skin & food sensitivities in dogs

It’s easy to overlook itching and scratching as normal dog behavior, but it isn’t. This can indicate an abnormal response in your dog’s body to certain allergens — environmental in many cases, and less commonly, to specific foods.

This scratching, commonly due to a skin rash, can lead to dry skin on dogs and other irritations, making their skin look red or flaky. Regardless of how dog skin allergies present, it is usually a very uncomfortable condition for your dog that may keep them up through the night and agitate their already sensitive skin.

Fortunately, with the right combination of dog food for skin allergies and medication, you can get your dog back on the right path to less itching and healthy skin.

Environmental allergies in dogs

One of the most difficult things on your dog’s path to recovery is determining what is causing their allergic reaction. For the vast majority, however, dog skin allergies are caused by certain substances in the environment. These can be addressed with a multimodal treatment consisting of medication to help reduce the immediate symptoms and nutrition for effective long-term care.

Common triggers for dog skin allergies

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Dust Mites
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Food allergies in dogs

Food allergies in dogs are actually very uncommon — in fact, only 10% of dogs with an allergy experience true food allergies! Rarely, however, some dogs may experience reactions to certain ingredients, and they are identified through food elimination trials conducted by your veterinarian. The best dog food for skin allergies will be a therapeutic dog food with a single novel protein or hydrolyzed protein your pet is unlikely to react to.

Novel Protein

Unique proteins that are not commonly found in pet nutrition. This lowers the risk for an adverse food or environmental reaction.


Hydrolyzed Protein

Gentle amino acids that have been broken into smaller pieces to help avoid detection by the immune system.

Most common food allergies for dogs

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Spot the signs of your dog’s allergies

Dry itchy skin is just one of the many symptoms that may indicate your dog is experiencing a bigger problem brought on by environmental allergies. In rare cases, these may also be signs of food allergies in dogs. When your dog experiences abnormal reactions such as these in response to a certain allergen, they may feel discomfort that causes them to scratch. Unfortunately, this often only further agitates the skin, increasing their discomfort.

Here are a few signs to look out for if you are wondering if your dog might be experiencing allergies:

  • Red patches, spots or pimples
  • Flaky or scaly patches
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs, crusts or thickened skin
  • Itching, scratching, licking and rubbing
  • Bad skin odor
  • Digestive issues
  • Watery eyes and runny nose

Understanding how to help dogs with dry skin and other derm issues can feel frustrating, and treatment can vary on a case-by-case basis depending on your dog’s diagnosis. But in general, a combination of therapeutic nutrition that can help alleviate their signs and provide long-term care, plus veterinarian prescribed medication, can help prevent future flare-ups of skin allergies.

Managing your dog’s allergies

No one likes to see their dog itching all the time and unhappy, and many pet parents find themselves frantically seeking out solutions for how to treat their dog’s dry skin, or other conditions commonly brought on by allergies. As you attempt to help your itchy pet through their discomfort, you may find yourself looking for dog shampoo for dry skin, or even home remedies for dogs with itchy skin. But the best thing to do is speak to your veterinarian, who can outline a simple yet comprehensive approach consisting of dog food for skin allergies and certain medications for fast relief. The right nutrition can promote healthy skin from within and help alleviate your dog’s signs quickly and long-term.

Remember — just like humans, every dog is unique, and the best solution will come from working with a professional to address your pet’s specific needs. Even with treatment, some dogs may have recurring signs that will require adjustments along the way, and your veterinarian will be a helpful resource in managing your dog’s skin allergies.

If you are unsure what is causing your dog’s allergies but looking for a nutrition to help manage flare-ups, you’ll want to ask for your vet about a few things.

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Novel Protein

It is uncommon for dogs to experience food allergies, but when they do, novel or hydrolyzed protein therapeutic foods can help avoid triggering them. Certain ingredients, like egg protein, can even help to reduce itching!

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Nutritional Skin Support

With the right ingredient blend, your dog’s food can help soothe and nourish their skin and coat to reduce itching and strengthen their skin’s barrier against allergens.

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While you get your dog on track with an allergy care dog food for long-term management of their condition, a vet may prescribe medication to help alleviate itching and strengthen the skin’s barrier against allergens. If you are wondering what you can give your dog for allergies, please note that over-the-counter medication should only be used as recommended by your vet, and is frequently ineffective and expensive.

Resources and tips

For more information on your dog’s allergies — and to help provide them with the best care possible on their journey ahead — check out these helpful resources from our team of veterinarians.

  • Common Causes of Dog Skin Conditions

    Understand the common irritants that cause various dog skin conditions, whether they be due to parasites, infections, food, or the environment.
  • Why Is My Dog Itching?

    Learn about the many causes of your dog's itching, from fleas and ticks to allergies. Explore how you can prevent and address these problems in your dog.
  • Managing Your Dog's Seasonal Allergies

    Seasonal allergies can affect dogs just like humans, but with a few preventative measures & testing or medicine, you can get these issues under control.
  • Does My Dog Have a Food Allergy?

    Learn facts about dog food allergies, such as common allergens and causes, and if hypoallergenic dog food can help once you've diagnosed his food allergy.

Ask your vet about allergy care led by science