The Top 10 Best Dog Food For Shedding (2020 Buying Guide)

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

Dogs shed. That’s just how it is! We all want our pets to be healthy and happy, and it’s no secret that a happy pet means a happy dog mom or dad too, so making sure your dog has a healthy skin and coat is essential.

If dogs shed too much, it can lead to excessive fur loss and dry, itchy skin, both of which make for an uncomfortable, unhappy pup. Feeding your pup the best dog food for shedding can combat these.

Shedding and dry skin go hand in paw, so if your dog is suffering from one, the other is likely to pop up as well.

Your dog’s diet can go a long way to providing some relief from these conditions if you choose the best dog food for skin and coat.

Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food Recipes, Salmon, 4 Pound
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Grain Chicken Dog Food 10 lb - Revel
Rating
Our Rating 89 / 100
Our Rating 87 / 100
Our Rating 86 / 100
Pro 1
Natural ingredients, containing no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
Contains glucosamine, which strengthens joints
Organic ingredients
Pro 2
Great Omega-3 and -6 for skin and coat health
Contains “LifeSource Bits” – a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
Good protein and fat content
Best Overall For Most Dogs
Rank
Ranked #1
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Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food Recipes, Salmon, 4 Pound
Rating
Our Rating 89 / 100
Pro 1
Natural ingredients, containing no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
Pro 2
Great Omega-3 and -6 for skin and coat health
Best For Sensitive Dogs
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
Rating
Our Rating 87 / 100
Pro 1
Contains glucosamine, which strengthens joints
Pro 2
Contains “LifeSource Bits” – a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
Best For Seniors
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Organic Grain Chicken Dog Food 10 lb - Revel
Rating
Our Rating 86 / 100
Pro 1
Organic ingredients
Pro 2
Good protein and fat content
Sources researched
35
Sources researched
Customer reviews
21,000
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
30
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested

Best Dog Food For Shedding

Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best For Large Breeds: Has glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints

Overall Rating89%
Ingredient Quality95%
Protein Quality90%
Digestability85%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Natural ingredients, containing no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
  • Great Omega-3 and -6 for skin and coat health
  • Good vitamins and minerals
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints

CONS

  • Slightly more expensive than others
  • A little high in calories, so be cautious when calculating how much your dog needs
  • Most likely not suitable for small breeds

This dry dog food from Merrick is a premium dog food made from quality ingredients.

No grains are present, and they use good protein, vitamins and minerals, and Omega fatty acid sources. It is high in protein, sitting at 34%, and with 383 calories per cup.

This dog food would be best for large breed pups, and mediums who are quite active. It also contains great numbers of Omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids, one of the highest we’ve reviewed for skin and coat health.

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Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids 

This dog food has one of the highest levels of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids that we’ve reviewed. Omega-6 comes in at 4%, while Omega-3 sits at 1%.

The sources of these include salmon and whitefish, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and sunflower oil. This makes it a great choice for active large breeds with excessive shedding or skin problems, as it should help nourish and soften fur and skin to provide some relief from excessive shedding.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

Best With Chicken: Delicious chicken to combat excessive shedding

Overall Rating87%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Quality90%
Digestability85%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Very good Omegas
  • Contains glucosamine, which strengthens joints
  • Good vitamins and minerals
  • Contains “LifeSource Bits” – a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

CONS

  • Not suitable dog food for pets with a sensitivity to poultry (contains chicken meal)
  • Contains grains (although they are the good ones), so some dogs may be sensitive to it

This would be a great dog food for shedding pups who aren’t sensitive to poultry or grains (although the grains in this one are the good kind).

It promotes healthy skin and improves coat health. It’s also slightly lower in protein than some, which makes it the best dog kibble for dogs who may be on a low-protein diet. Added vitamins and minerals also promote healthy skin.

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Hidden Poultry Ingredients 

Although it’s not a complete no-no to have chicken in dog foods aimed at reducing shedding, it is one of the most common ingredients that pets are allergic to.

In foods that have flavors other than chicken, poultry ingredients can sneak in later down the ingredient list as chicken meal. Of course, your pet may have no issue with chicken, so if he or she can tolerate it then there’s no reason they shouldn’t try this natural, high-quality food. 

