Dry, itchy skin doesn’t sound like a big health problem. If we have an itch, we scratch it, and we know when to stop. Our dogs aren’t so lucky. They scratch, chew, bite, and slobber all over an itchy spot, often causing a lot more damage than they intend.
Different things cause dry and itchy skin in dogs: insect bites, contact allergies, and food allergies, among them. And while the food that your dog eats isn’t always the cause of the distress, feeding your dog something less likely to cause irritated skin that instead nourishes the skin and coat seems like a no-brainer.
If you want to relieve itchy skin on dogs, you can give them a hypoallergenic diet. But shopping for hypoallergenic food can be a challenge.
Many of our dogs suffer from skin allergies. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, but it’s safe to say they always make your pup uncomfortable.
There are various ways to give your dog some relief, including allergy medication, bathing with special shampoos, and limiting exposure to certain ingredients. Adjusting your dog’s diet is one of the best ways to help it feel better. So, what is the best dog food for skin allergies?
In this buying guide, we look at the best dog food for dry, itchy skin.
Let’s dive in!
The Best Dog Foods for Dry Itchy Skin
|Top Products||Rating||Top 5 Ingredients|
|1. Brothers Complete Turkey Meal & Egg Advanced Allergy Formula||4.7||Turkey Meal, Whole Eggs Dried, Pea Starch, Cassava/Tapioca, Peas|
|2. Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Dog Food||4.8||Deboned Turkey, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Potatoes, Peas|
|3. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||4.7||Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas|
|4. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food||4.7||Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal (source of Glucosamine), Chicken Meal (source of Chondroitin Sulfate), Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes|
|5. Natural Balance LID. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food||4.6||Duck, Duck Meal, Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Sweet Potatoes|
|6. Taste of the Wild — High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food||4.7||Taste of the Wild — High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food|
|7. Blue Buffalo – Wilderness Mountain Recipe Red Meat Grain-Free Puppy Food||4.6||Deboned Beef, Beef Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch|
|8. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Puppy Turkey Entree Grain-Free Puppy Food||4.7||Turkey, Liver, Meat By-Products, Water, Beef|
How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting your Pup Sick
1. Brothers Complete Turkey Meal & Egg Advanced Allergy Formula
Top 5 Ingredients: Turkey Meal, Whole Eggs Dried, Pea Starch, Cassava/Tapioca, Peas
This formula provides optimal nutrition that mimics a dog’s natural diet, featuring premium animal-sourced proteins like turkey, chicken, and dried eggs. It provides natural allergy healing with carefully selected ingredients. Every ingredient offers advanced and balanced nutrition.
If your dog has itchy skin and a sensitive stomach, this advanced allergy formula can help. It contains Tapioca starch, which helps combat leaky gut, itchy skin, allergies, and fungal infections. The tapioca starch also has a higher glycemic index than other carbohydrates. Finally, this recipe comes in flavor-preserving bags for maximum freshness.
2. Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Potatoes, Peas
Blue Basics Limited-Ingredient Formula is free from grains and gluten, which may cause itching in dogs. This recipe has turkey as the primary ingredient. It also has highly digestible ingredients like peas and potatoes.
The Blue Buffalo dog food features natural ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids and is a limited ingredient diet with fewer ingredients to cause allergies. Some of these are flaxseed, pumpkin, fish oil, and blueberries. It also has taurine to support heart health and chondroitin for mobility.
3. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas
The Taste of the Wild Pacific Dog food contains salmon as the primary protein source. Salmon’s protein content is beneficial for your dog’s muscles, and its richness in omega fats also helps prevent itchy skin. If you want to nourish your dog’s skin and coat, this dry dog food is a great choice.
Your dog also gets ample antioxidant support and prebiotics from real vegetables. The formula also includes a mix of minerals for full, all-around nutritional support to your dog. It’s also free from grains and fillers to ensure premium nutrition.
4. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal (source of Glucosamine), Chicken Meal (source of Chondroitin Sulfate), Peas, Dried Ground Potatoes
Wellness Core Original is one of the most popular dog foods out there. Its protein content, sourced from deboned turkey, provides quality nourishment for your sensitive dog. It has grain-free to prevent allergy flare-ups and itchy skin in dogs. It’s an excellent choice for your dog’s overall health.
The recipe has a higher fat content sourced from salmon and flaxseed oils for a softer, nourished coat. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support bone and joint health. And lastly, the dog food is just way too tasty for any dogs to ignore!
