Protein hydrolysis is the chemical breakdown (degradation) of proteins to smaller units or hydrolysates that may be peptides or individual amino acids. It occurs by cleavage of peptic bonds that hold proteins together with the help of enzymes or chemicals.
Amino acids are the essential protein building blocks, while peptides are protein fragments made of 50 or fewer amino acids.
Why hydrolyzed dog foods
Food allergies are the third most common type of allergies that dogs suffer from after fleas and environmental allergies. It accounts for about 10% with animal protein sources, including beef, dairy products, fish, chicken, lamb, eggs, pork, and milk, the most common triggers.
However, corn, yeast, or wheat may trigger with glycoproteins they have blamed for the resultant hypersensitivities.
Not to be confused with food intolerance where your pet may have challenges digesting a particular food leading to digestive or gastric distress, bloating, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and so on, food allergies occur as a result of an immune response.
Usually, when a dog eats something they are allergic to, their immunity mistakes the protein as an allergen (harmful or toxic foreign body), triggering an IgE antibody response that causes the various symptoms.
As noted, since proteins, including glycoproteins, are the primary sources of allergies, the main objective of protein hydrolysis is to breakdown the offending protein (one that triggers allergies) into smaller units or hydrolysate that a dog’s immunity system can no longer recognize.
The hydrolyzed protein food is hypoallergenic, meaning that your dog can eat it with minimal chances of him suffering from allergies the protein source would have triggered.
Besides hydrolysis, other ways to manage pet food hypersensitivities include novel protein foods, limited ingredient foods as well as homemade diets. Your vet may recommend other hypoallergenic diets too.
At a glance: Top 4 hydrolyzed protein dog foods and treats picks
|Best Overal||Royal Canin Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP Dry Dog Food||4.9||Check Price|
|Runner’s Up||Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food||4.7||Check Price|
|Best Wet/Canned:||Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Original Skin/Food Sensitivities Canned Dog Food||4.5||Check Price|
|Best for Small Dogs:||Royal Canin Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Small Dog Dry Dog Food||4.6||Check Price|
|Best Treats||Hill’s Prescription Diet Hypo Treats Dog Treats||4.9||Check Price|
Benefits and cons
Some of the benefits of hydrolyzed protein dog diets include the following:
- Reduce the chances of allergies without necessarily having to change the specific protein source, making it easy to provide complete and balanced nutrition.
- They are highly digestible, meaning your pet will absorb them more. Also, these diets will benefit dogs suffering from exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). Not that as affected ones they cannot secrete enough pancreatic enzymes needed for digestion.
- They will reduce the severity of symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in these pets and benefit those suffering from severe enteritis.
- These foods will reduce instances of other allergies since they are hypoallergenic, and most use a single protein source.
- They cost more. Like other prescribed diets, expect to spend more. On average, they are about 30% more expensive.
- Don’t heal sensitivities and no long terms studies on possible side effects of unnaturally converted proteins. Your pet’s body will only not detect them.
- There is a decline of palatability as proteins are broken into smaller units and may end up bitter. Also, they may increase the intestine’s osmolarity. When it occurs, more water is drawn into the alimentary canal, leading to diarrhea.
Symptoms of dog food allergies
Some signs you canine friend may show in case of food allergies include the following:
- Dermatological manifestations – They include skin lesions, irritated skin, and recurring ear infections. Recurring skin infections may also be witnessed. Besides ears, these signs may involve feet, perineal areas, axillary, face, or any part of the body.
- Itchiness, licking and scratching
- GI symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and gas, which are less common
- Wheezing, sneezing, poor growth may occur but less common.
How to choose them?
Some factors you should consider when choosing these foods include:
- They must be complete and balanced, i.e., have ingredients in proportions that match AAFCO’s recommendations as per specific life stage or have undergone successful feeding following AAFCO protocol.
- Have limited ingredients, preferably a single protein source and without any low-quality fillers.
- Shouldn’t have artificial flavors, dyes, preservatives, and etcetera.
- Use carbohydrates from sweet potato, brown rice, white potatoes, or millet as they are less likely to cause allergies.
