Truth behind hypoallergenic dog treats and food

Can You Really Trust “Hypoallergenic” Dog Treats and Food?

You’ve seen the word splashed across pet food bags and treat packages – HYPOALLERGENIC! It sounds super scientific and important, like this stuff must be ultra premium and safe for your furry pal.

But let’s be real, most of the marketing lingo on pet food is about as trustworthy as a dog who claims he didn’t eat those cookies off the counter. “Hypoallergenic” is one of those terms that gets tossed around a lot, but do any of us really know what it means?

Brace yourselves, because I’m about to go on a bit of a rant…

What Does Hypoallergenic Even Mean?

Hypoallergenic quite literally means “below average” or “slightly” allergenic. So right off the bat, we have a term that is totally subjective.

It implies that whatever product has been slapped with this label is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. But less likely than what? And for who? Your dog? You? A friggin’ rock?

The term itself doesn’t provide any real standards or regulations around how “hypoallergenic” something actually is. It’s like calling a chocolate cake “low-fat” because you smeared a half-teaspoon of I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter on top instead of real buttercream frosting.

Can We Trust Hypoallergenic Labels on Dog Treats and Food?

In short – not really. There are no legal definitions or requirements for using “hypoallergenic” on pet food labels according to AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) and the FDA.

  • A 2017 study tested 12 commercial dog food products labelled as hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient (good for elimination diet) and found that many still contained ingredients that could potentially trigger food allergies in dogs.
  • Similarly, a 2022 study looked at 15 over-the-counter dog foods and found several (11) contained ingredients commonly associated with food allergies like chicken.
  • To top it off, a 2022 review, concluded that mislabelling seems to be a widespread issue in pet foods used as elimination diets, especially in dry foods. Due to the high risk of contamination, particular attention should be given to both the selection of raw material suppliers and the production process.

So in essence, manufacturers can pretty much slap that word on packages as a marketing ploy, even if their formulas aren’t any less allergenic than regular chow. Awesome, right?

How to Tell if Your Dog Has a Food Allergy

Of course, food allergies are a real issue that can cause skin problems and gastrointestinal issues in our furry friends. So if your pup is experiencing any of the following, it’s worth investigating:

❌ Itchy skin/excessive licking

❌ Ear infections

❌ Vomiting or diarrhea

❌ Gassiness

❌ Chronic foot chewing/licking

If you suspect a food allergy, here are 3 steps every pet owner should take:

  1. Make an appointment with your vet to rule out any other underlying medical issues and get pro guidance on doing an elimination diet.
  2. Do an 8-12 week elimination diet where you cut out all potential allergen ingredients and feed a novel, limited protein source and carb. This allows your dog’s body to clear out past allergen exposures.
  3. Slowly reintroduce ingredients one-by-one while closely monitoring for any reactions to identify problem foods.

I know what you’re thinking – “But my dog loves scrambled eggs!” Yeah, mine too – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t allergic.

What Foods Are Good for Hypoallergenic Dogs?

Since there’s no official definition of what makes a food “hypoallergenic,” your best bet is looking for limited-ingredient diets with novel proteins and carbs that your dog hasn’t been exposed to before.

Some options that could reduce allergic reactions include:

The key is finding an uncommon protein source and grain/veg that your dog’s body isn’t already sensitised to.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Our Pick
Hypoallergenic Dog Food - Simpson Sensitive
Simpsons Premium Sensitive Adult Dog Salmon & Potato

12kg Natural & Holistic Dog Food for Dogs with Skin Problems & Allergy Contains High Meat Content Easy to Digest, Grain-free

£70.95£74.00

What is the Best Dog Food for Dog Allergies?

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dog food allergies. But in general, you’ll want to look for:

✅ Limited ingredients (like 5-10 max)

✅ Novel protein source (something unusual your dog hasn’t eaten much of)

✅ Novel carbohydrate/grain

✅ No vaguely listed ingredients like “animal fat” or “meat by-products”

Some highly rated options from vets include:

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Pro lab Veterinary Diets
PRO PLAN VETERINARY DIETS EN

Gastrointestinal Dry Dog Food 12kg

£54.99£84.00
Natural Balance
AOSHE Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets

Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food, Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula, 4 Pounds

£83.95£90.00
Hypoallergenic Dog Food - Hill's Prescription Diet Dogs
Hill’s Prescription Diet Dogs z/d Mini

Food Sensitive Mini dogs All Life Stages – 1KG

£18.00£20.00
ROYAL CANIN Small Dog Canin Dog Food Veterinary Diet - Hypoallergenic Dog Food
ROYAL CANIN Dog Food Hypoallergenic Small Dog

Canin Dog Food Veterinary Diet 3.5 Kg

£35.64£37.81

Many of these are available by prescription from your vet after properly diagnosing a food allergy.

