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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In 2022: Reviewed & Ranked

Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin

Dealing with a pup with sensitive skin can be downright challenging and truly heartbreaking. However, the stress levels amp up when we can’t find the best dog food for sensitive skin.

Given the hundreds of choices, picking the right dog food for your pup can be a nightmare. But, fret not. Dog Food Guide is here to ease your burdens. 

Your go-to site for anything dog food reviews-related, we’re here to help narrow down your choices by giving you a list of the best dog food for sensitive skin that’s proven effective. 

All are approved by hundreds of pet parents and dogs, so each one is worthy of your consideration. And to top it all of, we made it a point to include all the need-to-know facts about sensitive skin in dogs – its causes, how a dog’s diet affects your dog’s skin condition, and more.

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OUR TOP 3 PICKS FOR BEST DOG FOOD FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 2
  • Single-animal protein source
  • Limited-ingredient for sensitive canines
  • Starts with real meat
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 4
  • Helps dog's microbiome with prebiotic fiber
  • Full of antioxidants
  • 100% digestible ingredients
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 2
  • Features protein-packed salmon
  • Supplemented with menhaden fish meal
  • Recipe is limited
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Sensitive Skin In Dogs & Its Causes

It’s common for dogs to itch every once in a while. Everything changes, though, when the itching and scratching happen too often and starts to disrupt your dog’s supposedly happy and carefree lifestyle. 

Apart from constant itching and scratching, here are other signs that would indicate skin sensitivity:

  • Excessive rubbing and licking
  • Inflamed or swollen skin
  • Dry patches
  • Hair loss
  • Dandruff or scabs
  • Unpleasant smell in skin or ears

Sensitive skin is pretty easy to recognize but finding out the culprit behind it is tricky since it’s a problem that has various causes. Food allergy is just one of them, and surprisingly, it’s among the lesser-known root causes of sensitive skin in dogs. Here’s a rundown of the possible causes of your dog’s skin irritation:

Allergies

An allergic reaction can be triggered by various things – from food and airborne particles to different environmental factors. 

Food Allergy 

As mentioned, food allergy is not the most frequent cause of a dog’s allergies. In fact, only 10% of reported dog allergy cases are caused by food. 

Common allergens for canine food allergies include chicken, beef, egg, and dairy. Now, these food items are not naturally allergic. But since they’re often found in dog food recipes, dogs are frequently exposed to these types of food.

Environmental/Seasonal Allergy 

Weather changes can also cause a dog’s allergies, often referred to as “seasonal allergy.” Dogs can either show dry skin during colder months, while the warm air during summer and spring can cause the skin to flare up. 

Other common allergens found in the environment include airborne particles like pollen, dust, animal and plant fiber, mold spores, and dust mites.

Flea Allergy

Among the three, flea bites are the most common cause of a dog’s allergies. A bite or two from these nasty critters can already make your dog itch. According to PetMD, its saliva contains compounds that trigger an allergic reaction.

Parasites

Apart from skin allergies caused by food and other environmental factors, sensitive skin can also be caused by blood-sucking parasites like mites and ticks. 

Yeast Infection

Yeast is a type of fungus typically found in a dog’s body. It only starts to wreak havoc when the dog’s immune system fails to stop its overgrowth.

Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin: Our Top 7 Choices

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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 7
Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin
  • Helps dog's microbiome with prebiotic fiber
  • Full of antioxidants
  • 100% digestible ingredients
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 8
Blue Buffalo Basics LID Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe
  • Single-animal protein source
  • Limited-ingredient for sensitive canines
  • Starts with real meat
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 9
Natural Balance LID Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula
  • Features protein-packed salmon
  • Supplemented with menhaden fish meal
  • Recipe is limited
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 10
CANIDAE PURE LID Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Composed of 8 real ingredients only
  • Tasty and clean salmon recipe
  • Made with whole foods
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 11
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Loaf
  • Delectable canned food diet
  • Keeps skin irritation at bay
  • Packed with fibers and prebiotics for healthy digestion
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 12
Zignature Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Formula
  • Single animal protein source - kangaroo
  • Has twice vitamin B12 compared to other meats
  • Omits the common dog food allergens
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7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 13
Rachael Ray Nutrish LID Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe
  • Contains only the finest ingredients
  • Made with only 6 key ingredients
  • Delicious lamb tops the list
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  1. Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin
  2. Blue Buffalo Basics LID Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe
  3. Natural Balance LID Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula
  4. CANIDAE PURE LID Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
  5. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Loaf
  6. Zignature Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Formula
  7. Rachael Ray Nutrish LID Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe

1. Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe

Rating: 4.8/5

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Chicken Meal, Yellow Peas, Cracked Pearled Barley

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 14

Guaranteed Analysis: 

Crude Protein 21%
Crude Fat 12%
Crude Fiber 4%

Hill’s Science Diet was created in 1968, but the business’s history goes back to 1939. The first to release a veterinarian-prepared pet food for canine disease management in 1948, this company has, since then, been wowing pet owners with their breakthrough pet nutrition products.

Besides that, Hill’s Science has been actively supporting pets in need. A proud partner of various animal shelters, government associations, and veterinary clinics, this company has opened a Small Paws Center and piloted recycle-ready packaging for dry dog food.

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PROS:

  • Veterinarian-recommended
  • Packed with antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system health
  • Highly-digestible
  • Added vitamin E and essential fatty acids help nourish the skin
  • Made in the USA
  • Get your money back if you’re not 100% satisfied (additional terms apply)

CONS: 

  • Inconsistent kibble size
  • It failed to please a few dogs, taste-wise

Getting 5-star ratings from 90% of pet owners is not an easy feat, but Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Skin and Stomach Chicken Recipe dry dog food for small and mini adult dog breeds did it effortlessly. So, if you’re looking for the best dry dog food and the best hypoallergenic dog food, you might want to try this. 

Often recommended by local vets for dogs with food intolerance like IBS and pancreatitis, a good number confirms that this helped normalize their dog’s stool.

Thanks to this dog food, dogs suffering from itchy skin caused by food intolerance or allergy finally experienced a good night’s rest. As a bonus, dogs got their silky coats and energy back.

A few dogs, however, didn’t find the taste inviting. But some were able to convince their dogs to like it by adding wet food or sprinkling some probiotic powder on top of it. All in all, it’s a high-quality dog food that works and that’s priced right.


2. Blue Buffalo Basics LID Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe

Rating: 4.7/5

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Potatoes, Turkey Meal, Pea Starch, Peas

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 15

Guaranteed Analysis: 

Crude Protein 20%
Crude Fat 12%
Crude Fiber 6%

The Blue Buffalo company was founded in 2003 with the mission to make quality food for cats and dogs. Inspired by their beloved pet dog Blue, this pet food business strives to develop the best cat and dog food possible.

As proof, Blue Buffalo’s recipes only use real meat and other high-quality ingredients. Its products are also crafted in US manufacturing facilities, with each one going through a meticulous 6-point quality check.

PROS:

  • Turkey is listed as its 1st ingredient and its only protein source
  • Antioxidant-rich LifeSource bits support dog’s immune system health 
  • Contains zero artificial flavors and preservatives
  • Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are added to improve skin and coat
  • It comes in 4, 11, and 24 lb. bags
  • Kibble size is perfect for small- and medium-sized breeds 

CONS: 

  • A few dogs got rid of the LifeSource bits 
  • Over a handful of dogs didn’t find this recipe appealing

Recommended by 97% of reviewers, most pet owners are pleased with the Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet’s grain-free formula in turkey and potato recipe. A single animal protein source diet, this turkey and turkey meal dry dog food is perfect for dogs who have gastrointestinal issues, irritable bowel syndrome, and food allergies.

Basics Limited Ingredient Diet will serve as a fine grain-free food alternative if your dog is allergic to chicken. Hundreds of pet owners vouch for this, stating that it helped reduce stinky farts, improve poo consistency, and alleviate itching and other allergic reaction. 

Apart from that, many are happy to see their dogs’ coats and energy levels transform positively. However, just like any type of food, some pups turned their noses up after getting a whiff of this limited-ingredient dog food. On the other hand, a few opted to remove the LifeSource bits. 