Honest Kitchen Human-Grade Organic Dehydrated Dog Food

Best For Senior Dogs: Works great for active seniors

Overall Rating86%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Quality75%
Digestability90%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Contributes to hydration
  • Good protein and fat content
  • Organic ingredients
  • Very easy to prepare

CONS

  • Quite high in calories
  • Contains grains, so it may not be suitable for dogs with sensitivities to them
  • Doesn’t contain as many fatty acids as others

We love the great quality ingredients in this dog food.

They’re dehydrated, which keeps the nutrition locked in and stays fresh for longer. The only downside is that it is somewhat lower in essential fatty acids than others, which is not ideal for the best dog food for shedding.

You may not see as drastic an improvement in your pup’s skin and coat as with other dog foods, but it would be the best dog food for active seniors who have mild shedding problems.

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Seniors or Brachycephalic Dogs 

As dogs get older, they can start to suffer from dental issues which makes it tough for them to crunch hard dog foods like they used to. Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced or short-nosed dogs) can have the same problems, due to their mouths and teeth being cramped and sometimes a little deformed.

This human-grade dog food takes away that problem and allows these pups to eat a wholesome, healthy meal without the struggle. If you have a brachy or a senior who suffers from excessive shedding, this dog food would be a super option for them. 

Instinct Original Grain-Free Wet Dog Food

Best Wet Food: For senior dogs who can’t handle kibble anymore

Overall Rating86%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Quality80%
Digestability90%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • No chicken or poultry ingredients
  • Single source protein
  • No carrageenan
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors

CONS

  • High calorie
  • Not suitable for most dogs as their only meal

The best dog kibble might not be suitable for those dogs who can’t chew it easily, no matter how wholesome it is. We’ve reviewed a wet dog food on this list as well, as the best dog food for seniors.

If you have a senior who can’t handle kibble anymore, then you may have to transition them over to a wet dog food. It can also be used as a kibble-topper for young, healthy dogs who may get bored or fussy.

Adding to your pup’s dry dog food will give them an extra dose of vitamins and minerals, as well as a bit of extra hydration. This can help moisturize the skin and keep fur soft and healthy, meaning less shedding overall. Just be careful of the extra calories.

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Carrageenan In Wet Foods 

Carrageenan features in many wet dog foods. Its purpose is to thicken the food but it’s actually indigestible and has zero nutritional value. It can contribute to food allergies.

There are natural alternatives such as guar gum that are much better, and this dog food from Instinct makes sure there are no bad quality ingredients in their food that could worsen skin and coat health.  

Wellness Simple Natural Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best Low Protein: Single source of protein to keep protein count down

Overall Rating86%
Ingredient Quality85%
Protein Quality85%
Digestability85%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Single source protein
  • Good Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
  • Formulated to reduce food allergies
  • Easily digestible

CONS

  • Contains grains (although they are the good ones), so if your dog is sensitive to them this may not be for them

Sometimes, excessive shedding can be a side effect of other health concerns.

If your dog has health problems that require them to be on a low-protein diet, this dry dog food would be great to keep their protein count down and still get a great dose of essential fatty acids to keep skin moisturized and fur soft.

It’s formulated specially to reduce allergies, which helps quite a lot to reduce shedding as it limits the ingredients that could contribute to dry skin and fur while keeping the Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids at a good level.

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Chelated Minerals 

Vitamins and minerals are important additions to foods, and it may not be quite apparent to you where they are on the ingredient list. Minerals that are chelated have been bonded to an organic molecule (usually an amino acid) through a process called chelation.

This process actually happens in your dog’s digestion, but creating the mineral already chelated makes it easier to digest.

Instinct Be Natural Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best With Grains: Great vitamin and mineral additions

Overall Rating85%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Quality80%
Digestability85%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Great vitamin and mineral additions
  • Minimal processing
  • No low-quality grains
  • Poultry-free recipe

CONS

  • Slightly higher calories than most

This dry dog food from Instinct contains some good grains (brown rice, oatmeal, and barley), and although these grains are gluten-free, if your pup has demonstrated a sensitivity to one of them it may be best to go for something else.

