Best Grain Free Dog Food for Skin Allergies

Pooches can be like us, some have more sensitive stomachs and others are prone to skin allergies. Grain-free dog food adopts the ancestral diet to some level, which takes after the diet of wolves. Wolves didn’t used to eat grains, which is what spawned the idea that grain-free and raw diets are what’s best for our pups. Grains are what research has shown can aggravate the stomach and skin due to certain dispositions the dog may have. However, if you must include grains in your dog’s diet, whole grains are the way to go. Any sort of whole foods, contribute valuable nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, and much needed fatty acids.

Dog food that lacks grains makes up nutrition in other areas such as added fats, protein, and carbs. Let’s take a look at some of the best grain-free dog food options for skin allergies.

Best Grain-Free Dog Food to Stop Skin Allergies

1 – Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet, Grain Free 

Dog food, to be a high-end or just quality food that your dog should absorb should always contain one main ingredient. That is usually the first ingredient listed on the ingredients list. We always suggest feeding your pup dog food with meat as the first ingredient. The contents are listed in order of percentage that makes up the recipe. The first ingredient is what mainly makes up the meal, and the last ingredient is the one that appears the least. 

This Blue Buffalo grain-free dog food contains deboned lamb as the main source of protein and is the only source in this recipe. This dry dog food is 100% grain-free and gluten-free, reducing the risk of skin allergies and stomach irritation.

As for carbs, instead of grains, they utilize peas and potatoes, so your dog can get his dose of vegetables and the pumpkin and pea fiber help with digestion. When digestion is smooth it eliminates bloat in dogs, which could have fatal effects for some breeds.

What really defines whether a dog food is good for dogs with sensitive skin are the omega fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6 to be exact. This is mostly derived from fish or eggs and even flaxseeds. Otherwise known as essential fatty acids, they are responsible for your dog’s skin and coat health.

PROS:
  • As a limited diet recipe, it greatly reduces the chance for food sensitivities and choosing the ingredients carefully maximizes nutritional value.
  • Deboned lamb as the first ingredient and only source of meat makes this a quality dog food.
  • The carbs chosen in this recipe are easily digestible which helps with sensitive stomachs.
  • Fibers from peas and pumpkins aid in digestion, therefore minimizing bloating. 
  • For skin allergies, the essential fatty acids support skin and coat health.
  • 100% grain and gluten-free this recipe minimize sensitivities and allergies.

CONS:
  • Blue Buffalo has had food recalls due to high levels of lead found in their dog food (2018).
  • Might contain corn, a vegetable grain, that isn’t listed in the ingredients list.

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2 – Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Natural Dry Dog Food Grain Free

If you’re familiar with Rachael Ray, you will know she is quite the chef, a celebrity chef in fact. She creates delicious recipes that are easy, affordable and healthy. It’s safe to say that this concept carries over to her line of dog food.

The grain-free recipe doesn’t contain any by-products, which should never take the place of wholesome ingredients. It’s also important to note whether the dog food contains artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or additives. Naturally, you don’t want any of this in your dog’s food.

A nutrient-dense dog food, it contains up to 30% of protein to satisfy your dog’s nutritional needs. You can take your pick from 4 different flavors all with meat as the first ingredient. All the recipes, whether it’s the chicken, turkey, beef, or bison, they are all farm-raised.

You get extra vitamins and minerals to supplement your dog’s diet, while the fish meal and fatty chicken and flaxseeds (depending on which recipe) contribute all the necessary Omega fatty acids to help with your dog’s skin condition.

PROS:
  • The sources of protein are all high-quality and farm-raised. It’s a similar concept to us humans who prefer farm-raised beef and free-range chicken.
  • Supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and the essential fatty acids, you will get a well-balanced recipe and a healthy fur baby.
  • Her recipes for humans inspire all the delicious recipes from the Rachael Ray dog food line.
  • Only real ingredients go into each formula, and every single ingredient has its own purpose.
  • Do your part for all the other fur babies in need. A portion of the proceeds from each sale goes to Rachael Ray’s own foundation to help animals in need.
  • Grain-free with no filler ingredients. Filler ingredients are unnecessary ingredients added to take up space.
  • The nutrient-dense recipe only utilizes necessary ingredients with 30% high-quality protein as the first ingredient.
  • Absolutely nothing artificial and harmful will be found in these recipes.

CONS:
  • It may not sit right with some dogs and make them feel sick.

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3 – Nature’s Recipe Natural Balance Prime Blends Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Some of you may be thinking about which flavor to try when you switch to new dog food. The flavor depends almost entirely on your dog’s taste and personal preference. When switching to a new line or brand, try to stick with flavors he or she is used to. 

