What Is Hypoallergenic Dog Food?
Every pet owner wants the best for his/her dog. Often, dogs are allergic to common ingredients found in dog food brands. To counter these, pet food manufacturers have started developing good quality hypoallergenic dog foods for such dogs. However, not all hypoallergenic dog foods are made the same. This leaves pet owners utterly confused about such products and most do not know the pros and cons of feeding these to their pets. In this guide, we are going to talk about everything you need to know to choose the best hypoallergenic dog food and the best brands for your beloved pet.
Food Allergies in Dogs
A dog’s digestive system is designed to only break down proteins and some vegetables and fruits. However, majority of the economical dog food brands contain large quantities of corn, rice, maize, wheat, dairy, soy and other grains. These grains are difficult to digest for the hypoallergenic dog’s gentle system. Feeding this to the pet regularly can cause the digestive system to turn against itself leading to allergic reactions like:
- Intense itchiness
- Diarrhea or loose watery stools
- Gas, bloating and other signs of indigestion
- Paw licking
- Red eyes
- Poor, unhealthy coat
- Extreme patchy hair loss
- Hot spots on the skin
If your dog is displaying these symptoms from time to time, it is time you switch to hypoallergenic dog food.
What is hypoallergenic food for dogs?
Hypoallergenic dog food is designed to work gently on your dog’s digestive system. It contains different ingredients than those you would find in regular foods. For example, instead of chicken or lamb, you might see venison, duck, rabbit, turkey or salmon. Also, grains like wheat, corn and soy or dairy may be replaced with brown rice. Hypoallergenic food does not contain common allergens like soy, dairy and refined grains. The percentage of lean protein is also usually greater than carbohydrates. Good quality hypoallergenic dog foods are also fortified with Omega essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins and minerals.
Different categories of hypoallergenic dog food
When it comes to buying hypoallergenic dog foods, pet parents often get thrown off by terms like organic, natural, hypoallergenic etc. All three terms have different connotations and it would be beneficial for pet owners to learn the differences.
- Organic dog food- The term organic has become a household craze now. If we humans choose organic for ourselves, why not feed organic to our pets as well? Organic dog food is toxin-free food. It contains no artificial fillers, dyes, preservatives or hormones. Research has shown that the most common reason for allergies in puppies is oxytetracycline, an antibiotic found in mass produced pet food. This harmful toxin gives rise to food intolerances and is found in farm raised pork, chicken, lamb and other meats that come from factory farms.
- Natural dog food– Pet food can be natural but it might not be organic and vice a versa. When we use the term natural food for pets, we are talking about a feed that has not been processed. It is not subjected to any physical processing such as hydrolysis, fermentation, heat processing etc.
Hypoallergenic dog food is more about a diet rather than being about natural or organic. The best hypoallergenic dog food will consist of organic ingredients in their natural state which are not artificial or artificially preserved. When selecting the right hypoallergenic dog food for your pet, it is best to consult your vet first. Determine whether your dog is allergic to a specific allergen in which case, she/he may be fed a limited ingredient diet. Such a diet contains fewer components so that you eliminate that particular allergen. Alternatively, your dog may be fed a novel hypoallergenic diet where the components or ingredients are the ones your pet has never been exposed to. This ensures that your pet won’t be allergic to the new components. A third category of hypoallergenic diet would be a prescription diet recommended specifically by the vet.
What to look for in hypoallergenic dog food?
When selecting the best hypoallergenic dog food brands, you must start by reading food labels. Here is how to make sense of a pet food label:
- Guaranteed analysis- The guaranteed analysis on pet food label will tell you the amount of protein, fat, fiber and moisture the food contains.
- Look at the source of each nutrient. Know that the combination of different ingredients is also important than the single nutrients.
- Note that pet food can contain different forms of the same ingredient, so read the entire label and ensure the food contains a healthy balance of fat, proteins and carbohydrates.
- The order of ingredients is important too and they are listed by their weight. But it is important to look beyond the first three ingredients since meats (which are usually listed first) contain more water and naturally weigh more. Learn to look at least 5-8 ingredients.
- The age of your dog matters too; puppies need more protein, while adult dogs need more fiber.
