Is your dog itchy, dry or flaky? Does he chew at his paws and lick constantly? Your dog might have allergies. Finding the right hypo-allergenic dog food is hard enough, but now you have to find treats too!
Don't stress, we did our homework and we broke down some treat options to help you manage your pets allergies without depriving them of there favourite goodies.
We’ve been hearing the term hypo-allergenic for some time now, but what does it really mean? Calling something hypo-allergenic simply means it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Hypo-allergenic foods and treats don’t necessarily work for every pet.
The fact is every dog is different, and what may be an unlikely allergen for one dog could be a trigger for yours. When it comes to allergies, there is a lot of trial and error involved in determining which hypo-allergenic products will work the best. This article will offer advice and some recommendations that could suit your pet's needs.
Instead of using the term hypo-allergenic, let’s use a more appropriate term, limited-ingredient. When it comes to finding the right treats for dogs with allergies, digestive issues, or other ailments that may require eliminating certain foods from their diet, a great starting point is to look for treats with fewer ingredients.
A treat with less ingredients will allow you to determine which ingredients your dog can tolerate and remove the ones that you know they are likely to react to, but that is not the only factor. How the treat is processed, preserved or cooked can affect how your dog's body is able to use it. High heat and heavy preservatives can denature (alter the natural qualities of) the treat, trigger a reaction to an ingredient that your pet isn't even allergic to.
The Honest Kitchen, a pet food manufacturer, makes a good case for minimally processed and limited ingredient diet choices in their blog, Hypoallergenic Pet Foods: Myths and Facts. Treats and food should be treated the same when it comes to allergies and sensitivities.
Check out some of our favourite limited-ingredient dog treats to see if any of them might be right for your dog.
Limited Ingredient Dog Treats
This is one of the best treats to start with. Feeding single-ingredient treats allows you to choose the protein that works the best for you, or helps you eliminate possible triggers one by one. ValuePack has a line of freeze-dried liver products in a variety of protein options, all at an incredible price point. Size, texture and price will vary depending on the protein that you choose, but these liver treats are sure to be a hit with your dog.
They make great training treats and are less crumbly than biscuits, so they are great for on-the-go and walks. Smaller pieces and crumbs can also be used as meal toppers to encourage healthy eating habits.
Another single-ingredient option, fish skins are flavourful and rich in omega fatty acids to aid in healthy skin and coat. To learn more, read this article about the benefits of omega fatty acids.
There are many types of fish in varying shapes and sizes to choose from. Salmon and cod are the most popular, but sardines, whitefish and a variety of shellfish are great options too. Our favourite is the Plato Hundur’s Crunch. Hundur’s crunch is made from 100% cod skins and is available in 3 sizes, making them a perfect snack for any size breed.
Fish treats can be used for training and nutritional supplementation. The pungent fish smell will grab the attention of even the pickiest pets and the crunchy texture is pleasing to the palate but not too hard for adolescent pets to chew. You can feed them to your cats as well!
Long-lasting and low carb, natural chews are an excellent choice for pets with sensitivities . The size, shape and texture options are nearly endless, allowing you to pick the right option for your unique pet. This category has the most unique protein options, from beef and chicken to elk, kangaroo or rabbit.
Natural chews are ideal for dental health and are great for giving your dog something to keep them occupied. Look for natural chews that are either only one ingredient or are strictly meat based. Bully sticks are the most popular natural chew, but we also recommend trying a variety of options to keep these treats exciting and to prevent your dog from learning how to chew them quicker and quicker each time.
For a similar size and shape to a bully stick try Eldon's tendons. They aren’t quite as tough, but they are a great chew to throw into the mix. As your dog chews, the tendon will start to soften and reach harder to clean areas near the gumline and back teeth, like floss for your dog’s teeth.
Many natural chews are safe for cats too. Choose an appropriately sized option for smaller pets to avoid over-feeding.
If you are having trouble determining which animal proteins that your dog can handle, you may want to try a vegetarian treat instead. Not all meat-free treats are single-ingredient but look for treats with as few ingredients as possible. We recommend avoiding grains and filler ingredients and instead, choose low carb veggie-based treats.
For extra dental health, you can try Whimzees dental chews, but our best selling vegetarian treat is Crump’s sweet potato chews. These delicious dehydrated slices of sweet potato are chewy and soft enough to break into smaller pieces for training and for younger or petite dogs.
Keep in mind that vegetables and starches have natural sugars in them and might not be right for pets with digestive issues or chronic yeast infections caused by allergies.
Like all treats, moderation is essential, and with a higher sugar option like sweet potato, start with fewer smaller portions to determine how well your dog will do on these treats. Vegetarian treats are not recommended for cats, because their bodies are not meant to breakdown such high carbohydrates and sugars.
For mystery allergies, or pets with multiple food sensitivities, it may be best to choose a novel or exotic protein. Choosing a protein that they have never had is less likely to cause a reaction.
Try to stick with single ingredient options, and whenever possible choose a protein that is widely available. One of the growing categories in the exotic protein sector is kangaroo. Wag makes a variety of kangaroo formats so that you can have an exotic treat options for different treating methods.
Other proteins to look for are rabbit, venison, bison and alligator, but you may not find as much variety. The kangaroo trend has introduced a number of kangaroo treats and foods to the market so they are affordable and easy to find.
Trial and Error Method
When it comes to allergies and sensitivities, there is no perfect treat for every dog, but limited-ingredient treats are the best way to find the right option for your dog. Some allergens are more common than others, so we recommend eliminating chicken, beef and grains first.
Use small single-protein training treats to start. Remember that you can always re-introduce other ingredients when you feel ready.
For more severe sensitivities, you may have to try many times before you find the treats that are best for your dog. Always try to introduce new foods one at a time, and in small quantities to avoid a more significant reaction than necessary.
Trying new products can be tricky, so don’t be discouraged if your dog has a flare-up. Take a step back, and try introducing it in smaller quantities. Start your trial with smaller training or reward treats to help determine whether your dog is going to react or not. Once you've found a treat or two that your pet is thriving on, you can introduce larger treats like natural chews.
Whatever the sensitivity, you should be able to find at least a few treats to accommodate your pets needs and treat routines. Even if they all end up being the same flavour, try to find different formats to keep your dog excited about treat time.
Does your dog have a favourite Hypo-allergenic (limited ingredient) treat? Share with us in the comments!
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.