Best Dog Food for Dry Itchy Skin

golden retriever licking paw

Did you know that 10% of dogs suffer from dry, itchy skin? And that number has been increasing over the years. It also doesn’t help your furry friend’s coat if you live in a low, cold, or high-elevation climate.

So how do you protect them? You choose the best dog foods for dry, itchy skin that can solve their problem! 

Our top choice is Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food

This is the best dog food for many adult dogs because they made it with sensitive skin in mind. It contains all the healthy fats, proteins, and supplements that your dog will need to bring back a healthy glow and itch-free skin. 

But there are other options on this list, too — including choices for pups, large breeds, and even those fussy eaters with itchy skin. It is possible to support your dog’s skin health, no matter their nutritional needs!

Our Top Pick For Dogs With Dry Itchy Skin

10 Best Dog Food for Dry Itchy Skin Reviewed 

Each of the formulas below follows AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your dog to new dog food, consult with your veterinarian. 

Best Overall

Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Barley, Rice, Oat Meal, Canola Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 467 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and high-fat dog food with essential fatty acids for dry skin

One of the biggest reasons your pup may have dry skin is because they’re sensitive. And sensitive dogs need foods that don’t trigger allergic reactions. If that’s the case, choose a food that can nourish their coat and keep the itchiness at bay. 

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach is an excellent option. This food is formulated specifically for those with have digestive issues and sensitive skin. 

This chicken-free recipe starts with real deboned salmon and fish meal. These offer omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and lubricate joints.

They nourish your dog’s dry skin and give them a healthy coat. And salmon contains DHA for cognitive function and a healthy heart. 

This is not a grain-free formula. But, it does include easy-to-digest carbohydrates in barley, rice, and oats. If your dog can have grains, these contain fiber for better digestion and calcium and potassium for strong bones. However, it is free of corn, wheat, and soy. 

A big plus to this formula is that it contains live probiotics to boost your dog’s immune health. When they have a robust immune system, their skin is less likely to overreact to sensitivities and intolerances. 

Dog parents have noticed a massive difference in their dogs’ skin, and many say their dogs no longer scratch or seem in pain. 

Best for Puppies

Blue Buffalo Freedom Puppy Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Freedom Puppy Chicken Grain Free
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Pea Starch
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 403 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free and high-protein puppy food with fish oil and flaxseed for sensitive skin

Puppies tend to be sensitive to specific ingredients as they grow. This is because their immune and digestive systems are growing like the rest, so they aren’t fully formed and robust like their adult counterparts. 

While you help your pup grow slow and steady, try a high-fat and grain-free formula to demolish dry and itchy skin. Blue Buffalo’s Freedom Puppy Chicken Recipe Grain-Free dog food is the best option for this diet. 

This gluten-free kibble features real deboned chicken as the first ingredient. This offers a natural source of chondroitin and taurine for healthy tissue growth and heart health. 

Fish oil, chicken fat, and flaxseeds are chock full of omega fatty acids to nourish itchy skin and keep your pup’s coat shiny and silky. And fish oil has DHA and ARA — omega-3 fatty acids found in mother’s milk that help support brain and eye development.

Since this kibble is specially designed for puppies, it’s smaller and manageable for their little dogs to chew. But don’t let the size fool you. Like the other Blue Buffalo formulas, it includes their “LifeSource Bits.”  

These antioxidants, minerals, and chelated vitamins help support your pup’s overall health and wellness.

They can help nourish their dry skin, reduce reactions due to food sensitivities, and give them a brain boost. This includes reducing skin inflammation via ingredients like turmeric and rosemary oil

This formula is free from poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, and artificial flavors and preservatives. 

Puppy parents are happy with the change in their dog’s skin when switching to this formula. They also note benefits like softer fur and less scratching. 

Best for Seniors

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Senior Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Senior LID Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Garbanzo Beans
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 409 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein dog food with vitamin E for dry senior skin

Senior dogs have a hard time getting enough nutrients to support their body functions and healthy skin.

