Top 9 Best Dog Foods For Dry Itchy Skin

Updated: October 17, 2023

This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

dog with dry itchy skin

Do you ever catch your dog vigorously biting its skin? What about chronic scratching? Let that behavior go on long enough, and you might even see hot spots develop.

Itchy skin seems like a pretty common issue that shouldn't raise any red flags. Dogs scratch all the time, so what's the big deal, right?

Dry and itchy skin can quickly graduate to a major health problem if it becomes a regular thing. Dogs will continually scratch their skin to get relief.

Dogs don't know when to stop scratching, which is why they develop sores and hotspots.

It's not uncommon for canines to scratch so much that they start to lose hair and bleed! Of course, that opens the floodgates for bacterial infections, fungal problems, and more.

Some dietary changes may be in order if your dog regularly suffers from dry, itchy skin. 

Most dog owners don't realize this, but what your dog eats significantly impacts the quality of their skin. A diet with all the right ingredients can provide long-term skin support, keeping your pup comfortable and itch-free for years to come.

Ready to see the dog foods? Here are our top picks for the best dog foods for dry and itchy skin.

The Best Dog Food For Dry Itchy Skin - Top 9

1.  Blue Buffalo True Solutions Perfect Skin & Coat Care Formula Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Perfect Coat Skin & Coat Care Formula Dry Dog Food

This specialty formula from Blue Buffalo has many great things going for it. As a whole, Blue Buffalo is a high-quality brand. Its antioxidant-rich ingredients and premium proteins make most of the lineup suitable for skin support.

However, this formula takes things further.

It uses real salmon as the primary protein source. As a result, the food is loaded with omega fatty acids that keep the skin nice and moisturized.

It's also full of beneficial vitamins and has Blue Buffalo's signature LifeSource Bits for that added boost of nutrition. Pair that with the lack of artificial additives, and this dog food is a worthy choice.

2.  Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-free Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Duck & Potato Formula Dry Dog Food

If food-based allergies are the cause of your dog's skin problems, this formula from Natural Balance may be the thing they need to get relief.

This is a limited ingredients formula. It lacks unnecessary fluff, focusing on high-value ingredients that are easy on the system.

The first thing on the ingredients list is farm-raised duck meat. It also contains easy-to-digest potatoes as the primary carbohydrate. The formula contains sunflower oil, too. It acts as a source of skin-boosting omega fatty acids.

3.  American Journey Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Limited Ingredient Venison & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Next up, we have this kibble from American Journey.

It's a grain-free, limited ingredients recipe. There's a single protein source, which happens to be high-value venison. The venison meat is more than enough to support your dog's muscles. However, it's less likely to cause allergy problems.

The formula also contains digestible carbohydrates, omega-rich flaxseed and sunflower oil, and plenty of vitamins. The formula is relatively simple, but that's what makes it easy on the skin.

It lacks the unwanted extras and focuses on providing a no-frills, balanced diet.

4.  Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Adult Large Breed Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Purpose-made for large dogs, this recipe from Nutro covers all the bases. It provides a balanced diet and works to make digestion a breeze. But, it does so with limited ingredients.

The goal is to eliminate as many potential allergens as possible. So, you'll see some unconventional alternatives to the elements you see in standard formulas.

The protein is lamb meat. Meanwhile, carbohydrates come from sweet potatoes. Not only are they easy to process, but the sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index for all-day energy!

As always, this Nutro formula doesn't have GMO-filled ingredients, artificial preservatives, synthetic flavors, or other unwanted stuff.

5.  Purina ONE SmartBlend Skin & Coat Formula Adult Premium Dry Dog Food

Purina ONE SmartBlend Skin & Coat Formula Adult Premium Dry Dog Food

The SmartBlend Skin & Coat recipe from Purina One is fantastic for sensitive systems.

Not only does it improve skin health, but it can also address gut issues. Digestibility is a big priority, and you can see that in the ingredients like oatmeal and barley.

The first item on the list is healthy salmon. Chock-full of omega fatty acids, it'll keep the skin moisturized and itch-free. But that's not all.

This formula also has a blend of antioxidants for additional protection.

6.  Brothers Complete Lamb Meal & Egg Formula Advanced Allergy Care Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Brothers Complete Lamb Meal & Egg Formula Advanced Allergy Care Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Brothers Complete isn't as widely known as other brands, but this recipe is certainly worth considering. It's a targeted formula that's purpose-made with allergy sufferers in mind. 

The food uses lamb meat as its primary protein source, which makes up about 30 percent of the crude analysis.

There are also low-glycemic carbohydrates, probiotics to support digestion, and natural enzymes. The enzymes serve many purposes. Not only do they break down food for easier digestion, but they improve absorption and boost the immune system to reduce allergic reactions.

