Order a Dr. Harvey's Trial Bag!

Experience fresh food, firsthand.

Learn More

Fast shipping & 100% satisfaction guaranteed

There are no items in your cart.

your online orders with
SAVE 10%
Learn More
Health & Nutrition

Best Dog Food for Allergies: Your Pet Health Guide

February 12, 2024 - 16 minute read by The Team at Dr. Harvey's

Hero Featured Image   Dog Scratching Hero Featured Image   Dog Scratching

When your dog has an allergic reaction, it can be rather frustrating to determine the cause and the solution.

Dr. Harvey’s created this guide to help pet parents understand the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity, the common signs of an allergic reaction, and how to find the best dog foods for allergies.

You may have been prescribed an antihistamine or other allergy medication, but these aren’t sustainable long-term solutions because they do not address the underlying cause of the problem. Examining your dog’s diet and determining the best food for your dog with allergies is essential.

Common Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Food

A dog sitting on a couch

It’s helpful to know the common signs of an allergic reaction in dogs. Some dogs experience gastrointestinal symptoms as an allergic reaction, but allergy symptoms often appear on a dog’s skin. If your canine companion scratches more than usual at the face, feet, paw pads, ears, legs, or rear end, this could be a sign of an allergic reaction or food sensitivity.

Other allergy signs include:

  • Blisters around lips and chin
  • Chronic ear infections or crusty ears
  • Fatigue
  • Flaky skin
  • Hair loss
  • Hives (hot spots on the skin)
  • Interstitial cysts (cysts between toes)
  • Licking feet
  • Red belly
  • Runny eyes
  • Skin infections
  • Swelling of the face
  • Yeasty odor
P1011104 Edit (1)

Natural Nutrition for Canine Sensitivities

Heal your dog from the inside out with the power of fresh, whole food nutrition.

+ $3.95 Shipping

Oops. Can you please fix the highlighted fields?

Try Before You Buy

See the difference in your dog!

Generous Sample Size

Enough for several meals.

How to Find the Best Dog Foods for Allergies in 3 Steps

Dr. Harvey’s understands that not all pet parents have the time or the funds to create home-cooked meals for their furry companions—so we offer healthy and allergen-friendly meals and supplements.

Follow these tips when looking for the best dog foods for dogs with allergies:

1. Examine Ingredients

Your number one task is to look at the list of ingredients in your dog’s food or food you’re thinking of trying. If you already know what your dog is allergic to, make sure not to buy any food with that ingredient.

If you aren’t sure (or want to offer a healthier option to your pup), here’s what to look for:

  • New sources of proteins: Beef is usually the go-to source of protein for pre-made food but may also cause a reaction, so look for something new. Other protein sources include turkey, fish, lamb, rabbit, and venison. Because your dog most likely hasn’t had these meats before, they’re less likely to cause a reaction.

  • A limited ingredient list: The best dog foods for dogs with allergies have shorter lists of ingredients. This is better because the food is less likely to contain something that may trigger an allergic reaction.

  • Grain-free: Some dogs do very well with grain-free diets. Grain-free dog food typically has fewer filler ingredients like wheat, corn, and soy, which can trigger allergic reactions. These ingredients are frequently genetically modified and sprayed heavily with pesticides. Be aware that grain-free doesn’t mean gluten-free, so be extra careful if you’re looking for gluten-free dog food.

  • Artificial colors: These additives can often cause stomach or skin problems in dogs, even without an allergy or intolerance. Common listings of artificial colors include Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellow 5 and 6. The food should also contain no preservatives (discussed later in this article).

2. Read Everything Carefully

Take your time reading new potential dog food ingredients. Brands don’t have to share the quality of ingredients and can split them up, so people don’t realize how much of a single ingredient is in the food.

For example, we can separate corn into ground, kibbled, flaked, and corn. When scanning the list, you might see one mention of corn and mistakenly believe the product doesn’t contain much of that ingredient. Corn is not well tolerated by dogs, should not be included in dog food, and should absolutely be avoided in foods for dogs with allergies.

Also, remember that ingredients are usually listed by weight, meaning the food contains more of the first ingredients listed. The best dog foods for allergies have a recognizable first line of ingredients listed on them.

3. Recognize the Value of Whole Foods

Whole food ingredients are healthy for dogs and taste better, too! By avoiding processing and preservation, whole food ingredients maintain their original taste, making the food more enticing to a dog’s sense of smell and taste. Look for foods that are preserved by freeze-drying and dehydration rather than chemicals.

