The best dog food for dogs with sensitive skin

The Best Dog Food For Dogs With Sensitive Skin

Let’s face it. It’s not just annoying but so uncomfortable having to watch your pooch lick, scratch, and bite their skin over and over again. Clearly, something may not be right.

They could be prone to sensitive skin, or it could be a sign of other underlying health problems. PetMD mentions that allergies triggered by foods account for ten percent of all dog allergies.

So, it’s possible that the food your dog eats may be the culprit. Below, I’ve delved further into that and even gone ahead to explore the best dog food for sensitive skin.

Why Dogs Get Sensitive Skin

Here are the numerous things that may be causing your dog to suffer from skin problems.

1. Foods

Normally, the skin of your dog will react negatively to dietary imbalances or diets containing potential allergens such as dairy, eggs, beef, and chicken.

An outer layer on their skin naturally protects them from itchiness but when there’s an allergic reaction to such foods, the protective barrier will become weak, which then exposes the nerve endings that later become itchy or inflamed.

2. Environment

Environmental allergies occur when your dog comes into contact with things like pollens, dust mites, grass, which more often cause ears, feet, face, tummy, or chest areas to experience an intense itch. Dr. Mercola of Healthy Pets adds that even materials like cotton, wool or those contained in cleaning products can cause environmental allergies

3. Genes

According to a study published in Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs can inherit or be born with any of the different types of skin problems common in dogs. PetMD lists Labrador Retrievers, Spaniels, American Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, among the breeds that have a genetic disposition named atopy towards becoming infected with skin allergies.

4. Parasites

Parasites such as fleas, mites, and ticks can find their way into your dog through several ways. Mostly, it’s through exposure to the outside world. Parasitic infestation often leads to skin conditions such as hair loss, oozing lesions, redness, and hives.

5. Infections

Yeast and bacterial skin infections are the two most common types of infections known to cause skin problems in dogs.

Bacteria skin infections occur when the dog scratches and eventually breaks their skin, paving way for bacteria to enter and infect the wound.

Yeast is more common on the skin of most dogs, particularly between the toes, in the ear canal or around the anus. Once the conditions are right, the yeast organisms grow and infect the skin, leading to itching and redness.

Signs of Sensitive Skin

It’s worth mentioning that food allergies can be quite difficult to diagnose due to the fact that food allergy signs and other allergy symptoms mostly look similar. They include:

  • Redness
  • Inflamed skin
  • Hair loss
  • Constant scratching
  • Bald patches
  • Flaky skin

Owing to the fact that some dog breeds are more prone to skin allergies than others, you may be tempted to make guess.

However, I would recommend that you seek your vet’s help first whenever you notice any of the signs we’ve mentioned or any other health condition that seems to be putting your dog through pain or distress.

How To Know If The Food Your Dog Consumes Is Behind The Sensitive Skin Issues

Vets and nutritionists believe that there are specific ingredients in commercial pet foods that trigger sensitive skin and other conditions that make the dog uncomfortable. The most common include eggs, fish, dairy, wheat, rabbit, pork, just to name but a few.

One way to figure what ingredients are triggering the skin reactions in your dog is to keep a food journal which you can then use to keep track.

Foods That Trigger Skin Sensitivities In Dogs

Some of the ingredients known to initiate skin sensitivities plus other health conditions like stomach sensitivities include:

  • Artificial colors, flavorings, and preservatives
  • Processed proteins and cooked foods.
  • Specific animal by-products
  • Fillers
  • Wheat, corn, soy and other grains - Usually, the carbs and fiber contained in grains irritate the dog’s intestinal lining which then results in skin issues, digestive problems, and other allergies.

What Is The Best Dog Food For Dogs With Sensitive Skin Have?

If your vet recommends a diet change for your skin sensitive dog, it’s important to stick with what they’ve prescribed.

First off, only consider dog foods that are grain-free. Diets without grains constitute one of the best ways to deal with sensitive skin in dogs.

Should you buy diets specially formulated for sensitive skin? Well, that’s an option you may really want to consider. 

First, such diets mostly contain high-quality animal-based proteins such as beef, lamb, deboned turkey, fish, poultry, you name it, in addition to many other hand-picked supplements and nutrients like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which help to make the dog’s skin and coat healthy and shiny while reducing skin inflammation

Generally, the majority of hypoallergenic foods either avoid using ingredients that are more likely to trigger allergic reactions or come formulated with limited ingredients to make it easier for you to identify what ingredients your dog may be allergic to.

