4 Immune Boosting Foods for Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Red and inflamed skin. Reoccurring skin and ear infections. Itchy paws, and excessive licking. Scratching, rashes, red flaky patches, and hair loss. When your dog is experiencing some of these annoying symptoms, they could possibly have atopic dermatitis.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis is an inherited predisposition to allergic symptoms, and the frequency of diagnoses is increasing, with around 10% of dogs been affected worldwide.

‘Hot Spots’ or Atopic Dermatitis is the result of an allergic reaction to substances like pollen, grasses, food, house dust, animal dander, and insects.

This all-too-common inflammatory condition is on the rise, and with commercial pet foods containing more Omega-6 than Omega-3, a host of issues can result.

Let’s look at 4 Foods that reduce inflammation, regulates the immune system, promotes skin cell repair, and improves absorption of nutrients.

Food High in Omega-3.

Omega-3 is vital for reducing inflammation that leads to inflammatory conditions like atopic dermatitis. It can also reduce occurrences of infections, improve overall skin health, a potent antioxidant, and is the main nutrient for cell repair and functions.

Omega-3 inhibits an enzyme that produces prostaglandins. Prostaglandins trigger off the inflammatory response, leading to the rise of inflammation. Additionally, Omega-3 balances the effects of Omega-6. Omega-6 is converted into arachidonic acid. This acid is designed to trigger off the immune system so it fights infection by promoting inflammation, blood clotting, and constriction of blood vessels. However, if too much Omega-6 is consumed, inflammation levels keep rising. And this is where Omega-3 comes in – by maintaining the balance of the inflammatory response.

Salmon, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds, eggs, free range chicken, free range beef, and venison are some great additions to add to your dog’s diet.

Do so gradually to ensure tolerance. With fish, go slow. Fish is high in an amino acid that dogs already produce enough off, and for some dogs, fish can exacerbate atopic dermatitis, and may cause stomach upsets.

Even phytoplankton contains a good amount of Omega-3, as well as other nutrients that promotes cell regrowth, and reduces inflammation. High amounts can be toxic, so perhaps go for a dog treat that contains Spirulina, instead of giving a supplement.


Yes. Carrots are not just good for us humans, they make a great addition to a dog’s diet, due to their high content of Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Keratinocytes are a type of skin cell, and essential for skin repair. Vitamin C promotes   ability to diversify across the skin barrier, and improve the absorption of oxygen and nutrients within the cells and surrounding interstitial fluid. Vitamin A is required for the repair and formation of new skin cells.

Vitamin C and A are not only strong antioxidants that fight off free radical damage that leads to inflammation. They are also vital nutrients for boosting and regulating immunity, particularly important for animals on immune-suppressants.

Carrots are also a good source of fibre for bowel regularity, beta-carotene for eye health and antioxidant booster, and its soluble fibre content can aid in feeding friendly bacteria which assists in ensuring adequate absorption of nutrients. Carrots also contain good levels of B vitamins, and the potent antioxidant Anthocyanins.

Peas, grated apple, broccoli, blueberries and strawberries are also great ‘treat’ additions to your dog’s diet. It is recommended that dogs should get no more than 10% of fruit and vegetables in their diet.

To reap carrot’s benefits, it is best to lightly steam.


Although free range chicken and beef can be great sources of protein for your dog. In some cases, dogs may develop a food allergy to these proteins, which may result in the development of atopic dermatitis, or may worsen symptoms.

Vets will recommend an elimination diet to determine what foods may be contributing. What does seem to be agreed upon, is that it is rare for dogs to develop a food allergy to venison.

Free range venison steak and mince can make a healthy protein addition.

Venison is a great source of vitamin K for wound healing, B12 for amino acid metabolism, iron to provide oxygen to muscles, zinc for boosting immune and metabolism functioning, and choline which is required for the formation of membranes that surround cells in the body.

Venison is also a fantastic source of Omega-3!

Now, it wasn’t so long ago that it was recommended by many vets to feed your dog raw meat. Thankfully, this line of thinking is changing. Raw meat can be harmful to your dog, and especially dogs on immune-suppressants. They are more likely to experience gastrointestinal problems, and other issues when fed raw meat.

Instead, cook the meat on low heat to preserve the nutrients, while cooking out harmful bacteria.

Hemp Seed Oil.

Hemp is a name that crops up quite a bit in regards to its medicinal benefits. Hemp seed oil comes from the seed, and hemp oil comes from the stalks, flowers, and buds. Hemp or CBD oil is a full spectrum oil containing a range of cannabinoids (with only a small amount of THC).

So, what is the verdict on hemp for dogs and other animals?

Both hemp seed and hemp boast of some pretty good benefits to reduce inflammation, relieve itchiness, boost and regulate the immune response, and to restore homeostasis.

Hemp seed is a great source of Omega-3, has high concentrations of antioxidant Vitamin E for cell renewal and immunity, a good source of Gamma-linolenic acid acting as a prebiotic to promote absorption of nutrients, and along with magnesium – a crucial mineral for all bodily functions.

CBD oil boosts levels of endocannabinoids by encouraging their activation. Research has suggested the deficiency of these cells can lead to allergies developing. CBD oil benefits may go even further by not only treating the symptoms, but also the cause….

Keep in mind when introducing new foods, to do so gradually. Introduce one new food at a time to ensure your dog’s digestive system is up to the task, and to make sure you know what foods your dog can tolerate, and which ones they cannot.

Would You Try These Foods for Your Dog?

Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these options, and what the result was. Especially CBD oil. Here in NZ it is pretty hard to access it, so it would be great to know what the results are.

Published by sharlene25

Sharlene Almond is the author of the genre-bending Annabella Cordova series, and a New Zealand travel book Journey in little Paradise. She has written a range of health, writing and body language articles; contributing as a guest writer on other blogs. Over the last ten years, Sharlene has attained qualifications in Body Language, Criminology, Journalism, Editing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Pet Care, and Animal Behaviour. While setting up an online nutritional business, she is studying to specialize in Medicinal Cannabis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharlene is also currently editing her second Annabella Cordova novel, with two others in the works. To support her online business, Sharlene sends out a trimonthly newsletter covering health, body language, writing, and even articles centered on health topics for your pet.

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