5. Natural Balance LID. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Meal, Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Sweet Potatoes
If you have a sensitive dog with itchy skin, Natural Balance LID Dog food offers a great solution. This dog food has carefully selected ingredients for dogs with fragile immune systems. The limited ingredient diet has duck protein and potatoes to minimize allergic reactions and digestive issues. Plus, the dog food is grain-free and contains no artificial ingredients that cause itchy skin.
The nutritious ingredients help rebuild and strengthen your dog’s health, while the omega fatty acids maintain their shiny fur and skin.
6. Taste of the Wild — High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
Give your dog a protein-packed treat made with buffalo as the number-one ingredient. This recipe has bison and venison as other protein sources, and you can’t go wrong with that. It contains quality carbs to fuel dogs with high energy levels.
The formula contains omega oils to prevent dry, itchy skin. If you’re looking for a grain-free recipe that contains many vitamins and minerals, this one from Taste of the Wild has it all. It also includes a propriety prebiotic blend to support digestion and gut health.
7. Blue Buffalo – Wilderness Mountain Recipe Red Meat Grain-Free Puppy Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Beef Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch
If you want to heal your dog’s itchy skin, this red meat dinner from Blue Buffalo is a great option. It mimics your dog’s ancestral diet and contains minerals for a strong immune system. It has real meat and vegetables and complex carbs for energy.
This grain-free recipe contains no by-products, fillers, artificial colors, and preservatives. It’s one of the best recipes for your pup.
8. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Puppy Turkey Entree Grain-Free Puppy Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Liver, Meat By-Products, Water, Beef
If your dog isn’t fond of dry food, then Purina Pro Plan Turkey Entree is one of the best wet recipes you can find. It’s a grain-free recipe, which makes it a good choice for puppies with itchy skin. The high amount of omega fatty acids promotes a healthy coat and better cognitive development.
This recipe has quality proteins needed for muscle development. It’s a great option for a smart, strong pup.
9. Brothers Complete Lamb and Egg Itchy Skin Dog Food Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Dried Whole Eggs, Turkey Meal, Cassava/Tapioca, Pea Flour
This dog food for itchy skin is a great alternative for dogs allergic to fish and its derivatives. It uses whole-cell blue algae instead of fish oil. It has high protein content from animal sources such as lamb, turkey meal, and egg. Other nutritious ingredients include pumpkin, carrots, flaxseed, alfalfa, and tapioca starch.
The Brothers Complete Lamb Meal and Egg Allergy Formula is perfect for dogs with dietary restrictions. It prevents itchy skin and gastrointestinal discomfort in dogs. Plus, it has a delicious flavor so that dogs can enjoy eating their meals.
10. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Real Lamb & Chickpeas Recipe
Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas
Merrick’s Limited Ingredient Diet is a healthy recipe with quality proteins from a novel source. It is an option for dogs that may be allergic to poultry-based diets. Aside from novel proteins from lamb, you get easily digestible carbs from grain-free sources such as potatoes.
It is a lightweight recipe that is perfect for sensitive dogs. It also has a good blend of fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin for optimal health.
11. Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Sunflower Oil
Zignature is another premium dog food brand known for its high-quality ingredients and nutritional value. This limited ingredient diet has farm-raised lamb as the primary ingredient. It also offers a wholesome blend of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
This hypoallergenic recipe is free of grains and artificial additives. It’s ideal for dogs with allergies and dry, itchy skin. If you want the best dog food for your favorite pal, this one is a great option. You will notice a visible difference in your dog’s skin.
12. American Journey Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Lamb Liver, Sweet Potatoes, Sunflower Oil
American Journey Food offers relief from itching and allergy flare-ups. If your dog has food sensitivities, this limited ingredient diet can help control allergic reactions.
It has four ingredients, including lamb, sweet potatoes, and sunflower oil. Fewer ingredients make it easier for pet owners to avoid allergy-triggering substances. It’s the best food for dogs allergic to grains, soy, potatoes, dairy, chicken, fish, beef, or eggs. Many dog owners rely on this dog food for good reason. It supports their pet’s overall health and relieves itching.
13. CANIDAE — Puppy Real Chicken, Lentil & Whole Egg Recipe Grain-Free Puppy Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Whole Egg
If you are looking for hypoallergenic food for your sensitive puppy, you need a limited-ingredient recipe that doesn’t compromise quality. CANIDAE PURE Puppy Real Chicken, Lentil, and Whole Egg Recipe provides a healthy amount of lean protein from chicken and essential nutrients from eight more ingredients.
It’s a grain- and gluten-free formula featuring whole foods like peas and lentils to fulfill your dog’s daily nutritional requirements. This recipe also has probiotics for the digestive support of your sensitive dog.
