An autoimmune disease can be a very disheartening diagnosis for pet owners. These disorders are often uncurable, and they can reck all sorts of havoc on our dog’s body. Most are treated with medication, though sometimes surgery might be required. However, the symptoms can also be controlled with the right diet.
Medication can often cause problems for your pet’s gut, which probiotic pet food can help with. Food that is free from chemicals and other potentially toxic substances can also give the liver a break, which is often damaged in dogs with autoimmune disease. Now more than ever, it is also vital that your canine maintains a healthy weight, which their diet can help with too.
In this article, we’ll review some of the best dog foods that can help with autoimmune disease.
A Quick Comparison (updated in 2022)
The 5 Best Dog Foods for Autoimmune Disease
1. Solid Gold Green Cow Canned Dog Food – Best Overall
The Solid Gold Green Cow Canned Dog Food checks all the boxes for dogs with autoimmune disease. It is limited-ingredient, which means it does not include nearly as many ingredients as most dog foods on the market. It only includes three ingredients besides the nutritional additives: green beef tripe, beef broth, and potatoes. All of these ingredients are high-quality and an excellent choice for dogs with autoimmune disease.
Because it is made with green cow tripe, it includes partially digested plant matter and gastric juices. This can help your canine digest the food easier, which is excellent for dogs with sensitive digestion due to medication. It is low in phosphorous as well, which is a mineral that can upset some dog’s stomachs.
It is free from grains, gluten, corn, soy, wheat, carrageenan, and chemical preservatives. It is also free from peas and chicken. Peas may be associated with specific heart problems in dogs, and chicken is a common allergen. While many dogs can eat these two ingredients and be fine, it is likely best not to push it if your dog already has an autoimmune disease.
2. Purina Beyond Recipe Canned Food – Best Value
If you need inexpensive dog food, the Purina Beyond Beef, Potato, and Green Bean Recipe Canned Food is second-to-none. It includes almost exclusively meat products. The first ingredient is beef, which chicken, beef broth, and liver following behind. Potatoes and green beans are also included, but they are lower down on the ingredient list. These veggies also provide your pooch with some natural vitamins and minerals.
Because this food contains so much meat, the protein and fat content are quite high. Since our dogs were bred to live off of mostly protein and fat, this food meets their dietary needs almost entirely. Furthermore, this food is also free of artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Without these extra ingredients, your dog’s liver can have a bit of a break.
You can’t beat this wet dog food for the price. This is the best dog food for autoimmune disease for the money. If you’re on a budget or just looking to save some money, we highly recommend it.
3. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dry Food – Premium Option
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is made with novel protein like buffalo and lamb meal. However, it also includes chicken meal as the third ingredient, which makes it unsuitable for dogs who are allergic to chicken. Still, for all other canines, this dog food should work correctly. It even includes things like eggs and roasted bison, which are high-quality ingredients we can get behind.
This food also includes probiotics. This is helpful for canines who have sensitive stomachs and those on medication. If your pooch is having stomach trouble, this dog food might help them overcome some of their discomforts.
We also loved that this food was high in protein and fat. These are the two macronutrients our dogs need to thrive. Dog food high in these two ingredients is always a good choice.
While this food is good overall, it does include pea protein and potato protein. These are common ingredients used to bolster the protein content of a food without adding more meat. However, vegetable protein is not the same as meat protein. It does not include all of the amino acids our dogs need, making it lower quality.
4. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food
While we aren’t in love with Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food, it isn’t a terrible option for most dogs. The first ingredient is farm-raised beef, and the second ingredient is beef meal. We don’t have a problem with either of these ingredients. They are a good quality source of protein and a variety of nutrients. However, dried peas are used as the third ingredient. Peas may be associated with specific health problems in dogs, according to an ongoing FDA investigation.
The last thing your dog needs is to develop a heart problem on top of autoimmune disease.
This food also isn’t very high in protein or fat. There are quite a few carbohydrates in it, which is precisely what we want for our canines. We would much prefer more protein and fat and far fewer carbohydrates.
On a good note, this food is made with pure and natural ingredients. It contains no artificial flavors or preservatives.
5. Purina ONE Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food
Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food is decently inexpensive. However, it is not our favorite dog food for a couple of different reasons. It does include chicken as the first ingredient, which is a great, high-quality source of protein. However, rice flour is used as the second ingredient. This ingredient hardly contains any nutritional value and is very high in carbohydrates. For lack of a better term, it is a filler ingredient. Furthermore, corn gluten meal and other similar, low-quality ingredients are used throughout the ingredient list.
This food is also low in both protein and fat. It has way too many carbohydrates for our liking, likely because of the inclusion of rice flour high on the ingredient list. Our dogs were made to eat a diet rich in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates, not the other way around.
Because of these two points of contention, we cannot consider this food a high-quality option despite its popularity. You’re better off spending money on our value option above.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Dog Food for Autoimmune Disease
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a great dog food. You need to look at the ingredient list, guaranteed analysis, and nutritional contents before making our final decision. This can seem complicated to the uninitiated. However, with some understanding of canine nutrition, you can easily make dog food decisions like a professional.
In this section, we’ll take a look at some necessary dog nutrition information, as well as some dietary points for those with autoimmune disorders.
When you’re shopping for new dog food, the first thing you should look at. All dogs deserve to eat food that contains high-quality ingredients. However, dogs with autoimmune disorders particularly need high-quality ingredients. This disorder can harm their organs, so you must keep them as healthy as possible.
