7 Best Dog Foods for Ear Infections in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks


Did you know that food allergies may cause itchy ears? Dogs who develop chronic ear infections may be experiencing an allergic reaction to an ingredient in their food, such as chicken, beef, or grains. Certain breeds such as cocker spaniels are more genetically predisposed to ear infections than others. There are also a variety of possible causes1 not related to diet, such as bacteria, fungi, or a trapped foreign object. However, diet is the easiest variable in your dog’s life to tweak and see if they can get some relief.

We picked seven allergen-friendly foods to review for dogs who need some extra anti-inflammatory support. Note: you don’t necessarily have to buy an expensive diet that’s marketed for dogs with allergies. You really just need to know what ingredients to avoid (check out our buyer’s guide) and pick the best choice according to your budget and your dog’s taste.

A Quick Glance at Our Winners of 2022

The 7 Best Dog Foods for Ear Infections

1. JustFoodForDogs Turkey Whole Wheat Macaroni Recipe – Best Overall

JustFoodForDogs Turkey & Whole Wheat Macaroni

Main ingredients: Ground turkey, whole wheat macaroni, broccoli, zucchini, carrots
Protein content: 10%
Fat content: 4%
Calories: 1741 kcal ME/kg

JustFoodForDogs Turkey Whole Wheat Macaroni is our overall best dog food for ear infections because it’s a human-grade formula that uses turkey as the single meat source instead of a common protein allergen such as chicken or beef. It also manages to be grain-inclusive, which is relatively rare for fresh dog food, and it’s the cheapest recipe by JustFoodForDogs.

Fish oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory ingredient to boost your dog’s immune system and nourish their skin and coat. The nutrient blend provides some extra anti-inflammatory support by including beneficial vitamins such as vitamin B12, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.

This recipe is certified by the AAFCO to meet the dietary standards for maintenance, meaning this food shouldn’t be given to puppies under one years old. While it won’t hurt them, it also won’t provide all the nutrients they need to grow. The description on JustFoodForDogs labels this formula as “perfect for large breeds,” but any adult dog can eat this food. Some reviewers note how their chihuahua adores this recipe!

Although this food is more pricey than dry food, it’s relatively cheap for a fresh food subscription service, which is one of the main reasons it’s our overall favorite. You can buy Turkey Whole Wheat Macaroni on the website for JustFoodForDogs or on Chewy. Both websites have a one-time purchase or AutoShip option if you decide to make this your pup’s main fare.

  • Turkey is the single protein source
  • Grain-inclusive
  • One of the cheapest fresh food recipes
  • Beneficial blend of vitamins and minerals
  • Available on Chewy or the website for Just Food for Dogs
  • Not formulated for puppies
  • More expensive than dry food

2. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin + Stomach — Best Value

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin + Stomach Salmon + Rice Formula

Main ingredients: Salmon, Barley, Rice, Oat Meal, Canola Meal
Protein content: 26% min
Fat content: 16% min
Calories: 4,049 kcal ME/kg

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice is the best dog food for ear infections for the money because it’s a high-quality kibble for a low cost. Salmon is the main ingredient, which is a good choice for pups with allergies, but be aware that this recipe does contain beef fat. Thankfully, it is chicken-free.

Oats and barley are healthy grains that provide your pet with beneficial fiber. Fish oil is included further down the ingredients list, adding even more omega oils. We like how Purina’s Fortiflora probiotic blend is included in this food because probiotics can help your pet fight inflammation and bad bacteria that cause ear infections from the inside. It even includes prebiotic fiber, which helps probiotics to form naturally in your dog’s gut. This formula does an excellent job of eliminating allergies while strengthening your dog’s immune system with probiotics and vitamin supplements.

This food is formulated for adults only, so you’ll need to find another option if your pup is under a year old. It also packs on quite a lot of calories and fats compared to the other foods we reviewed, so it might not be a great choice for senior dogs or canines who struggle to maintain an appropriate weight.

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach is available on Chewy and might even be in your local pet store since it’s made by a popular brand. We enthusiastically recommend this food as our best value choice.

  • Salmon is the main protein source
  • Features Purina Fortiflora probiotics
  • Contains prebiotic fibers
  • Available on Chewy
  • Inexpensive, high-quality dry kibble
  • Not formulated for all life stages
  • High calorie
  • Contains beef fat, which isn’t good for dogs who might be allergic to beef

3. JustFoodForDogs Fish & Sweet Potato Recipe – Premium Choice

Main ingredients: Cod, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Green Beans, Broccoli
Protein content:  7% min
Fat content:  2% min
Calories: 922 kcal ME/kg

Fish & Sweet Potato is another great recipe by JustFoodForDogs that’s an excellent choice for pups with allergies. Featuring cod as the single protein source, this formula is a limited ingredient diet that gives your dog the delicious nutrition they need to thrive without possible allergens such as chicken or grains.

