Sensitive Skin Dog Food - What are the best foods for allergies?

Itching, scratching, sneezing, and scooting all over the place - these may be signs of your dog's sensitive skin. The best dog food for sensitive skin is the ones that do not contain the ingredients that are causing your dog to react. Suffice to say, the right sensitive skin dog food for one dog is probably different for another dog. This article discusses what are the best dog foods for allergies, how to manage it, and more!

Signs of sensitive skin

Recognizing the symptoms of sensitive skin in a timely manner could greatly benefit your dog. Common signs include:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Dry or flaky patches of skin

Common dog food allergens 

The most common problem foods for dogs include: 

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Egg
  • Chicken 
  • Lamb
  • Soy
  • Fish

If you have been feeding your dog the above food, eliminate it and observe whether its allergy symptoms continue. However, do note that the symptoms and causes of allergies differ from dog to dog. 

There are several signs that your dog is allergic to something in its food, such as: 

  • Itchy skin (pruritus) - most common
  • Sneezing
  • Sensitive stomach 
  • Skin rashes
  • Hot spots from skin infections due to excessive scratching
  • Leathery skin texture
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Ear infections
  • Scally or oily skin
  • Itchy paws

If you think your dog has a food allergy, the first step is to take your dog to the vet so that it is easier to figure out which food your dog is allergic to. As dogs can be allergic to more than one thing (food, fleas, grooming products, environment), your vet's involvement is critical if you suspect it is a food allergy.

Difference between food intolerance and food allergy for dogs

Do not confuse food intolerance and food allergies. A dog food intolerance is when your dog has difficulty digesting a certain ingredient in its food and usually appears as a tummy upset and never any scratching.

On the other hand, a food allergy is when it triggers an immune response, and your dog's body identifies the food ingredient as harmful. Your dog's body then creates defensive antibodies to fight the 'enemy’ which can then lead to many different kinds of symptoms.

What to do if your dog has sensitive skin? 

The first thing to do when you suspect your dog has sensitive skin is to consult your vet. After doing some tests and ruling out infections, your vet may tell you that your dog is allergic to something in its food. 

There are commercial skin and blood allergy tests for your dog. Your vet may also recommend an elimination diet with a novel protein. A novel protein means the food contains a different type of meat not commonly found in normal food, such as crocodile meat, kangaroo, venison, or duck.

Either way, once you have identified what, in its food, is causing your dog to scratch profusely and have skin issues, the next step is to choose a healthy diet that is free from problematic foods. 

There are a few routes you can take in managing sensitive dog skin. 

  1. Buy the veterinarian-prescribed, limited-ingredient food. Stores may carry the prescribed food, but it is not a guarantee. Ask your vet where you can buy it.
  2. Make homemade dog food. If you make the dog food by yourself, you can control the ingredients and amount that goes into the food. 
  3. Add probiotics to your dog's diet.

You should also be aware of the dog products you are using, such as dog shampoo, as your buddy may be allergic to an ingredient in it.

Do not buy hypoallergenic commercial dog foods as they are not actually hypoallergenic. If you don’t know what is causing the allergies then focus on novel proteins such as PetCubes Crocodile and hope for the best. Elimination diets are highly recommended. 

Dog foods for sensitive skin 

This diet is also known as hypoallergenic dog food but this term is false as what is hypoallergenic to one dog may not be to another. 

Hypoallergenic dog food is to eliminate the risk of allergies and intolerances. It is made out of unique or novel proteins that are less likely to be recognized by your dog's antibodies as antigens. Therefore, it minimizes your dog's risk of being allergic to it. Unfortunately, there are other ingredients that may still cause a reaction such as grains. 

Benefits of sensitive skin dog food

Switching to a hypoallergenic dog food diet is a great idea, not just as a sensitive skin dog food but because this diet offers a whole host of benefits such as minimizing the risk of allergies and digestive problems. 

For humans, exposing ourselves to an allergen over time is the best way to build immunity. However, it is entirely different for dogs. Sometimes, longer exposure to the same protein type over time triggers the dog's food allergy. 

My dog is allergic to chicken, can he eat other poultry? 

It may surprise you that poultry meats like chicken are one of the most common food allergens for dogs. Signs of allergy towards poultry usually show up on the dog’s skin in the form of bald patches, skin infections, paw biting, and obsessive licking. 

There are three most common poultry sources - chicken, duck, and turkey. Other more exotic avian proteins include emu, goose, ostrich, pheasant, quail, and squab. 

If your dog’s sensitive skin is caused by an allergic reaction to chicken, turkey is a good alternative as it is inexpensive compared to beef and is considered a novel protein since it is not normally used. 

Introduce novel protein

There are several types of novel proteins that can minimize your dog's sensitive skin issues. These not-so-common novel proteins include rabbit, herring, venison, bison, duck, salmon, kangaroo, and crocodile meat. However, the top 4 novel protein dog food for allergy-prone canines is kangaroo meat, venison, crocodile, and duck, as they are the most nutritious yet rare proteins.  

Kangaroo meat

A way to manage your dog’s sensitive skin and lower its risk of allergies is by introducing kangaroo meat (a novel protein) to your dog’s diet. Kangaroo meat is rather rare as a dog food ingredient. Yet it is clean, contains good fat like omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is good for your dog’s heart health.

Crocodile meat

Another type of protein you can introduce for dogs is crocodile meat. Yes, you read it right. Crocodile meat is a really healthy option for dogs. Vets actually recommend crocodile for pets with sensitive skin because it is nutrient-packed, low in carbs, high in dietary fiber, tastes delicious, and is beneficial for dogs with kidney and heart issues. As a novel protein, the likelihood of crocodile meat triggering a protein-based allergy in dogs is also less.

The best sensitive skin dog food 

As there are many choices for hypoallergenic dog food, we have compiled a list of food that contains novel proteins from Petcubes as below.

Petcubes’ pet food is fresh and does not contain any preservatives, fillers, additives, or by-products. It is also prepared and produced at the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) approved facility using HACCP-certified equipment. 

It may take some time before you find a type that suits your dog with skin allergies, so don't be afraid to try different kinds. 

Petcubes' Raw Premium Mix 

The Petcubes' Raw Premium Mix collection contains 3 of the 4 best novel protein dog food - venison, duck, and kangaroo. 

This is so your dog does not get bored of its food. Imagine eating the same food every day. It is impossible. The same goes for your dog. Seeing as this mix is all novel proteins, it would be perfect as a sensitive skin dog food. 

However, if you do not want to mix the meat, you can get individually packed raw kangaroo, raw duck, and raw venison from Petcubes as well. 

Petcubes' Gently Cooked Crocodile Meat 

As a nutritious food for dogs with food sensitivities, the Petcubes' Gently Cooked Crocodile Meat is one of the healthiest meat choices. This meat is also suitable for dogs with dermatitis, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. 

Petcubes’ Raw Pork

Pork is an excellent choice as it is full of protein and helps your dog maintain its muscle mass as well as contains vitamin B1 which is an essential dog vitamin. Pork is also recommended as a healthy alternative for dogs with sensitive skin as it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction when compared to other proteins like chicken. For good quality pork, try Petcubes’ Raw Pork.


Now that you've got a clearer understanding of what sensitive skin dog food is and how it may help your dog with food allergies, it is better to point out that it may take time to find the right sensitive skin dog food. Seeing as hypoallergenic foods are made from single proteins and are less likely to cause allergies, it will help you isolate and identify the ingredient your dog is allergic to. Just avoid that ingredient, and even the dog with the most sensitive skin will eventually stop scratching.

Reviewed by: 

Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.