7.  Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon & Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Formula Salmon & Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Here's another excellent product from Blue Buffalo, but this one is part of the Basic lineup. It's a limited ingredients product with only the essentials. 

In every piece, your dog is consuming high-quality salmon. This is a single-protein product, so there are no surprises here.

Of course, the salmon provides a kick of skin-supporting omega fatty acids. Peas and pumpkins are added to the mix, too. They are for digestion and immunity.

Like most Blue Buffalo products, this one also has the LifeSource Bits for more antioxidants and better immune health.

Best Puppy Food for Dry Itchy Skin:

8.  CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy Limited Ingredient Chicken, Lentil & Whole Egg Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Puppy Limited Ingredient Chicken, Lentil & Whole Egg Recipe Dry Dog Food

You can't go wrong with a brand like Canidae. This dry kibble aims to start your puppy off on the right foot. 

It doesn't have a lengthy ingredients list like other brands. You're only getting nine real-food elements. As a result, your dog gets the balanced nutrition they need without the unwanted filler!

Chicken is the primary protein. It makes up most of the 30-percent protein analysis. A blend of antioxidants, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and probiotics are included, too. The result is a skin-supporting formula that's easy to digest.

Best Canned Dog Food for Dry Itchy Skin:

9.  Merrick Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet Beef Recipe Canned Dog Food

Merrick Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet Beef Recipe Canned Dog Food

Many argue that canned foods are inherently better for dogs with dry and itchy skin. The added moisture is always a plus for skin hydration. But this Merrick canned food takes things up a notch.

The main perks here are the allergy-friendly ingredients and the blend of vitamins. Simple ingredients like lean beef and peas provide a balanced diet. Meanwhile, vitamins E, A, D3, and more support several biological functions and keep the skin in good shape.

It's a tasty food product that also happens caters to sensitive dogs that need a little more dietary support.

Why Do Dogs Experience Dry Itchy Skin?

Skin issues aren't something that most dog owners think about until they affect their furry friend.

Dogs scratch all the time! Most of us don't give it a second thought. But when you begin to see the ramifications of all that scratching, it suddenly becomes very real!

Dry skin results in excessive scratching, leading to all kinds of stores and hotspots. It can be a nightmare for your dog, resulting in some pretty severe behavioral changes. 

Irritability is common as your canine companion attempts to get relief any way they can. That can graduate to anxiety, depression, and more.

You may even notice a slew of physical symptoms. They might include:

  • Dandruff-like flaking
  • Beding
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation
  • Noticeable hotspots
  • Scabs, pimples, and other sores
  • Dull-looking fur

So that begs the question: What causes dry and itchy skin? It turns out that many things cause this issue.

What Causes Dry and Itchy Skin?

Food-Based Allergies

One of the most common causes of dry skin is allergies. That's why you see so many foods marketed as "hypoallergenic" or "allergy-friendly" on our list above.

When your dog consumes something they're allergic to, the immune system kicks into gear to protect your dog from this perceived invader.

dog scratching behind his ear to relief the itch

It responds with symptoms like inflammation, itchiness, and even stomach sensitivities.

If you have allergies, you know how uncomfortable the response can be. Your skin might become incredibly red and itchy, forcing you to come up with ways to control scratching.

Unfortunately, dogs don't have the same level of self-control, so they'll continue scratching until they experience injuries.

Food allergies are more common than you think.

Many breeds are genetically predisposed to suffer from food sensitivities. These include Beagles, Boxers, Dachshunds, Poodles, Golden Retrievers, and more.

If you suspect that allergies are to blame for your dog's chronic scratching, we recommend taking a trip to the vet.

Switching dog foods to one of the formulas above can make a world of difference. But before you choose one, you have to understand what allergens you need to avoid.

Vets can perform allergy tests and help you gain more insight into how your pup's body responds to food. 

They'll also work with you to develop ways to manage sensitivities moving forward. We'll get into how diet comes into play in a bit.

Environmental Allergies

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Many of the same things that cause your congestion and itchy skin can affect your dog, too!

Environmental allergies refer to anything in the air that triggers an allergic reaction. Like food allergies, encountering allergens causes the immune system to respond unpredictably, leading to itchy skin.

Common environmental allergens include tree pollen, dust, mold, weeds, and more.

Even the essential oils and cleaning products you use inside your home could negatively impact your dog, so it's important to consider all possible allergens.

Once again, a trip to your vet is crucial here to rule out anything else going on.

Related: Protect your Dog From these Toxic Substances

Medical Causes That Often Cause Dry or Itchy Skin in Dogs

Medical signs of itchy dog skin

Sometimes, itchy skin is a symptom of an underlying health issue.

Your vet can help diagnose any potential problems, but it's essential to be aware of some risks your dog might encounter.

Parasitic infections are common ways your dog gets itchy skin.

