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8 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods for Skin Allergies in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks

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Choosing the right dog food means taking into account your dog’s preferences when it comes to taste and texture, while also acknowledging any allergies that they might have. Many ingredients in dog food can set off skin allergies, including chicken and grain.

Grain can benefit many dogs, but some canines can suffer from skin allergies if they eat it. If you and your vet agree that a grain-free diet is the best way to keep your dog healthy, here are 10 reviews of popular grain-free brands. Consider your dog’s needs as you read, and hopefully, you will find the right grain-free dog food for your pet.

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A Glance at Our Favorites in 2022

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
The Farmer’s Dog Customized Dog Food The Farmer’s Dog Customized Dog Food
  • Pre-portioned and ready to serve
  • Customizable meal plans
  • No preservatives
  • Best Value
    Second place
    VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dog Food VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dog Food
  • Includes chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint health
  • Formulated for active breeds
  • Prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health
  • Third place
    Merrick Limited Ingredient Dog Food Merrick Limited Ingredient Dog Food
  • Chicken free to avoid potential allergens
  • Protein from deboned salmon
  • Omega fatty acids promote skin and fur health
  • Best for Puppies
    American Journey Puppy Food American Journey Puppy Food
  • Contains omega fatty acids to promote coat and skin health
  • Formulated to support puppy development
  • Supports brain and eye development
  • Vet's Choice
    Merrick Grain-Free Canned Dog Food Merrick Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
  • Suitable for all breeds
  • All-natural ingredients for healthier mealtimes
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • The 8 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods for Skin Allergies

    1. The Farmer’s Dog — Best Overall

    The Farmer’s Dog logo

    Main ingredients: Chicken, chicken liver, bok choy, brussels sprouts
    Protein content: 11.5%
    Fat content: 8.5%
    Calories: 1,300 kcal/kg

    As the best overall grain-free dog food for skin allergies, The Farmer’s Dog Chicken Recipe is part of a customizable subscription plan that’s created based on recommendations by veterinarians. Besides chicken, there are beef, pork, and turkey recipes, and each is made with real meat and vegetables. There are no preservatives in any of the recipes, to make the meals healthier for your dog.

    Fully customizable, whether you have one dog or several, the meals are sorted into pre-portioned packets, with helpful name tags for multi-dog households. The shipping is free, and each meal is delivered to your door.

    The Farmer’s Dog prides itself on offering nutritional, fresh meals for dogs. Due to this, the food needs to be kept refrigerated and can take up a great deal of room in your fridge.

    Pros
    • Pre-portioned and ready to serve
    • Customizable meal plans
    • No preservatives
    • Free shipping
    • Formulated by veterinarians
    • Beef, chicken, pork, and turkey recipes
    Cons
    • Needs to be kept in the fridge to maintain freshness

    2. VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Value

    VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Beef meal, peas, sweet potato
    Protein content: 33.0%
    Fat content: 16.0%
    Calories: 3,914 kcal/kg

    VICTOR Purpose Hero Grain-Free Dog Food isn’t the cheapest grain-free dog foods available, but compared to many recipes that use natural ingredients, it’s the best grain-free dog food for skin allergies for the money.

    Designed for highly active dog breeds, VICTOR is high in protein to support your dog’s muscles, joints, and energy levels and to boost the health of their skin and fur. There are also prebiotics and probiotics to support their digestive health.

    This grain-free dog food contains legumes, and peas and lentils have been linked with heart disease in some dogs, though the claims are still being investigated.

    Pros
    • Includes chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint health
    • Formulated for active breeds
    • Prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health
    • Supports your dog’s immune system
    Cons
    • Contains legumes

    3. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food

    Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

    Main ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes
    Protein content: 24.0%
    Fat content: 14.0%
    Calories: 3,548 kcal/kg

    Choosing a limited-ingredient diet allows you to avoid common allergens in dog food and reduce the chances of your dog having an allergic reaction. The Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe doesn’t contain grain or chicken, to avoid the more common allergens that dogs can react to.

    Deboned salmon is a natural source of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, which support the health of your dog’s skin and coat. It’s also a source of natural amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to keep your dog’s diet as nutritionally balanced as possible. The sweet potato included in the recipe helps support their digestive health.

    Merrick is one of the more expensive brands on this list due to its use of natural ingredients. Some users have also noted that this recipe has an unpleasant burnt odor when opened.