You may want to serve this turkey and turkey meal grain-free dog food little by little for your dog to appreciate this even more.


3. Natural Balance L.I.D. Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula

Rating: 4.6/5

First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Potatoes

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 16

Guaranteed Analysis: 

Crude Protein 24%
Crude Fat 10%
Crude Fiber 4%

Composed of a team of pet owners and animal health science experts, Natural Balance has been promoting pet health through its line of premium cat and dog food products since 1989.

Apart from their selection of limited ingredient dog food diets, they also offer vegetarian dog food recipes and formulas specifically tailored for picky dogs.

PROS:

  • Its 1st ingredient is real salmon
  • New formula contains more fish and fewer potatoes
  • Features gluten-free carb sources that are easily digestible
  • Zero artificial colors and preservatives
  • Produced in the USA

CONS: 

  • A few didn’t like the flavor
  • Strong fishy odor

Made for all life stages, dogs with food allergies and food intolerances (especially when it comes to poultry) might want to give this salmon and fish meal limited ingredient dry dog food a try. Liked by most dogs and fur-parent approved, this formula effectively kept the dog’s skin, digestion, and overall health in check. 

Dog owners are pleased to see shinier coats thanks to its salmon and sunflower oil content. The itching significantly reduced, and stools now look nice and firm. 

However, a few dogs didn’t find its scent and taste appetizing at first, but adding some wet dog food or mixing small portions of this diet to his regular diet might help your dog adapt to the new taste.


4. CANIDAE PURE LID Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe 

Rating: 4.6/5

First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lentils, Sweet Potatoes

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 17

Guaranteed Analysis: 

Crude Protein 32%
Crude Fat 14%
Crude Fiber 4.5%

Committed to providing goodness to all, pets, people, and the planet included, Canidae has been feeding dogs for over 20 years. It all started in 1996. 

A family-owned business, this California-born company offers pet lovers vet-designed dog food products. Each one is crafted using farm-grown whole ingredients and sustainably-sourced proteins.

PROS:

  • High in protein
  • Contains probiotics that support healthy bowel movement
  • No artificial colors and flavors and no fillers
  • Formulated to meet AAFCO’s nutrient profile
  • Made in the USA
  • Available in other flavors, including lamb, duck, bison, and boar

CONS: 

  • Formula change was not welcomed by a few
  • Kibble size too small for some dogs

Canidae’s Grain-Free Pure Salmon and Sweet Potato for adult dogs work, according to 94% of reviewers. In fact, the majority swear that this is a great grain-free dog food option for pups with sensitive stomach and seasonal and food allergies. 

In a few days or weeks, owners already noticed a significant improvement in their dog’s condition – from their skin and coats to their bowel movements and energy levels. What’s more, it’s a healthy grain-free dry dog food sold at a decent price.

Made with real salmon and salmon meal, this grain-free dog food is worth considering if your dog is allergic to poultry or beef.

And since it is protein-rich, one even mentioned that this dog food fills their dogs up while serving less. Note, though, that its kibble size may not look appetizing for dogs who prefer larger pieces. It’s, however, perfect for small-sized breeds.


5. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Loaf

Rating: 4.5/5

First 5 Ingredients: Water Sufficient For Processing, Pea Starch, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Vegetable Oil

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 18

Guaranteed Analysis: 

Crude Protein 5%
Crude Fat 2.5%
Moisture 75.5%

With over 50 years of experience to back them up, it’s easy to see why many veterinarians and pet owners trust Royal Canin.

With a desire to make the world better for pets, since 1968, this business has been striving to improve pet health through its tailored pet food recipes.

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PROS:

  • The protein source is hydrolyzed to reduce the risk of allergic reaction to animal protein
  • Blend of fibers will help improve your dog’s digestive system
  • Contains fatty acids, B vitamins, and amino acids to support skin and coat health
  • Veterinarian recommended

CONS: 

  • Odd, thick consistency
  • Pricey

Specifically formulated for adult dogs with sensitive skin and stomach like food allergies, IBS, and gastro issues, Royal Canin Veterinarian Diet Hydrolyzed Protein Loaf is a vet-prescribed canned dog food that’s proven effective by dog owners. 

