8 Best Dog Foods for Atopic Dermatitis and Dog Skin Allergies

8 Best Dog Foods for Atopic Dermatitis and Dog Skin Allergies

Although atopic dermatitis and food allergies were previously deemed two entirely different conditions, it is now clear that food-related skin allergies are part of Atopic Dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is an inherited predisposition to develop hypersensitivity reactions to environmental triggers, including pollens, molds, dust, danders, and mites. Atopic dermatitis can also be food-related when animal proteins or specific grains cause food-related dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is characterized by an altered immune system and skin barrier defects. However, atopic dermatitis in dogs is very similar to that in people. Given the location of the lesions on dogs, we believe that dogs absorb allergens through their skin because of the defective barrier. This hypothesis fits environmental allergens, but it is harder to understand how food allergy contributes to skin disease. 

How do we know our dog’s itchy skin is an allergy?

Not every itch your dog has is an allergy. Below are characteristics of food allergies.

  • Dogs with food allergies tend to have a nonseasonal itch and inflammation. 
  • If the skin disease is seasonal, then food allergy is highly unlikely. 
  • Other clues to suggest a food allergy are gastrointestinal signs, which may be mild or intermittent. 
  • We can see intermittent vomiting, slightly loose stools, more than four bowel movements a day, excessive flatulence, or burping with food allergic dogs.

Diagnosis of food allergies requires an elimination diet 

To pick the appropriate diet for a dog, you must consider what the dog has been eating for meals and treats. The ideal diet would consist of a novel protein and a novel carbohydrate source. A novel protein source is an animal protein that your dog hasn’t eaten in the past. The idea is this: If it’s never made it to your dog’s dinner bowl, it’s less likely to be a trigger for food allergies.

Veterinarians have been prescribing diets with novel proteins, but many over-the-counter diets now contain the novel proteins used in veterinary prescription diets, including rabbit and kangaroo, buffalo, bison, deer, crocodile, and kangaroo. 

Many veterinarians recommend the use of prescription hydrolyzed diets like those listed below:

  • Hill’s ZD® (hydrolyzed chicken),
  • Royal Canin’s Ultamino® (hydrolyzed poultry byproduct – chicken feathers)
  • Purina’s HA® (hydrolyzed soy)
  • Royal Canin’s vegetarian diet as well, since most food-allergic dogs are reactive to the animal proteins.

We at Dog Food Care are not qualified to review or rate the therapeutic design of the above dog foods, but we could examine the nutritional values of these brands. Unfortunately, every one of these dog foods was found to include multiple controversial ingredients and offer very little nutrition for the overall health of the dogs. An example is the Royal Canin’s Ultamino® hydrolyzed poultry byproduct, which was found to contain very little more than minutely chopped-up chicken feathers with added starch to allow the forming of kibble.

It might be wise to buy these prescriptions only when prescribed by a veterinarian and discuss your canine companion’s overall health and nutrition with the vet.

What we do know about food-related allergies is that the only proven way to diagnose them and find the cause is with a diet trial and challenges. The most common food allergens are animal proteins, not grains, and the best treatment for food allergy is avoidance of the offending foods. However, avoiding one allergen does not mean the importance of the other essential nutrients must be ignored. It is vital to continue feeding your furry friend according to its life stage.

Below are some guidelines for dogs at different life stages.

Puppy diet:

Puppies require at least 23 % of protein and about 8 % fat in the entire diet for faster development and growth.

Adult diet

For full-size adult dogs, you must consider the breed size and then choose an adult meal comprising not less than 18 % proteins and 6 % of fats in the entire diet. Remember, more protein is needed for a lean body, while moderate fat contents ensure your dogs have an adequate reserve for high energy needs.

Senior diet: As your precious dog ages, its metabolism will slow down, increasing the risk of food allergies. In your furry friend’s golden years, a digestible, high-quality diet is the most important for him. However, avoid high-calorie diets for an older, less active canine companion.

Making a choice that will provide optimal health for your canine companion is complex, and it takes time to research and gather information to help you make up your mind. Many professionals agree that variety is the key to giving your dog the best diet, and dog Food Care can guide you through the clutter. 

