Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lisa Burn

Best dog food for allergies to keep your furry friend happy and healthy

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies and many do – with pollen, pollution and dust mites being three of the biggest culprits.

Pollen and dust for example can irritate skin, causing your dog to scratch, which could lead to inflammation, flaky skin, redness, sores, or bald spots.

What treatments can I give my dog to help with allergies?

There are many food supplements and topical products available to help with the effects of allergies, such as skin conditions, and your vet will be able to advise whether or not medication is needed. However, in addition to environmental allergens, sensitivity to certain foods can result in an intolerance or allergic reaction in your dog.

Food is another cause of skin problems – as well as digestive problems. When it comes to diet, common allergens include dairy, beef and wheat, however, dogs can react to anything, says John Burns, veterinary surgeon and founder of Burns Pet Nutrition. “Allergies are unfortunately becoming more common in dogs. It is hard to give an exact percentage, but many owners find that they can’t feed their dogs certain things,” he explains. “Some breeds are more prone than others. German Shepherds, Westies, Labradors and Golden Retrievers account for a large percentage.”

Can changing my dog’s diet help with allergies?

This is a definite yes.

One way to find out what disagrees with your dog is to replace one food at a time in their diet with an alternative. “Ideally you want to try something with different ingredients, so instead of beef try turkey and instead of potato try rice.

“Be sure to cut out treats and extras as they could also be reacting to ingredients in these,” says Burns. “Once they have settled down you can try to ‘challenge’ the dog with the previous ingredients to see if they react. We call this an elimination diet and it can take around three months to see an improvement following a change of diet.”

How can I tell if my dog has a food intolerance or allergy?

If your dog has loose stools, excessive wind a lacklustre coat, itchy skin or dandruff, then chances are there’s something they’re eating that doesn’t agree with them.

Opt for simple recipes and avoid foods that contain loads of ingredients, reducing the chance there’ll be something in there to disagree with them. Another approach is to choose a novel protein – this means feeding a protein that your dog may not have had before, such as pork, duck or venison, the reasoning being they won’t have had a chance to build up an intolerance to this protein. Alternatively, foods made from hydrolysed protein – protein that has been broken down into smaller molecules – could also help as the body doesn’t recognise these as intruders and doesn’t react to them, so your dog gets the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.

What are the best dog foods to help with allergies?

There are many different dog foods that can help your dog if it suffers from a food intolerance or allergy. These range from specialist veterinary ranges, such as Royal Canin Veterinary Anallergenic and Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Complete, which are designed to be used after consulting your vet about your dog’s condition.

If you suspect your dog may have a food intolerance or allergy then choose a good quality wet or dry dog food that is hypoallergenic, grain-free, contains high-quality (preferably single-source) protein and is free of artificial preservatives and colours. Following an elimination diet could help you discover just what your dog is allergic to, or intolerant of.


What’s the best way to change your dog’s food?

If you’re going to change your dog’s food, the best way to do so is slowly. Give them time to adapt to the new food so they don’t get an upset tummy – gradually introduce the new food into their diet while continuing to feed their regular food, then reduce the regular food over the course of ten days or so until you’re feeding just the new product.

For guidance, start off replacing a quarter of their current food with the new food for the first three days or so, then up that to half for another few days, then increase so you’re feeding three-quarters new and just a quarter of their current food until at around day ten you’re feeding only the new food.

Meat-free mutts

As interest in veganism increases, there’s a growing market for vegan dog food. It might seem strange, but domestic dogs today are considered omnivores, rather than carnivores, and can live happily on a non-meat diet. In fact, a study of vegan dog food published in the Archives of Clinical and Biomedical Research noted that owners surveyed who fed a vegan diet to their dogs saw benefits such as a glossier coat, reduced dandruff, itchiness, anxiety and flatulence (which can only be a good thing!)

Digestibility for plant-based foods compares with that of meat-based foods, and there’s no reason why your dog won’t thrive on a nutritionally complete vegan food.

Vet and co-founder of Omni vegan dog food, Dr Guy Sandelowsky, says: “Vegan diets like Omni are naturally void of some of the most common food allergens for dogs, like beef, chicken and dairy. This makes them an ideal diet choice to consider for sensitive or allergy-prone dogs.

“Peer-reviewed scientific research has shown that dogs are able to thrive on a properly formulated plant-based diet and that they enjoy eating such diets, at least as much as others based on meat and animal products,” he adds.

Please contact your vet if you are at all concerned about your dog’s health.