Despite its weird consistency brought about by its loaf-like texture, most dogs love its flavor. On the one hand, pet parents are satisfied with its effects on their dog’s health. Bloody poops, itchy skin, and scratching clear up within two weeks. If you think it’s too hard for your dog, adding water also helps. 

In addition, one dog owner finds this useful during medication. So, If your pup can’t live without chicken liver (despite being allergic to it), this is one of the best hypoallergenic dog foods to try out. Just make sure to get your vet’s authorization first.


6. Zignature Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Formula

Rating: 4.5/5

First 5 Ingredients: Kangaroo, Broth, Peas, Sunflower Oil, Chickpeas

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 19

Guaranteed Analysis: 

Crude Protein 9%
Crude Fat 4%
Moisture 78%

A label owned by holistic wellness pet food company, Pets Global is also known for other brands such as Fussie Cat, Inception, and Essence.

Deadset in achieving their goal of creating the best dog food in the market, their selection of meat-first, low carb dog foods are designed to be Physiologically Tuned to your pup.

PROS:

  • Made with a single protein source
  • Uses sustainably-sourced Australian kangaroo meat
  • Free of common canine food allergens (think chicken, corn, and soy)
  • Crafted in the USA
  • For all life stages

CONS: 

  • A bit pricey
  • Hard to get out of the can

If you live in a multi-dog home and your dogs are allergic to all sorts of food, then you might want to try feeding your pups some wet dog food that contains novel protein like Zignature’s Kangaroo Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula. Made for all life stages, this grain-free wet dog food is liked by various ages – from puppies to seniors. 

Despite its somewhat high price, many large and small breeds love this wet dog food’s out-of-the-ordinary flavor and licked their bowls clean. And what’s even more satisfying is seeing the dog’s itchy skin and flare-ups clear up in a month. 

And since kangaroo is lean meat that contains virtually no saturated fat, dogs with weight issues can keep their pounds in check.

The added low-glycemic, fiber-rich carbs and antioxidants in this grain-free wet food also help most dogs sort out their digestive system issues and improve their overall health.


7. Rachael Ray Nutrish LID Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe

Rating: 4.3/5

First 5 Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 20

Guaranteed Analysis: 

Crude Protein 20%
Crude Fat 13%
Crude Fiber 4%

Rachael Ray Nutrish started in 2008. Its goal was to create premium dog foods and treats. It is currently under the umbrella of Fortune 500 company The J.M. Smucker Co. – the owner of known brands like Folgers, Dunkin, and Meow Mix. Apart from dog food, Rachael Ray Nutrish is also known for its premium cat food recipes.

PROS:

  • Its 1st ingredient is real lamb meal
  • Healthy digestion is achieved with the help of brown rice and beet pulp
  • Omega 6 fatty acid-rich chicken fat supports skin and coat health 
  • 100% free from man-made flavors and fillers
  • Affordable

CONS: 

  • Formula change
  • Kibble size is big for some dogs

Since having some wholesome grains (think brown rice) in your dog’s diet also has its benefits, here’s another non-grain-free food for sensitive skin – Rachael Ray Nutrish’s Limited Ingredient Lamb Meal and Brown Rice Recipe. 

This dry dog food for adult dogs is included in the best dog food list for a reason. And that’s because 90% of reviewers say that this affordable, non-grain-free, lamb meal and brown rice diet for dogs deliver. In fact, dog owners buy this with confidence, saying that it did a fine job alleviating their dog’s GI problems and allergies.  

Note, however, that this recipe’s formula was recently changed. Instead of ground rice, the new formula contains brewers’ rice. Like ground rice, this one is also highly digestible and serves as a great energy source.


7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 21

How Can Dog Food Help With Sensitive Skin?

While your dog’s food isn’t often the cause of your dog’s skin allergies or sensitive skin, giving your dog the best dog food for sensitive skin – one that provides complete and balanced nutrition and supports coat and skin health – can definitely help. Nutrition, after all, greatly impacts your dog’s health, your dog’s skin included. 

