Did you know that food-related allergies are one of the major causes of excessive shedding in dogs? When a food allergy is the main underlying cause of your dog’s shedding, proper nutrition won’t help. Since most dog food brands use chicken and beef as their main protein sources, there’s a good chance one of these ingredients is causing your dog’s allergies. In this article, you’ll learn how to select the best dog food for allergies and shedding and check out the Top 5 brands currently on the market.
Aside from chicken and beef, other common dog food allergens include corn, wheat, eggs, soy, and sometimes – though less commonly – peas and potatoes. Most dog parents assume grains are the cause of their dog’s allergies, while protein is just as likely to be causing your dog’s skin issues.
In order to avoid excessive shedding and restore your dog’s lustrous, healthy coat, you must find well-balanced food that doesn’t upset his or her allergies. That’s what we’re here to help you do. Let’s start with an overview of the five foods below before moving on to the reviews and tips on how to choose the right food for your dog.
Top 5 Dog Foods for Allergies and Shedding
|#1) Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult
|#2) Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet
|#3) Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Diet for Dogs
|#4) The Honest Kitchen Human-Grade Dehydrated Organic Whole Grain Dog Food
|#5) Wellness Complete Health Natural Food for Dogs
Tips on Selecting the Right Food
The above assortment gives you plenty of options to work with to find the right food for your dog with allergies & shedding issues. Below are several points to consider when beginning your dog on new food:
- Always be sure to transition your dog to his new food slowly by mixing the new food with the old food. A good rule of thumb is about a 10% increase daily, e.g. start with 90% old food the first day and add 10% new food each day. After ten days, your dog is ready to eat new food only.
- In the beginning, you may want to start with grain-free limited ingredient food to identify which protein sources agree with your dog.
- Once you know which protein sources agree with your dog, then it’s time to switch to a food with grain. The key is to avoid corn and wheat when reintroducing grains into your dog’s diet.
- Be careful of brands that list alternatives to chicken on the main part of the label. You’ll often find that brands sneak “chicken meal” or chicken fat into these formulas, which makes it hard to determine which protein sources are best for your dog. Four of the five brands in this guide are chicken-free.
- Lastly, avoid eggs and dairy altogether when assessing which ingredients help to eliminate your dog’s allergies and excessive shedding.
Now, let’s move on to the reviews.
Reviews of the Best Dog Food for Allergies and Shedding
In this section, we share individual reviews of each food from the chart above with the reasons we chose these five brands. Along with our thoughts, you’ll find lists of helpful pros & cons.
#1) Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult
Nutro is so confident that its food will give your dog a softer, shinier coat that the company offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee. Of the Nutro Limited Ingredient formulas currently available, the Salmon & Lentils recipe is our top selection for dogs with allergies and shedding issues.
Why? We like this formula because it not only skips the most common dog food allergens but also uses salmon as the #1 ingredient without any hidden chicken or beef products. Salmon is full of essential amino acids and Omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for dog skin & coat health.
In total, each batch of Nutro Limited Ingredient food contains 10 ingredients or less. The company even goes the extra mile by sourcing non-GMO ingredients. Lastly, there are other non-chicken formulas you may like, including Duck & Lentils, Lamb & Sweet Potato, and Venison Meal & Sweet Potato. All in all, Nutro Limited is an excellent place to start when trying to solve your dog’s allergy & shedding issues.
- Nutro offers small 4lb bags to test before investing in large bags
- Reasonably priced when compared to similar brands
- The only brand in this guide that guarantees a healthier coat or your money back
- Less shedding
- Plenty of non-chicken formulas to choose from
- Less likely to cause gas
- Less scratching and skin issues
- May help dogs who often lick and chew their paws
- A long-term grain-free diet may be linked to canine heart disease
- The price can fluctuate without warning
- The kibble might be hard to chew for senior dogs
#2) Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet
While the FDA has not definitively concluded whether grain-free dog food causes dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, you may want to err on the side of caution by choosing Blue Buffalo Basics. Blue Buffalo offers the widest range of chicken-free dog food formulas in this guide, ranging from small breed, with grain, grain-free, and even wet food options.
Also, like Nutro, Blue Buffalo is one of the most trustworthy and reliable dog food brands that offer consistently good products. Another reason we like Blue Buffalo is the signature LifeSource Bits the company adds to its kibble. These bits are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to ensure your dog meets his daily nutritional requirements for a healthy coat.
Of the Blue Buffalo Limited formulas currently available, we like the Turkey & Potato recipe the most for dogs with allergies & shedding issues. This formula is chicken-free and more likely to agree with your dog’s tastebuds than some of the other more exotic protein sources on the market.
