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CC image “Got It!” via Stuart Richards on Flickr – thx Stuart!Watching your dog itch, scratch, and lick obsessively all day can be heartbreaking for sympathetic pet owners.
You’ve gone to the vet multiple times, and all you’ve ever come back with is a drug that masks the symptoms.
But doesn’t fix the problem. 🙁
You don’t want your dog to live like this forever, and you feel like you’re at the end of your leash.
But have you considered this:
That your dog’s distressing behavior could actually be a symptom of food allergies?
Yes, it’s completely possible that the food you so painstakingly picked out is actually the root cause of your dog’s issues.
Food allergies are becoming increasingly common in the dog food world, and many owners are realizing that the conventional kibble they pick up from their local pet food store is no longer cutting it.Is your dog itching like crazy? It could be fleas...or more likely, the dog food you're feeding him. Click To Tweet
But now that you know what doesn’t work, how are you supposed to figure out what won’t cause your pup to scratch himself bloody?
It’s not like Rex can tell you he’s gluten intolerant and would appreciate you opt for wild rice instead of wheat.
So What is the Best Dog Food for Dogs with Allergies?
Fine question, my friend!
We’ve done a lot of the leg work for you when it comes to picking a good hypoallergenic formula for your beloved four-legged friend.
Just check out these 4 options to relieve your itchy, suffering pup!
1. Addiction Wild Kangaroo and Apple Formula
Did you do a double take when you saw that this formula contains kangaroo?
Maybe you don’t know a lot about kangaroos other than that they look like overgrown rats that hail from the land down under.
But don’t write off this giant rodent just yet!
Kangaroo can be an excellent meat option if your dog has developed an intolerance to many commonly used proteins like chicken and beef.
The reason being is that intolerances tend to develop from repeated exposure, which is why feeding your dog the same food for a decade straight can be a recipe for developing multiple sensitivities.
In all likelihood, your dog has probably not had the opportunity to munch on some tasty kangaroo, making it a great hypoallergenic protein option.
This moderate protein food also has a great blend of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Plus, it’s wheat-free, which is a common allergen among pets (and their human owners). Some other nice add-ons are the bevy of herbals included.
For example, does your pup suffer from noxious gas or disturbingly stinky stools? Peppermint will help settle upset tummies and lessen the toxic scent of many digestive disturbances.
Worried about Rex picking up a worm from all that raccoon poop he just loves to snack on? The added oregano is an antiparasitic, antifungal, and antibacterial that will keep your pet’s digestion free of unwelcome critters.
Is there anything to watch out for in this food?
Just because this dog food is free from wheat doesn’t mean it’s easy to digest. Your dog could still react from the added potatoes and peas.
Plus, many intolerances develop precisely because of a digestive system that is not up to snuff. Adding in copious amounts of gas-inducing beans and starch may not be the best solution.
My other beef with this kangaroo-based food is the lack of fat. Addiction says their lean kangaroo is a benefit, but I’m not quite so sure.
Have you ever heard of the term “rabbit starvation“?
It’s a form of malnutrition caused by the absence of fat and too much protein. I am not saying your dog will succumb to rabbit starvation from eating Addiction’s kangaroo blend. What I am saying is the fat content could be a little higher for optimal health.
Overall, Addiction is good for:
- Dogs with intolerances to most mainstream meats.
- Dogs with medium-strength digestion (legumes and potatoes).
- Dogs with a grain-intolerance.
2. Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Food
Maybe you’re at the point where you just have no idea what your dog can and cannot eat.
You introduce fish and he’s a crazy itching machine. You try a bit of potato and he’s biting his sides like a masochistic cannibal.
At this point, maybe purified air is the only option?
Try not the lose your head in this situation.
With extremely sensitive dogs, Royal Canin’s food can be a good first choice.
Royal Canin hydrolyzes the main source of protein, which is soy in this case.
Maybe you’re thinking:
What’s so great about a protein that sounds like it was made in Frankenstein’s lab?
What makes hydrolyzed protein so effective for sensitive dogs is that it predigests it for them. Allergies and intolerances are your pet’s immune system attacking an ingested protein, so if it has already been broken down then there’s nothing to attack.
Even the starch in this food has been pre-digested for your dog. Brewer’s rice are small fragments of rice kernels separated from larger kernels of milled rice. The separation process makes them much easier to digest.
Royal Canin can be a lifesaver if your dog has a severely distressed digestive system and he can’t seem to stomach anything.
But (and there’s a big but here), I would not recommend this food as a long term solution to your pet’s intolerance issues.
It’s more a band-aid solution than anything else.
What’s my main issue with using Royal Canin long term?
First off, it is nowhere close to the natural diet dogs are meant to be eating. Your dog won’t experience vibrant health from eating brewers rice and hydrolyzed soy protein.