If your dog is healthy and tolerant of grains, though, they add a great source of fiber and energy-packed carbs to this dog food.

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Raw Coated Kibble 

As Instinct is very big on raw diets, this kibble has a freeze-dried raw coating. This is a great dog food to buy if you want to introduce your dog to a fully raw diet sometime in the future, to begin transitioning them to raw. 

Natural Balance LID Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient: For dogs who are prone to allergies

Overall Rating84%
Ingredient Quality85%
Protein Quality80%
Digestability85%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Great fatty acid sources from fish oil
  • No artificial ingredients, preservatives, or colors
  • Affordable
  • Grain-free formula

CONS

  • Protein content is a little low (21%)
  • Fatty acid numbers are a little low
  • There have been reports of the food having a strong fish smell

A limited ingredient diet is a fantastic idea for dogs who are prone to allergies or developing allergies to certain ingredients.

This particular food is one of the best dog food for shedding due to its great fatty acid sources from fish oil, including DHA.

Salmon, Menhaden fish meal, and salmon oil make up the protein content and all three of these are also great fatty acid sources, along with canola oil and flaxseed. The actual numbers are low compared to some other foods, but the nutrient list also shows DHA as a separate essential fatty acid, which isn’t included in many foods.

This has many functions, one of which is fighting inflammation in the skin. This food would be great for dogs who have dry, itchy skin and suffer from food allergies. 

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Lower Protein Content 

According to AAFCO, dog foods need between 18 and 24% protein on average, so 21% may not necessarily be seen as being very low. It is perfectly adequate, even though most dog foods tend to have between 24 and 30%.

Of course, more active dogs will do better with a higher protein count, as will puppies and large breeds. Sometimes, though, a vet will recommend something a little lower protein, and this food would be perfect for those dogs on a limited or lower protein diet. 

Stella & Chewy’s Surf ‘n Turf Dinner Patties

Best Raw Food: Can alleviate and even eliminate allergies

Overall Rating83%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Quality75%
Digestability85%
Calorie Count80%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • No chicken or poultry products
  • Good protein sources
  • Organic fruits and vegetables
  • Minimally processed

CONS

  • High in protein (44% per patty)
  • May not be suitable for all dogs as it contains organs, cartilage, and bone

Dogs who suffer from allergies can sometimes benefit from a “biologically appropriate” diet, which means eating what they would have eaten in the wild.

This includes things like animal organs, blood, and bone, which may sound awful to us humans, but can be quite beneficial to a dog. Stella & Chewy’s is high on the list of the greatest dog food for shedding because it’s packed with amino acids and Omegas.

For some pups, a raw diet can be the best dog diet around. It has the potential to alleviate and even eliminate allergies entirely. If your pup has reacted badly to more than one commercial dog foods, or their skin and coat problems have not improved, give Stella & Chewy’s a try. 

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Why Raw? 

The logic behind a raw diet is that once upon a time, wild pups would eat raw meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, as well as raw vegetables and fruits found in nature.

Being minimally processed is a key feature of these dog foods, which preserves the integrity of the ingredients. Raw nutrition also tends to be one of the best dog food for skin and coat.

Raw diets have been said to drastically improve health in many cases, so if your pup is one who has many food sensitivities, it may be worth seeing how they do on a minimally-processed, raw food diet. 

Taste of The Wild Grain-Free Premium Food

Best For Digestibility: Contains species-specific probiotics

Overall Rating82%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein Quality85%
Digestability85%
Calorie Count80%
Affordability70%

PROS

  • Very good nutritional content
  • Great Omega-3 and -6 for healthy skin and coat
  • Easily digestible
  • Contains species-specific probiotics

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Buying from sellers other than the company can result in lower-quality food (some sellers “fake” the food to lower costs)

This food has great protein and fat numbers – not too high and not too low, at 25% and 15% respectively.

It has some really nice protein sources that also contribute to the Omega-3 and -6 fatty acid content, which is great for dogs with brittle or dry fur and skin. There’s a nice dose of vitamins and minerals in there too, which will go a long way towards keeping your pup’s hair and skin healthy as they help with cell rejuvenation.