Whole meat is always preferable. However, meal is also okay as long as it is from a named source. “Chicken meal” is just chicken that has been cooked down to remove most of the moisture content. It is more nutritionally dense than whole meat since the moisture has been removed. Meal is found mostly in dry foods, which need to be lower in moisture.
With that said, “meat meal” is not a high-quality ingredient because it could be anything. You don’t want to feed your pet mystery meat.
You should also consider whether the food is grain-free or not. Grains are fine for most dogs. Whole grains are nutritional and can be a good part of your dog’s diet. However, some dogs are allergic to the protein found in grain, which can cause them to become itchy. Whether or not your canine needs a grain-free food depends on their sensitivity to it.
Today, many dogs have some food allergy. When they eat specific proteins, they become itchy. Often, they scratch their paws so severely that it causes sores. If this goes on for some time, secondary infections can set up. This is the last thing you want when your dog has an autoimmune disease, so it is essential to avoid allergies as much as possible.
Dogs develop allergies after eating the same food for an extended period. For example, if a dog eats nothing but chicken for years, the chance that they’ll develop an allergy to chicken increases. Because of this, dogs are more likely to be allergic to ingredients that are very common in dog food, like chicken and beef.
The best way to avoid allergies is to diversify your pet’s diet. Feed them food that contains a variety of animal protein sources. Change their food every few months. It is best to have a few foods you switch between regularly that all have different sources of protein. You might switch between a chicken food, salmon food, and beef food, for instance.
If your dog already has allergies, you need to avoid their allergen as much as possible. Dogs are only allergic to proteins. So, a dog that is allergic to chicken will not be allergic to chicken fat.
Macronutrients are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. These ingredients make up all food and are required by all animals to thrive. However, different animals need different ratios of macronutrients. When in the wild, an animal’s diet and natural behaviors typically lead to them getting the ratio they need. But, when animals rely on humans to feed them, things can get a bit skewed.
A study published in Behavioral Ecology discovered that dogs need a ratio of 30% protein, 63% fats, and 7% carbohydrates. As you can see, dogs need high amounts of protein and fats with few carbohydrates.
It isn’t easy to find a dog food that matches this ratio even a little bit. Most of the time, dog food formulas are going to be very high in carbohydrates. We recommend getting a food that contains as much protein and fat as you can manage.
Another important note: Sometimes, a food’s protein content can be misleading. Some companies add pea protein or potato protein to their dog food formulas to raise the protein content. However, vegetable protein is not the same as animal protein. It does not include the same amino acids and is not as suitable for dogs.
Be careful when you’re shopping and always look for vegetable protein. Take it into consideration when looking at the protein content.
The FDA DCM Investigation
In 2018, the FDA started investigating a rise in canine dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a severe heart disease in dogs. This investigation eventually found that most dogs affected were eating grain-free dog foods. However, not all grain-free dog foods seemed to cause this heart problem. Instead, it was only dog foods that were grain-free and high in peas, lentils, potatoes, and other legumes.
As of now, we do not know precisely why these ingredients are linked to DCM. Dogs who have developed this disorder usually do not have low taurine blood concentrations. Taurine deficiency is usually linked to DCM since your dog’s body needs taurine to repair the heart.
Some believe that peas and similar ingredients might cause your dog’s body not to absorb or use taurine properly. However, this has not been thoroughly studied yet, and the FDA investigation is ongoing.
In the meantime, you might want to avoid foods with high amounts of peas and potatoes, especially if your dog already has health problems.
Diet and Autoimmune Disease
There is no set-in-stone diet for dogs with autoimmune disease. This disorder is almost always treated with medication. However, you may be able to handle better some of the side effects of medication and symptoms of the disease using diet.
Firstly, medication tends to upset the dogs’ stomachs. An easy way to counteract this side effect is to take care of your pet’s gut. You may want to choose a food with probiotics or limited ingredients, which may calm your pet’s stomach.
Secondly, a diet with plenty of antioxidants may also be helpful. Antioxidants combat free radicals, which can cause more damage to your pet’s body and organs. Our goal is to keep your pet as healthy as possible. Antioxidants can play a role in that.
Thirdly, wholesome food that doesn’t contain unnecessary chemicals may help dogs with certain liver-injuring autoimmune disorders. As you might imagine, unnecessary chemicals can overload your pet’s liver, especially if the autoimmune disease is already harming it.
You should also aim to keep your dog as healthy as possible. Most dogs do fine with autoimmune disorders as long as they remain healthy. Your pet should stay at a healthy weight. You may want to switch to weight-maintenance dog food. However, this is not necessary if your canine is doing fine on a regular dog food formula.
Conclusion: Best Dog Food for Autoimmune Disease
While an autoimmune disease cannot be treated with diet alone, diet can play a role in minimizing the symptoms of this disease. Out of all the dog foods currently available on the market, we preferred the Solid Gold Green Cow Canned Dog Food. This food contains quality ingredients and is high in protein. The added digestive enzymes also help settle your pet’s stomach.
If you need to save some money, Purina Beyond Beef, Potato, and Green Bean Recipe Canned Food is by far the best option. It contains plenty of high-quality meat and protein, on top of being rich in necessary vitamins and minerals.
We hope this article gave you all the information you needed to make the right dog food decision for your pooch.
Related Read: 8 Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics for Dogs
Featured image credit: mattycoulton, Pixabay