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What are the six essential nutrients?

Even if your dog is a victim of atopic dermatitis or another skin allergy, he would still need the six essential ingredients, crucial in any dog’s diet. 

Many dog food labels say “Complete and Balanced,” but what is required for dog food to be complete and balanced? The product is formulated to meet the nutrient levels established by AAFCO for a particular life stage or all life stages.‍ It says you can feed only this food, and your dog will get all the required nutrients. The six essential nutrients are listed below.

1. Water: 70% to 80% of your dog’s mature body weight is made up of water. It’s essential to ensure your dog has access to an adequate clean water supply daily. Dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Without sufficient water, your dog’s body will be unable to maintain critical bodily functions shown below.

  • Dissolve and transport nutrients to cells
  • Regulate body temperature, 
  • Digest foods
  • Flush away waste and much more.

2. Proteins: Your dog’s body uses 23 amino acids to build tissues. However, your canine companion’s body can only produce 13 of those on its own. The remaining ten amino acids must come from proteins in the dog’s diet. To ensure your dog is fueling their day and body with enough protein, look for dog foods with natural, high-quality proteins as the first ingredient. Whole meats and meat meals are good because both provide excellent protein and nutrition. Whole meats contain more water before being processed (which cooks off), and meals are already cooked to remove their water, dried, and ground. So a mix of both on the ingredient label is a great thing.

Whole Meats

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry

Meat Meals

  • Chicken Meal
  • Beef Meal
  • Salmon Meal

Meat meals contain about four times the protein meats do, so generally, they’re a good source of nutrients, but only when they are named.

3. Fats: Fatty acids, as they are called when talking about dietary needs, are essential for energy and also for your furry doggo’s skin and coat health. Your dog’s body cannot produce essential fatty acids and relies on you to include them in its diet to maintain optimal health. Some essential fatty acids for your dog are:

  • Linoleic acid
  • Omega-6
  • Omega-3

4. Carbohydrates: Carbs are necessary to power the tissues in your dog’s body and healthy digestion. Carbohydrates are plant-based, coming from grains, barley, brown rice, whole corn, potatoes, etc. It provides the dog’s body with

  • Sugars
  • Starches
  • Fiber

5. Vitamins: Proper growth and health maintenance are impossible without including vitamins in your pup’s diet. Vitamins support many critical roles in your dog’s diet. As long as your choice of dog food is a complete and balanced meal under AAFCO’s guidelines, your pup should be receiving many of the vitamins necessary to keep them healthy and happy. 

  • Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels 
  • Vitamin A helps to boost the immune system 
  • Vitamin E and C serve as antioxidants 
  • Vitamin K helps with blood clots and 
  • Vitamin B12 helps maintain a healthy nervous system. 

6. Minerals: Like vitamins, minerals support several critical roles in your dog’s diet. While different minerals provide different benefits, some general functions include bone and cartilage formation, hormone regulation, oxygen flow, and nerve and muscle function. Recipes with chelated minerals promote mineral attachment to proteins for maximized absorption during the digestive process. Below are some specific attributes of essential minerals for your dog. 

  • Calcium and phosphorus make up a large portion of bone matter 
  • Iron helps to carry oxygen through the body 
  • Zinc supports proper wound healing 
  • Selenium helps provide antioxidant support 
  • Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium help with nerve transmission and fluid balance.

What to look for on your dog food labels

Like your food labels, your canine mate’s food label shows what ingredients it contains and the percentage of essential nutrients in each bag. The ingredients are listed from highest to lowest content by weight and the percentage it represents, with 80% of the food made up of the first 5 ingredients. Studying the ingredients list will help you understand what you feed your dog.

Another part of the information on dog food labels is the Guaranteed Analysis (GA). It is the nutrient profile found on the back of the bag or can. GAs divulge the diet’s elemental nutrient composition regarding minimum crude protein, minimum crude fat, and maximum crude fiber. GAs let you know precisely what you are getting. 