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Salmon Protein 

The fact that this food has only fish as its protein sources makes a big difference.

Fish is naturally a little higher in oil than other proteins, giving this food an advantage already, as your protein source and fatty acid sources overlap. The Omega-3 and -6 numbers are higher than many others, which is great for dogs with skin allergies as it means the coat and skin should get enough nourishment to keep healthy and smooth. 

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Recipe Dog Food

Best Multi-Protein: Various protein sources

Overall Rating82%
Ingredient Quality80%
Protein Quality80%
Digestability80%
Calorie Count85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Good protein count (26%)
  • Various animal protein sources, but avoids chicken
  • Good vitamin and mineral content
  • Grain-free recipe

CONS

  • Despite the protein content, real meat is not the first ingredient
  • Fewer sources of essential fatty acids than other foods

This food contains multiple sources of animal protein, which is not a problem at all as long as your dog has no allergies to any of them.

They do avoid chicken, which is helpful as it’s the most common meat allergen. Their first ingredient is pork meal, which isn’t real meat but it’s high in protein and quite healthy and easily digestible.

They are fairly limited ingredient and should work great for dogs with more sensitive tummies who have mild shedding problems.

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Essential Fatty Acids 

Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are present in this food in the form of pork fat and salmon oil.

The content details are not shown on the guaranteed analysis list, but we can assume it’s a little less than other dog foods as the sources are fewer.

If your pet’s shedding is severe, this may not be the best food for them. If they have light shedding or dry skin that comes and goes with the seasons or weather, this food would be a good option.


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria 1 – Ingredient Quality

As always, this is the first thing to look at in dog foods. Dogs foods with natural, wholesome, quality ingredients are more easily digested and far more nutrient-dense than anything artificial. 

Animal protein, real meat, and fruits and vegetables are great. Gluten should be avoided, but healthy grains are okay.

Poultry is an ingredient that many pets react badly to, so it’s best to try to stick to other animal protein sources. Often, poultry can sneak into the ingredient list even if the main meat source is something different.

Avoiding meat by-products (bone, blood, offal) is another quality we checked for in the best dog food for shedding.

Criteria 2 – Fatty Acid Content

Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are healthy fat sources that go a long way towards keeping your pup’s coat shiny and their skin healthy and supple. 

Fatty acids play an important role in the building and maintenance of cells in the body, so it’s essential to have healthy sources in foods. Salmon and salmon oil are two of the best sources of Omega-3, and have a nice dose of protein too!

Other things on an ingredient list that get a thumbs up include fish oil, canola oil, flaxseed, and animal fats (with the exception of chicken in this case, as we are avoiding common allergens). It’s important to contain a good balance of both, and the AAFCO standard is a maximum Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 30:1. 

Feeding your pup the best dog food for a healthy skin can help them shed a lot less. The fatty acids make a big difference to a healthy skin so we’ve made sure these foods contain a decent amount.

Criteria 3 – Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have a wide range of symptoms, and can definitely contribute to shedding, itching, and dry skin. It’s essential to make sure that the best dog food for shedding has a dose from a natural, healthy source. 

Many vitamins can be found in whole foods, and others are added later to the food. The less processed a food is, the more vitamins are likely to retain their properties.

The essentials for dog foods are vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. All of them contribute towards a healthy skin and coat.

Criteria 4 – Digestability

This refers to the percentage of the food that is absorbed and utilized by the body once ingested. It goes without saying that if more is being excreted than is being absorbed, it’s likely a low-quality food! 

This info is not readily available on food packaging or websites, but the health and wellbeing of the dogs eating the food gives a good indication of how digestible it is. Stool quality is another good sign of how digestible a food is.

Naturally, the more good stuff going into your pup’s body to be used for various functions, the better. Grains can be hard to absorb, so grain-free is usually more easily digested, although this depends largely on your dog’s disposition.

Criteria 5 – Affordability

Great, healthy nutrition doesn’t have to cost a fortune! While buying the best food for your dog is important if you want him to be happy and strong, it’s also not always possible to get top of the range products on a consistent basis. 

There are, however, high-quality foods out there that don’t cost an arm and a paw. The foods we’ve reviewed are high-quality, and vary in affordability so we’ve made an effort to make sure there’s something for everyone on this list. 