Plus, whole foods retain all the natural nutrients that get lost when processing, especially vegetables. As a result, whole foods tend to make the best dog foods for dogs with allergies or intolerances, which may help improve their overall health. It’s easier for dogs to digest whole foods, putting less stress on the body.

Dr. Harvey’s Allergy Dog Nutrition

We know how challenging it can be to create healthy meals for your best friend—let alone when your dog has a food allergy. We created a homemade meal that’s one of the best dog foods for allergies, using whole ingredients that can have a long shelf life by dehydrating ingredients.

Our Allergy Natural Nutrition for Canine Sensitivities comes in three flavors: turkey, lamb, and fish. We chose these flavors because they’re protein sources that tend to not cause allergies. Add hot water, wait 12 minutes, and your dog’s meal is ready.

Common Food Allergens in Dogs

A container with beans in it

Depending on what you feed them, various ingredients may lead to allergies. Dogs sometimes develop sensitivities to certain proteins. This is most frequently caused by feeding only one protein every day.

While a sensitivity isn’t a true allergy, it can cause similar symptoms. You can often address sensitivity by rotating and feeding a variety of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and oils. That’s why it’s essential to rotate proteins. Never feed only one protein source to your dog day in and day out.

Here are four of the most common ingredients in commercial dog foods that may trigger allergic reactions:


Some dogs are highly sensitive to the preservatives used in kibble and canned dog foods. These foods are highly processed and contain preservatives, including but not limited to:

  • BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
  • BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Nitrates/Nitrites
  • Propyl Gallate
  • Carrageenan
  • MSG
  • Sodium Hexametaphosphate
  • Coloring Agents
  • Palatants
  • Corn
  • Propylene glycol

Be sure to read all labels very carefully when purchasing products for your allergic dog, or when deciding the best food for your dog with allergies. Avoiding these ingredients when purchasing dog food is an excellent rule of thumb. This avoidance will help maintain your dog’s health and promote optimal wellness and longevity.


Some dogs develop a sensitivity to chicken if they’re fed it daily. Many food allergies develop by repeating the same type of food for long periods. You can avoid these allergies by rotating protein sources frequently and feeding your dog a diet of whole food.


It may come as a surprise for many pet parents, but an allergy to beef is very common for dogs. Because food allergies can develop when a dog eats one type of food for a long time, an allergy may form after your pup consumes a commercial food containing a lot of beef. By rotating protein sources in your pet's food, you may be able to avoid this problem.

Wheat, Corn, and Other Fillers

Many commercial dog foods use inexpensive ingredients like wheat and corn to make the food feel more filling. However, they contain little to no nutritional value. Some fillers can be relatively innocuous, meaning they take up space in foods so less of a premium ingredient is required, and costs can be cut. Because wheat has become such a common ingredient in dog food, it’s also becoming a common allergen.

P1011082 Edit 3 (1)

A Fresh, natural solution

Created for dogs with skin, stomach & environmental sensitivities our clean and balanced recipe combats allergies from the inside out.

+ $3.95 Shipping

Oops. Can you please fix the highlighted fields?

Try Before You Buy

See the difference in your dog!

Generous Sample Size

Enough for several meals.

Additional Steps: Add Oils—Including Omega 3’s—to Your Allergic Dog’s Diet

While all dogs benefit from adding omega-3 oils, dogs with allergies can particularly benefit from having them in their diet. Omega-3s are known to support healthy skin and tissue.

A good source of omega-3s comes from seafood like salmon, krill, mackerel, and anchovy. You can also add coconut oil, flaxseed oil, or olive oil, which may improve itching and dryness of the skin and ears.

Create the best dog food for dogs with skin allergies using these oils and a whole-food diet to support healthy skin function.

Other Things to Consider:

What If It’s Not a Food Allergy?

We’ve discussed a lot about food allergies, but what if it turns out your dog doesn’t have one? What else could cause similar symptoms? Two possibilities exist: a food sensitivity, or a seasonal allergy.

Food Allergy vs. Sensitivity

Regarding your canine companion's health, it’s essential to know the difference between a food allergy and a sensitivity. The two share similar symptoms, but have different causes.

An allergy results from a dog’s immune system perceiving a specific ingredient as a threat and creating a defense team to fight it. Food intolerance can cause various symptoms, including digestive upset, inflammation, and many skin-related reactions.