This next product focuses on beef and lamb as the first ingredients with potatoes as carbs. Make sure the label states that the main meat source is real, as in real beef or real lamb, etc. This ensures that the manufacturer isn’t using filler or by-product meat.

You’ll find some recipes containing two sources of protein, but one will always be the main ingredient. This grain-free dog food from Nature’s Recipe has dual protein: lamb and beef. 

The antioxidants help boost your pup’s immune system, which could also help with skin allergies.

You will not find any artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives in this recipe. Only carefully chosen ingredients simmered in bone broth to enhance the flavors.

Nature’s Recipe only uses the best ingredients with no by-products.

PROS:
  • The dual-source of protein more than fulfills your dog’s cravings.
  • 100% grain-free, it helps with sensitive fur babies and those prone to allergies.
  • Antioxidants will help boost your pup’s immune system and support overall health, including skin irritations.
  • Nothing artificial or harmful can be found in formula, only the best and carefully chosen ingredients.
  • The kibble is infused with bone broth to entice your pup and make his mouth water.
  • Every ingredient is important and has a purpose, you won’t find corn, wheat or poultry by-products.

CONS:
  • In place of the grains, the recipe utilizes peas, beans, potatoes, and starch. This could contribute to obesity.
  • The taste might not be appealing, but that can be solved by switching to a different flavor.

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4 – Merrick Grain Free Senior Dry Dog Food Recipe

We have included a senior option on our list for those who might develop skin allergies later on in life. Each recipe contains deboned meat, fish or poultry as the first ingredient (depending on which you choose). The protein chosen in the food is paramount in supporting your dog’s energy levels. Not only do they need large amounts of protein to function, but it also helps build strong muscles.

For skin and coat health, which is an issue that could plague your dog at any age, high levels of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids will help rectify his or her condition.

For elderly dogs, their joints and hips could start failing, and the added levels of glucosamine and chondroitin are key ingredients to maintaining hip and joint functions.

As mentioned before, wholesome ingredients (whole foods) are always preferred in high-quality dog food, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with this Merrick’s blend. The grain-free recipe will contain no traces of preservatives, fillers, corn, wheat, soy or gluten (unwanted ingredients).

What you will find are fruits such as blueberries to boost antioxidant levels and support overall health and your dog’s immune system. This allows senior dogs to find the strength to battle diseases and allergies.

Merrick takes great care in their recipes and only want the best for your dog. Their products are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

PROS:
  • Deboned sources of protein from fish, poultry or meat are what’s used to produce Merrick’s dog food.
  • The recipe matches your dog’s energy output and helps build muscle mass.
  • There is a wide range of recipes for you to find the perfect flavor with contents suited to your dog’s physical needs.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin levels added aid senior dogs with hip and joint function.
  • Whole foods are used to create these blends. You won’t find anything harmful such as preservatives or artificial additives.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids exist to help with coat and skin health.
  • Antioxidants derived from blueberries and other ingredients help support your dog’s immune system.
  • Merrick’s products are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, making this a risk-free purchase.

CONS:
  • Certain dog foods may not sit right with certain dogs. It just depends on each individual pup. Be aware that some recipes might make your dog sick.
  • Make sure you purchase from Merrick themselves or their retailers. Ordering from Amazon from random sellers could make your dog ill.

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5 – Nulo Adult Weight Management Cod Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

We always try to provide a wide range of choices for different needs on our list. Aside from the senior dog food, we also have one for weight management. Dogs who are prone to or already obese could suffer irreparable damage to joints and ligaments, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, difficulty breathing (more so in certain breeds), and much more. 

To counteract this, Nulo’s adult weight management recipe has high meat and low carb ratio, matching your dog’s energy needs without extra calories. When we say high protein, we mean 74% of the entire recipe is animal-based protein. The main ingredient is cod, a fish that contains the essential Omega fatty acids to help with skin and coat health.

Probiotics and the overall grain-free recipe help with digestion and aid in the flourishing of healthy gut bacteria.

L-Carnitine is a substance that burns more energy. It turns fatty acids into energy and boosts your pet’s metabolism to reduce weight gain.

The balanced grain-free recipe will hopefully help with your pup’s sensitivity issues.

PROS:
  • Helping with weight gain. The L-Carnitine burns fat and boosts your pet’s metabolism.
  • Added probiotics and the grain-free formula help with digestion and stomach sensitivity.
  • High meat and low carb content reduces the chance of weight gain and helps maintain a healthy stature.
  • The cod contains the necessary essential fatty acids to help with skin and coat health.
  • Although this recipe helps with weight management, it doesn’t mean your dog won’t be satisfied with the fibers included.
  • Nothing artificial and harmful and ingredients such as corn, wheat or soy won’t be found in this recipe.