- High in protein and amino acids to promote healthy skin and coat.
- Manufacturing should occur under strict quality control measures to avoid contamination to ensure they should have only the listed ingredients.
Best hydrolyzed protein dog food reviews
We will consider both the best dry and wet dog foods. An average cup is about 8 ounces and as required by AAFCO, ingredients starting with the most abundant first and in the decreasing order of their abundance.
1. Royal Canin Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP Dry Dog Food
If you have adult and growing dogs suffering food sensitivities, Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Adult HP Dry Dog Food that has hydrolyzed soy protein should be your first choice. It is nutritionally complete and balanced for growth and adult maintenance.
- It is highly palatable, easy to digest, and will diminish the chances of sensitivities.
- The food has ideal levels of vitamin B complex and amino acids to reinforce a skin barrier vital in minimizing skin irritations and sensitivities symptoms.
- It will boost digestion and reduce diarrhea chances, thanks to the added blends of fiber.
- Added DHA and EPA (from omega 3-fatty acids) present will boost not only healthy skin but also a shiny coat.
- Royal Canin has put in place strict manufacturing procedures to prevent cross-contamination occurs.
- Its protein level is a little lower when compared against AAFCO recommended levels for growth and development.
- First ingredients: Brewers rice, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken fat, natural flavors, dried plain beet pulp, monocalcium phosphate, and vegetable oil.
- Calories: 3845 kcal ME/kg or 331kcal ME/cup (calculated).
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein (min): 19.0%, crude fats (min): 17.0%, crude fiber (max): 3.1%, moisture (max): 10.0%. EPA (min): 0.18% and DHA (min): 0.08%. AAFCO doesn’t recognize EPA and DHA.
2. Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Skin/Food Sensitivities Dry Dog Food
Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Canine is another excellent adult dog food meant to help manage adverse reactions to food, sensitivities, or intolerances witnessed when some dogs eat foods.
Otherwise, expect your dog to end up with GI upsets, skin irritations, ear conditions, among other symptoms.
- It will lower the chances of food sensitivities, thanks to the highly hydrolyzed chicken liver and the use of corn starch as the only carbohydrate source.
- It is enriched vitamin E, essential fatty acids, natural fiber, and clinically proven antioxidants.
- The food doesn’t have soy protein, lactose, gluten, as well as artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
- It will support immunity health, create a reinforcing skin barrier, and improve skin and coat condition (visible within 30 days).
- Clinically proven to restore normal stool.
- Promotes urinary healthy and consequently diminishes possibilities of both struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.
- First ingredients: Corn starch, hydrolyzed chicken liver, powdered cellulose, and soybean oil.
- Calorie content: 3569 kcal per kilogram or an equivalent of approximately 354kcal per cup on a dry matter basis
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein: 19.1%, Fats: 14.4%, Carbohydrates or NFE: 56.7%, Crude fiber (max): 4.4%, Calcium: 0.82%, Potassium: 0.82%, Sodium: 0.25%, magnesium: 0.060, vitamin C: 109ppm, vitamin E: 950 IU/Kg, omega-6 fatty acids 4.43%.
3. Royal Canin Canine Ultamino Dry Dog Food
Canine Ultamino is one of the most innovative brands of dry adult dog food whose protein hydrolysis occurs to individual amino acids level. It will serve you well as part of the diet elimination trial as well as feeding your canines suffering from food sensitivities.
- It is clinically proven to reduce food sensitivities to typical protein sources used in dog foods.
- Has peak levels of vitamin B and amino acids help strengthen your dog’s skin barrier.
- Added omega-3 fatty acids provide the much-required EPA and DHA that boost skin and coat health.
- Will calm troublesome stomachs and reduce chances of diarrhea as it has added fiber blends
- It is much more expensive when compared to its dry counterparts.
- First ingredients: Corn starch, hydrolyzed poultry by-products aggregate, coconut oil, vegetable oil, potassium phosphate, natural flavors, and powdered cellulose.