14. Purina Pro Plan Hydrolyzed Dry Dog Food (Veterinary Diet)
Top 5 Ingredients: Corn Starch, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein Isolate, Vegetable Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Partially Hydrogenated Canola Oil
The Purina Pro Plan Hydrolyzed is a veterinary diet, meaning you can only buy it with a prescription. The hypoallergenic formula is a soy-based diet that includes a single carbohydrate source and hydrolyzed protein. It’s a highly digestible formula, making it easier to digest for sensitive dogs.
This diet can help prevent allergy flare-ups and itchy skin. You can consult your vet to prescribe Purina Pro Plan hydrolyzed protein diet for your pet.
15. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet NP Novel Protein Alligator Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Top 5 Ingredients: Deboned Alligator, Peas, Pea Starch, Alligator meal, Pea Protein
Blue Buffalo’s veterinary diets are perfect for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs. Some dogs have negative reactions to common proteins, which can cause skin irritation and digestion problems. If your dog displays intolerance to other dog foods, this novel protein formula from Blue Buffalo can minimize those reactions.
This recipe contains omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and flaxseed to promote healthy skin and coat. Plus, it is antioxidant-rich to support a healthy immune system.
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Buyer’s Guide: Figuring Out Your Dog’s Allergies
When dogs eat something they’re allergic to, their immune system can respond with symptoms such as itchy skin, sneezing, and a sensitive stomach. If you think your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction and you’ve ruled out other common causes, testing them for food allergies is a good first step. Your vet or a veterinary nutritionist can help you figure out how to make your dog feel better.
Food allergies and intolerances in dogs are most often genetic, passed down from parents to pups. A dog with a food allergy cannot digest certain proteins (the most common allergens are nearly all proteins). Removing that type of protein or protein from your dog’s diet is likely to bring relief.
What is my dog allergic to?
If your dog has a food allergy, you’ll most likely notice skin irritation and gastrointestinal discomfort. Proteins from ingredients like chicken, dairy, wheat, and beef can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. You can try out an elimination diet to determine which ingredient is causing allergic reactions.
The best dog food for skin allergies has high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help promote healthy skin and a lustrous coat.
The most common allergy-inducing ingredients in dog food include:
Allergies can affect any dog, but some dog breeds are more susceptible than others. These include:
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Cocker Spaniel
- German Shepherd
- Lhasa Apso
- Shar Pei
- Shih Tzu
Other reasons for itchiness include environmental or seasonal allergies. Environmental allergies in dogs are similar in appearance to food allergies, usually with itchy skin all over the body and paws. Fleas, dust mites, grass pollens, and trees are common culprits. Your dog may also be allergic to household cleaners, air fresheners, and cigarette smoke. These allergens can trigger reactions year-round.
You can control environmental allergies by wiping your dog’s paws and coat after walks, using natural cleaning products, and providing a hypoallergenic diet.
Dietary Guidelines for Sensitive Dogs
You’ll find many dog foods for dogs with skin allergies. These include:
Limited ingredient dog food
Limited ingredient dog food (LID) is a popular option for pet parents and contains carefully selected ingredients. Most limited ingredient diets feature one protein source, like hydrolyzed salmon or venison, and may also have one carbohydrate source. If your dog has itchy skin or a sensitive stomach, you may want to switch to a limited ingredient diet.
Always check the product label to see what’s in it. There can be “hidden” ingredients in these diets that are potential problems for dogs with itchy skin.
Grain-free dog food
If your dog is sensitive to grains, you may want to choose grain-free dog food. Sensitive dogs can develop itchy skin if they’re allergic to wheat, corn, soy, and rye. Dogs have difficulty digesting these grains, which can also cause gastrointestinal disease, inflammation, and other serious health issues.
Grain-free and gluten-free diets can help reduce common allergy symptoms such as dry, itchy skin. These diets are hypoallergenic and highly digestible, meaning dogs can utilize necessary nutrients efficiently.
Novel ingredient dog food
Novel ingredient diets are ideal for allergy-prone dogs. These diets use rare ingredients that your pet hasn’t eaten before and reduce the chances of an allergic reaction. Novel diets use ingredients such as rabbit, venison, hydrolyzed salmon, kangaroo, fish, or duck. They are beneficial in treating food-related allergies such as dry, itchy skin.
Macronutrient Requirements for Sensitive Dogs
Poor quality ingredients can irritate your pet’s skin and cause a skin allergy. The best dog food for itchy skin will contain high-quality limited ingredients. If your dog has itchy skin, you should look for these ingredients:
A high-quality protein source
Protein makes up a large part of the dog food recipe, and commonly found protein sources can cause skin irritation in dogs. Less common protein sources like venison and duck are a better option. Other high-quality protein sources include fish, eggs, and poultry.