Questions & Answers

How much shedding is normal?

The amount of shedding that is considered normal varies by breed, health, and also sometimes by season (winter coats are shed in spring). Long-haired breeds like Golden Retrievers are naturally going to lose more hair than short-haired ones like chihuahuas.

While it’s hard to get specific about how much shedding is normal, there are some things that indicate normal hair-loss. It should happen quite evenly, with the possible exception of heavy shedding in spring. You should pay attention to your pet and how heavily they shed from the beginning, so that you’re aware of changes. If there are any drastic changes in the amount of hair your pet is losing, then it may be cause for concern.

What causes excessive shedding?

If you’ve noticed that your pet is suddenly losing more fur than usual, there can be a few reasons for it. An imbalanced diet is a common factor, as are allergies, using the wrong shampoo, stress, skin parasites, hormonal imbalances, and underlying diseases. If this is something that has popped up suddenly, make sure to take your pup to the vet to find out exactly what lies beneath the issue. 

It’s also important to remember that shedding can have as much to do with the skin as it does with the fur. The skin is an organ, and if there is an issue with it, that can affect other areas too. It’s a good idea to carefully analyze your pet’s lifestyle to try and get an idea of what is causing excessive shedding.

When is the time to go see a vet?

While shedding is a normal thing, when it becomes excessive or abnormal it could be due to a poor diet. It’s a good idea to take a trip to the vet to get a better idea of what’s behind it.

If your pet starts shedding noticeably more than usual, sheds only on certain parts of their body, loses fur in clumps, reacts badly to being touched or held, or begins to have discoloration on the skin, it’s time to get them examined by a veterinarian. 

If your pup has one or more of the above symptoms, and is also experiencing changes in appetite, excessive thirst or urination, vomiting, and unusual tiredness, it’s likely that there is something more behind it that can be helped by a visit to the vet.

Can food actually help to reduce shedding?

It can! One of the primary reasons for excessive or abnormal shedding is your dog’s diet being imbalanced and unhealthy. Dog foods containing artificial stuff, low-quality fillers, and common allergens increase the likelihood of bad coat health and your dog’s skin being dry.

The nutrients found in raw, natural ingredients contribute to overall health and wellness, as well as being far more easily digestible. Choosing the best dog food for skin and coat will help a lot with your dog’s shedding problems.

Keep in mind though, that shedding is natural and cannot be avoided totally, so while switching your furry friend’s to the best dog food for shedding may help reduce excessive shedding, it won’t get rid of it entirely.

What are the key characteristics of a dog food made to reduce shedding or skin irritations?

A dog food made to reduce shedding or relieve skin irritation contains a decent protein count (from high-quality protein sources, preferably real meat), real vegetables or fruit for easy-to-digest carbohydrates, good quality ingredients containing essential Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals.

This mix of essential ingredients is best to promote health, nourish the skin and fur, and keep the immune system strong. Of course, the food should also steer clear of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

How do I properly transition my dog to the new food?

Changing your pet’s food all in one go can be confusing for them and cause digestive upset, so it’s best to transition them over to the new one slowly. 

On day one, add little of the new food in with his normal food. Over the course of the next few days, gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food.

It should take 7 to 10 days for your dog to be eating the new food without any bits of the old one. If at any point he has a negative reaction, stop feeding the new food and check with your vet to make sure.

Can I shave my dog to stop shedding?

Grooming is the other crucial part of maintaining a healthy coat and skin. Brushing your pet regularly will not only get rid of loose hair, but will also give you the opportunity to notice any changes in your pet’s coat and skin condition. 

While cutting your pup’s hair nice and short in the summer can be helpful, shaving them bald is never a good idea. Their coats are designed to protect their skin from the environment, so if you get rid of your pup’s hair, you’re leaving their skin open to sun damage, contact dermatitis, and infections.

Giving them a close-cut trim can reduce shedding, but nothing can get rid of it entirely. Dogs shed, and you’ll never get rid of it completely. If dog hair is a big problem for you, a dog may not be the best companion for you! 

Your best bet is feeding them the best dog food for healthy skin and coat and keeping them clean and brushed.