Hypoallergenic Dog Food: Does It Work?

In some cases, dogs can develop different problems, like allergies or intolerances to certain components in their diet. One possible solution is hypoallergenic dog food.
Hypoallergenic Dog Food: Does It Work?

Last update: 19 September, 2019

Nutrition is a key factor in a dog’s development. Diet plays a fundamental role in keeping canines healthy and energetic. However, on some occasions, dogs have adverse reactions to certain foods. In some cases, dogs can develop different problems, like allergies or intolerances to certain components in their diet. One possible solution is hypoallergenic dog food.

What is a hypoallergenic diet?

Hypoallergenic dog food eliminates certain foods that can be problematic or are believed to be causing diverse reactions in pets. Once these components are absent from a dog’s diet, we can observe a decrease in unfavorable reactions to foods.

However, the guidance and control of a specialist are crucial. The incorrect application of a restricted diet can put your dog’s nutrition at risk. In fact, it can lead to an increase in food allergies or even the development of illness.

The steps that professionals follow in applying a hypoallergenic diet are the following:

  1. Identification of the food allergen.
  2. Initiation of a restricted diet.
  3. Owner cooperation in following the diet. This is very important.
  4. Clinical re-evaluation in order to observe the effects of the diet.
  5. Temporary elimination of the component that’s causing the adverse reaction. After a reasonable time, reintroduction may take place. Only the veterinarian can decide this, since each case has its own characteristics.

When to apply hypoallergenic dog food

Hypoallergenic dog food, or a hypoallergenic diet, are recommended as soon as possible allergies or intolerances are detected. However, they are also recommended in the treatment of different diseases, like intestinal disorders and atopic dermatitis.

Causes: Adverse reactions to foods

Adverse food reactions can have an immunological origin, such as food hypersensitivity. A possible definition is an adverse reaction towards one or various components in the dog’s diet.

At the same time, these reactions can have a non-immunological origin. Such is the case with food intolerance. In this case, the definition is an abnormal physiological response to a particular food.

The question that may arise is, what foods usually produce allergies or intolerance? One way to focus this question is to keep in mind that most of the components in dog foods can lead to a hypersensitive response.

These components are an essential part of a dog’s diet. They include proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, fats, and more. There is a group of proteins, called glycoproteins, that have caused the greatest number of allergic reactions.

The main characteristic of these proteins is that they are hydrosoluble but resistant to acids. This is because they have a high molecular weight–between 10,000 and 70,000 daltons. Other components that may cause allergies are pharmaceuticals or chemicals that possess a high molecular weight.

Among the components that make up parts of dry and wet dog foods, beef is a primary cause of adverse reactions. In fact, beef produces hypersensitive reactions in 80% of cases. As for other meats, like pork, horse, chicken and other components like fish and eggs “only” have a 15% hypersensitivity rate.

Lastly, it’s important to point out that grains like soy and wheat, or additives, are the cause of 5% of cases of food hypersensitivity.

Options on the market for hypoallergenic dog foods

Different brands on the market offer different types of hypoallergenic dog foods. These usually offer exclusive sources of protein. Varieties include proteins like fish, proteins free of grains, and even uncommon sources of protein like veal.

Hypoallergenic diet for dogs.

For example, the brand Royal Canine offers different types of hypoallergenic foods according to dog breed. For small dog breeds that weigh less than 22 pounds, they suggest the product Hypoallergenic Small Dog HSD 24.

Other recommended products for reducing intolerance to nutrients or ingredients are dry dog foods. Among these, we can find Hypoallergenic DR 21 or Hypoallergenic HME 23 Moderate Calorie.

If you want to offer your dog a more varied diet that consists of more than just dry dog food, a wet option is available. Hypoallergenic Canine Wet contains nutrients like hydrolyzed proteins with low molecular weight and other nutrients the reinforce the skin’s barrier.

Furthermore, the market for hypoallergenic foods is not exclusive to dogs, but includes hypoallergenic cat food as well. Here, you have Hypoallergenic DR 25.

Hypoallergenic cat food.

All products have selected sources of proteins and carbohydrate. Among their components are hydrolyzed proteins with low molecular weight, fatty acids (EPA/DHA) and other nutrients that favor digestive health.

Another option your veterinarian may suggest is offering a homemade hypoallergenic diet. Homemade hypoallergenic food consists of foods like fish, various meats (pork, turkey or horse) with rice or pasta and potatoes.


It’s important to differentiate between the different types of diet for each animal type. This will help you evaluate the particular characteristics of each one. We can find all different types of diets, such as the BARF diet for dogs. But it’s always important to follow the advice of a vet.

In conclusion, there are several solutions to this problem. That being said, not every commercial dog food is viable for every patient. In some, preparing homemade hypoallergenic dog food is the best option.

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