We also like how this is one of two recipes by JustFoodForDogs that’s AAFCO-certified for all life stages. Unlike Turkey and Whole Wheat Macaroni, which was just certified for maintenance, Fish & Sweet Potato is certified for maintenance and growth, meaning you can confidently feed it to your new puppy. Both formulas are available on Chewy and the website for JustFoodForDogs.

This formula is a little more expensive than Turkey and Whole Wheat Macaroni, which is why it’s our premium choice. While your pup may benefit from grain-free, talk to your vet to see if they really need to skip the grains before you switch their food. New studies2 reveal that grain-free diets may be harmful, so you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons.

  • Cod is an excellent protein choice
  • Limited ingredients
  • Formulated for all life stages
  • Available on Chewy and Just Food for Dogs
  • Grain-free
  • More expensive than some

4. The Farmer’s Dog Pork Recipe — Best for Puppies

The Farmer's Dog Pork Recipe

Main ingredients:  USDA Pork, Sweet Potato, Potato, Green Beans, Cauliflower
Protein content: 9%
Fat content: 7%
Calories: 1370 kcal per kg

While not specifically puppy food, The Farmer’s Dog Pork Recipe is certified by the AAFCO for all life stages so your dog can enjoy this recipe no matter how old (or young) they are. Pork is an inexpensive novel protein that’s not as likely to cause an allergic reaction as chicken or beef.

Salmon oil and the nutrient blend are healthy supplements for an anti-inflammatory diet. We also appreciate how all of the ingredients are human-grade, and the food is slowly cooked and quickly frozen in a facility that also produces human food, which keeps the company accountable for the quality.

You can try a sample or start your subscription at the website for The Farmer’s Dog. Their food isn’t available on Chewy or in stores. This food is also grain-free, which can be great if your pet is allergic to grains but may not be beneficial otherwise. Giving your dog grain-free food could result in a loss of nutrition and even be correlated to heart disease2, so talk to your vet first before switching.

  • AAFCO certified for all life stages
  • Pork is the main protein source
  • Anti-inflammatory supplements such as salmon oil and nutrient blend
  • Human-grade
  • Grain-free
  • Not available on Chewy or in stores

5. Nom Nom Turkey Fare – Vet’s Choice

nomnom_dog bowl_turkey_square

Main ingredients: Ground turkey, brown rice, eggs, carrots, spinach
Protein content: 10% min
Fat content: 5% min
Calories: 1,479 kcal/kg

Nom Nom Fresh offers a fantastic recipe with turkey as the main ingredient. Our vets like this food because it’s a limited ingredient diet that isn’t grain-free. Even better, Nom Nom was super selective in the grain they chose to include, which is great for dogs with allergy concerns. The brown rice provides an excellent source of fiber for dogs with none of the gluten that may bother them. We also like how spinach is one of the main vegetables because it’s loaded with antioxidants.

The nutrient supplement is about as good as it gets, including fish oil and three different B vitamins. It also includes zinc, vitamin E, and several other helpful vitamins and minerals.

Like all recipes by Nom Nom, Turkey Fare is human-grade and ships to your door from their website. It’s not available on Chewy or in stores and may be more expensive than some choices.

  • Turkey is the main ingredient
  • Brown rice provides the grain without the gluten
  • Contains fish oil
  • Excellent vitamin blend
  • Not available on Chewy or in stores
  • Generally more expensive than dry food

6. Fromm Pork & Applesauce Formula

Fromm Pork & Applesauce Formula

Main ingredients: Pork, pork meat & bone meal, oat groats, pearled barley, pork liver
Protein content: 24% min
Fat content: 14% min
Calories: 3,613 kcal/kg

This is one of the highest quality dry foods we can find on a budget. It’s even certified by the AAFCO for all life stages! We just wish it was on Chewy. While you might find it in certain pet stores, you might have to order it from their website if yours doesn’t carry it.

Fromm Pork & Applesauce Formula takes carefully selected ingredients and crafts a top-quality food that’s free from common meat protein allergens such as chicken or beef. Different cuts of pork provide protein and salmon oil gives this food some healthy fats. We appreciate that this formula is made with carefully selected ingredients that don’t skimp on the grains, such as the hearty oats and barley.