Food allergies and sensitivities share similar symptoms, but sensitivities result primarily in digestive symptoms like gas, diarrhea, vomiting, and discomfort. These symptoms can appear rather quickly or develop over time, depending on how sensitive a dog is to an ingredient.

Food vs. Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

How can you know if a food allergy is the problem and not a seasonal allergy? That’s hard to say because food and seasonal allergies share symptoms. However, seasonal allergies tend to cause skin problems more than digestive issues as dogs absorb seasonal allergens through their skin and paw pads.

The biggest difference between food and seasonal allergies is that food allergies have no schedule. For example, if your dog seems to feel unwell every spring but only in the spring, then your dog probably has seasonal allergies.

If your companion constantly feels sick, it’s more likely to be a food allergy or health problem.

Seasonal allergies can come from:

  • Dust mites
  • Flea saliva
  • Grass
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Trees

You may determine that seasonal allergies are the problem. If so, you can bathe your furry friend more often during their allergy season to wash the allergens from their skin and coat more frequently.

You can also add more omega-3 sources to their diet to help support your dog’s skin and healthy coat.

What’s the Best Way to Determine Food Allergies in Dogs?

A dog licking its paw

Determining what food allergy your dog may have is a challenging process. The best way to determine food allergies is through the elimination diet. The elimination diet involves removing the most common allergens from your dog’s diet.

How Does the Elimination Diet Work?

The elimination diet requires changing the dog’s food so common allergens aren’t in it. For example, if you think preservatives are the problem, have your dog eat meals completely free of these ingredients.

If you’re right, then your dog’s allergy symptoms should clear up after a month or two.

The elimination diet process is thorough and lengthy. It can take two to three weeks for your dog to start showing signs of positive change. The allergens take a while to leave your dog’s system and allow the healing process to begin.

Once you start this diet, you must stick with it. That means knowing what’s inside the extra treats you give your furry friend. Depending on the ingredients, you can’t give them to your dog while on this diet. You may also have to consider not using supplements.

As the elimination diet progresses, take detailed notes of how your dog acts, physical changes, and anything else you think is important so you can accurately monitor their health changes.

One final note about the elimination diet: You must start it slowly. Like any food change, it’s essential to make the change gradually to prevent stomach problems.

What If the Elimination Diet Doesn’t Work?

Sometimes, the first round of the elimination diet doesn’t work. If you don’t notice a change after a few months, you can move on to the next common allergen. To continue with the previous example, you may have suspected preservatives were the problem, but it turns out it’s something else, such as the protein source.

Of course, you could choose to focus on more than one type of allergen at once. Still, you’d have to reintroduce them to see which one causes the allergic reaction.

Do You Have to Reintroduce Potential Allergens?

Do you believe you’ve found the potential allergen causing your dog’s problems? A typical step in the elimination diet is reintroducing the allergen to ensure that’s the cause and not something else.

However, some pet parents would rather skip this step to prevent more suffering. So, do you need to reintroduce the potential allergen into the diet? That depends on you. If you feel you’ve found the problem and your dog feels better, you don’t have to reintroduce the allergen. Just be aware that doing this means you won’t know 100% that ingredient is the problem.

Dr. Harvey’s Makes Healthy Eating Easy for Dogs and Their Parents

Finding the best dog food for allergies can be challenging for pet parents, but our goal is to make it easier. Dr. Harvey’s has various tasty and healthy dog food options—including Allergy - Food for Dogs with Allergies and base mixes like Veg-to-Bowl or Raw Vibrance—where you add your own protein that’s perfect for dogs dealing with allergies.

Dr. Harvey’s Allergy product features whole food ingredients with vitamin and mineral supplements that allow pet parents to create delicious home-cooked meals without the work. You can choose Allergy food made from turkey or fish.

If you’re looking for the best food for your dog with allergies and wondering if Dr. Harvey's Allergy food might work for your companion, Dr. Harvey’s has a team of nutritionists who can answer your questions. Give it a try and provide your canine companion with a healthier menu.

Finding the right food for your dog with allergies can be challenging. Dr. Harvey’s helps pet parents find solutions to help their companions thrive.


Food for Dogs with Allergies

For ongoing relief from the inside out, avoid processed, additive laden-kibble and switch to our all natural, fresh, whole foods recipe.

+ $3.95 Shipping

Oops. Can you please fix the highlighted fields?

Try Before You Buy

See the difference in your dog!

Generous Sample Size

Enough for several meals.