Skin mites are practically invisible to the naked eye, but they can burrow into your pup's skin and wreak all kinds of havoc.

Some mites can cause extreme hair loss, known as mange. It also makes the skin itchy, inflamed, and appear covered in sores.

The same goes for bacterial infections or yeast infections.

Yeast infections are caused by fungus and can quickly spread to other parts of the body if you're not careful.

Ticks and fleas can be a problem, too. Fleas, in particular, are notorious for causing incessant itching. Luckily, they're relatively easy to deal with if you know what you're up against.

Several diseases can cause dry skin as well.

Usually, anything that causes unpredictable hormonal imbalances will cause dryness. One typical example is Hyperthyroidism.

Always bring your dog to the vet if you believe that medical issues are causing dry skin.

While a change in diet can certainly help see improvements, the only way to manage dry skin caused by health problems is to address the underlying condition.

For Temporary relief you can try this Homemade Anti Itch Spray for Dogs recipe

How Dog Food Can Help

Dog food can help in many ways. Dry skin is a direct result of low moisture levels in the skin.

That's a pretty obvious statement, but it's a simple concept that you need to remember when dealing with dry skin.

The goal in alleviating this issue is to keep the skin hydrated and supple. Simple enough, right?

Your dog's diet can do a lot to improve hydration levels. Even in dry kibble, essential oils and fats support the skin. They also hydrate the follicles to give your pup that healthy coat of fur you want to see.

Specialty Formulas

You'll notice that our list contained many specialty formulas that specifically target food sensitivities and dry skin.

Many of the products were limited ingredients formulas.

Specialty diets address food-related allergens. Remember how we said that you have to understand what your dog is allergic to manage dry skin? Here's where that information comes in handy.

A specialty diet usually contains unconventional ingredients. That's because they're aimed at dogs who suffer allergic reactions to the all the dog food staples like chicken and beef.

By switching to a specialty diet, you can avoid potential allergens and keep your dog's immune system under control.

Whether you go for a limited ingredients diet or one targeted to better digestion, these formulas can make a world of difference in avoiding unwanted allergic reactions.

Related: 5 of the Best Dog Food Brands for Dogs with Allergies

Things to Look For in Dog Food for Dry Itchy Skin

Now that you understand dry skin and allergic reactions a bit more let's talk about some of the things you should look for when shopping for dog food. These days, the dog food market is massive, so you have plenty of options out there.

To find one that addresses your pup's dry and itchy skin, pay attention to the following factors.

High-Quality Proteins

Of course, premium protein is at the top of the list! Dogs can't survive without protein. The more of it they get, the better!

Protein is the most expensive constituent in dog food formulas. To try and manage costs, some brands will include as many "cheap" protein sources as they can. We're talking about things like meat byproducts and mystery meats.

The problem with byproducts is that you don't really know where they come from. They could be chock-full of allergens and chemicals that put your dog's immune response into a frenzy!

To avoid all that, stick to wholesome sources you can quickly identify. To limit the risk of sensitivities, go with more uncommon proteins like venison or lamb.

Once you figure out what your dog is allergic to, you can shift your search around it.

Don't worry if the protein is the problem. Some exotic dog foods out there contain oddball proteins like kangaroo or beaver, so you shouldn't have any trouble steering clear of meat allergens.

Must-Have Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids are a must if you're dealing with sensitive skin!

Fatty acids like Omega-3s, EPA, and DHA can help protect the skin and keep it hydrated.

EPA and DHA work wonders to improve the skin barrier and inhibit inflammation. They can also promote healing. Meanwhile, Omega-3s can boost the production of hydrating oils, making dryness a thing of the past!

With regular consumption, omega fatty acids can make a dramatic difference. They'll keep the skin supple and even improve the quality of your dog's coat.

Essential Micronutrients

A nice blend of vitamins is always a plus. There are several essentials to look out for when finding skin-supporting dog food.

The first is Vitamin A. It's essential for healthy skin cells and follicles. Luckily, it's pretty standard in dog food because of its prevalence in sweet potatoes, eggs, carrots, and other common ingredients.

Next is Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the skin against oxidation and free radicals. It's in leafy greens and seeds.

Biotin is another vital vitamin. Usually, it's included in dog food through the meat ingredients. Biotin supports healthy skin tissue.

Finally, you can't forget about zinc. Zinc is a great mineral that helps to prevent skin inflammation. It may even fight bacterial infections and fungus. Zinc can be added to foods through supplements or beef and poultry.


No one likes to see their dog suffer. If your pooch is living an itchy nightmare, it's time to do something about it! Talk to your vet and consider making dietary changes.

The right dog food can keep the skin healthy, returning your dog to a state of moisturized and comfortable bliss!

Also Read: Homemade Dog Food Recipes to Address Skin Allergies


You may also like

About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.