Diets Commonly Recommended For Sensitive Skin

When dealing with food allergies or sensitive skin, an elimination diet, aka “exclusion diet,” or a diet change is often recommended. All the foods the dog is allergic to have to be removed from its diet to give your dog’s immune system a break. This includes common allergens like chicken, beef, and the like. 

Besides that, giving foods formulated to provide dogs with a healthy coat and skin is highly suggested. Most (if not all) of them are natural dog food made with natural ingredients and without artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. 

Apart from that, the best dog food for sensitive skin will also include nutrients that will help reduce the signs of skin irritation. The vitamins and minerals that your pup needs to get that glowing skin and fur back are often found in dog foods with the following labels:

Hypoallergenic Dog Foods

You’ll only find a few dog foods labeled hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic dog food is specifically formulated for dogs with food allergies and food intolerance. The best hypoallergenic dog food usually contains unique animal protein sources to minimize the allergic reaction. They’re also loaded with skin health-enhancing nutrients.

Limited-Ingredient Diet

Limited-ingredient dog foods contain only a few key components, often with natural ingredients, minimizing fillers, and maximizing nutritional value. This also makes it easy for pet owners to pinpoint the allergens that might be harmful to their dog’s sensitive stomach and skin.

Hydrolyzed Protein

Some dog foods for food intolerances and sensitive skin are crafted with hydrolyzed protein. Animal protein is a must in a dog’s diet; however, the same nutrient is the culprit behind most allergies.

To reduce the risk of allergies, proteins are chemically broken down into pieces that are virtually “undetectable” by your dog’s immune system. Hydrolyzed protein dog foods are often vet prescribed and go through stringent quality control measures.

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Essential Nutrients For Sensitive Skin

Your dog’s food plays a vital role in keeping your dog’s coat and skin in check. Dogs with sensitive skin (as well as sensitive stomach) need to get a helping of dog food with the following nutrients:

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)

Dogs cannot produce EFAs (think omega 3 and 6 fatty acids) on their own, and the lack of it can lead to skin and coat problems. EFAs are not only good for the skin, but It can also enhance your dog’s heart, liver, and joint health. This is why pet foods are recommended to have this in the mix.

EFA can be found in plant-based oils sourced from flaxseed, soybean, and corn. You can also find this in salmon meat and fish oil.

High-Quality Animal Protein Sources

The best dog foods (whether or not they’re made for sensitive stomachs and skin) are those made with real, natural, high-quality meat. This includes poultry, eggs, salmon meat, horse meat, and other fish-flavored recipes. 

Of course, when looking for the best dog foods for your pup, choose something that does not include any of the ingredients your pup is allergic to.

Other Skin & Coat Enhancing Vitamins and Minerals

Apart from EFAs and protein, other nutrients also help care for your dog’s skin and coat. You can expect the best dog foods for sensitive skin to contain one or even all the vitamins and minerals below:

  • Zinc
  • Biotin
  • Copper
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 22

Food Allergy Vs. Food Intolerance

If you think that allergy and intolerance are synonymous, think again. There is a difference between the two, especially regarding its symptoms. 

Food allergy is the immune system’s defensive reaction against a “perceived” enemy found in a specific food. Its symptoms include rashes, hives, vomiting, and nausea. 

On the other hand, food intolerance is caused by the digestive system’s inability to process the food. Its symptoms include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Food For Thought

Keeping the skin healthy has always been a challenge for humans and dogs alike. Good thing, there are ways available to keep the flare-ups and itching at bay. 

First things first, make sure to get expert advice from a vet. At the end of the day, your vet is the one person you can count on when it comes to your dog’s health. Whether you plan on starting your dog on an elimination diet or a new dog food product, it’s best to hear your vet’s say about the matter.

Also, be open to the possibility that the best hypoallergenic dog foods (whether grain-free or not) may not work for your pup. Despite this, keep calm and don’t lose hope. The best dog food for your dog exists; you just need to look around to find it.

7 Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin In [year]: Reviewed & Ranked 23
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