    Pros
    • Chicken free to avoid potential allergens
    • Protein from deboned salmon
    • Omega fatty acids promote skin and fur health
    • Sweet potato helps support digestion
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Strong burnt smell

    4. American Journey Puppy Food — Best for Puppies

    American Journey Puppy Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe

    Main ingredients: Deboned lamb, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas
    Protein content: 30.0%
    Fat content: 12%
    Calories: 3,630 kcal/kg

    Formulated with salmon oil and flaxseed, the American Journey Puppy Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe helps soothe skin allergies by supporting your puppy’s skin and coat health. The natural source of omega fatty acids and DHA also promotes the development of their brain and eyes. Animal-based protein in the deboned lamb contributes to a balanced diet and healthy muscle development.

    Unlike other recipes that support both adult dogs and puppies, this option is specially designed to help puppies grow as healthy as possible.

    This puppy recipe by American Journey does contain chicken, which can exacerbate certain allergic reactions. It also contains legumes, which are being investigated by the FDA due to a link with heart disease.

    Pros
    • Contains omega fatty acids to promote coat and skin health
    • Formulated to support puppy development
    • Supports brain and eye development
    • Animal-based protein to promote healthy muscle development
    • Natural ingredients to ensure a balanced diet
    Cons
    • Some dogs can be allergic to the chicken content
    • Contains legumes

    5. Merrick Grain-Free Canned Dog Food — Vet’s Choice

    Merrick Grain-Free Real Duck Dinner

    Main ingredients: Deboned duck, duck liver, turkey broth
    Protein content: 8.0%
    Fat content: 7.0%
    Calories: 996 kcal/kg

    With so many grain-free recipes out there, choosing one with the right nutrition and ingredients can be a challenge. The Merrick Grain-Free Real Duck Dinner is our vet’s choice and is suitable for adult dogs no matter what breed they are.

    It contains natural ingredients from trusted farmers, with real meat as the biggest source of protein. There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives to help maintain a nutritional, balanced diet. The recipes are also cooked in the U.S.A., so you don’t have to worry about using an imported product.

    While the moisture and protein content of this wet food option are great for boosting a dog’s health, the recipe does contain chicken, which can set off allergic reactions in some dogs. The pâté formula has also been reported to be mostly liquid in some cases.

    Pros
    • Suitable for all breeds
    • All-natural ingredients for healthier mealtimes
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    • Formulated to help maintain a nutritional, balanced diet
    Cons
    • Contains chicken, a common allergen
    • The pate recipe often contains a large amount of liquid

    6. Purina ONE Natural True Instinct Grain-Free Dog Food

    Purina ONE Natural True Instinct Grain-Free Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Beef, chicken meal
    Protein content: 30.0%
    Fat content: 17.0%
    Calories: 3,764 kcal/kg

    Recommended by veterinarians, Purina ONE Natural True Instinct Grain Free Dog Food contains protein from real beef, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids. While the protein content supports your dog’s muscles and joints, the omega fatty acids help boost the health of their skin and coat health. The omega oils also help reduce inflammation in your dog’s joints. This recipe supports their immune health with four different antioxidants.

    The dry food comes in 12.5- or 25-pound bags but is one of the more expensive options available. Several users have also experienced the recipe of the kibble changing without notice.

    Pros
    • Omega fatty acids support coat and skin health
    • Antioxidants promote a healthy immune system
    • Protein from real beef
    • Supports your dog’s muscles and joints
    • Recommended by veterinarians
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Formula can change without notice

    7. Crave High Protein Beef Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Crave High Protein Beef Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Beef, chicken meal, split peas, lentils, pork meal, chicken fat, fish meal
    Protein content: 34.0%
    Fat content: 17.0%
    Calories: 3,770 kcal/kg

    The Crave High Protein Beef Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food enables you to cater to your dog’s needs when it comes to their allergies and ensure that they still have a balanced, nutritional diet. Along with the natural ingredients to promote a healthy diet, this recipe is formulated to provide energy for active dogs with the included animal protein and chickpeas. There are no artificial ingredients, helping you make sure the kibble is as healthy as possible.

    It contains omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s fur and skin in good health, along with antioxidants to support their immune system.

    This formula does contain chicken despite the beef-based recipe, along with split peas and lentils. Some dogs can suffer from allergies to chicken and peas, and this option might exacerbate their existing allergies. Several dog owners have reported that their food bags were damaged during the shipping process and the contents were damp.