The name game when decoding the label

The first five or ten ingredients on the list will give you a good idea about the quality of the ingredients. You always want to see the protein listed in the first position, and then it must be the real thing. If the list of a bag of Beef Dog Food shows the beef first, followed by whole-grain corn and then soybean meal, the percentage of whole-grain corn will be less than the beef, and the soybean meal will be less than the whole-grain corn.

So, if you buy a bag of kibble called Beef Dog Food, beef must be number one on the list, and as per the FDA, it must make up 95% of the product. In contrast, if that bag of dog food’s label says “Beef Dinner,” “Beef Recipe,” Beef Flavor,” or similar descriptions, the beef percentage need not exceed 25%. 

What are fillers?

In most dog foods, especially kibble, there are added ingredients to help your dog feel full but provide little nutritional value. Usually, fillers are bulky, starchy, and carbohydrate-rich ingredients that healthier, more natural ingredients could have replaced.

Typically, these products are cheap, and easy for manufacturers to keep costs low. Some common fillers in commercial dog foods are so cheap that they irritate your dog, causing allergies or sensitivities. There is no official list of fillers, and what some dog owners regard as fillers, others believe they are healthy. Examples include corn, wheat, rice, unspecified by-products, potato protein, pea protein, etc.

Dog Food Care reviewed the 8 Dog Foods listed below 

After reviewing many dog food brands for Atopic Dermatitis and skin allergies, Dog Food Care recommends those that stood out as best.

  1. Zignature Lamb LID Formula Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
  2. Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie Dry Dog Food
  3. Acana Singles Limited Ingredients Dry Dog Food
  4. Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food Salmon, and Sweet Potato 
  5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food
  6. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Duck & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food
  7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food
  8. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Premium Loaf Lamb & Potato Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

The packaging of the above dry dog foods ranges from 24-pound bags to 28-pound bags, and prices from $39.28 to $89.98 per bag. When broken down to prices per pound, the average is $1.96 per pound.

Dog Food Care’s choice of best dog foods for dogs with atopic dermatitis or skin allergies is listed below.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Overall
Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie with Roasted Bison & Venison Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie with Roasted Bison & Venison Dry Dog Food

  • Delicious protein-rich recipe with roasted bison and venison
  • 32% protein blend supports muscle and bone strength
  • K9 strain proprietary probiotics aid in healthy digestion
10
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Best Wet Food
Zignature Grain-Free Lamb Canned Dog Food

Zignature Grain-Free Lamb Canned Dog Food

  • Contains essential antioxidants from fruits and legumes
  • Enhanced with taurine to support heart health
  • Single source animal protein for dogs with sensitivities
9.9
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Limited Ingredients
ACANA Singles Formula Limited Ingredient Lamb & Apple

ACANA Singles Formula Limited Ingredient Lamb & Apple

  • Limited ingredient recipe with 50% grass-fed lamb
  • Balanced ratio of meat, liver, kidney and cartilage
  • Targets digestive health
9.8
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Best Grain-Free
CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

  • Limited ingredient, whole-grain recipe
  • Proprietary Canidae HealthPLUS is a blend of antioxidants and probiotics for a nutritious meal
  • Omega fatty acids from salmon promote healthy skin and a shiny coat
9.7
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Best Value
Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Meal & Brown Rice

Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Meal & Brown Rice

  • Simple 6-ingredient recipe
  • Enhanced with vitamins, minerals and taurine
  • No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
9.4
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Below are Dog Food Care’s top 8 recommendations for feeding your dog with atopic dermatitis or other skin allergies.

Best Overall
1. Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie Dry Dog Food 

Diamond Pet Foods make Taste of the Wild dog food in Meta, Missouri. All dry foods are manufactured at Diamond’s company-owned plants in South Carolina, Arkansas, California, and Missouri. Diamond Foods were established in Missouri in 1970.

Taste of the Wild with Ancient Grains, Ancient Prairie Canine Recipe with Roasted Bison and Venison Dry Dog Food, Made with High Protein from Real Meat and Guaranteed Nutrients and Probiotics 28lb
10
  • Delicious protein-rich recipe with roasted bison and venison
  • 32% protein blend supports muscle and bone strength
  • K9 strain proprietary probiotics aid in healthy digestion

Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie Dry Dog Food is packed with novel protein from Water Buffalo, Pork, Chicken Meal, Roasted Bison, and Roasted Venison, with Salmon Oil as a DHA source. A novel protein source is an animal protein that your dog hasn’t eaten in the past. The idea is this: If it’s never made it to your dog’s dinner bowl, it’s less likely to be a trigger for food allergies. Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie contains ancient grains like grain sorghum, millet, quinoa, and chia seed. 

This product has zero controversial ingredients with no artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. Overall, this dry dog food has well-balanced amounts of protein, fat, and carbs with meat and fat sources of somewhat mixed quality, offering a complete and well-balanced diet. It has a high-calorie count, ideal for very active dogs.

Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie Dry Dog Food is a low-priced, high-quality dry dog food ideal for Weimaraners, Labrador Retrievers, West Highland White Terriers, or other breeds predisposed to atopic dermatitis. This recipe includes essential vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced diet, and Dog Food Care highly recommends this as the best overall dry dog food.

  • First 5 Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Pork, Chicken Meal, Grain Sorghum, Millet
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 32% min, Crude Fat 18% min, Crude Fiber 3% Max
  • Calories: 445 kcal per 12.7-oz can
  • Suitable for which dogs: All breeds and life stages of highly active dogs prone to food allergies.
  • Feeding: one 12.7-oz can for every 10 pounds of the puppy’s body weight.
  • Key Benefit: The novel Buffalo, Bison, and Venison proteins offer dogs typically sensitive to chicken, beef, and lamb the protein they need to thrive,
  • Price: $54.99 per 28-lb bag ($1.96) 

Best Wet Food
2. Zignature Lamb LID Formula Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Zignature is a subsidiary of Pets Global, Inc., an independently owned holistic pet food company headquartered in North Hollywood, California. Zignature is a relatively new brand, as it was launched in 2012. It was to create food made with low glycemic binders and without common allergens.

Zignature Grain-Free Lamb Canned Dog Food
9.9
  • Contains essential antioxidants from fruits and legumes
  • Enhanced with taurine to support heart health
  • Single source animal protein for dogs with sensitivities

Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is a high-priced dog food with exceptional quality. It has no controversial ingredients and zero artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. The amounts of protein, fat, and carbs are well-balanced with excellent meat and fat quality.

Your Labrador Retrievers or Pit Bull Terrier will enjoy a delicious dinner with real, farm-raised lamb from New Zealand, wholesome peas, chickpeas, and carrots. This meat-first recipe offers pups the protein they need to thrive, while Zignature’s limited ingredient recipe throws out troublesome ingredients like chicken, corn, wheat, soy, and potatoes, creating peak hypoallergenic, low-glycemic nutrition.

Combine that with key antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and a complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals for a well-rounded meal that goes beyond nature to become your pet’s signature food and health protector for life. Limited Ingredient Diets are the most effective way to identify and eliminate allergens that cause reactions in your dog.

This Limited Ingredient Diet is highly recommended and Dog Food Care’s Overall Best Choice of wet dog food for dogs prone to atopic dermatitis or other skin conditions.

  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Lamb Liver, Peas, Chickpeas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 9.5% min, Crude Fat 5.5% min, Crude Fiber 1.2% Max
  • Calories: 417 kcal per 8-oz cup
  • Suitable for which dogs: Breeds of all sizes, from Shih Tzus to German Shepherds, both breeds prone to develop atopic dermatitis.
  • Feeding: one 8-oz cup of food for every 25 pounds of its body weight
  • Key Benefits: Lamb, lamb broth, lamb liver, and lamb meal are all ingredients that indicate the animal source. There are no unidentified ingredients that could mislead dog owners about precisely what they feed their precious canine companions. There are also no added oils in this dog food, so the fats come from animal and plant ingredients.
  • Price: $38.28 per case of 12 x 13-oz ($3.19-can) 

Best Limited Ingredient
3. Acana Singles Limited Ingredients Dry Dog Food

Champion Pet Food, based in Alberta, owns Acana Dog Foods. The company was founded in 1985 by Reinhard Muhlenfeld, a maker of premium pet foods available in almost 100 countries around the globe. 