CONS:
  • Some dogs may fall sick (as they might with certain recipes).
  • Some dogs may refuse to eat it and find it unappetizing.

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6 – Purina ONE SmartBlend True Instinct Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Choose from three different flavors, each back includes high protein content, a blend of two or more healthy ingredients to give your pup the best. Depending on the recipe you choose, you get anywhere between 30% to 32% protein with real meat as the first ingredient.

Each recipe supports growth and strengthens muscles. Nutrient-dense and grain-free these blends will help with sensitive stomachs and skin without any corn, wheat or soy. 

The SmartBlend recipes utilize a perfect concoction of ingredients for complete and balanced nutrition. Your dog will not have any deficiencies, only with enough nutrition and energy to match his or her active lifestyle.

The FDA has come out with facts that grain-free dog foods may contain certain ingredients that cause heart problems. Purina One’s SmartBlend is not one of them. Know that your dog will be fully supported with this well-balanced recipe.

The delicious ingredients and the manufacturing process bring out the best flavors. Your dog won’t be able to resist their food every mealtime. You’ll feel your heart fill with joy as you watch him eagerly devour his food time and time again.

PROS:
  • Balanced recipes are very important. Just as it’s crucial for you to obtain the necessary nutrients with every meal, it’s the same deal for your dog.
  • Grain-free and nutrient-dense, dogs with sensitive stomachs and skin will not feel any irritation or discomfort.
  • Delicious ingredients with high protein content will support your dog’s growth, muscles, and bones.
  • No wheat, corn or soy can be found in the ingredients.
  • Only real meat is used as the number 1 ingredient.

CONS:
  • Some dogs may not like the flavor
  • You might receive a changed formula.
  • Dogs may become sick.

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7 – Instinct Original Small Breed Grain Free Recipe

The next and last one on the list is a grain-free recipe for small breeds. Small breeds have different needs. They have a more rapid growth rate and reach maturity at around 10 months. This means they need quite a bit more nutrition and help than a larger breed.

The food must be high in protein like this Instinct Original recipe with probiotics and Omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. Don’t forget to make sure the first ingredient is an animal-sourced protein.

The added calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine and chondroitin all help with bones and cartilage. 

Unwanted ingredients such as by-product meals, soy, wheat, corn and of course grains are all-exempt from the blend as well as anything artificial.

To appeal to your dog’s taste buds, this is the first raw coated kibble blend. Instinct is coated in freeze-dried raw by tumbling the original dry kibble.

With everything sourced from around the world, 70% of this recipe is made from whole and real animal ingredients that are minimally processed in the USA. 

PROS:
  • Being made from real animal ingredients ensures your dog gets the best nutrition right from the source.
  • The minimally processed parts contain 70% protein and nutritious oils and 30% of fruits and vegetables.
  • Absolutely no grain, corn, wheat, soy, by-products and artificial additives are included.
  • The high protein content made in the USA is coated with raw to enhance flavor and nutrition.
  • The added levels of calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, and chondroitin round out the recipe.
  • You can find high levels of Omega fatty acids to aid in skin and coat health.
  • Smaller breeds require nutrition that only Instinct can match.

CONS:
  • It made some dogs sick.
  • Your dog may be a picky eater and dislike the taste.

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Our Top Pick: Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Natural Dry Dog Food Grain Free

Dogs are unique animals that are individualistic. Your fur baby may not care for a recipe blend that is savory and delicious to another. Keep in mind that dogs may not like the recipe you choose, and if this happens just switch to another recipe.

Rachael Ray’s dry dog foods are all inspired by her own recipes she makes and serves in her own kitchen. The blend of ingredients that utilizes 2 or more sources of protein is quite irresistible to most pups.

The nutrient-dense concoction satisfies your dog’s cravings and only the best food goes into each blend.

Her recipes are free of harmful ingredients and anything artificial. Not only do you get to give your dog the best wholesome dish during every mealtime, but you can also do your part to help out other canines in need. Part of the proceeds from your purchase goes into Rachael Ray’s foundation to aid in needy pups.

What to Look for When Buying a Grain Free Dog Food for Sensitive Skin?

Chances are, dogs with sensitive skin also suffer from other allergies or have sensitive stomachs. There are certain ingredients proven to aggravate allergy symptoms or cause discomfort in a sensitive pup. These are ingredients you should avoid. But on the other side of the coin, there are ingredients that help soothe these issues, and you should make sure they rank high on the ingredients list. So what is it that you should be looking for?