However, most of these formulas are relatively expensive and quite difficult to obtain. The good news is there are other high-quality dog food for sensitive skin with pretty much the same qualities, which makes them suitable for dogs with sensitive skin.

Besides giving your dog a diet specially formulated for their skin, here are other things you can do to take care of their sensitive skin.

  • Brush them regularly in order to boost production of oils and to stimulate their skin and hair follicles.
  • Visit a professional dog groomer on a regular basis
  • Avoid over bathing your dog
  • Bathe them with a medicated shampoo specially made for dogs that have sensitive skin. Ensure it packs some soothing ingredients such as Shea butter, olive oil, chamomile, aloe and the like. The video below by eHow shows you how.

What Is The Best Dog Food For Sensitive Skin?

Before I narrowed down to the best sensitive skin dog foods, I consulted widely from vets, breeders, fellow doggy parents and also dug deep into the products to ensure that they meet almost all the dietary needs of dogs with sensitive skin.

Check out what I was able to gather:

1. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food - Potato & Duck Formula

Looking to minimize the frequency in scratching and deal with the potentially bald spots in your dog’s skin?  

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food (Potato & Duck Formula) has time and again been a preferred option to many in a similar situation, especially after a quick visit to the vet revealed that the dog was suffering from a skin allergy triggered by the food they ate.

The diet is specially formulated to ensure your pooch maintains a healthy skin and coat and to minimize the scratching, bald spots, and other conditions triggered by allergens. 

Usually, it takes two to three weeks before the conditions begin to fade away and eventually disappear. I value this aspect a lot because months ago, my American Bulldog was in distress due to similar conditions and it was taking her so long to heal, a situation that really broke my heart.


The formulation contains limited ingredients with single-sourced animal protein and fats, in this case, duck, which caters to the protein nutritional aspect ensuring your pooch has proper joint development and good muscle tone

The limited simple carbohydrates provided by potatoes see to it that your dog gets the proper dose of energy to keep it active and vibrant

The formulation is well balanced with appropriate protein and carb levels, highly digestible and crafted to support a healthy digestive tract for your dog

The presence of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids sees to it that your pooch maintains a healthy skin and a luxurious coat

100% grain free further helping to minimize ingredients that your dog may be sensitive to


Presence of flaxseed, a controversial ingredient in dog food linked to hormonal problems.

Contains salmon oil, which may not go very well with dogs sensitive to fish products

One aspect of this family-owned company that I really appreciate is their approach to dog food. Put simply, it’s remarkable, as they always strive to bring you options that promote wellness for your canine friends, even those that may be prone to skin sensitivities.

Wellness strongly believes that the ingredients that stay out of a formulation are as important as what goes in.

And their secret lies in using natural limited ingredients that are tasty palatable, nutritious, and easy for your dog to digest.


Contains no wheat, corn, dairy, or eggs, which makes it an option for dogs whose skin sensitivities may be a result of such ingredients.

No artificial flavors preservatives, fillers or colors, all of which can be a contributing factor of itchy skin causing discomfort to your dog.

Single sourced high protein from fish not only makes this formulation delicious for dogs but also maintains good muscle tone. When combined with the carbs from potatoes, they form a well-balanced diet.

Presence of probiotics and prebiotics alongside potatoes which are highly digestible carbohydrates in dogs ensure good bowel movement.

The Omega-3 fatty acids from flax oil help to nourish a healthy skin by improving skin healing, protecting it from things like cancer, and keeping it moisturized.


Contains tomato pomace, a controversial ingredient, and flaxseed as well.

For dogs allergic to fish products, this may not be the most suitable formulation.

Although there are many causes for skin sensitivities in dogs, food has turned out to be a culprit in most cases.

Not too long ago, my Maltese had a severe paw licking problem and after a drop in at the vet, I was advised to change their formula to a grain-free hypoallergenic diet

Admittedly, it was difficult to find a suitable option, but looking at the effectiveness of P.S. Grain-Free Hypoallergenic Dog Food in reducing paw licking and scratching, I wish I knew it earlier as this feature would have helped my pooch to recover well and fast.