This is because they tend to eat less, and their body isn’t as efficient as when they were young. This also decreases their hydration levels.

So it’s crucial to make sure that the food your dog eats gives them plenty of benefits in an easy-to-absorb formula.  

That’s where CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Senior dry dog food comes in. It’s high in protein and contains omega-6 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and give your dog’s skin a natural sheen. 

It starts with deboned chicken and chicken and turkey meals. These high-quality proteins contain glucosamine and chondroitin for supple and itch-free skin. 

For healthy fats, this recipe has vitamin E oil and chicken fat. These nourish your dog from the inside out and keep their skin from drying out. 

While we usually recommend a higher-fat formula for healthy skin, seniors are different. Their metabolism is slower. So it’s important not to feed them a super high-fat diet, so they don’t gain too much weight.

This grain-free recipe contains sweet potatoes and peas instead. These complex carbohydrates add a boost of fiber for a healthy digestive tract and essential vitamins like vitamin A for eye and immune health.  

Dog owners say that this food doesn’t trigger their dogs’ sensitive skin or stomach. And they love the kibble size. 

Best for Small Breeds

SquarePet VFS Skin & Digestive Support Dry Dog Food

SquarePet VFS Skin & Digestive Support
  • First 5 Ingredients: Hydrolyzed Pork, Brown Rice, White Rice, Sunflower Oil, Pork Fat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 10.5% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 414 kcal/cup 
  • Key Feature: Pea-free and whole-grain dry food with omega-6 for small breeds 

Small dogs are notorious for having allergies and sensitivities. And these dogs also tend to be picky. So why not kill two birds with one stone and get food that nourishes their skin and tastes great?

SquarePet VFS Skin & Digestive Support dog food is great for pups with food allergies and environmental intolerances. This kibble is also smaller to avoid hurting their jaw while chewing. 

It starts with irresistible hydrolyzed pork as the primary protein source. This is a special ingredient — hydrolysis uses water to break up proteins so small that your dog’s immune system won’t react to them.

So theoretically, even if your dog couldn’t eat pork, they could eat this meat protein. 

Cold-pressed sunflower oil offers omega-6 fatty acids for healthier fur and skin. And these essential acids also aid in heart and eye health. 

This food does contain grains — including brown and white rice. However, these gentle carbohydrates aid in gut health and keep your canine’s digestive tract inflammation free. 

There are zero artificial ingredients in this formula. It doesn’t contain peas, artificial flavors or preservatives (except for salt), flavors, or colors that can cause an allergic reaction. 

Small dog parents say that this was their top food choice, even over vet-prescribed diets. And many love that their dogs’ don’t pick at it. 

Best for Large Breeds

Brothers Complete Venison Advanced Allergy Care Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Brothers Complete Venison Meal
  • First 5 Ingredients: Venison Meal, Whole Eggs Dried, Turkey Meal, Pea Starch, Cassava/Tapioca
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 400 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and high-fat dry dog food for large breeds with sensitive skin

Feeding your large breed can be difficult if they have sensitivities. Not only do they need plenty of calories, but they need high-quality proteins and fats to keep their weight and muscle tone healthy.

But, Brothers Complete Advanced Allergy Care dry dog food offers a great solution.  

This small-batched recipe contains high-quality proteins, is grain-free, and provides plenty of amino acids for healthy skin and energy.  

It starts with free-range venison and dried whole eggs. These proteins are more accessible to absorb than beef and chicken and still provide 30% Crude Protein.

And venison is packed with B vitamins for energy and mental clarity. Also, eggs have all of the 23 amino acids. This includes the 9 “essential” amino acids that your dog cannot produce. 

Chicken fat and dried whole cell algae offer plenty of fatty acids and omega acids for skin and coat support. And the algae has DHA and EPA for cognitive function. 