Plus, this food has too much starch and not enough protein.
The first ingredient in a high-quality dog food is never a starch, it should always be animal protein.
It’s common sense if you think about it: If you had the choice between choosing the free range salmon or the soy-based protein bar, which one do you think would do your body good?
That being said, Royal Canin can be a lifesaver when you’re desperate.
Overall, Royal Canin is good for:
- Dogs with extreme allergies/intolerances and/or digestive distress.
- Owners looking for a short-term solution, while searching for a better long-term alternative.
3. Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea Dog Food
Nutrisca offers another good alternative for dogs that literally cannot stomach another meal of chicken or beef.
Salmon is the catch of the day on Nutrisca’s menu, which means in addition to fish-based protein, your pup won’t have to bother taking that daily fish oil pill for that silky soft coat.
Another benefit is the absence of grains, including gut-busting wheat.
Plus, there is the nice addition of fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, cranberries, and apricots for some extra antioxidant love.
And news flash! Nutrisca actually contains a decent amount of protein and fat, which is a good thing considering your dog is a carnivore.
This may surprise the formulators of some pet foods, but our dogs were not meant to thrive off of mainly potatoes and rice.
Of course, companies’ bottom lines tend to do very well when your pup is subsisting off of staples most commonly eaten in developing countries, but maybe I’m being overly critical?
Do I have any issues with Nutrisca?
I do have a few nagging concerns with their formulation. Many dogs with intolerances tend to have weak digestion and legumes are not going to be of any help in that department.
If your dog seems to handle legumes well then Nutrisca can be a good choice for them, but I would suggest keeping a lookout for bloating, gas, and unusual stools.
I also don’t like the addition of inflammatory sunflower oil when an animal fat could have been used in its place (like fish oil perhaps?).
Another food that could hurt a tender tummy is alfalfa meal, which contains digestive inhibitors.
But overall, this could be a good option if your dog doesn’t have an issue with legumes and you want to switch protein sources.
Overall, Nutrisca is good for:
- Dogs with intolerances to meats like chicken and beef.
- Dogs with medium-strength digestion (legumes, alfalfa meal).
- Dogs with intolerances to grains.
4. Orijen Adult Dog Food
Although not marketed as a hypoallergenic formula, Orijen’s adult dog food can be an excellent option for dogs that require a hypoallergenic-oriented food.
Not only is Orijen grain-free, but artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives are completely absent as well.
But I’m not just a fan of Orijen because of what they’ve decided to leave out…
If it was only about what your dog wasn’t eating then I could sell you a bag of organically processed tree bark and call it a hypoallergenic formula.
It’s also about what Orijen has decided to include to optimize your dog’s overall health.
In addition to there being a boatload of animal-based protein (which is always a good thing!), Orijen has also included organ meats like liver and heart, which are extremely high in vitamins A, D, E, K, B12, and folic acid.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Ew why would anyone want to eat organ meats?”
And I would counter that all animals eat organ meats. In fact, observational studies suggest that wolves seek out eating the organ meats before tearing into all that muscle precisely because they are such rich sources of nutrition.
So don’t project your guilt about rejecting your grandma’s liver and onions onto your dog! He needs the extra nutrition that can be found in these superfood meats!
Orijen includes a nice array of fruits and vegetables, all of which can be traced back to a specific farm. Plus, they’ve included a probiotic to assist with digestion, which is always a good thing for sensitive pups.
Finally, the fat and protein content in this food is stellar, and it’s high in omegas.
Now I know you’ve probably heard about how omega fats are just stupendous for your dog’s coat, but I wonder if you’ve heard how great they are for his digestion?
You see, dogs with a number of food sensitivities also tend to have pretty poor digestion. After years of substandard nutrition, he can develop something called ‘leaky gut’ where the digestive tract becomes inflamed.
Inflammation can be painful, but omega-3s are extremely anti-inflammatory and can help fix your dog’s digestion in the long term.
It’s really a win-win situation.
My concerns with Orijen?
There are still a number of ingredients in this formula that could set off an extremely sensitive dog.
For example, dogs with sensitivities to chicken would have to stay clear of Orijen (it’s the first ingredient).
Also, Orijen does include legumes like lentils and chickpeas, which are definitely not gentle on one’s digestion. Sometimes dogs that seem to be completely starch-intolerant will need to go completely raw.
Overall, Orijen is good for:
- Dogs with weaker digestion (higher protein, lower starch).
- Dogs with intolerances to grains.
- Owners looking to transition their dog to a more ancestral diet.
Having a dog with intolerances can be frustrating to say the least.
No one likes to see an animal in pain or suffering, but getting Rex started on a hypoallergenic formula could be just the ticket to getting him back to his vibrant self in no time.