ACANA Singles Formula Lamb & Apple 100% Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food 4.5 lb. Bag. Fast Delivery by Just Jak's Pet Market
9.8
  • Limited ingredient recipe with 50% grass-fed lamb
  • Balanced ratio of meat, liver, kidney and cartilage
  • Targets digestive health

Owners of dogs with skin problems like atopic dermatitis have only one way to determine whether the condition is food-related, which is by elimination. ACANA Singles Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb & Apple Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food contains only one animal protein. Lamb is the quality protein used as deboned lamb, lamb meal, lamb liver, lamb fat, natural lamb flavor, lamb cartilage, and lamb tripe. 

Limited ingredient dog food like ACANA Singles is formulated to reduce the number of ingredients that your dog is exposed to within their diet. These diets are used in hypoallergenic dog food trials to diagnose and treat food allergies and other adverse food reactions.

There are no controversial ingredients in this Acana Limited Ingredient Diet, except lentil fiber, which has no nutritional value to your Miniature Schnauzers or Boston Terrier. It has a savory flavor that dogs love and does not contain any meat by-products, fillers, grain, corn, soy, wheat gluten, or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Dog Food Care can confidently recommend this dog food as the Best Limited Ingredient Dog Food. 

  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Lamb Meal, Lamb Liver, Sweet Potato, Whole Chickpeas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 31% min, Crude Fat 17% min, Crude Fiber 5% Max
  • Calories: 371 kcal per 8-oz cup
  • Suitable for which dogs: All breeds from small Border Terriers to Giants like Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs and large breeds like Weimaraners.
  • Feeding: one 8-oz cup of food for every 25 pounds of its body weight.
  • Key Benefits: It contains above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
  • Price: $89.99 per 25-lb bag ($3.60-lb) 

Best Grain-Free
4. Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food Salmon and Sweet Potato

CANIDAE is a family-owned company founded in 1996 by owners Scott Whipple and John Gordon. Along with introducing its farm, located in Kansas, USA, Canidae also operates a cooking facility and distribution center in Texas, USA.

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
9.7
  • Limited ingredient, whole-grain recipe
  • Proprietary Canidae HealthPLUS is a blend of antioxidants and probiotics for a nutritious meal
  • Omega fatty acids from salmon promote healthy skin and a shiny coat

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food is formulated with just eight wholesome ingredients to nourish all canines, including those with sensitivities. This recipe boasts salmon as its first ingredient for a protein-packed meal for English Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, and other breeds predisposed to atopic dermatitis.

This nutrient-dense dry dog food is crafted in the USA with Salmon and Salmon Meal as the first two ingredients. Canidae Grain Free Pure is a dry dog food using a significant amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein. Therefore, it earns the enthusiastic recommendation by Dog Food Care, calling it the best Grain-Free dry dog food for dogs with food sensitivities.

  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils, Sweet Potatoes
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 32% min, Crude Fat 14% min, Crude Fiber 4.5% Max
  • Calories: 459 kcal per 8-oz cup
  • Suitable for which dogs: All active breeds, from your Weimaraner to the little Scottish Terrier and the massive Neapolitan Mastiff.
  • Feeding: one 8-oz cup of food for every 25 pounds of its body weight.
  • Key Benefit: Limited protein-only salmon can go a long way to keep your sensitive dog healthy.
  • Price: $74.99 per 24-lb bag ($3.12-lb)

Best Value
5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food

Rachel Ray — In 2008, Ray partnered with pet food experts Ainsworth Pet Nutrition to develop a line of super premium food and treats for dogs called Rachael Ray Nutrish. The J.M. Smucker Company acquired Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® pet food from Ainsworth Pet Nutrition in April 2018.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Meal & Brown Rice
9.4
  • Simple 6-ingredient recipe
  • Enhanced with vitamins, minerals and taurine
  • No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 is a low-priced dog food with good quality. This product has no controversial ingredients, including zero artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. It has a high amount of carbs compared to its protein and fat, but the quality of the meat and fat is excellent.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is a nutritious and delicious option for adult dogs, especially those with an aversion to certain foods. Crafted with just six ingredients and added vitamins, minerals, taurine, and other nutrients, this limited ingredient recipe features lamb meal as the first ingredient. 