The carb sources in this food — cassava, peas, and pumpkin — are all low-glycemic. They help your dog’s itchy skin by helping them absorb their food slowly, keeping them from feeling sick or causing an allergic reaction.

This recipe also has encapsulated probiotics. These deliver live “good bacteria” to the gut to protect your dog’s immune system. And, this food is great for every stage of life, even puppies!

Pet owners say that this food is excellent for skin, but a bonus is that it helps their dogs be less gassy too

Best Wet Food

Go! Solutions SKIN + COAT CARE Pollock Pate Dog Food

Go! Solutions SKIN + COAT Pollock Pate
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Alaskan Pollock, Turkey, Salmon Broth, Turkey Broth, Tapioca
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 8% Crude Protein, 4.5% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 343 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: High-fat wet dog food without chicken for dogs with food allergies

Some dogs just prefer wet food. And luckily, the extra water in canned food is incredibly beneficial to your dog’s skin.

Not only does it help them get in more water. But wet food is easier to absorb by their body, which means they get their nutrients easily. 

Go! Solutions SKIN + COAT CARE Pate wet dog food is the perfect solution for pups who need or want wet food and have sensitive skin. 

This formula starts with MSC-certified wild Alaskan pollock and free-range turkey. These provide glucosamine and chondroitin for strong joints and supple skin. 

Flaxseeds provide omega-3s, and sunflower oil adds omega-6s to round out this skin-and-coat fundamental recipe. And it doesn’t stop there. They also include pumpkin to aid in digestion and provide fiber to improve the appearance of your dog’s coat. 

This pate-style dog food does not contain any growth hormones, animal by-product meal, soy, wheat, corn, or artificial flavors and preservatives. But, it’s packed with natural antioxidants from supplements and peas to support immune system health.

Dog moms and dads say that you can feed your dog this canned food itself or a topper if they need more nutrition. They’ve noticed that their dog eats all their food and no longer itches! 

Best Budget Food

American Natural Premium Sensitive Care Dry Dog Food

American Natural Premium Sensitive Care
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Oat Flour, Potato, Brown Rice
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 11% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 364 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Budget-friendly dry dog food with prebiotics and supplements for dogs with dry skin 

Feeding your dog a specialized diet doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Instead, find high-quality dog food that doesn’t make you spend your entire wallet.

An excellent option is the American Natural Premium Sensitive Care formula for dogs with sensitive skin. 

This limited ingredient dog food works well for dogs with sensitive tummies. And it also aids in providing their coat and skin with some luster and beneficial fats. 

This recipe starts with chicken meal and whole eggs. These high-quality proteins are also highly-digestible, making it easy for dogs with food allergies to get all their nutrients without tummy troubles. 

While this is considered a lower fat recipe, it’s filled with quality fat ingredients. This includes flaxseeds and vitamin e. These provide plenty of omega-3 fatty acids for coat health and reduce inflammation in your dog’s skin. 

Oatmeal, oat flour, and brown rice are slow-release carbohydrates that slow down digestion to make the process easier on the stomach. They also offer quality fiber and prebiotics to help increase nutrient absorption. 

Canine owners say this dog food aids in digestive health and skin health. Many note that it smells, although it doesn’t make their dog gassy. 

Best Premium Food

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach Skin Grain Free Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Yellow Peas, Potatoes, Potato Starch, Chicken Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20.5% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 405 kcal/cup 
  • Key Feature: Grain-free dry dog food with soybean oil for healthy skin

Want to splurge on a formula made for dogs with sensitive skin? Look no further than Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain-Free dry dog food. 

A few things to note about this food. First, its main protein is deboned chicken. While this doesn’t hurt some dogs, quite a few are sensitive to it. If this is the case for your pup, choose another option from this list.

Also, while they include high-quality ingredients, their main fat choices are chicken fat and soybean oil. While the meat fat is filled with fatty acids and omegas for healthy skin, soybean oil is high in saturated fat.

