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The 7 Best Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Foods In 2024

With the abundance of dog food brands out there, it can be overwhelming to navigate the options. Each brand caters to different age groups and offers unique health benefits. Among the various approaches to address food allergies in dogs, hydrolyzed protein dog foods stand out.

While grain-free and limited-ingredient diets are popular, hydrolyzed protein diets provide an alternative. These diets, recommended by veterinarians, effectively prevent and test for food allergies.

Most formulas require veterinary approval, but our reviews of the best hydrolyzed protein dog foods at BestForPets can help you learn about the most popular options and decide if they are the best choice for you.

icon Vet Approved
icon Reviewed & Fact - Checked by

Deborah R. Fletcher (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information provided is current and up-to-date, in line with the latest research conducted in the field of veterinary medicine.

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Compare Table

Image Product View on Amazon
1 Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet HA Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet HA View on Amazon
2 Diamond Care Sensitive Skin Diamond Care Sensitive Skin View on Amazon
3 Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities View on Amazon
4 Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities Wet Dog Food Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities Wet Dog Food View on Amazon
5 Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF View on Amazon
6 Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Small Bites Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Small Bites View on Amazon
7 Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein View on Amazon

Reviews

1. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Chicken Flavor Canine Formula Dry Dog Food

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Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet HA is a premium dog food that contains hydrolyzed protein.

This recipe was developed with the help of veterinarians and nutritionists to meet the nutritional needs of adult dogs without causing any food sensitivities.

The formula is designed to provide protein and carbohydrates from as few sources as possible, making it suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Because it’s formulated to prevent allergic reactions, it can also benefit your dog’s sensitive skin. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet is a high-end pet food brand that requires veterinarian approval prior to use.

This product is formulated with hydrolyzed protein sources and a single carbohydrate source, making it highly digestible and promoting optimal nutrient absorption.

Additionally, the high-quality protein content contributes to your dog’s overall health and well-being.

This particular product comes in a kibble form and is available in a 25-pound bag. Its chicken flavor makes it appealing to many dogs, and it’s suitable for all life stages.

While this dog food is not the most affordable option, it provides an excellent choice for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Pros

Developed by veterinarians and dietitians

Easy to absorb

Satisfies the nutritional needs of adult dogs

Reduces skin irritation caused by allergic responses

Cons

Requires a prescription

Expensive


2. Diamond Care Sensitive Skin Formula Adult

DIAMOND CARE Grain-Free Formulation Adult Dry Dog Food

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The Diamond Care Sensitive Skin Formula dog food is formulated specifically for adult dogs with sensitive skin. This formula contains a single source of protein, which helps prevent food allergies in dogs.

Although it is less costly than other dog foods with hydrolyzed protein, it is still a bit pricey. However, it does not require a prescription from a veterinarian.

This product contains probiotics that support your dog’s digestive and immune health, in addition to promoting skin health.

Peas are the predominant source of carbohydrates in this recipe. Notably, however, legumes such as peas have been linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is currently under investigation1.

Additionally, some dogs may reject this product’s flavor and refuse to consume it.

This dry dog food from Diamond Care contains a single source of high-quality protein, hydrolyzed salmon. Additionally, it is fortified with omega fatty acids, which are guaranteed to support healthy skin and coat.

It is guaranteed that the antioxidants in this dog food will support your dog’s immune system.

Family-owned Diamond Care manufactures its products in the United States. They use ingredients from reliable sources around the world and adhere to the most technologically advanced food safety protocols.

This product is dry kibble that is suitable for dogs of all life stages.

Pros

Single source of protein

Designed for pets with delicate skin

Balanced nutritionally for adult dogs

Probiotics are beneficial for immunological and digestive health

Cons

Contains legumes

Some dogs detest the taste


3. Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food

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The Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities formulation is a dry dog food designed to aid in the digestion of food for dogs with food sensitivities.

This recipe is formulated to reduce food allergy reactions and promote the health of your dog’s skin and coat, especially if their skin is sensitive due to allergies. It is enriched with antioxidants to promote your dog’s immune health as well.

While Hill’s Prescription Diet food is slightly more expensive than other dog foods, you can purchase a smaller 8-pound bag if your dog is a picky eater and you want to see if they like the food before investing in a larger quantity.

It’s important to note that you will need a prescription from your veterinarian to purchase this food.

Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food is specially formulated by Hill’s nutritionists and veterinarians to support your dog’s skin and food sensitivities.

It has been clinically proven to aid in preventing skin and digestive symptoms of adverse food reactions.

The hydrolyzed protein dog foods contains highly hydrolyzed animal protein and a singular purified carbohydrate source to avoid common food sensitivities.

Additionally, it is enriched with essential fatty acids to help maintain a healthy skin barrier. This dog food contains clinically demonstrated antioxidants that support a healthy immune system.

Overall, Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food is an excellent product for dogs with food allergies.

Its unique formulation is designed to support your dog’s skin and digestive health while avoiding common allergens. However, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Pros

Improves digestion

Reduces allergic responses to food

Antioxidants promote immune system health

Improves skin and fur health

Cons

Requires a prescription

Expensive


4. Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities Wet Dog Food

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Wet Dog Food

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Consider moist dog food, such as Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities Moist Dog Food , for a juvenile or dentally compromised dog.

The pate texture of this moist food makes it easy for canines to chew and ingest, and the added moisture helps keep them hydrated.

This moist food has been specially formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians at Hill’s to manage your dog’s dietary sensitivities.

The highly hydrolyzed animal protein and singular carbohydrate source aid in avoiding common allergens such as chicken or pea protein.

Moreover, this dog food is enriched with essential fatty acids to support a healthy skin barrier, promoting healthy skin and coat. This dog food contains clinically demonstrated antioxidants that support a healthy immune system.

Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities Moist Dog Food is a therapeutic pet diet recommended by US veterinarians.

However, you must obtain your veterinarian’s approval before purchasing and feeding this dog food to your companion. Unlike some other varieties of wet dog food, these cans lack easy-open closures.

Overall, Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Food Sensitivities Moist Dog Food is an excellent product for canines with food allergies.

Its unique formulation is intended to support the skin, coat, and digestive health of your dog while avoiding common allergens. Prior to making adjustments to your dog’s diet, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian.

Pros

No legumes

Fatty acids promote healthy skin and coat

Contains antioxidants to boost the immune system

Created by veterinarians and dietitians

Cons

Need a prescription

Cans are difficult to open


5. Natural Veterinary Diet HF Dry Dog Food from Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed

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Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF is a dry dog food that is fortified with antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and vitamins E and C to promote overall health and prevent food allergies in dogs.

The product features high-quality, natural ingredients like hydrolyzed salmon, pumpkin, and kelp that provide essential vitamins and minerals for dietary health and nutritional balance.

Before feeding this grain-free dog food, which contains legumes, you must obtain your veterinarian’s approval.

Your veterinarian will explain the benefits and risks of grain-free diets and help you decide if Blue Buffalo is the best option for your dog’s sensitive stomach and food allergies.

This Blue Buffalo product is formulated with hydrolyzed salmon, which is a highly digestible protein source that reduces the risk of your dog developing food allergies.

The finest natural ingredients fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, including essential antioxidants, support immune function.

Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed promote healthy skin and coat.

The formulations of BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet do not contain any chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy, and they do not contain any artificial flavors or preservatives.

This therapeutic diet requires a prescription from your veterinarian and is available in 22-pound bags.

Overall, Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Dry Dog Food is an excellent product for dogs with sensitive stomachs and food intolerances.

Its unique formulation uses high-quality, natural ingredients to provide essential vitamins and minerals for dietary health and nutritional balance while supporting immune function and promoting healthy skin and coat.

However, it is important to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Pros

Both pumpkin and kelp provide antioxidants.

Omega fatty acids promote healthy skin and hair

Offers nutritious food with natural components

Cons

Contains legumes

Prescription necessary

Unresealable


6. Small Bites Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities

Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Small Bites Dry Dog Food

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Hill's Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Small Bites Dry Dog Food is specially formulated with small, easy-to-chew kibble that is ideal for dogs with dental issues or small jaws.

This dog food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of small breeds and promote urinary health.

Unlike other Hill’s Prescription Diet options, this product is free of common protein allergens and may improve skin and coat health.

The high levels of hydrolyzed animal protein and single source of purified carbohydrates help prevent common food allergens.

Additionally, it contains essential fatty acids that promote a healthy skin barrier. The product has been clinically verified to prevent skin and digestive reactions to food.