This canine kibble is free from corn, wheat, soy, and gluten. There are no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, so it is an excellent choice for dogs prone to food sensitivities. This is high-quality dog food at a below-average price. Dog Food Care has no qualms about recommending this Rachel Ray Nutrish dog food product for your Wirehair Fox Terriers and other dogs like Pointers and Boxers as the best price-effective dog food with limited ingredients.

  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat (preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 20% min, Crude Fat 13% min, Crude Fiber 4% max.
  • Calories: 355 kcal per 8-oz cup
  • Suitable for which dogs: Large breeds like Weimaraners, Samoyed Huskies, and Airedale Terriers.
  • Feeding: one 8-oz cup of food for every 25 pounds of its body weight
  • Key benefits: No corn, no wheat, no soy, Limited Ingredient Diet, gluten-free, pea-free, but plus added vitamins, minerals, taurine, and other nutrients.
  • Price: $39.98 per 28-lb bag ($1.43-lb)

6. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Duck & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

This dog food is manufactured by Wellpet LLC, headquartered in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, founded in 1926. Wellness uses minimum ingredients but aims for maximum nutrition while ensuring that its recipes care for those with sensitive stomachs.

This particular blend has just one source of protein, namely duck. It may help anyone who tries to isolate an allergy or eliminate red meat from the dog’s diet. The lack of gluten and grains of any kind should benefit dogs with sensitive stomachs. Non-meat ingredients are also kept to a minimum; there are no berries or fruits, save for tomato pomace. 

This Wellness product line contains above-average protein and below-average fat. Wellness Simple Duck and Oatmeal Recipe has above-average carbs compared to other dry dog foods. Even when considering the protein-boosting effect of the peas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat. Dog Food Care recommends Wellness Simple for dogs like Welsh Terriers and Boston Terriers prone to develop food-related skin conditions or atopic dermatitis.

  • First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Oatmeal, Peas, Ground Rice, Potato Protein
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 21% min, Crude Fat 11% min, Crude Fiber 4.75% Max
  • Calories: 450 kcal per 8-oz cup
  • Suitable for which dogs: Dog breeds of all sizes predisposed to skin allergies like Dalmatians and Weimaraners
  • Feeding: one 8-oz cup of food for every 25 pounds of its body weight.
  • Key Benefit: Includes a single source of protein that is expertly balanced with easily-digestible carbohydrates
  • Price: $79.98 per 26-lb Bag ($3.07-lb) 

7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food, Chicken

Bill Bishop and his sons Billy and Chris founded Blue Buffalo in 2003 in Wilton, Connecticut, to honor their beloved family dog, Blue. The Bishop family became increasingly concerned with the quality of Blue’s food when Blue had a bout with cancer at a young age. On April 24, 2018, General Mills, Inc. of Minneapolis announced its acquisition of Blue Buffalo Pet Products, Inc.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken Recipe is a low-priced dry dog food with overall average quality. This product has one controversial ingredient but no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. The food has relatively well-balanced amounts of protein, fat, and carbs, and excellent quality of meat and fat. 

This puppy food is packed with real chicken—a high-quality protein that satisfies your Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, or miniature schnauzer puppy’s natural craving for meat and encourages strong and healthy muscles. Your pup’s eyes and cognitive health will get a boost from essential ingredients like taurine. 

This nutritious meal also contains fatty acids like the ones found in mama’s milk and a carefully formulated blend of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to support his overall growth and development. And the best part, it’s made without the use of grains, corn, wheat, soy, and meat by-products. Just the good stuff for your new furry friend

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken Recipe encourages the development of strong and lean muscles and includes taurine to support brain and eye health. Dog Food Care finds this Blue Buffalo puppy food a reasonably-priced, average quality dog food to ensure a healthy, start for puppies, even those who might be predisposed to atopic dermatitis. 