- Calories: It has a calculated calorie value of 3678 kcal ME/kg that translates to 316 kcal ME/cup.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein (min): 16.9%, crude fats (min): 14.5%, crude fiber (max): 4.2%, moisture (max): 10.0%.
4. Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Original Skin/Food Sensitivities Canned Dog Food
Like the dry version, the Diet z/d Original Skin Canned dog is a collaborative effort of Hill’s vets, and nutritionists meant to manage food allergies and deal with some of the resultant symptoms in adult dogs.
- The diet uses a single carbohydrate source and a highly hydrolyzed animal protein source.
- It has an increased level of vitamin E and natural fiber as well as enriched with clinically proven antioxidants as well as essential fatty acids.
- It doesn’t have gluten, lactose, soy protein, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
- Offers urinary health benefits, will return stool to normal, support a healthy skin barrier reinforcement, and boost immunity health.
- Your dog’s coat and skin will visibly be better within a month.
- First ingredients: Water, hydrolyzed chicken liver, corn starch, powdered cellulose, and soybean oil.
- Calorie content: 5.5 oz. (156 g) has 148 kilocalories while the 13 oz. (370 g) can has 352 kcal.
- Guaranteed Analysis: Protein: 20.0%, Fats: 14.1%, Carbohydrates or NFE: 56.2%, Crude fiber (max): 5.0%, Calcium: 0.71%, Phosphorus 0.54%, Potassium: 0.79%, Sodium: 0.31%, magnesium: 0.073, vitamin A: 61535 IU/Kg, vitamin C: 257ppm, vitamin D: 1459 IU/kg, vitamin E: 859 IU/Kg, total omega-3 fatty acids 4.45%, total omega-6 fatty acids 4.43%., Beta-carotene 6.12 ppm, Carnitine 20.6 ppm.
5. Royal Canin Canine Hydrolyzed Protein in Gel Canned Dog Food
Royal Canin Canine Hydrolyzed Protein in Gel Canned Dog Food is an excellent wet food alternative for adult dogs that suffer from sensitivities or allergies related to diet.
- Like other wet foods, it is yummy, more palatable, and easier to digest.
- Protein is hydrolyzed into small units of peptide hydrolysate that your dog’s immunity will not detect as an allergen.
- It has added fiber blends to promote gut health and reduce diarrhea or other stomach upsets.
- No cross-contamination during manufacture
- The added omega-3 fatty acids will provide DHA and EPA for a healthy dog’s skin and coat.
- To minimize skin irritation and sensitivities, Royal Canin adds optimum levels of amino acids as well as B vitamins perfect for skin barrier reinforcement.
- It is costly, a common characteristic of most wet canine foods..
- First ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, pea starch, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed chicken liver, vegetable oil, and powdered cellulose
- Calories (calculated): On as fed basis, the food has 1012 kcal M per kg or a 395 kcal ME per can
- Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min): 5.0%, crude fats (min): 2.5%, crude fiber (max): 2.5%, moisture (max): 76.0%.
6. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Dry Dog Food (Vegetarian)
This therapeutic diet for adult dogs that suffer from adverse reactions to some food is a joint effort of researchers, veterinarians, and nutritionists at Purina.
- The hydrolyzed soy protein isolate is broken down into units that are unlikely to cause food allergies.
- Utilizes high-quality ingredients
- It is great tasting to encourage eating
- The food is highly digestible, something that will boost nutrient absorption
- It has added antioxidants and medium-chain triglycerides (from coconut oil).
- First ingredients: Corn starch, hydrolyzed soy protein isolate, coconut oil, partially hydrogenated canola oil preserved with TBHQ, powdered cellulose.
- Calories: 3695 kcal per kilogram or an equivalent of 314 kcal per cup
- Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein (min): 18.0%, crude fats (min): 8.0%, crude fiber (max): 4.0%, moisture (max): 10.0%, ash (max): 7.0%, Calcium (min): 0.7 and phosphorus (min): 0.6%.
If your dog doesn’t prefer the vegetarian formula, try the New Chicken Formula.
