5 Facts About Dog Food Allergies

by DFS-Pet-Blog on July 2, 2015

You’ve been feeding your dog the same food since you welcomed him home as a new puppy, and now he’s chewing his paws and he’s itching all over the place. You frantically made an appointment with your veterinarian. The diagnosis? A possible food allergy. Now what?
There’s a lot of information available about food allergies, so we help narrow down what you need to know to help your dog:

1. What is a food allergy?
Food allergies account for about 10% of all the allergies seen in dogs. It is the third most common cause after flea bite allergies and atopy (allergies resulting from skin contact with environmental allergens as well as inhaled allergens). Food allergies affect both males and females and neutered and intact animals equally, and they can show up at any age. Many animals with food allergies also have concurrent inhalant or contact allergies.

2. What are the signs and symptoms of a food allergy?
Just like humans, a food allergy can manifest itself in various ways in dogs. Some of the most noticeable symptoms you should keep an eye out for are:

  • Itching or scratching
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy ears and running eyes
  • Scabs on the skin
  • Paw biting
  • Obsessive licking
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased bowel movements

3. What’s the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance?
Food allergies are true allergies and show the characteristic symptoms of itching and skin problems associated with canine and feline allergies. Food intolerances can result in diarrhea or vomiting and do not create a typical allergic response. Food intolerances in pets would be similar to people who get diarrhea or an upset stomach from eating spicy or fried foods. Fortunately, both food intolerances and allergies can be managed with a diet free from offending agents.

4. What are the common food culprits?
Several studies have shown that some ingredients are more likely to cause food allergies than others are. In order of the most common offenders in dogs:

  • Beef
  • Dairy products (milk)
  • Lamb
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Chicken eggs
  • Soy

As you may have noticed, the most common offenders are the most common ingredients in dog foods. This correlation is not a coincidence. While some proteins might be slightly more antigenic than others, many proteins are similar in form and the incidence of allergic reactions is probably associated with the amount of exposure.

5. How can I help minimize my dog’s allergy symptoms?
A food trial is really the only way to determine if your dog has a food allergy, and what the offending ingredient is. This means you would stop feeding your dog the food you have been, and provide food containing a protein source and carbohydrate source your dog has never eaten before. And a trial should last for 12 weeks. You should always consult with your veterinarian before switching your dog’s food. Your veterinarian will help identify what the possible offending ingredients are that need to be eliminated from your dog’s diet, and help you choose a different food for a trial.
Rx Pet Food
Your veterinarian might recommend feeding your dog a special diet, such as Hill’s® Prescription Diet® (this requires a prescription from your veterinarian), a gluten-free food or a grain-free food.

Fatty acids, antihistamines, and steroids offer short-term relief, but elimination of the allergens from the diet is the only long-term solution.

The diagnosis for food allergies is not always straightforward, as many other problems can cause similar symptoms. Many times animals are suffering from more problems than just food allergies, so it’s very important that all other problems are properly identified and treated prior to making the diagnosis for food allergies.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Paige July 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

This is great advice. My dog has food allergies and he started losing all the hair on his neck before we switched his food. Now he gets carrots and apples for treats and he loves them! Thanks for sharing.

dog supplies July 9, 2015 at 2:20 am

Very helpful information you have shared on dog food allergies

Arbre à chat July 24, 2015 at 3:57 am

Very helpful ! Thank you 🙂

Tanya Lawson October 5, 2015 at 6:03 am

Simone has allergies to metal. It took me 3 months to realize when I fed her canned dog food, or treats from a foil lined bag that she would go into seizure. If she walks through bug spray or other chemicals, it is absorbed into the paw…causing her to have a delayed seizure later in the day. I started cooking for her, she gets turkey, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. I also bake treats for her. Benadryl was suggested by our Vet, but I do not want her having the side effects of read from that. Any type of triple does vaccinations makes her lethargic and she gets hot spots.

Linda Scoggins October 11, 2015 at 3:21 pm

We have a 7 month old male Akita. Got him at 8 weeks old. He was scratching when we got him and the vet said it is not unusual for a puppy to scratch. He is still scratching. No redness, no rash or hot spots, just scratching. Contacted breeder and she said probably dry skin. What nutrients do we need to give him for dry skin? Thanks

Joel October 20, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Very Informative! This would be a great help for fur parents.

Janet January 22, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Very useful information. Several of my client pets have allergies to food. I will share this information with them.

Janet January 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Great article. Several of my client fur babies have allergies. I will share this information wit them.

Ronel A. April 3, 2016 at 11:56 am

This is very helpful! My dog Ella had some of these symptoms, so we brought her to the vet clinic and the vet told us not to let our dog eat these and those… We followed what the vet said, and changed her food and our dog became better.

Katy May 20, 2016 at 8:19 am

This is great advice. thank you 🙂

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