    Pros
    • Natural ingredients to promote a balanced diet
    • Protein content comes from real meat
    • Animal proteins and chickpeas provide energy for active dogs
    • Omega fatty acids for skin and coat health
    • Antioxidants support immune health
    • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Some dogs are allergic to chicken
    • Bags can be damaged during the shipping process

    8. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Grain-Free Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Grain Free Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Deboned salmon, peas, potatoes, pea starch
    Protein content: 20.0%
    Fat content: 12.0%
    Calories: 3,476 kcal/kg

    Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Grain Free Dog Food is designed to take care of your dog’s skin, coat, stomach, and immune system. The deboned salmon is a natural source of protein and the only animal protein source in the recipe, in order to cater to chicken and beef allergies.

    While the omega-3 and -6 fatty acids work to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy, the pumpkin contents help your dog’s digestive system. It also contains several antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to make sure your dog’s immune system is supported.

    Some dog owners have found salmon bones in the kibble, and it also contains legumes, a controversial ingredient. Blue Buffalo Basics is one of the more expensive grain-free dog foods on this list and might not be suitable for families on a budget.

    Pros
    • Omega fatty acids promote skin and coat health
    • Single protein source to avoid protein allergies
    • Limited ingredients to avoid potential food allergies
    • Formulated to be gentle on sensitive skin and stomachs
    • Antioxidants support your dog’s immune system
    Cons
    • Some users have found salmon bones in the recipe
    • Expensive

    divider-dogBuyers Guide: Selecting the Best Grain-Free Dog Foods for Skin Allergies

    Ensuring that your dog’s diet remains healthy and balanced and doesn’t set off any sensitivities can be difficult. Grain-free dog food is also a controversial option for feeding your dog and needs to be considered carefully before you decide to try a new food. Hopefully, these frequently asked questions will help make your decision easier.

    Does Your Dog Need a Grain-Free Diet?

    Before you decide on getting grain-free dog food for your dog, you need to consider all the allergies that your dog is suffering from, if any. In most cases, grain can be beneficial to a dog’s diet. Grains contain fiber and add helpful nutrients to dog food that many other ingredients don’t. They’re also a good source of carbohydrates, which your dog needs for energy.

    Grain-free diets — and legumes, which are often used to replace the carbohydrates missing from grain-free diets — have also been linked with dilated cardiomyopathy. The investigation is still ongoing, so it’s not a definite risk, but it’s good to be aware of the possible issue.

    Most food allergies that your dog can suffer from are usually protein based. Beef and chicken set off many allergies, and making sure your dog’s food doesn’t contain these ingredients is often enough to reduce skin allergies.

    If both you and your veterinarian agree that your dog is allergic to grain, though, a grain-free diet might be your best option. Remember to monitor them for potential signs of cardiomyopathy.

    How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Having an Allergic Reaction?

    The first step in figuring out whether your dog has a food allergy is by understanding the difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. Food allergies are immediate responses to a consumed allergen — like peanuts for humans — and usually result in anaphylactic shock or in less severe cases, facial swelling, hives, and itchiness.

    Food sensitivities are chronic conditions that aren’t a result of your dog’s immune system overreacting. They also don’t tend to be life-threatening, though they can make your dog uncomfortable if they’re not handled properly. Most of the time, food sensitivities result in gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting or diarrhea, along with itchy skin or ear infections. Food sensitivities are caused when your dog eats too much of the food that they’re sensitive to, compared to allergies, which involve an immediate response to a small amount.

    To decide how to best manage your dog’s food sensitivity, you should discuss options with your veterinarian. Grain free isn’t always the way to go, and it’s not the only choice either. Where your dog’s health is concerned, carefully considering all the pros and cons of your options will help you come to the right decision.

    Is Grain-Free Dog Food Healthier?

    person pouring dog food to a bowl
    Image Credit: Mart Production, Pexels

    Many people think that grain-free food is much healthier than other dog food recipes. This isn’t always the case. Unless your dog is allergic to grain, the grains in dog food are important sources of carbs that help maintain your dog’s energy levels. Many dogs don’t have an issue with grains at all, whether they’re from corn, soy, wheat, rice, or other ingredients.

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    Final Thoughts

    These reviews covered a few of the best grain-free dog foods to help you decide which option will help reduce your dog’s skin allergies. The Farmer’s Dog, our top choice, enables you to tailor the recipes based on your dog’s dietary needs and food allergies. If you prefer buying your dog food from stores, the is American Journey Puppy Lamb Recipe is a good alternative. For a choice that’s recommended by veterinarians as the best for a nutritional diet, there’s also the Merrick Grain-Free Duck Dinner.


    Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

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