7. Royal Canin Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Small Dog Dry Dog Food
Small or toy dog breeds require smaller kibble to make eating easier. People with adult canines below 22 pounds that suffer from hypersensitivities related to food can take advantage of this Royal Canin brand.
- It will bring down sensitivities that occur from familiar protein sources in dog food.
- It is easy to digest and absorb
- The Relative Supersaturation (RSS) methodology will support urinary health by ensuring an unfavorable environment for struvite and calcium oxalate crystals formation.
- It has smaller kibble sizes that still encourages more chewing to help reduce tartar deposits on your canine’s teeth.
- Features correct ideal levels B vitamin and amino acids for reinforcing your dog’s skin barrier, which helps reduce sensitivity and irritation.
- It costs more compared to foods designed for larger dog breeds.
- First ingredients: Brewers rice, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken fat, natural flavors, vegetable oil, and dried plain beet pulp
- Calculated calories: 3618 kcal ME per kilogram or about 373 kcal ME per cup.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein (min): 22.5%, crude fats (min): 14.5%, crude fiber (max): 2.7%, moisture (max): 10.0%.
8. Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d Canine Small Bites Dog Food Dry Dog Food
Diet z/d Canine Small Bites is a complete and balanced adult maintained canine food specially made for small dog breeds with food and skin sensitivities since it has smaller kibble for tiny mouths and little jaws.
- Highly hydrolyzed proteins will minimize the chances of adverse reactions to food and uses only one carbohydrate source.
- It will improve skin and coat quality with visible results expected after a month and is clinically proven to restore normal stool as well as offers a healthy skin barrier reinforcement and supports immunity health, thanks to the added natural fiber levels, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids, and other nutrients.
- Supports urinary health by reducing calcium oxalates and struvite crystal formation, as evidenced by the S+OXSHIELD seal it bears.
- It doesn’t have soy protein, gluten, lactose, artificial preservatives, flavors, or dyes.
- First ingredients: Corn starch, hydrolyzed chicken liver, powdered cellulose, and soybean oil.
- Calorie content: 3569 kcal/kg or about 374 kcal/cup on a dry matter basis.
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein: 19.1%, Fats: 14.4%, Carbohydrates or NFE: 56.7%, Crude fiber (max): 4.4%, Calcium: 0.82%, Potassium: 0.82%, Sodium: 0.25%, magnesium: 0.060, vitamin C: 109ppm, vitamin E: 950 IU/Kg, taurine 0.13%, and Arginine: 1.27%.
9. Blue Natural Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Dry Dog Food
Blue HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance dog food is one of the possible prescriptions your vet may give you if your dog suffers from food sensitivities. It uses salmon hydrolysate made via enzymatic hydrolysis, concentration, and drying at low temperatures.
- The salmon hydrolysate used is highly digestible and is the only protein source.
- It will reduce possibilities of your dog suffering from adverse allergic reactions caused by common protein sources used in canine diets
- It is grain-free, has no corn, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, artificial flavor, or by-product meals of chicken or poultry.
- First ingredient: Salmon hydrolysate, pea starch, potatoes, peas, pea protein, canola oil (source of omega-6 fatty acids), potato starch, and pea fiber.
- Calorie content: 3,529 Kcals per kg or an equivalent of 368 Kcals per cup
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein (min): 24.0%, crude fats (min): 12.0%, crude fiber (max): 5.0%, moisture (max): 10.0%, Calcium (min): 0.7% and phosphorus (min): 0.5%, soluble fiber (min) 1.0%, Omega-3 fatty acids (min): 1.5%, Omega-6 fatty acids (min): 2.0% and ascorbic acid: 100 mg/kg min.
Ascorbic acid is a source of vitamin C. AAFCO does not recognize soluble fiber, omega-3, and -6 fatty acids as well as ascorbic acid as essential nutrients.
10. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Chicken Flavor Canine Formula
Doesn’t your dog not like the Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets dry formulas? Consider switching to this canned chicken formula. It will provide all the required nourishment as required by AAFCO for growing puppies as well as all adult dogs, including large ones weighing 70 pounds or over.