What Dog Food Causes Itchy Skin?

Does your pup have a bad case of the scratchies? It could be a food allergy causing that itchy skin and hot spots. Some potential culprits in many dog foods are:

  • Chicken and chicken by-products
  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Wheat, corn, and soy
  • Artificial colours and preservatives

So you may find relief by switching to a limited-ingredient dog food without those common allergens. Again, novel protein sources like venison, duck, or fish could help reduce inflammation.

Supplements like fish oil, coconut oil, and quercetin can also provide relief for dry, itchy skin related to allergies.

What is the #1 Food Allergy in Dogs?

While dogs can be allergic to all sorts of ingredients, research shows that the most common food allergens are proteins from:

  1. Beef
  2. Dairy products
  3. Chicken
  4. Chicken eggs
  5. Soy
  6. Pork
  7. Rabbit
  8. Fish

So cutting those out and switching to a more exotic, limited-ingredient formula with something like venison, kangaroo, or duck could help identify and avoid your pup’s triggers.

What Treats Can You Give a Dog With Allergies?

Treats are one of the trickiest areas when it comes to managing dog food allergies. Even “hypoallergenic” or “limited ingredient” treats may contain proteins or fillers that could cause flare-ups.

Some safer options to consider:

🐾 Plain boiled Chicken or Turkey

🐾 Plain cooked sweet potatoes or pumpkin

🐾 Soft meat-based treats without any extra binders or colours (like AOSHE Natural Balance)

🐾 Freeze-dried meat treats with single ingredients (like Bella & Dukes venison nibbles)

The closer you can get to simple, single-ingredient treats, the better for avoiding mystery allergens.

What Are Specific Hypoallergenic Dog Treats?

Despite the misleading name, there actually aren’t any official guidelines or certifications behind “hypoallergenic” dog treats.

But some limited-ingredient commercial options that could be better for dogs with food sensitivities include:

Holling Duck Treats
Hollings Duck Bites

Dog Training Treats, Delicious Duck Treats for Adult Dogs, High in Protein & Made with 100% Natural Ingredients (75g)

Zesty Paws
Zesty Paws Senior Advanced Allergy & Immunity Chews

Dog Supplements Soft Chew Itchy Skin Remedy | Supporting Immune System | Rich in Salmon Oil & Omega 3 Fatty Acids – 90 Ct

WHIMZEES By Wellness Veggie Sausage, Natural and Grain-Free Dog Chews, Dog Dental Sticks for Small Breeds, 28 Pieces, Size S
WHIMZEES By Wellness Veggie Sausage

Natural and Grain-Free Dog Chews, Dog Dental Sticks for Small Breeds, 28 Pieces, Size S

Hypoallergenic Dog Treats
Any single-ingredient freeze dried meats

All Single ingredient dog treats on Amazon

Your vet may also be able to provide guidance on specific brands tailored to your dog’s needs.

How Do I Know If My Dog Treats Are Hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately, you can’t just take a manufacturer’s “hypoallergenic” claim at face value. Your best bet is:

  1. Reading ingredient lists very carefully and avoiding any known allergens for your pup
  2. Choosing the shortest, simplest ingredient lists possible with recognisable whole foods
  3. Looking for phrases like “limited ingredient” rather than just “hypoallergenic”
  4. Talking to your vet about specific brands tailored to your dog’s dietary needs

At the end of the day, the term “hypoallergenic” on pet treats and food means very little without clear standards and regulations around its use. Which is just plain ruff.

There’s no magic cure-all product out there – managing your dog’s food allergies takes some individualized trial and error under your vet’s guidance. But hopefully this gives you a good starting point to sniff out!

Canine Reproduction and Puppy Care Extraordinaire at MLA Pets

With 15+ years of tail-wagging experience in Advanced Canine Reproduction, I’ve mastered the art of puppy care and have a knack for producing the most exquisite and highly sought-after puppies. Not just any breeder, I’m an Accredited UK Kennel Club Assured and Council Approved pup-whisperer.

With my 20+ years of nursing and care with a clinical nurse background in Mental Health and challenging behaviour, think of me as the Florence Nightingale of the canine world, but with more fur and slobbery kisses.

As a proud mum of two (the human kind), and a loving daughter, wife, and sister (plus the in-law package), I balance the barks, social media, writing and family life with a sense of humour that’s as infectious as a puppy’s yawn. My life is a juggling act between family, fur babies, and the occasional chase after a runaway squeaky toy.

If you’re looking for someone who can talk doggy DNA and human psychology in the same breath, I’m your gal. Just remember, behind every successful woman is a pack of loyal pups and a family cheering her on (even if it’s just for the leftover dinner scraps).

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *