Diets for Dogs with Allergies and Sensitivities

Trying to figure out if your dog has allergies and what to feed them in response can be a frustrating process. While the light at the end of the tunnel may be that your dog might not actually have an allergy at all, Earthborn Holistic has a recipe perfect for every paw–even itchy ones!

Dog Food Allergy Symptoms 

Once you learn the differences between a food intolerance vs allergy, learning how to treat allergies in dogs and finding a food for allergies becomes a lot less daunting. To get the scoop on how to tell the difference between an allergy and an intolerance, we turned to Dr. Anne Huss, Earthborn Holistic’s Director of Nutrition Services:

A food allergy is a result of a flaw in a pet’s immune system and are an abnormal reaction to normal foods triggered by an animal’s immune system. In some cases, a pet’s immune system can misidentify or misjudge safe compounds (usually proteins) as a threat which causes the body to attack–leading to a food allergy.

A food intolerance, on the other hand, can be either an unusual reaction to normal food or normal reactions to abnormal foods that does not trigger a response from the immune system. For example, if your dog happens to get into the trash and eats spoiled food, the resulting vomiting and/or diarrhea would be considered a normal reaction to an abnormal food not due to a response from the immune system.

Food allergies can take months to years to develop to a particular food. Once developed, the allergy will persist with a negative reaction to that particular food or allergen. On the other hand, a food intolerance will come on more quickly due to the immune system not mediating the response.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to figure out if your dog has a full-blown food allergy or a food intolerance since the symptoms of each are similar. Dr. Anne tells us that symptoms for both allergies and intolerances can range from skin irritations, especially dry skin or itchiness on your dog’s paws or ears, to chronic infections to upset stomach issues in dogs. Because symptoms of food allergies and intolerances are so similar and can also be similar to other potential health issues, it’s always recommended to work with your dog’s vet to determine any allergies or intolerances and rule out other health problems.

Dog Food for Allergies

According to Dr. Anne, the most common dog allergies are to beef, dairy products, and wheat, and less common allergens include chicken, eggs, and soy. If your dog is experiencing any of these allergies, we have a recipe that can help!

While a wheat allergy in dogs is common, the light at the end of the tunnel here is that not a single one of our Earthborn Holistic recipes contain any corn, wheat, or soy. Instead, our whole grain recipes contain easily-digestible ancient grains like oatmeal, barley, chia, and buckwheat (which, contrary to its confusing name, is a seed and not actually a wheat at all!).

A dog lays on a camping bed next to a bag of UNREFINED Smoked Salmon

Gluten allergies are often closely associated with wheat allergies because gluten is found in wheat, and we have plenty of gluten-free dog food options as well. Even though our recipes don’t contain wheat, grains like barley and rye also contain gluten so keeping an eye out for those ingredients when searching for a gluten-free food is the way to go. Luckily, all of our grain-free recipes are also gluten-free, so it’s easy to find a gluten-free formula that will work for your pup.

For a dog allergic to chicken, switching up the main protein is often all it takes to provide some relief. Our Venture recipes like Smoked Wild Boar & Butternut Squash are chicken-free and also limited-ingredient, making them great options for dogs who need a little extra help keeping their stomachs happy. Another protein option is turkey. If your dog is needing to lose a few pounds while also balancing allergies, our Weight Control recipe is made with turkey protein and is another great option for dogs allergic to chicken. Our UNREFINED recipes are a great grain-inclusive option that doesn’t include chicken in any of the formulas. With fresh salmon, lamb, turkey, and rabbit to choose from, these recipes are also chicken-free and can double as a tasty dinner for your dog allergic to chicken as well!

For a puppy or dog allergic to eggs, our Venture recipes are a great grain-free option that doesn’t include eggs in any of the formulas. With unique proteins like rabbit, lamb, duck, and boar to choose from, these limited-ingredient recipes can satisfy a range of allergies.

Dog Food for Skin Allergies

While your dog may have allergies, food allergens may not be the culprit. Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies to things in the environment as well. These allergies usually come about in the form of dry, itchy, or sensitive skin and aren’t fun to deal with. 

If your pup is dealing with skin sensitivities, some of the best dog food for dry, itchy skin often contains fish as the main protein. Fish contains omega fatty acids that work to help maintain healthy skin and coat. Often, a dog food with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and a fish protein like Ocean Fusion will help clear up a lot of skin issues. Ocean Fusion is made with Pacific Whiting meal and is a tasty whole grain formula for adult pups.

If you have a puppy dealing with skin issues, our UNREFINED Smoked Salmon recipe is another ancient grains formula with fresh salmon protein. If you’re looking for a grain-free option for your puppy with allergies, our Coastal Catch and Venture Rabbit Meal & Pumpkin recipes are both diets formulated for all life stages and with balanced omegas to keep your puppy’s coat healthy. 

A dog owner feeds their dog EarthBites Skin & Coat treats

For a little extra boost of omegas, our EarthBites Skin and Coat treats also contain a balanced ratio of omegas from tasty whitefish meal protein. These soft treats provide a tasty reward for your pup along with a bit of added support for your dog’s skin.

Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs 

A limited ingredient dog food can do wonders on a sensitive stomach, but it’s not always necessary–sometimes all you need is a switch in protein to solve your problem. According to Dr. Anne, “since food allergies are (generally) in response to proteins from the diet that are misidentified by the immune system, switching the primary protein source in your dog’s diet can ease the allergy.” 

Lamb is a great option if you haven’t had luck with proteins like chicken or beef. Lamb tends to be a less commonly used animal protein in many diets, so most dogs don’t have a chance to develop a food allergy to lamb. Dr. Anne also explains that lamb has a distinct flavor that even fussy eaters will enjoy. Our Meadow Feast recipe is made with lamb meal as the first ingredient, making it an easy to digest dog food for your pup with a sensitive stomach. 

If you are looking for a limited ingredient dog food, you can still get your fix of lamb protein with our Roasted Lamb & Butternut Squash recipe. This recipe is made with fewer ingredients than our Meadow Feast recipe and is also formulated for all life stages, making it the perfect option if your puppy has a sensitive stomach. 

Again, it’s always important to work with your vet to properly diagnose a potential food allergy or intolerance and determine the best course of action for your pet’s needs.

A person pouring Venture dog food into a dog bowl

What Should I Feed My Dog?

With all this in mind, you might still be a little unsure of what food is best for your dog. This is a common feeling, as no two dogs are exactly the same! They all have unique personalities and preferences in food. What works best for your neighbor’s dog might not work that well for your dog… and that’s okay!

Being knowledgeable about what your pet with allergies needs in a food will help you make a more informed decision and choose a healthy recommended dog food meal you can feel confident feeding your pup.

If you think Earthborn Holistic might be the right food for your dog with allergies, but want a little extra help in deciding which recipe to try, please send us a message! We’d love to get to know you and your furry family more to help with your decision!