Redness, foul odor, and bumps from frequent scratching is a common symptom when your furry friend’s sensitive skin has been afflicted. The hypoallergenic components in this formulation help to reduce and sooth all the above.

Although this formulation may be hypoallergenic, it is still air dried crafted to be tasty such that even most dogs who are fussy about food may like it.

It is grain free which helps in eliminating potential culprits that may be the cause of your dog's skin woes.

The leading cause of paw biting and licking in dogs is the growth of yeast on their paws. This formulation is crafted to be deliberately low in glycemic preventing and discouraging the growth of yeast.

Single source protein from human grade New Zealand lamb ensures adequate protein for muscle growth.


It’s relatively expensive.

The stock is available intermittently

Right from the way a dog food is formulated to the way it is processed can determine the outcome and benefits to pet parents and their furry friends.

All Blue dry dog food recipes are designed to not only nourish but also help those dogs that don't do too well with grain-based diets and are prone to skin sensitivities.

BLUE Freedom Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a product of the blue buffalo company formulated and balanced with premium meats, vegetables, and fruits.


The dog feed contains no grain, corn, soy, wheat and by-product meals hence is considered a good alternative if your dog's skin sensitivities are triggered by gluten.

Adequate levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids ensure the skin and coat of your dog are healthy.

A precise blend of finest ingredients enriched with vitamins, minerals, antioxidant and devoid of artificial flavors, colors, and chicken by-products ensures that your furry friend is enjoying complete and well-balanced diet.

Potatoes, peas, apples, and pumpkins are some of the healthy ingredients that will have your furry friend energized and healthy for play.

This formulation is made from high protein ingredients of Deboned beef and contains glucosamine as well as chondroitin for optimized muscle tone and increased mobility for joints.


  • The high protein content may not work well with some dogs
  • Some dogs dislike the taste of “Life Source bits” that Blue Freedom formulas have.
  • Contains tomato pomace and flaxseed

Nutrish, the manufacturer of Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Dry Dog Food - Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe has seen to it that the simplistic approach to ingredients shines through elevating high nutrition and without compromising one bit on quality.

One particularly special feature about this meal that I’ve come to appreciate a lot, bearing in mind I’ve been a victim of dog foods with loads of worthless ingredients, is the fact that every ingredient used has a purpose that contributes to the dog’s well-being.


  • Lack of corn, soy, wheat, gluten, fillers, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives makes this formula friendly to dogs with skin and stomach sensitivities.
  • Contains poultry fat and linoleic acid, both sources of omegas your dog needs to maintain a healthy skin and shiny coat.
  • This composition of fiber-rich, limited carbohydrates and highly digestible protein makes certain that digestibility and absorption are optimized. This simplistic yet wholesome blend of natural ingredients is a solution for many a dog with sensitive skin.

Carbohydrates for this formulation are provided by brown rice which besides being an excellent source of carbs is rich in essential B vitamin, easily digestible, and quickly absorbed for energy by your dog.

Lamb is a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin which helps with joint mobility and lean muscle growth. It is sourced from Australia and New Zealand.

Prebiotics that help in the maintenance of the digestive tract are naturally present in beet pulp which also doubles up as a wholesome fiber.


Presence of ground and brown rice can be a cause for concern if your canine pal's skin sensitivities are triggered by gluten


Even though it’s not specially formulated for dogs with sensitive skin, Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 Natural Dry Dog Food, Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe easily qualifies as a diet you may want to consider first for your skin sensitivity prone pooch.

First, it’s not formulated with any of the ingredients known to trigger skin sensitivities in dogs and in addition to being a limited ingredient formula, it comes packed with high-quality animal-based protein sources, omega acids for healthier skin plus minerals and vitamins that contribute to the well-being of a dog.

Compared to the rest of the meals, it’s the most affordable and with just about every feature required of the best dog food for sensitive skin.

To sum up, don’t forget to keep a detailed journal as a record for when your furry pal suffers from an irritation or symptoms of skin sensitivity such as severe paw licking, bump, and redness. This is a step in the right direction and can prove insightful in helping your vet get to the bottom of the problem.

Should the skin issue happen to be as a result of a certain ingredient in your dog food, you stand a better chance to know what to avoid and what dog food to try the next time around hopefully with better results for the sake of the comfort of your furry friend.