- Blue Buffalo offers both grain-free and w/ grain versions of the same formulas which makes it easy to switch from grain-free to w/ grain once you determine which protein source(s) agree with your dog
- The grain-free version is the most affordable food of the five in this guide
- Includes flaxseed and fish oil for adequate servings of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids
- Contains glucosamine & chondroitin for better joint health
- A good choice to eliminate excessive shedding due to chicken and egg allergies
- May help to alleviate chronic ear infections due to allergies
- Some quality control issues
- Inconsistent batch quality
- Might not agree with sensitive stomachs
#3) Earthborn Holistic Venture Limited Ingredient Diet for Dogs
One of the lesser-known boutique dog food brands we trust is Earthborn Holistic. With this brand, there are no recalls to worry about, and we really like their unique formulas. The only hurdle here is that the Venture formula is grain-free, which doesn’t make it the best choice for a long-term diet plan, though it’s great for the testing phase because of the wide variety of alternative protein sources.
In total, there are six formulas including Pollock, Rabbit, Pork, Duck, Turkey, and even Squid. If your dog is allergic to chicken, Earthborn’s Venture formula gives your plenty of protein sources to test which sources agree with your dog. Additionally, Earthborn offers 4 lb bags that are easier on the wallet while testing protein sources.
Of the six formulas, we like Pollock & Pumpkin the most for dogs with allergies & shedding issues. Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber and low-glycemic carbs, which makes it a good carb source for dogs with yeast problems. One final point is the cost of this food in bulk. Compared to the other four brands in this guide, it costs the most to buy in bulk.
- The widest variety of protein sources to choose from
- Available formulas without peas & potatoes
- Contains sunflower oil for a healthier coat
- Pumpkin is a nutritious alternative to potatoes and peas
- Positive results for excessive shedding
- Easy to digest for dogs with sensitive stomachs
- A good choice for bulldogs with allergies
- The priciest of the five foods to buy in bulk
- No formulas with grain are available
- Finicky eaters might refuse it
#4) The Honest Kitchen Human-Grade Dehydrated Organic Whole Grain Dog Food
The Honest Kitchen dehydrated dog food is an excellent choice for dog parents who want to feed their dogs human-grade food but are short on free time to cook. The turkey formula is the best dog food for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs because it’s easy to digest and skips all the most common dog food allergens.
For senior dogs who have trouble chewing kibble or dogs with missing teeth, this is an excellent option to eliminate allergies and excessive shedding. Another highlight of this food is it does include whole grains mainly in the form of organic oats. You’ll also find flaxseed as one of the main ingredients, which is a good source of essential fatty acids for coat health.
The one qualm we have with this food is its low protein content compared to the dry kibble choices in this guide. If your dog is active or a large breed with more muscle mass, there are better options in this guide than The Honest Kitchen.
- Very easy to prepare, simply add water and wait a few minutes before serving
- No ingredients from China, made in the USA
- Contains grain for dog parents who are concerned about the potential effects of a grain-free diet on heart health
- Made without preservatives or GMO ingredients
- Shinier coats
- Each box multiples to 4X its weight in food, e.g a 10 lb box makes 40 lbs of food
- Significantly less shedding
- Limited non-chicken protein sources to choose from
- Lower in protein than most dry kibble
- Some dogs won’t eat it
#5) Wellness Complete Health Natural Food for Dogs
Last but not least is the Wellness Complete Health formula. Of the five foods in this guide, this is one of the best dry foods with grain for dogs with allergies & shedding issues. What’s great about this formula is that it’s an excellent well-balanced food for a long-term diet, so if it agrees with your dog, there’s no need to switch later.
The formula contains guaranteed amounts of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for skin & coat health along with pre & probiotics for improved gastrointestinal health. What we really like about this formula is the four main grain sources which are oatmeal, ground barley, grown brown rice, and rye flour.
There are no corn, wheat, or egg products hiding out this formula. In reality, this is a rare hypoallergenic dog food formula that’s being sold for a very reasonable price. Lastly, it’s available in both 5 lb and 30 lb sizes to give you the option to test the 5 lb bag before moving up to the 30 lb bulk bag.
- Good hypoallergenic dog food with grain
- Lamb is an excellent alternative to chicken
- The 30 lb bag is reasonably-priced
- Made without preservatives or GMO ingredients
- Contains pre & probiotics for improved gut health
- Good for dogs with wheat and/or corn allergies
- Softer, shinier coats with less shedding
- Contains chicken fat, not a great choice for dogs with chicken allergies
- Picky eaters might reject it
- The 30 lb bag is not resealable
Choosing the best dog food for allergies and shedding requires a bit of trial & error unless you have the money for an expensive allergy test. In most cases, cutting out chicken, beef, corn, and wheat along with other common dog food allergens will eliminate your dog’s allergies and restore a healthy coat with normal shedding.
Another point to consider is that roughly 10% of dog allergies are due to food allergies, and there’s usually more than one ingredient causing the allergic reaction. Depending on how sensitive your dog is to certain food ingredients, the only surefire way to pinpoint what’s causing the allergies is to undergo a professional allergy test.