Omega Fatty Acids (Essential fats)

Since the focus of this list is on skin allergies, we’re going to start off the list by stating that Omega fatty acids (3 & 6) are vital in the upkeep of your dog’s skin and coat. Like antioxidants, they also boost the immune system and cell growth. Telltale signs of a dog with an essential fatty acids deficiency are skin irritation such as rashes, dry or flaky skin, and a dull and limp coat. You can change this by adding Omega fatty acid supplements into his or her diet. But we would always suggest taking in nutrition from real food.

Clear Ingredients List

The next parts are important for all dog food. Make sure all the ingredients listed in the ingredients list are clear and identifiable. They should never be suspicious and unclear with the listing, this suggests they are trying to hide some of the sources. By-products aren’t something we consider to be great for your dog’s diet, but it depends on what the by-product is. Meat by-product could be a good source of glucosamine. Poultry by-products are preferred over meats, but meat meals are almost never good. Dogs that suffer from sensitivity issues shouldn’t ingest any questionable ingredients.

Balanced Nutrition

Perhaps we weren’t clear before, but a balanced meal is one that contains all the necessary nutrients that a dog needs to stay healthy and fit. This means there needs to be a blend of protein, carbs, healthy fats, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). The AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) have profiles, which a dog food can pass to obtain a “complete and balanced” badge. There are other badges a dog food can get, but this is just to prove it is a balanced meal for your pup. There are dog food recipes that exceed these profiles, so you would need to do a bit of research. It doesn’t require hard digging, because if a dog food has obtained a badge from the AAFCO, they will most likely broadcast that fact.

Wholesome Animal Ingredients

Wholesome ingredients mean less processing and more natural food. From the meat to the vegetables and fruits, whole ingredients will benefit your dog’s overall health. It leads to healthier digestion as well, as fresh food is more easily absorbed into your dog’s body. With the right foods, your dog will build stronger muscles and a stronger immune system. 

Micronutrients

Fruits and vegetables that are packed with micronutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals promote a healthier digestive and immune system. Vitamin C is commonly seen and essential for collagen synthesis. As for minerals, you’ll often find calcium, iron, and phosphorus labeled on the back of the box.

No Harmful/Artificial Ingredients

Even if you have the healthiest ingredients, the quality of the dog food can go down the drain if there are harmful additives included. Avoid flavor enhancers, preservatives, and even food coloring. Anything that is used to make the food looks more delicious is only for your benefit. Your dog will not notice if the kibble or wet dog food is a rich brown color riddled with wet morsels or if it’s puke green. The more natural the food is the better, and props if you can find organic dog food, which is becoming increasingly more popular nowadays. If you adhere to these rules, the food may be higher priced, but it’s worth it in the end as it concerns your fur baby’s health. Never should you settle for a cheaper dog food that contains these synthesized materials.

Meat as the 1st Ingredient

As briefly mentioned before, you should look for animal protein as the first ingredient. Ingredients are listed by portion, which means having a clear animal-sourced protein is crucial. Named animal proteins are words like chicken, lamb, deboned bison, etc. Meat meals and by-products as the first ingredient should be avoided, although they could be acceptable as secondary supporting ingredients.

Dry or Wet Dog Food?

Grain-free dog food can come in the form of wet or dry food. Wet dog food is typically more flavorful and palatable for your fur baby. There is less processing involved and of course, it contains more water. This is good for fur babies that forget to hydrate. They are less filling and don’t last as long as dried kibble though. It can also be messy and get all over the place.

As for dry dog food, it’s much more popular among dog parents due to the cheaper price and longer shelf life. It’s easy to store and travels well. Some kibble can even help with dental care by reducing plaque and tartar buildup. However, for older and young pups, kibble could be too hard to digest/chew. Therefore, you may need to soak it in water.

There are Good Grains 

There are such things as good grains such as quinoa. If your dog doesn’t seem to have sensitivities to grains, they can do a world of good. If grains are in your dog’s diet, make sure they are wholesome grains. More examples of “good” grains are brown rice and oats. Grains can be your dog’s main source of amino acids. 

Conclusion

Dog food is a very inconsistent topic. There are always new studies coming in debating what new diet trend is the best for your pet. We often see this with human diets as well such as the Keto diet. Each pet’s needs are also different. It’s important to understand your dog, his needs and his preferences before you throw money away. A lot of the brands do come with a satisfaction guarantee and allow you to switch out the food for a new flavor/recipe if your dog doesn’t take to it. The more expensive price tag on higher quality dog food is there for a reason because better ingredients are used. Don’t skimp on food as it could be detrimental to your dog’s health.

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