Dog Food Allergies? Try Simplified Diet and Limited-ingredient Dog Food.

If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, you’ll want to take a close look at the ingredients in his food. Most dogs start on a commercial dog kibble that can be purchased at grocery stores. Many of these foods work just fine for non-allergic dogs. However, if your dog exhibits year-round allergy symptoms that can’t be cleared up with flea treatments or by minimizing the effects of inhalant allergies, it’s likely that the ingredients in these commercial foods are causing problems for your pet.

Many owners have found that dog foods designed for allergic dogs have done wonders for their pet. These dog food brands refer to themselves as “simplified diet” or “limited-ingredient” food. This means they only include one unique protein and one carbohydrate. The unique protein is often lamb, bison, duck, or venison. The starch can consist of ingredients like potatoes and sweet potatoes. These formulas often promote the fact that they include “no grains,” which are often the cause of many food allergies. The key is that these foods don’t mix several kinds of proteins and carbohydrates, but focus on one key ingredient of each. This simplification eliminates the filler ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy, which can cause problems for many dogs.

If you consider switching your dog to a simplified diet or a limited-ingredient food, you’ll need to be patient. It will take eight to twelve weeks before you’ll be able to notice an improvement (or lack thereof) in your dog. What you don’t want to do is change your dog’s diet every couple of days or weeks. This will only make it harder for you to know what is causing your dog’s allergy symptoms. You may also find that the initial diet change can give your dog an upset stomach.

If you do move to a simplified diet, you need to remember that this special diet doesn’t just cover meals, but all snacks and treats as well. If you give your dog treats, you’ll need to find treats that match the ingredients in your special dog food. Most allergy dog food brands also make dog treats with the same ingredients. It does your dog no good to feed him a special diet, while feeding him table scraps and dog treats that include ingredients he’s allergic to.

Roughly a year into Elsie’s allergy problems, she was having serious cases of colitis, an inflammation of her colon. I did some online searching and read about a Boxer rescue owner who swore by Natural Balance’s Potato and Duck Food for colitis treatment. We decided to try it out and found that after a couple of
months, her colitis was gone—which was a good thing. She still had runny stools, but no more colitis.

Later, after we had Elsie tested for allergies and learned that she was allergic to feathers (among many other items), we decided to stay away from poultry and moved her to Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Venison Formula Dog Food. This was the magic formula for us. She rarely ever has bowel or stool issues on this new food and has been doing wonderfully. We feed Elsie a dried kibble version, but it also comes in a can and in the form of treats.

You’ll find that this limited-ingredient food is more expensive than the regular grocery store brand food. But if it helps your dog’s allergies, the extra expense could pay off in the long run by saving you vet visits.

8 thoughts on “Dog Food Allergies? Try Simplified Diet and Limited-ingredient Dog Food.

  1. Have you changed Elsie’s food due to the recent recall of Natural Balance foods (and all food manufactured by Diamond)? My dog has been eating Natural Balance due to allergies. I am trying to find a substitute as a result of the recalls and due to the addition of peas to Natural Balance’s food (to which my dog has a low level allergy).

  2. Hi Caroline. Thanks for this post. So far, it looks like Elsie’s food is clear – we just checked her bag today. I think we’ll stick with it – it took us so long to find a food that worked. I’ll just need to keep up on any additional recalls.

  3. Thanks Kathy,
    I agree with your article although I think people should be steered away from grocery store kibble-based foods as they can cause all sorts of other problems as well. There are plenty of good ones with grains that can still alleviate allergy symptoms.
    Thanks again.
    Milan Franks
    The Natural Dog Allergy Cure

  4. I use the Wellness Simple Duck & Oatmeal Limited Ingredients, it has NO POTATO Potatos are a high carb causing itchy skin…Since Patch has been on the Wellness Simple Duck & Oatmeal we have had perfect poos & his red paws are all gone & the hive like lumps have gone, fingers X we havent had a summer yet on the Wellness Simple so I hope he doesnt have environment allergies when spring comes..

  5. Thank you so much for posting this article. Very informative. My dog is on the Vegetarian Formula of Natural Balance and is having really bad allergies-itchy muzzle, scabs from itching, bloody chin, etc. His body does not digest meat proteins well, so we were tried switching to the sweet potato and fish formula. You mentioned that “You may also find that the initial diet change can give your dog an upset stomach.” He gets such bad upset stomach that he cannot hold himself and we come home to diarrhea all over the house. 🙁 You also mentioned that, “It will take eight to twelve weeks before you’ll be able to notice an improvement (or lack thereof) in your dog.” So, do we really have to live with cleaning up messes every day for 8-12 weeks? 🙁 What is your advise?

  6. I have been cooking for my chocolate lab mix, Nugget, for a little over a year! I started cooking for him because he was a rescue at 4 weeks old. He had so many health issues when i took him in. He is my third child.

    Your article helped to inspire me to start my own business making and selling homemade, Grain free, natural dog and cat treats. They have only the meat or veggie of your choice, coconut Flour, Egg, and Coconut Oil.

    In my personal experience the coconut flour and coconut oil has helped his coat tremendously!! Having only 4 ingredients has helped me know what he is allergic to. The biggest thing that caused his allergies was the grain. Once the grain was taken out his health improved dramatically!!

    Being a stay at home mom of two children under 4 I am at home.

    Your article helped me to realize a lot of people would love to cook for their pets but simply don’t have the time. Being home, I do!

    Thank you for your inspiration!!

  7. My 7 year old golden retriever “Buddy” has never had allergies until about 3 years ago when he started constantly itching and then he started losing his hair (poor boy). I took him to multiple vets and after almost $2000 in vet bills. I still could not get an answer from any of the vets as to what the main cause was. I decided to change his food, thinking maybe he had a grain allergy. That didn’t work! A friend of mine had her own business selling all natural no GMO products that are all harmless to anyone. She suggested me trying to sprinkle this powder called “Greens” on my dogs food to see if that would help him with his issue. I was hesitant to begin with, but gave it a try and after a week saw a huge difference in his itching and his hair was actually growing in tremendously. I now have an itch less, happy dog. The product I used is made by “IT WORKS” and it’s called “GREENS” it comes in a large container or in a to go package. Here is my friends website, I think many individuals will find this site EXTREMELY interesting!

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