Best dog food for dogs with allergies at a glance

Shop the best dog food for pooches with allergies below

Read More

Best dog grooming clippers to give your pup a trim at home

Best plants for pollinators to keep your garden blooming: Bee-friendly wildflower mixes and more

Best cooling mats for dogs: keep your pets cool this summer

Best dog trackers without subscriptions in the UK: GPS, Bluetooth and VHF options

Best pet cameras of 2023 to monitor your four legged friend when you’re out

Best cat carriers, tried and tested for travelling with your pet

Best indestructible dog toys that are perfect for pups who love to chew

Best dog toys for your best pal: From-high tech play to indestructible chewies

Best dental chews for dogs: from prebiotic chews to plaque-fighting formulas

Best dog collars and harnesses that are stylish and comfortable for your pooch

Best natural dog treats to boost your pup’s immunity

Best dog coats to keep your furry friend warm and dry

Burns Pet Nutrition

Best for: overall

Burns offers a wide range of wet and dry pet foods, including their new Wholesome Turkey with Carrots & Brown Rice. This contains just three ingredients – single-source protein, wholegrain brown rice and carrots – added vitamins and minerals. It’s hypoallergenic and suitable for dogs suffering from sensitive skin or tummies, and it’s suitable for both adult and senior dogs.

Veterinarian John Burns founded his company in 1993 to create healthy pet food, high in quality ingredients and nutrients. A pioneer in the pet food market Burns believes in the power of diet for good health and his products are modelled on a homecooked diet, with a focus on just a few ingredients, ethically sourced.

Burns dog food contains no wheat, dairy or beef. Products include the Sensitive dry food range, Hypoallergenic Mixer, and foods for puppies, adults and seniors.

Buy now £13.89, Amazon

Vet’s Kitchen Sensitive Care Turkey & Sweet Potato 22kg

Best for: golden oldies (dry food)

Sensitive Care Turkey & Sweet Potato is a dry food from Vet’s Kitchen which is specially formulated for senior dogs. It’s grain-free, contains no beef, wheat or dairy, and has no artificial flavours or colours. As dogs age they become stiffer and their joints could do with extra support (just like us), so this food contains glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM, which all help with mobility. It also contains l-carnitine and taurine, which are good for heart health, as well as added vitamins,  minerals and prebiotics.

Fiona Firth, head nutritionist at Vet’s Kitchen says: “All of Vet’s Kitchen foods and treats are hypoallergenic. This does not mean that a dog cannot be allergic to the food, but it does mean that the most common food allergens (dairy, beef and wheat) are not included in the recipe, so the risk of an allergic reaction is reduced.”

Buy now £8.20, Pets at Home

Hill’s Derm Complete

Best for: skin allergies

Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Complete comes as dry food and as canned wet food, with two versions of the dry: one for medium and large breeds, the other – mini – for small breeds.

Derm Complete can help counter the effects of environmental allergens, such as pollen that can cause itchy skin. It is made from a novel animal protein, so there’s less chance your dog will react to it, and it contains high levels of essential fatty acids. These are necessary for healthy cells throughout the body and help reduce inflammation.

Derm Complete helps strengthen the skin barrier, reduces itching and promotes skin healing. It also contains Histaguard Complex – a proprietary complex of bioactives and phytonutrients.

You can use this food as your dog’s only food long-term, or as a shorter-term option under guidance from your vet, as part of an elimination diet.

Buy now £72.49, Hill’s

Butternut Box

Best for: subscription

Butternut Box offers a range of meals containing quality ingredients that are cooked gently at 90°C and are then frozen. You’ve Got Game contains venison, and as this protein may not have been eaten before or often by your dog (a novel protein), this would be a good flavour to start with if your dog has a food intolerance or allergy. All of the meals – except for Tuck in Chicken and Pork of the Town – are grain-free; there are also vegetarian and vegan options.

Simply give details about your dog on the website, such as their age and activity level, to create their individual menu plan. There’s no minimum commitment when you sign up and you can easily update your dog’s details or change your recipe selection when you wish.

Buy now £1.60, Butternut Box

Royal Canin Anallergenic Dry Food for Dogs

Best for: elimination diet with vet supervision

If your dog suffers from skin problems and a food intolerance or allergy is suspected, then Royal Canin Anallergenic could help. It contains a hydrolysed protein derived from feathers with a very small molecular size, which means your dog’s immune system is not likely to see the protein as a threat or react to it.

The product would be used after consultation with your vet and during a food elimination diet – usually for six to eight weeks. If after this time your dog’s symptoms have not improved then it’s not likely to be a food allergy causing the problem; if however symptoms improve or disappear then a food allergy is likely to be the culprit.

Subsequently, reintroduce his regular foods one by one until the symptoms reoccur and you can then identify the cause of the allergy and avoid it in future.

Alternatively, Anallergenic can be fed long-term as your dog’s only food, or you could switch to the Royal Canin Hypoallergenic range, which contains slightly larger – though still very small – hydrolysed protein molecules from soya and poultry liver. An allergenic is available in dry food for adult dogs and newly launched dry food for small dogs up to 10kg.

Buy now £28.49, Pet Drugs Online

Harringtons Just 6 Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

Best for: limited ingredients

Harringtons Just 6 is what it says on the packet – a dry dog food containing just six ingredients. The idea is that by limiting the ingredients there’s less chance of an allergic reaction for your dog. The food is hypoallergenic and grain-free, so suitable for those who find they’re sensitive to any grains in food, not just wheat.

