- Orijen Dog Food: this dog food has received positive criticism from many companies which deal with dog foods. It offers fresh premium meals which are not reactive to your dog in any way. Orijen has ensured that they deliver quality products to their customers where they raise their own chickens and hire their own fishermen who deliver them with fresh fish.
The company further uses high quality fruits and vegetables to roundup the nutrition and supplement the diet. Though Orijen dog foods are quite expensive, once you calculate the amount of nutrients and proteins packed in each bite, you will notice that it’s worth spending your money to buy Orijen as compared to other fillers. Its incredible value ranks it among the best dog foods. Since Orijen is natural and doesn’t contain allergenic ingredients which are present in other cheaper dog foods, it has been classified as a hypoallergenic food.
- Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein: dogs which are allergic to certain proteins usually give their owners a hard time when it comes to finding the best dog foods that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Some dogs are even unable to digest raw meat. At this point, the best food to reach out for is the Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein.
This exclusive dog food is created through the process of hydrolysis where the ingredients are broken down into small digestible particles. When added in a dog’s diet, its immune system doesn’t recognize the food as a threat since it’s already broken down. Since Canin is the leading company which uses this process, a wide array of their hydrolyzed foods are highly available for customers to choose from. The company further uses minimal ingredients and ensures that there is a vast array of Omega-3s components and chalated minerals present in the foods.
- Addiction’s Wild Kangaroo and Apple: this fascinating dog food uses kangaroo meat as its main ingredient. There are other brands which use kangaroo meat in their dog foods but according to customers’ response, Addiction has managed to be ranked among the best brands which offer the best quality dog foods. Since kangaroo meat is quite unique to what most dogs have grown on, the chances of their immune systems recognizing the food as potential threats is pretty minimal.
The kangaroo meat contained in this food has an 8-14% fat ratio which makes it the best diet for dogs with OBD problems. The apple ingredient present in the dog food helps in coating the dog’s stomach. It also reduces pain and digestive discomforts which your dog may experience and further slows down the rate of digestion and prevent diarrhea.
Best dog food for skin allergies
Most dogs manifest their food allergies through their skins. However, most people don’t know how to distinguish between skin allergies and external allergens. You should therefore check your dog for any signs of coat problems which could most likely be caused by the type of food consumed.
You may sometimes have to visit a local vet to get some anti allergy ingredients which will lower the inflammation. But, for a long time healing process, you must feed your dog with foods indicated for skin allergies. At times, you will be forced to eliminate some ingredients in your dog’s food to easily identify what’s causing an allergy in your dog.
Limited ingredients dog foods will be of much help since they only contain 2-3 main ingredients. These are enough to provide a balanced diet to your dog. These foods are considered to be “stage 1” dog foods since they help eliminate potential allergens from your dog’s diet.
After successful allergen elimination, some dogs are later transitioned to a novel diet after their skins have completely healed. Since most dog foods contain chicken and beef as the main ingredients, some dogs start developing an intolerance to these ingredients. Switching from these foods to other brands that contain other meats such as kangaroo will help your dog heal faster.
Novel foods are the best foods since they are grain-free and avoid using soy, wheat and milk as their main ingredients. Most of them use salmon meat which is rich in fatty acids which maintains your dog’s skin and eye health. However, these dog foods are 2-3× more expensive as compared to other cheap brands out there. This is because they contain high quality pure ingredients enough to keep your dog’s skin healthy.
That being said, novel ingredient foods are the best dog foods for skin allergies. Among the top pick dog foods which are essential for sensitive skins include:
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredients: Natural Balance produce quality dog foods which offer the best limited ingredient diets to your dog. Most dog owners have turned to the consumption of these brands since they help to overcome digestive and skin problems. Since most brands offering the same dog foods with limited ingredients use regular potatoes, Natural Balance has gone a mile further to use sweet potatoes among its main ingredients due to their higher nutritional value.
Among other ingredients used by Natural Balance include salmon and flax seeds which are rich in Omega-3s, DHA and essential fatty acids. These ingredients are not only designed to remove common allergens but are also meant to align your dog’s skin keeping it healthy and shinny.
- Wellness Simple: the Wellness brands offer great formulas which work best as compared to Hill Science Diets prescribed by most vets. Most dog owners have switched to this brand since it contains no fillers and offer high quality meats in the recipe. Wellness Simple contains 5 different formulas for you to choose from. Each formula contains flax seed oil which is essential for skin treatment and maintenance.
Many dog owners have stated that the best way to eliminate the symptoms of allergies in your dog is go with the raw diet. If this is an option you’d like to consider, you can read all the details we’ve laid out for you in our article about raw food diet for dogs.
The bottom line
When diagnosing food allergies in dogs, using a hypoallergenic dog food is the most reliable step to consider. You can either use novel proteins or hydrolyzed proteins. As we read earlier in this article, novel proteins contain ingredients which are completely new to your dog thereby lowering chances of an immune response. Among the major ingredients incorporated in hypoallergenic dog foods include duck and pea, venison and potato, salmon and potato and kangaroo.
You should therefore choose the best brand with ingredients which your dog has never been exposed to. On the other hand, hydrolyzed diets are made when proteins are completely broken down to small components which your dog’s immune system is not likely to react to.
With this in mind, whichever hypoallergenic dog food you feed your pet with, make sure that it’s applied for a period of 8-10 weeks to see your dog’s food response. Most dogs show improvement within the first 4-6 weeks, but there are several other breeds that take a much longer time period to respond. While feeding your dogs with hypoallergenic foods, ensure that you avoid adding other types of foods, flavored medications and treats to your diet as they are likely to compromise the healing process.
If you’re really adamant about a more natural diet for your dog, you should consider reading our article on making your own dog food so that you can completely eliminate the harmful ingredients that are upsetting your dog’s tummy.
After a successful diagnosis of the food allergy, you should apply a challenge diet to your dog to confirm the diagnosis. When you add an additional diet to your dog, the symptoms are likely to return within two weeks. After you confirm the food allergy, substantial amounts of ingredients such as slices of chicken and wheat should be added to the hypoallergenic dog foods to determine exactly which ingredients should be avoided in the future.