While this isn’t a grain-free food, it does contain some ingredients that were flagged as potentially harmful ingredients in the FDA grain-free food study, including potatoes and peas. However, this food is probably less risky than grain-free formulas because those ingredients are further down the list, with healthy meats, grains, and fats taking the lead. We also like how this food includes a probiotic3 supplement because gut health can affect overall health. Probiotics may also combat harmful bacteria that cause ear infections.

  • Contains healthy grains
  • Inexpensive
  • AAFCO certified for all life stages
  • Pork and salmon are allergen-friendly
  • Probiotic supplement may help prevent ear infections
  • Contains potatoes and peas
  • Only available on Fromm’s website and select pet stores

7. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-free Adult Dry Food

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Sensitive Support with Real Salmon + Lentils Grain-free Adult Dry Dog Food

Main ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Dried Potatoes, Lentils, Chickpeas
Protein content: 20% min
Fat content: 14% min
Calories: 3,702 kcal/kg

This food is a truly hypoallergenic, cheap food that doesn’t skimp on quality. Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet doesn’t include chicken, beef, corn, soy, wheat, or grains—all of which have been marked as dog allergens. In addition, Nutro promises to be non-GMO and human-grade, meaning your dog won’t be eating any genetically altered kibble or inconspicuous 3-D meats. Because it’s a dry food, this food is cheaper than other human-grade formulas that are typically dehydrated or fresh-frozen.

We like salmon as the protein choice because it’s not only relatively safe for allergies but a good food staple for an anti-inflammatory diet. The rich fish oils nourish your pup’s skin and coat and calm their immune system’s overactive response to allergens.

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet is available on Chewy and can be found in pet stores and some supermarkets. We like the multiple buying options because it’s easy to add to an autoship order or pick up while you’re in town or traveling.

While we understand some dogs may need a grain-free diet, we don’t necessarily recommend it unless medically required. A 2018 study2 by the FDA linked grain-free diets—as well as common grain-free diet ingredients such as lentils, potatoes, and peas—to canine dilated cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal disease that weakens the heart. Talk to your veterinarian to see if they think a grain-free diet outweighs the risk for your pup.

  • Salmon is the single source of meat
  • Non-gmo
  • Cheaper than most human-grade foods
  • Available on Chewy or in stores

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Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Dog Food for Ear Infections

Since some ear infections are caused by allergy flare-ups, you might be able to reduce your dog’s symptoms by buying them allergen-friendly dinners. When shopping for an allergen-friendly food, consider:

The Protein Sources

Chicken and beef are common allergens in dogs. Try to find a different protein such as turkey, pork, lamb, venison, or fish. Thoroughly read the ingredients label to make sure your “turkey dinner” doesn’t include beef down the line.

Weigh the Costs of Grain-Free

For the last fifteen years, specialty grain-free formulas have been touted as the answer to the rising number of dog allergies. Although some dogs truly are allergic to grains, it’s now estimated that chicken, beef, and dairy may be more to blame. The FDA recently correlated grain-free diets to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, which means you might be taking a health risk with a grain-free diet. Keep in mind that you can find a gluten-free diet that still includes grains if your dog is allergic to wheat. Talk to your vet before you try a grain-free diet to see if they think it’s worth the risk.

Probiotics

These good bacteria naturally exist in your dog’s gut, but a poor diet may decrease their numbers. A probiotic supplement can help replace the bad bacteria in your dog’s gut with good bacteria, which improves their overall immune response and may help prevent ear infections caused by the harmful bacteria. Prebiotics are even more beneficial because they give your dog the building blocks to naturally create more probiotics on their own.

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Conclusion

We liked JustFoodForDogs Turkey Whole Wheat Macaroni overall because it’s a fresh food that uses allergy-friendly ingredients for a lower price than most fresh frozen recipes. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice scored #2 as our best value option because it’s a high-quality kibble that packs a prebiotic and probiotic supplement.

Another great recipe by JustFoodForDogs, the Fish & Sweet Potato Recipe, was our premium choice because its limited ingredient formula eliminates practically all known food allergies. For puppies, we like The Farmer’s Dog Pork Recipe because it’s a fresh food that’s formulated for all life stages. Finally, Nom Nom Turkey Fare was our vet’s choice because it’s a grain-inclusive food that contains carefully selected limited ingredients.

All of the recipes we reviewed here have 4+ reviews and are considered allergen-friendly because they don’t include chicken. Only one (Purina Pro Plan) contains beef, and a few of them are also grain-free.


Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels



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