Essential fatty acids
Look for essential fatty acids, including omegas, EPA, and DHA. Fish and fish oil are natural sources of these essential fatty acids.
Vitamin A is important for skin and fur health. Natural sources of Vitamin A include carrots, liver, spinach, fish oils, eggs, and sweet potatoes.
Biotin – This vitamin supports healthy tissue growth. Meat, eggs, and milk are high in biotin.
Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that promotes cell renewal. Common Vitamin E sources are seeds, liver, and leafy green vegetables.
Zinc helps prevent inflamed, itchy skin. It also prevents bacterial and fungal skin infections. Natural Zinc sources include poultry, beef, and yogurt.
How can I help my pet with skin allergies?
If you want to help your dog with allergies, the first step is to consult a veterinarian. A professional can verify whether diet changes can fix your dog’s allergy symptoms. If you’re sure it’s a food allergy, you’ll need to identify the allergen.
Veterinarians recommend an elimination diet to help you determine what ingredients are causing your pet’s allergies. An elimination diet means switching to a food with a different protein and carbohydrate source. For example, you could switch from chicken and rice to salmon and sweet potato. If you find that your pet responds better, you can continue with the new diet.
Switching to hypoallergenic dog food is a great way to find your dog’s food allergy. Hypoallergenic dog foods have “novel” proteins and carbohydrates, like venison and potato or duck and pea. Your dog must have hypoallergenic dog food for at least 8–10 weeks to notice any change.
Relief for Your Dog’s Dry Skin
Routine grooming and applying topical conditioning can alleviate dry, itchy skin.
The Routine Grooming Method
- STEP 1 Brush your dog to remove debris and prevent mats that can contribute to itchy skin.
- STEP 2 Massage your dog with a rubber glove to distribute body oils, increase blood flow to the skin, and provide nutrients to skin tissues.
- STEP 3 Bath your dog to prevent oil and dirt buildups. These buildups can cause dry skin.
- STEP 4 Use a moisturizing shampoo when you bathe your dog. Remove any residual buildup and apply a moisturizing conditioner.
- STEP 5 Air dry your dog’s skin or pat dry with a towel.
Note: Do not use human shampoo and conditioner.
Our Favorite Grooming Method
- STEP 1 Use a shampoo and conditioner containing colloidal oatmeal. You can also add essential oils to combat dry, itchy skin.
- STEP 2 Rinse your dog’s skin with apple cider vinegar.
- STEP 3 Apply organic coconut oil to your dog’s skin.
- STEP 4 Moisturize your dog’s dry, itchy skin for instant relief. Apply organic moisturizers to your dog’s nose and paws. Products made with natural ingredients are available at pet supply stores.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is an allergy in a dog diagnosed?
A veterinarian will evaluate your dog’s medical condition and behavior for a diagnosis. Some dogs break out in a rash or have itchy skin if they have food allergies. You can change your dog’s diet to prevent allergic reactions. Your vet may also provide medication to heal dry, itchy skin.
Why is good nutrition important for sensitive dogs?
It’s vital that your pup eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and freshwater. The most important nutrient is freshwater, which makes up 65 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are important for optimal health and energy. Minerals are important for muscle development and nerve conduction, and vitamins balance your dog’s biochemistry.
How often should I feed my dog?
If you have a puppy, you should feed him at least four times a day. Adult dogs can be fed twice a day. Dogs enjoy routine, so establish a feeding schedule and maintain it. A good time to feed your pet is during family meals.
How much should I feed my sensitive dog?
It’s vital that your pup eats a complete and balanced diet. Dogs need protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and freshwater. The most important nutrient is freshwater, which makes up 65 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are important for optimal health and energy. Minerals are important for muscle development and nerve conduction, and vitamins balance your dog’s biochemistry.
Does my sensitive dog need grain-free food?
Some dogs are allergic to low-quality grains and may develop rashes and itchy skin. Always buy premium quality grain-free dog food to support your dog’s overall health.
Can Benadryl relieve itchy skin in dogs?
An appropriate dosage of Benadryl is safe for dogs. It will reduce allergy symptoms like itchiness and skin rashes in about an hour. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dogs any medications.
Discuss dietary and environmental changes with your local vet. Making some adjustments can relieve and prevent your dog’s dry skin. These may include nutrition changes, increasing humidity in your home, or avoiding possible allergens.