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Hypoallergenic dog food: what's the best for my dog?
In the world of dog food, defining the term hypoallergenic can be a challenge. There are already so many other terms floating around, from grain free to freeze dried to limited ingredient and sensitive. So, what truly constitutes a hypoallergenic dog food - and does your dog need one?
Put simply, a hypoallergenic diet is a diet that doesn't trigger an immunological reaction in the animal consuming the food. While grain free diets have become very popular due to their ability to soothe itchy dogs, this itching is more often than not an immune response to the protein in your dog's diet - that is, the protein within the food is recognised by your dog's immune system as a foreign invader that needs attacking. This internal battle results in inflammation that can manifest itself as itchy skin, vomiting, diarrhoea and frequent bowel movements.
Which proteins should I avoid, then?
The most common proteins that cause allergies in dogs are beef, chicken, dairy, wheat and egg. In general, animal proteins are a far more common cause of food allergies than grains. The reason you may find that grain free dog food assists in skin and digestion issues, is that they often contain what is called a 'novel protein' - that is, a meat protein that is not chicken or beef. That being said, one dog's protein allergy can differ greatly to another's, so you may need to try a process of elimination with your vet until you find the problem protein source. Alternatively, you could try a novel protein diet for your dog from the likes of Billy + Margot, Taste of the Wild or Artemis.
What about hypoallergenic prescription diets?
Hypoallergenic prescription diets, such as those made by Royal Canin and Hill's Prescription Diet, are often stated as the 'gold standard' for recognising and treating food allergies in dogs. They're formulated under pharmaceutical grade conditions with a specific manufacturing process that minimise the allergenicity of a protein. The only issue with these diets, is that they can be quite costly.
Need more info? Try Dr Kim's full guide to hypoallergenic dog food.
Our top picks…
Wondering what our recommended hypoallergenic dog foods are?
- Hill's Prescription Diet Anallergenic: Formulated to manage severe adverse food reactions in dogs. The 'gold standard' of hypoallergenic dog food
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Sensitivity Control: Uses a hydrolysed protein with a 'novel' protein (duck) and carbohydrate source (tapioca) to reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction
- Billy + Margot Salmon Single Protein & Superfood Blend: Contains 79% raw salmon, and 21% superfood and holistic ingreidents
- Ziwi Peak Venison: 92% premium quality New Zealand venison meat, organs, bone, and green mussel
- Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Roasted Lamb: Formulated using roasted lamb as the main protein - a great option for dogs who may be sensitive to other protein sources or grains
Buy hypoallergenic dog food online at Pet Circle and enjoy the convenience of free delivery over $49 straight to your door, always at the best price with our price match guarantee.
Author info: Dr Teagan Lever BVSc (Hons) - Pet Circle In House Veterinarian