- The highly hydrolyzed protein used minimizes any chances of severe reactions common in affected dogs.
- Utilizes only a single source of protein
- Enriched with antioxidants which have immunity benefits
- Highly palatable and tastes yummy
- Has coconut oil to provide medium-chain triglycerides.
- You will spend more per day.
- First ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, pea starch, hydrolyzed chicken liver, hydrolyzed soy protein isolate, powdered cellulose, dicalcium phosphate, and coconut oil.
- Calories: The food has 905 kcal/kg or 341 kcal per 13.3 oz. (377g) can on as fed basis.
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein (min): 5.0%, crude fats (min): 2.0%, crude fiber (max): 3.5%, moisture (max): 78.0%, ash (max): 3.0%, Calcium (min): 0.27 and phosphorus (min): 0.22%
Best hydrolyzed protein dog treats
If you have switched to hydrolyzed diets, don’t forget treats, as they could be the cause of allergic reactions if not hypoallergenic, and for this case, have hydrolyzed protein.
Note that treats shouldn’t exceed 10% of your dog’s calorific intake. Also, don’t forget to reduce their usual diets accordingly, depending on the amounts of treats given to avoid weight gain.
Some good brands to buy include the following:
1. Hill’s Prescription Diet Hypo Treats Dog Treats
Just because your dog has skin and food sensitivities doesn’t mean you do away with treats. Instead, buy the Diet Hypo Treats Dog Treats with using hydrolyzed proteins or any other suitable hypoallergenic brands.
- It will minimize or get rid of an allergic reaction to food.
- The higher omega-3 fatty acids 0.13% and omega-6 fatty acids (3.19%) will boost your dog’s skin and coat health.
- Promotes a urinary environment that will reduce chances struvite & calcium oxalate crystals
- First ingredients: Corn Starch, hydrolyzed chicken liver, powdered cellulose, soybean oil, and dicalcium phosphate.
- Calorific value: 3486 kcal per kg or 17.4 kcal per treat
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein: 17.7%, Fats: 11.5%, Carbohydrates or NFE: 61.5%, Crude fiber (max): 4.9%, Calcium: 0.67%, Potassium: 0.61%, Sodium: 0.19%, magnesium: 0.056, vitamin C: 165ppm, vitamin E: 805 IU/Kg, total omega 3 fatty acids: 0.37% and total omega-6 fatty acids: 3.19% on dry matter basis.
AAFCO doesn’t recognize omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.
2. Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Canine Treats
These hypoallergenic adult dog treats made with hydrolyzed soy will help canines with food sensitivities, including during a food elimination trial.
- It will minimize or eliminate the threat and food sensitivities, thanks to the hydrolyzed soy formulation.
- It will benefit your dog’s urinary health, i.e., the Relative Supersaturation (RSS) methodology approach ensures a urinary environment that prevents the formation of both calcium oxalate and struvite crystals.
- Offers skin barrier reinforcement to deal with resultant food allergies skin symptoms.
- First ingredients: Brewers rice, hydrolyzed soy protein, chicken fat, natural flavors, vegetable oil, and dried plain beet pulp.
- Calories: 3632 kcal ME per kg or 5.8 kcal ME/treats (calculated)
- Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein (min): 22.0%, crude fats (min): 14.0%, crude fiber (max): 2.6%, moisture (max): 10.0%.
3. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Gentle Snackers Canine Treats
Dogs with sensitive GI or sensitivities to certain proteins can benefit from these crunchy treats whose manufacture utilizes the same science used to make Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Canine Formula.
- Will minimize chances of GI tract or food sensitivity related reactions.
- Easy to digest (highly digestible)
- The stay-fresh pouch used will ensure they remain fresh for a longer time.
- First ingredients: starch, hydrolyzed soy protein isolate, vegetable oil, dicalcium phosphate, oat fiber, and powdered cellulose.
- Calories: 15.2 kcal per treat as fed.
- Guaranteed analysis: Protein: 16.0%, Fats: 7.5%, Crude fiber (max): 5.0% and moisture (max) :12.0%