According to Harringtons nutritionist Ashleigh Walker, Just 6 is ideal for more sensitive dogs: “Our simple, highly digestible ingredients naturally support gut health and provide all the natural goodness your dog needs and nothing that they don’t.”

Just 6 Salmon contains more than 50 per cent salmon, as well as salmon oil, sweet potato, potato and peas, with added vitamins and minerals. The kibble is produced at lower temperatures to lock in nutritional value. Also available in dry Chicken and Lamb, as well as wet food in all three flavours.

Buy now £14.00, Ocado

Barking Heads

Best for: puppies (wet)

Your puppy needs food that will help her thrive, providing all of the nutrients she needs to grow strong and healthy, so whatever you feed should be specially formulated for her life stage. Avoiding potential irritants such as grain and including high-quality protein will set her up for a great start in life.

Barking Heads Puppy Days wet food is grain-free and contains 85 per cent chicken, as well as added vitamins and minerals, vegetables (including courgette, peas, sweet potato and carrot), and herbs, such as parsley, nettle and chicory root. It’s also free from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives.

There’s also a dry version containing salmon, chicken and vegetables, as well as vitamins, minerals, herbs and prebiotics.

Buy now £24.00, Barking Heads

Bella & Duke

Best for: raw feeding

If your dog prefers raw, or you’d like to try feeding raw, then Bella & Duke offers loads of options through its subscription service. Its Pure Meat & Bone range comes in six flavours and is composed of meat, bone and offal from a single source – so lamb, duck, turkey, beef, chicken or beef tripe. There are no grains, gluten or additives either so if you think your dog does have a food intolerance or allergy then this range could be a good place to start.

All Bella & Duke foods are grain-free and there are several other ranges to choose from: Premium, Working Dog, Superfood Enriched (for dogs recovering from surgery, for nursing and senior dogs), Puppy Premium and Working Dog Puppy.

Food arrives frozen and you store it in your home freezer. Defrost it in the fridge for 24 hours before feeding it to your dog. If you’d like to know more, then the Bella & Duke website is packed with information about raw feeding. Cost is customised, depending on how many meals you buy, the size, age and activity levels of your dog.

Buy now £2.87, Bella & Duke

Rùn Dog Food Mixed Sea Fish

Best for: an alternative to wet and dry dog food

Rùn uses single-source animal protein and fats in their recipes, which reduces the risk of any reaction, and their Premium range is grain and gluten-free. Their food is neither wet, nor dry, but is cold pressed with minimal processing to lock in maximum goodness. This preparation method retains nutrients and flavour – and there are no additives, colourings, sugar or sweeteners in the finished product.

You can serve Rùn as is, or you can add warm water a few minutes before feeding to transform it into a wet food.

The Mixed Sea Fish is a good variety to start with, but there’s also Chicken & Sweet Potato, and for puppies, Sea Fish & Chicken.

Buy now £12.50, Rùn Dog Food

Hug Venison with Blackberries

Best for: dogs who like a cooked dinner

Hug dog food is designed to be warmed in the microwave before feeding so if you have a fussy eater, this could be the answer. Ingredients include premium cuts of meat, organic fruit and vegetables, and added vitamins and minerals. Meals are grain-free and contain no offal, preservatives or fillers.

There’s a good selection of flavours to choose from:  the new Venison with Blackberries, as well as Lamb and Mint, Beef With Sweet Potato and Chicken With Carrots. The lamb, beef and chicken varieties are also available for senior dogs over the age of 10 and for puppies up to 12 months old.

The food is delivered to you frozen and can be safely stored in your home freezer. Cook from frozen or defrost in the fridge for 24 hours and cook from chilled.

Buy now £3.31, Hug


Best for: vegan or vegetarian dogs

Omni is a nutritionally complete, plant-based dry food and can be fed as your dog’s only food, or you can feed it alongside meat dog food if you prefer – think of it like meat-free Mondays for dogs!

It contains levels of protein, fat and fibre comparable with good meat-based foods, as well as added vitamins, minerals, probiotics and nutrients such as microalgae.

There are three different types catering to different ages: Puppy (up to a year old), Adult (1 – 7 years old) and Senior (7+ years).

Swapping from meat to plant-based takes a little longer to make the change. Omni recommends feeding 25 per cent of their food to 75 per cent of your dog’s existing food for the first four days, increasing that to 50 per cent each from days five to eight. For days nine to 12, feed 75 per cent Omni, reducing the existing food to 25 per cent, until by around days 13-16 you’re feeding 100 per cent Omni.

Buy now £19.99, Amazon

Daily Allergy & Itch Supplement 300ml

Best for: supplemental support

Alongside your allergen-preventing dog food of choice, we recommend topping up your pup’s serving with this fantastic blend of botanical herbs and minerals which work together to support a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation.

This supplement is 100 per cent natural and a source of omega 3, 6 and 9, so your pup will be itching less and less before you know it. Use this supplement year-round, or bring it out of the cupboard during spring and summer when allergies are at their worst.

Buy now £24.99, Pets Purest

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.