  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch, Pea Starch
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 36% min, Crude Fat 16% min, Crude Fiber 5% max.
  • Calories: 423 kcal per 8-oz cup
  • Suitable for which dogs: All breed puppies with food sensitivities.
  • Feeding: one 8-oz cup of food for every 25 pounds of its body weight
  • Key Benefit: This nutritious meal also contains fatty acids like the ones found in mama’s milk along with a carefully formulated blend of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to support his overall growth and development.
  • Price: $59.98 per 24-lb bag ($2.50-lb)

8. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Premium Loaf Lamb & Potato Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Nutro Natural Pet Food, founded in 1926, was acquired by Mars in 2007. Mars Inc. was established in 1911 and is now based in McLean, Virginia. Mars Inc. has two dry pet foods manufacturing facilities for NUTRO™ products located in Henderson, North Carolina, and Victorville, California. Their cans and trays also have wet food manufacturing facilities in Columbus, Ohio, Fort Smith, Arkansas, and North Sioux City, South Dakota.

Some dogs can develop food allergies or atopic dermatitis when fed grain-based foods. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Premium Loaf Lamb & Potato Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is perfect for dogs with food sensitivity like Irish Setters, Dalmatians, and West Highland White Terriers. This healthy, wet formula has zero grain and features potatoes as a highly digestible carbohydrate. Pasture-fed Australian and New Zealand lamb is the formula’s single, novel animal protein. This premium, canned dog food is a limited ingredient diet that will make their skin healthy and coat shine.

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Premium Loaf Lamb & Potato Grain-Free Canned Dog Food is a mid-priced dog food of average quality. It contains no controversial ingredients like artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. The food has well-balanced amounts of protein, fat, and carbs with excellent quality meat and fat. Therefore, Dog Food Care recommends this Nutro Limited Canned dog food.

  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 24% min, Crude Fat 14% min, Crude Fiber 5% Max
  • Calories: 377kcal per 8-oz cup
  • Suitable for which dogs: All breeds predisposed to food allergies, like Weimaraners and Huskies.
  • Feeding: one 8-oz cup of food for every 25 pounds of its body weight.
  • Key Benefit: Blue Buffalo Basics is a limited ingredient, grain-free dog food that doesn’t contain any chicken, beef, corn, wheat, soy, dairy, or eggs, making it a good option for dogs with food sensitivities.
  • Price: $40.00 per 30-lb bag ($1.33-lb)

What are the facts that you should know about dog foods for Atopic Dermatitis?

Many different terms describe dogs’ abnormal reactions to food, like developing atopic dermatitis or itchy skin conditions. Terms like “allergy” and “hypersensitivity” describe an immunologic reaction to food allergens. It requires previous exposure to the allergen to bring about symptoms. In contrast, food “intolerance” does not involve the immune system and can occur with the first exposure to a particular food. Both reactions produce similar symptoms and may be difficult to tell apart without veterinary guidance.

While atopic dermatitis and food allergies in dogs are equally common in dogs and humans, they present themselves quite differently. For instance, a person allergic to shellfish may experience throat swelling and possibly a critical or fatal reaction, but in dogs, the allergy is expressed through the skin and seen most often as itch.

What Causes Allergic Reactions in Dogs?

Dogs with food allergies are typically allergic to proteins, which come from animal or plant-based ingredients, in the diet. The proteins are broken down into molecules that the immune system misidentifies as a potential threat and reacts to it. Beef, dairy, wheat, and chicken are the most common culprits of food allergies in dogs. The development of food allergies, however, takes time. So the dog may have been eating the offending ingredients for quite a long time before symptoms develop.

What are the Symptoms of Food Allergies or Dermatitis?

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs vary, but the most common complaints are listed below.

  • Non-seasonal itching that may involve the whole body or be focused on the ears and feet
  • Chronic or recurrent ear and skin infections are also typical. 
  • Some dogs may even develop vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive gassiness
  • Symptoms often begin when dogs are young (before one year of age) but may develop at any time.

What are the Foods to Avoid for Dogs with Atopic Dermatitis?

