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Best Food for Dogs With Allergies

Best Food for Dogs With Allergies

Food allergies aren't particularly common in dogs, but owners should still know what alternatives they can offer their pups if they are food sensitive. Here, our Lexington vets share the best food options for dogs with allergies.

Food Allergies in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog has food allergies or is sensitive to a specific ingredient in their regular food, it is crucial to identify the problematic ingredient to eliminate it from their diet while ensuring they still receive proper nutrition.

Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs

Food allergies and sensitivities often don't appear until the dog reaches their first birthday, although they can develop in dogs of any age.

If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms they may be suffering from a food allergy and should be examined by your vet to determine the root cause of the symptom:

  • Itching
  • Red irritated skin
  • Rashes on the ears and feet
  • Gassiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs

In dogs with food sensitivities, the root cause is often proteins found in animal or plant-based ingredients in their diet. Problematic ingredients such as beef, corn, dairy, and wheat are commonly associated with these sensitivities.

Interestingly, symptoms of food allergies may not manifest immediately, leading to a misconception that dogs suddenly develop allergies to a food they have been consuming for months.

Diagnosing Your Dogs Food Allergies

After a thorough examination, if your vet believes that your dog may be suffering from the effects of a food allergy or food sensitivity they will likely recommend beginning your dog on an elimination diet.

Elimination Diet for Dogs With Food Allergies

If your vet recommends an elimination diet for your dog, they will prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic food. During this process, which typically lasts 8-10 weeks, you will exclusively feed your dog the prescribed food while completely eliminating all other sources of food.

By eliminating the ingredients present in your dog's regular food that may be causing the symptoms, the elimination diet aims to improve your dog's condition.

It's important to remember that treats and regular food should be discontinued during the elimination diet. Only the hypoallergenic food should be given to your dog during this period.

The 10-week duration of the elimination diet allows your dog's system to adjust to the new prescription food, while also providing your vet an opportunity to assess your dog's overall health.

If the allergy symptoms disappear while your dog is on the elimination diet, your vet may request a return to the original diet to observe if the symptoms reappear.

While an elimination diet can help identify food allergies in dogs, other tests can also provide quick results. At Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency, our in-house lab enables our vets to conduct tests and create a personalized treatment plan for your pet's specific needs, kick-starting the healing process.

Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies

Following the diagnosis of food allergies, your vet will work with you to determine the best diet and treatment plan for your dog. There are a number of dry food options available, to help alleviate food allergy symptoms in dogs.

Prescription Dog Food

If your dog experiences severe symptoms from food allergies, your vet may suggest feeding them a prescription dry food. Although this option may be costly, prescription diets with novel proteins or hydrolyzed formulas are generally of higher quality compared to those found in regular pet supply stores.

Adhering to a prescribed diet can help keep your dog healthy and alleviate allergy symptoms. Some examples of prescription foods recommended by vets for dogs with food sensitivities are:

  • Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Small Dog Dry Dog Food 
  • Hill's Prescription Diet® d/d Canine Potato & Venison Formula
  • Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula
  • Hill's Prescription Diet® Dog i/d® Sensitive Dry

Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just a single protein source, (such as beef, lamb or chicken), often combined with just a single carbohydrate.

When you are shopping for limited ingredient dog foods it's important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer.

Limited ingredient foods that your vet may recommend include:

  • Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
  • Hill's® Prescription Diet® d/d® Canine Skin Support Potato & Salmon Formula
  • Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Dog Food - Natural, Salmon & Lentils, Grain Free, Non-GMO
  • CANIDAE® PURE® Dog Food - Limited Ingredient, Natural, Grain Free, Chicken

Novel Ingredient Dog Food

Novel ingredient dry foods replace traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as venison, salmon, or duck.

Novel ingredient dog foods may also include unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet. Your vet may recommend a novel ingredient dog food such as:

  • Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula
  • Hill's Prescription Diet® d/d Canine Potato & Venison Formula
  • CANIDAE® PURE® Dog Food - Limited Ingredient, Natural, Grain Free, Duck
  • Nutro Adult Dog Food - Natural, Limited Ingredient, Duck & Lentils, Grain Free, Non-GMO

Grain-Free Dog Food

If your dog is determined to have a sensitivity to corn, wheat, or other grains, your vet may suggest switching to a grain-free dog food. These types of foods also offer the advantage of being gluten-free. Here are a few examples of grain-free foods that your vet may recommend:

  • Hill's Science Diet® Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain Free dog food.
  • Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Dog Food - Turkey & Chicken, Grain Free
  • Science Diet® Adult Grain Free Dog Food
  • Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food - Natural, Lamb & Sweet Potato, Grain Free, Non-GMO

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you believe your dog could be suffering from a food allergy, contact our vets at Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency to book an appointment.

Emergency Care

Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency is open 24/7 for emergencies and is accepting patients for advanced diagnostic appointments. Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lexington companion animals. 

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