The Best Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Food Options For Your Pup’s Allergies

Hydrolyzed protein dog food can help reduce your dog's symptoms 🐶

royal canin and blue buffalo dog food

If your dog recently developed food allergies, you might be confused about what to feed him. After all, you don’t want to cause an allergic reaction.

There are actually a couple of options for pups with food allergies, even if you don’t know exactly what your dog’s allergic to — and one of them is hydrolyzed protein dog food.

We reached out to Dr. Amber Karwacki, a partner vet at Heart + Paw Callowhill, and Dr. Lydia Harbour, a veterinary dermatology resident at Dermatology for Animals in Arizona, to find out what hydrolyzed protein dog food is and to get recommendations for some of the best ones.

What is hydrolyzed protein dog food?

According to Dr. Karwacki, hydrolyzed protein dog food has a protein source that’s broken down into tiny pieces that aren’t detectable by your dog’s immune system. So your dog’s body basically just recognizes that there’s protein in the food but can’t tell which meat product it’s from. “These diets tend to be more effective when treating food allergies in dogs and require a prescription from your veterinarian,” Dr. Karwacki told The Dodo.

To make hydrolyzed dog food, the protein source is broken down into amino acids and peptides using a process known as hydrolysis.

Hydrolyzed protein dog foods are used to manage food allergies in dogs. “I consider hypoallergenic food to be hydrolyzed versions, since when this is done right, theoretically no dog should react when fed these,” Dr. Harbour told The Dodo.

This kind of food can also be fed to dogs who have inflammatory bowel disease or sensitive stomachs to help manage the condition.

Common dog food allergies

Your dog can start to have allergic reactions to the same food he’s been eating for years. This is because pups develop food allergies after already being exposed to certain ingredients.

These are some of the most common food allergies in dogs:

  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Gluten
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Dairy

Most dogs won’t be allergic to grains, so your pup probably won’t need to eat grain-free dog food (if your vet recommends grain-free food, though, we’ve included an option below).

Dogs can also have more than one food allergy, so your pup could have multiple protein allergies or be allergic to a protein source and dairy, for example.

To figure out what your pup’s allergic to, your vet might have you start an elimination diet using hypoallergenic dog food. “Feed one of the hypoallergenic diets for a period of six to eight weeks, eliminating everything else your dog has been getting that is flavored (treats, chews, bones, table scraps, etc.),” Dr. Harbour recommended.

After the elimination trial, you’ll reintroduce food with the potential allergen. If your dog has an allergic reaction, you’ll know that your dog’s allergic to that ingredient.

“If the dog improves while on the diet, then we can ‘challenge’ the diet with the old food by [giving your dog] a meal with [it],” Dr. Harbour said.

Best hydrolyzed protein dog food

Some hypoallergenic dog foods that Dr. Karwacki and Dr. Harbour recommend include Royal Canin, Purina, Hill’s Science Diet and Rayne Clinical Nutrition.

“These companies have strict standards when making these [foods], which include either having designated lines for these foods or completely sterilizing the lines before making the food,” Dr. Karwacki said.

Here are some of the best hydrolyzed protein dog foods you can buy, recommended by vets and pet parents.

Best hydrolyzed protein dog food without chicken, beef or lamb: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food

This hydrolyzed protein dog food contains omega-3 fatty acids to support your pup’s skin and coat health. It also includes B vitamins and plenty of fiber to help with digestion.

Best hydrolyzed protein dog food without fish: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

This hypoallergenic dog food’s a vegetarian formula made with soy protein instead of more common sources, so it’s great for dogs who have fish (or other meat) allergies.

Best grain-free hydrolyzed protein dog food: Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

The hydrolyzed salmon in this food is easily digestible, and it contains vitamins C and E. It also includes pumpkin for extra antioxidants and fiber.

Best hydrolyzed protein wet dog food: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Hydrolyzed Protein Loaf Canned Dog Food

This wet dog food has B vitamins, amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids to make your dog’s skin healthy and his coat shiny. Plus, it includes fiber to make it easily digestible.

Best hydrolyzed protein dog treats: Hill's Prescription Diet Hypoallergenic Dog Treat

Try these hydrolyzed protein dog treats if your pup has allergies. They’re made with hydrolyzed chicken liver and contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support skin and coat health, which is important for allergic dogs with itchy skin.

If your vet suggests feeding your pup hydrolyzed protein dog food, one of these picks might be a good option for him.

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