This isn’t the most beneficial oil, but it’s okay when mixed with meat fat. However, if your dog is sensitive to soy, it’s best to avoid this food. 

If your dog can handle chicken, it provides plenty of glucosamine and chondroitin for skin health.  It also offers taurine for eye health and a strong heart. 

This recipe is also packed with antioxidants because of the included apples and cranberries. These aid in a robust immune system and healthy skin. Plus, they include vitamins like vitamin C for tissue repair. 

Pet owners recommend this food if your dog suffers from “pink skin” or excessive licking due to sensitivities. 

Best for Allergies

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

Natural Balance LID Grain Free Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Potatoes
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 24% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4% Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 373 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free and limited ingredient dry dog food with fish oil for healthy skin

Does your dog have food allergies or intolerances that cause their dry skin? Try a limited ingredient dog food to eliminate the most common ingredients that cause sensitivities. 

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient dog food is an excellent choice. First, it only contains 12 ingredients — not including vitamins and minerals. It’s also chicken-free, pea-free, and doesn’t include wheat, soy, or corn.  

It starts with real salmon and menhaden fish meal. These novel proteins are packed with omega fatty acids that can soothe sensitive skin. And they also provide glucosamine and DHA for healthy joints and brain development.  

This is another grain-free recipe that instead uses sweet potatoes and cassava flour as the primary sources of carbohydrates.

These easy-to-digest ingredients contain prebiotic fiber to improve blood circulation and improve the supply of oxygen. This helps your dog’s skin glow youthful and make their coat shiny. 

Pet parents love that this food is free of ingredients that cause allergic reactions for their dogs’. However, some note that their pickiest pups tend to push it around before eating it. 

Best Fresh Food

Nom Nom Turkey Fare Dog Food

Nom Nom Turkey Recipe
  • First 5 Ingredients: Ground Turkey, Brown Rice, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 10% Crude Protein, 5% Crude Fat, 1% Fiber, 72% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 201 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Human-grade fresh dog food customized to your dog’s needs 

Try customized and fresh-made dog food if you want to offer your dog high-quality food that fits their specific needs.  

Nom Nom uses human-grade ingredients to create a complete and balanced diet shipped right to your door. It’s an excellent food for puppies, adults, and senior dogs so that you can feed your canine the food for their entire life. 

Before you choose a recipe, you’ll take Nom Nom’s 5-minute quiz. They’ll ask questions about your dog’s age, height, weight, and potential food sensitivities. This is great if you know your dog has sensitivities to certain foods. 

After submitting your answers, Nom Nom crafts your furry friend’s food and lets you know how it’s made, what it includes, and how much your dog will need to eat. They’re transparent and give you the option to change your quiz answers.  

From here, you can choose between four different recipes — including turkey, pork, beef, and chicken.

If you have a picky dog, order all four samples and see which they like best. Nom Nom will ship your dog’s food every two to four weeks after being made fresh. 

Dog owners love this easy-to-customize food, and many note that they’ve seen a significant difference in their dog’s coat and skin health. 

dog on bed licking paw

Choosing Dog Food For Your Dog’s Itchy Skin

Ready to help heal your dog’s skin and keep them from scratching? Here’s what you need to know. 

What Causes Dry Skin in Dogs?

There are many reasons why your dog may have dry or itchy skin. One of the most common reasons is food and environmental or seasonal allergies.

These cause inflammation in your pup and can cause inflamed and red skin, dry skin, hair loss, and lots of scratching. 

Another reason your dog may have itchy skin is because of parasites like fleas. These pests bite your dog and cause them to itch and even be in pain.

Fungal infections like ringworm and yeast work similarly, causing itchiness while on your dog’s skin.

If you think this is the case for your dog, you can talk to your vet about the best medication to remove them. 

Last but not least, changes in the air or your dog’s body can also cause dry and itchy skin. For example, winter can bring dry and cold air that irritates a sensitive dog’s coat.