Before deciding what to avoid, you must first determine which ingredient causes the reaction. The best way to do that is the elimination process involving limited ingredient diets. Once found, you should altogether remove that ingredient from the atopic dog diet. Food allergies usually occur after consuming a particular ingredient or compound of the food, not the product itself, the most common being veal, chicken, dairy, egg or wheat proteins. 

Are Grain-free Diets Good for Dogs with Atopic Dermatitis?

No, only dogs with diagnosed grain allergies should avoid eating specific grains. Even breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Pit Bull Terriers, and German Shepherds that are at risk of Atopic Dermatitis may not react to grains but to chicken or other animal proteins. It is also crucial to understand that most grains are beneficial to dogs, and only a few could be allergens

Below is a list of healthy grains, followed by a list of grains all dog parents should avoid.

  • Whole wheat: The outer layer of a wheat kernel is the wheat bran, which is rich in fiber. Fiber acts as a prebiotic, nourishing the good bacteria in your dog’s digestive system.
  • Brown rice: Unlike white rice, brown rice still has outer kernel layers. It provides fiber, carbohydrates, and B vitamins, essential for energy metabolism and enzyme function. Brown rice is also a natural magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamin E source.
  • Barley: Barley has an exceptionally high energy content compared to other grains. Barley is also rich in B vitamins. Non-hulled barley appears on dog food labels as barley groats and is an excellent fiber source for dogs. Although rarer, barley groats are the preferable form of this grain.
  • Oats: The low glycemic index of oats helps control blood sugar. And the soluble fiber from whole oats helps manage cholesterol. Oats are high in protein and low in gluten, and they are popular in formulas for dogs with sensitivities to corn, wheat, or other grains.
  • Millet: This grain is a gluten-free, popular choice for gluten-sensitive dogs who prefer grain-inclusive diets. Additional features of millet include high concentrations of antioxidants, which boost your dog’s immune system.
  • Quinoa: It is a healthier alternative to corn and wheat. This ancient grain is nutrient-dense and packed with calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral in canine diets that plays a critical role in bone development. The presence of saponin in quinoa can irritate canine intestines. But the tiny fraction of saponin present in quinoa is too small to cause health problems in normal portions.
  • Sorghum: Sorghum is an ancient grain with a low glycemic index, beneficial for diabetic dogs. It has antioxidant effects and provides minerals like phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and zinc. 
  • Rye: Rye has a similar nutritional profile as barley, but not for dogs with gluten sensitivities, celiac disease, or grain intolerance. Often used in food for weight control because Rye can help promote weight loss, blood sugar control, and heart health.
  • Corn: It can be controversial. Some pups suffer from corn allergies, but it is high in digestible carbohydrates, vitamin E, and beta-carotene for others. It also provides essential fatty acids that support coat health.

Low-Quality Grains to Avoid

By-products are secondary ingredients created by the production of something else. Although considered safe for dogs, most grain by-products are manufacturing waste not suitable for human consumption. These grain products appear in dry dog food for convenience and affordability, not nutritional value. Selecting a formula that uses whole-grain ingredients instead of grain by-products ensures that your dog’s diet prioritizes health over profit margins.

  • Wheat Gluten: This dry powder is a highly processed product from wheat, often used as a cheap protein source to manipulate a high protein content. Animal proteins are much more bioavailable to dogs. And gluten can be problematic for pups with food allergies.
  • Corn Gluten Meal: Corn gluten meal is a by-product of highly processed corn products like corn syrup. This ingredient does not have any gluten and is made solely of protein. But this protein has exceptionally poor digestibility.
  • Wheat Middlings: This manufacturing by-product is often called floor sweepings. It comprises leftovers from mills that make wheat products for human consumption. This ingredient has limited nutritional value besides acting as a source of carbs.
  • Cereal Fines: Cereal fines consist of fine particles produced by cereal grain processing. This debris typically doesn’t list the origin grain, making it difficult to determine the ingredient’s nutritional value. An unknown origin is also problematic for allergies.
  • Grain Hulls: Rice hulls and oat hulls are standard grain products used for fiber in pet food. The hulls are by-products of refining grains and may not provide the same nutritional benefits as the whole grain ingredient.
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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.