Ask for help when choosing hypoallergenic dog food. Talk to your vet and visit a small holistic pet food store having friendly assistants to answer your questions. Best hypoallergenic dog food will usually contain easy to digest grains like rice. If your dog is allergic to rice, look for food containing potatoes, duck, salmon etc. Sometimes, meats like lambs or chicken can also cause allergies in dog. In such case, you may go in for hypoallergenic dog food that does not contain these ingredients. Thankfully, there are tons of choices for you when it comes to selecting good dog food brand for your allergenic pet. Pick the one that works best for your dog.
5 Best hypoallergenic dog food brands
Following are some of the best brands in this category of dog food
“My 9 year old dog is walking as if he is 9 months old!”
The above review states it all. Orijen is indeed one of the leading manufacturers of hypoallergenic dog foods. The company has consistently received rave reviews from breeders, vets and dog owners alike.
- The meat fish and poultry are raised on their own farms and they use organic whole eggs, omega 3- rich natural salmon and fish as well as organic vegetables and fruits to round the nutrition.
- There are no fillers you’d normally find in cheaper dog food brands.
- Many pet owners have seen remarkable health changes in the pets in just 3-4 weeks of starting their pets on Orijen Hypoallergenic Grain Free dog food.
2. Acana Dog Food
Acana is the sister company of Orijen and their products are a little cheaper than Orijen dog food. Picky eaters love this brand and pet owners are grateful that they do not have to mix any wet chicken, beef or lamb to make dry dog food palatable! Dogs fed on Acana have no problems digesting it easily-their coat is healthier and shinier and the stools are dry. There are tons of varieties to choose from in this hypoallergenic dog food brand: Merrick Adult Texas Beef and Sweet Potato, Merrick Backcountry Puppy, Salmon and Bison etc. All have been loved by pets and pet owners are pleased with them! The high protein content of Acana Heritage Meats Formula comes from grass fed lamb, Yorkshire pork and Angus beef. Do try their Acana Grasslands which has 0% grains, freshly caught Canadian fish, whole eggs and New Zealand lamb.
- Suitable for all breeds, especially for performance dogs
- Contains several different sources of high quality hypoallergenic proteins
3. Taste Of The Wild
“Stopped my Labrador from getting seizures!”
This brand of best hypoallergenic, grain free dog food comes in dry and canned varieties. Thousands of pet owners have loved this brand which consists of roasted meats (venison and bison) along with fresh fruits and vegetables for antioxidants.
- Grain- free dog food for different stages
- Roasted meat offers great flavor.
- You need to source the food from reputed vendors as certain batches of this food were recalled due to mold-especially the ones sourced from online retailers. Make sure you talk to a vet before starting your pet on this brand.
4. PS for Dogs
“My fat dog is now at a normal weight!”
“My picky eater eats only 2 brands of hypoallergenic dog foods and this is one of them!”
“PS I Love You”!
PS for dogs is a well loved brand which advertises itself as “No more hotspots and paws licking. PS dog food solves allergies naturally without pills, steroids and harmful shots!”
- The company’s sole mission is to solve allergies in canines. Their products completely stop paw licking, chewing, watery stools, gas, red eyes and other allergy symptoms. Dogs on PS maintain dry stools and great coats.
- Dogs that have had the habit of licking paws so much that they were stained red were placed on this food and within weeks their paws color was restored.
- Expensive because of the small size of kibble.
5. Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach
“No more itchiness flakiness and our dog has a wonderful shinier coat!”
This wonderful brand of hypoallergenic dog food has salmon, rice and easy to digest antioxidants that will leave your pet with wonderful coat. It also contains zinc and omega essential fatty acids.
- 30 pound bag costs only $40 approximately.
- Recommended by vets for dogs with stomach issues
- Has a fishy smell which pets love nevertheless!
Having a dog with allergies is no fun. It can be confusing for a pet owner who may have to make numerous visits to the vet for shots, pills and other harmful stuff that leaves the dog tired and lethargic. Hypoallergenic dog food can be expensive but it is worth the price. When fed regularly to allergenic pets, it can prevent all these issues and leave your dog with a healthy, shiny coat. We hope these honest reviews of top hypoallergenic dog food brands help you make an informed choice.