Or, if your dog loves to lick themselves, they can cause patches of hair loss that start to itch. 

While many of these causes can be the main driver behind your canine’s dry, itchy skin, it’s essential to rule out the problem. Always consult with your vet if your dog’s skin and coat change. 

What To Look For In Dog Food For Dry Skin

Did you know that the proper dog food can help your dog’s dry or itchy skin? Here’s what you need to look for in any formula you purchase. 

Omega Fatty Acids

All dogs need healthy fats because that’s how they get their energy. But omega fatty acids play a crucial role in reducing inflammation and help promote healthy skin.

They also help protect your dog’s digestive system and skin, so they are needed. 

Your dog will get omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from most animal proteins, as well as oils like fish oil or coconut oil. Other options are flaxseeds and even berries, though these won’t offer as much. 


Antioxidants are one of the top ways to help your dog when they have itchy skin. This is because antioxidants naturally boost your pup’s immune system.

This allows them to fight off inflammation and sensitivities like environmental allergies.

Many dog foods contain antioxidants in foods like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and berries. 

Grain-Free Formulas

While many dogs can have grains, some dogs are sensitive to them. And if your dog is, it may cause symptoms like dry, itchy skin. S

o one of the easiest things you can try is a grain-free formula. If your dog is allergic or sensitive to grains, the switch can be beneficial and clear their skin up. 

High-Quality Proteins

Protein is a building block of skin tissue. So eating enough high-quality protein can help your dog have clear and itch-free skin.

It contains fatty acids like L-lysine and L-proline that help your pup’s body produce more collagen and promote healthy skin.

Most importantly, you should choose a dog food that starts with real animal proteins like deboned meats, whole-prey animal proteins, or even premium meat meals.

You can usually find these ingredients in hypoallergenic dog foods. 

Tips for Dogs With Dry Skin

Other than choosing high-quality food, there are different ways to help your dog avoid or clear up dry skin. 

Encourage Dog to Drink More Water

Like humans, dogs need plenty of water to replenish their fluids. A lack of water causes your dog’s skin to reduce its cell turnover to save energy.

This makes your dog’s skin dry and even scaly. So it’s essential to encourage them to drink water regularly. 

Always keep a water bowl filled, and even add ice if your dog likes lounging outside. You can also add broth or water to your pup’s kibble if you think they aren’t getting enough. 

Mix Wet Food With Dry Kibble 

Another way to add water to your dog’s diet is by mixing dry food with wet food.

This will add more moisture, entice your dog to eat their food (thus getting more water), and add more nutrients that can aid in healthy skin. 

Just be sure not to overfeed your dog. If you’re adding wet food to their diet, talk to their vet about the calories they should be eating daily. 

Switch to Formula that Supports Skin & Coat Health

If adding more water to your dog’s diet isn’t helping much, it may be time to switch their food.

Switching to a formula that supports your canine’s skin and coat health can help their skin tremendously. 

Luckily, all of the dog food formulas on this list support healthy skin and coats. But you can also discuss with your vet what they recommend for your dog’s specific needs. 

Ingredients To Avoid

When choosing a dog food that keeps your dog from itching and scratching, there are a few ingredients you may want to avoid. 

Dogs with sensitive skin should avoid ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or sensitivities.

These include grains (if your dog is allergic), proteins like chicken and beef, and artificial fillers like artificial flavors and colors. 

Your dog’s specific sensitivities may be different than those listed above. If that’s the case, also avoid those ingredients. 

Our Verdict

Allergies, the environment, and even dust and dander in the home can give your dog dry skin. So why not support them and feed them a diet that can bring back supple and smooth skin and a healthy coat?

Our #1 favorite is Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food

It’s a high-protein and high-fat diet that many adult dogs already use and love. And, pet parents agree that it helps with skin health. 

But if your dog has specific needs — like only eating wet food or needing a diet free from certain ingredients — there are other terrific options on this list too! 

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Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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