However, picky eaters may not enjoy the taste of this dog food due to the primary ingredients of water and corn starch. Additionally, it contains chicken fat, which may trigger allergic reactions in some dogs.

If you’re considering Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Small Bites Dry Dog Food, you can test the product with a smaller bag before committing to the diet.

However, if this becomes your dog’s regular diet, you will need to make more frequent trips to the store.

Overall, Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Small Bites Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice for dogs with dermatitis and food allergies.

It is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of small breeds and promote a healthy urinary system, and has been clinically verified to prevent skin and digestive reactions to food.

However, due to the primary ingredients of water and corn starch, this dog food may not be suitable for picky eaters. Additionally, it contains chicken fat, which may trigger allergic reactions in some dogs.

Pros

Designed for tiny breeds

Promotes urinary tract health

Enhances skin and fur health

Cons

Fussy dogs may not like the taste

Chicken might be allergenic

Exclusively sold in 7-pound bags


7. Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Adult Hp Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Loaf Canned Dog Food

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If you’re searching for a dog food that can help manage skin and digestive sensitivities, you may want to consider Royal Canin Adult Original Gel .

This pet food has been specially formulated to reduce allergic reactions to common proteins present in other pet diets.

This is accomplished by using proteins that have been fragmented into smaller molecules, rendering them less likely to provoke an immune response.

In addition to a source of protein, Royal Canin Adult Original Gel contains essential nutrients that promote healthy skin, helping to strengthen the skin barrier and reduce irritation.

The food also contains a combination of fibers to aid in the management of digestive distress and to promote healthy digestion.

This pet food may be a suitable option for canines with skin or digestive sensitivities. As with any new food, it is essential to introduce it progressively and observe your dog’s reaction to ensure that it is well tolerated.

Consult your veterinarian to establish if this food is suitable for your dog’s specific dietary requirements.

Pros

Dogs like the flavor

Prebiotics and fiber present to assist digestion

Excellent for humans and canines

Contains, vitamin B, omega-3, and amino acids

Cons

Veterinarian administered

Expensive

How to choose the best hydrolyzed protein dog food for your dog

Before switching your dog to a diet containing hydrolyzed protein, you should consult with your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will evaluate your dog’s health and medical history to determine whether a hydrolyzed protein diet is suitable for them.

They will also provide you with a prescription and feeding instructions for the hydrolyzed protein diet.

Consider the following factors when selecting a hydrolyzed protein dog food for your pet:

1. Ingredients

The ingredient list should indicate that the primary source of protein is hydrolyzed and that the product contains no animal proteins or allergens.

Additionally, look for natural and nutritious ingredients that provide your dog with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

Avoid artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and additives that may cause adverse reactions or harm your dog’s health.

2. Nutritional profile

The nutritional analysis should demonstrate that the dog food meets the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards for complete and balanced nutrition.

Ensure that the levels of protein, fat, fiber, hydration, and calories in the food are appropriate for your dog’s age, size, level of activity, and health condition.

3. Palatability

Palatability refers to how much your dog enjoys the food’s flavor and consistency. Some dogs may be picky or hesitant to try new foods, especially if they have been eating the same food for an extended period.

Look for a dog food with a high palatability rating or positive consumer reviews from dog owners who have tried it. Adding tepid water or broth to the dish may also increase its appeal.

4. Cost

The cost of the food depends on the brand, quality, quantity, and availability of the product.

Hydrolyzed protein dog diets are generally more expensive than conventional dog foods due to the additional processing and testing required to ensure their safety and effectiveness.

However, do not sacrifice quality or nutrition to save money. Find a food that provides the best value for your money and fits within your budget.

How to introduce a new diet to your dog and what to expect from it?

Once you have selected a hydrolyzed protein dog food for your dog, you should follow these steps to introduce it and observe your dog’s reaction:

  • Start by combining a small amount of the new food with the old food and continue to feed your dog as usual. Over 7 to 10 days, gradually increase the ratio of the new food to the old food until you are feeding only the new food.
  • During the transition period, carefully observe your dog’s health and behavior. Look for signs of improvement or deterioration in their allergy symptoms, such as irritation, scratching, licking, vomiting, diarrhea, or ear infections. Also, watch for changes in their appetite, weight, energy level, temperament, and stool quality.
  • Stop feeding your dog immediately if it exhibits any signs of intolerance or an adverse reaction to the new food, such as vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, or loss of appetite, and contact your veterinarian. They may recommend transitioning to a different brand or variety of hydrolyzed protein dog food or attempting an alternative treatment.
  • Continue feeding the new food for the duration of the diet trial (usually 8 to 12 weeks). During this time, do not feed your dog any other foods or treats, as they may interfere with the results of the diet trial.
  • You can either continue feeding your dog hydrolyzed protein dog food indefinitely or reintroduce some of their previous foods one at a time to determine if they cause allergic reactions. If they do, avoid them and continue the hydrolyzed protein diet. If they do not, you can progressively introduce more variety and options into your dog’s diet.

Hydrolyzed Protein Dog Foods

You should anticipate that a hydrolyzed protein diet will reduce or eliminate your dog’s allergy symptoms and improve their overall health.

However, you should also be aware of the potential adverse effects and challenges associated with this diet:

  • When transitioning to a diet containing hydrolyzed protein, some dogs may experience temporary digestive distress or alterations in stool consistency or color. This is normal and will typically subside within a few days or weeks as your dog’s body adjusts to the new diet. You can assist with this transition by adding probiotics or digestive enzymes to your dog’s diet, or by giving them a nibble of plain yogurt or pumpkin puree.
  • Hydrolyzed protein dog foods may not appeal to the flavor or texture of some dogs, causing them to refuse to consume them or consume less than usual. In some cases, this can result in weight loss or malnutrition. You can attempt to make the food more appetizing by adding tepid water or broth, or by combining it with preserved or moist food. You can also try different brands or flavors of dog food containing hydrolyzed protein until you discover one that your dog enjoys.
  • Due to overexposure or genetic factors, some dogs may develop new allergies or sensitivities to hydrolyzed protein dog foods over time. This can result in additional allergic reactions or the development of new symptoms. Regularly monitor your dog’s health and behavior, and inform your veterinarian of any changes or concerns. They may recommend modifying the type or source of hydrolyzed protein in the diet or attempting an alternative treatment.

FAQs

1. Is hydrolyzed protein better for dogs?

Hydrolyzed protein diets are commonly used for companion animals as a therapeutic measure to prevent food-induced allergic reactions.

This is due to the hydrolysis process, which breaks down the protein into smaller molecules, making it less likely to trigger an allergic response in sensitive pets.

2. Can any dog eat hydrolyzed protein food?

When it comes to hydrolyzed protein diets for dogs, the effectiveness depends on their individual requirements and reactions to food.

While some dogs may quickly and easily find a novel protein diet that doesn’t trigger allergic reactions, others may need a soy-based hydrolyzed protein diet because animal-based protein exacerbates their symptoms.

The hydrolysis process breaks down protein into smaller molecules, making it less likely to cause an allergic response in sensitive pets.

3. How long can a dog be on hydrolyzed protein?

Elimination diet trials are the most accurate method for diagnosing food allergies and intolerances in dogs and cats.

During the trial, a recommended hydrolyzed or novel protein diet is exclusively administered for 6 to 10 weeks.

This is followed by a dietary re-challenge to confirm the diagnosis. The hydrolyzed protein diet breaks down the protein into smaller molecules, making it less likely to trigger an allergic response in sensitive pets.

4. What are the side effects of hydrolyzed protein in dogs?

While inadequate palatability, hypo-osmotic gastroenteritis, and diminished nutritional value can be potential concerns with certain pet foods, the most significant issue is persistent allergenicity.

This can lead to adverse reactions and health problems in pets with food sensitivities.

5. Why is hydrolyzed protein expensive?

Hydrolyzed protein is produced using a process called protein hydrolysis, which involves breaking down long protein chains into smaller peptides through an enzymatic process or superheating.

While effective, this process is costly and one reason why hydrolyzed whey is more expensive than other protein supplements. This protein source is often used in specialized diets for pets with food allergies or sensitivities.

Conclusion

These evaluations of hydrolyzed protein diets will assist you in selecting the best one for your dog. The Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet , which employs single sources of protein and carbs, is the best overall.

Diamond Care is a cheap solution that is available without a prescription.

Both the dry and rainy conditions existed. Hill's Prescription Diet dog meals offer balanced nutrition.

BestForPets hopes that these best hydrolyzed protein dog foods have helped you have a more informed discussion with your doctor and choose the best hydrolyzed dog food.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher

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