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Is My Dog Suffering From A Food Allergy?

Tips to take better care of your allergic dog

Dog food allergy

A food allergy is a hypersensitivity and allergic reaction following the intake of a particular food.



Dogs of any breed and age can develop food allergies, which is the third most common cause of allergic skin diseases.

The most common allergenic ingredients are proteins in fish, lamb, beef, pork, and chicken meat, milk and other dairy products, as well as eggs and the carbohydrates present in grains and rice.

During the digestive process, the molecules of the individual allergens, mainly proteins and carbohydrates, come in contact with the body, allowing the immune system to gradually build up defences against them.

Allergies can also be caused by ingredients, such as colorants and preservatives, commonly used in pre-made pet foods. However, any food, even natural ones, could cause a food allergy. Thus, sometimes a dog can develop more than one type of food intolerance.

Signs that can indicate food allergies in dogs

Food allergies are not always easy to identify as they vary from on dog to another. However, its signs are more commonly manifested as damage to the skin and the gastrointestinal tract.

If your dog is having an allergic reaction, they could potentially shows signs of:

  • Itching
  • Dry skin
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

Food allergies could be the reason why your dog licks their paws, rubs their face, and exhibits redness or hair loss in the axillae (armpits), groin, feet and ears. Chronic otitis or excessive ear wax can also be frequent symptoms.

Flatulence, diarrhea, frequent loose stools, and vomiting are among the gastrointestinal signs that could suggest a food allergy.

If your dog is still showing signs of skin problems once flea allergy dermatitis or other causes of skin disease are ruled out, the cause of allergies could come from their food. Sometimes switching to a different brand or type of food could contribute to ease or eliminate the symptoms.

However, if the symptoms intensify over time or persist year-round, identifying and avoiding the allergen becomes significantly important. Your dog’s veterinarian could help diagnose which allergens or food triggers the allergic reaction and recommend a corticosteroid treatment.

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How to know which food is causing my dog allergies

To determine whether the cutaneous signs or gastrointestinal symptoms that your dog is experiencing stem from an allergic reaction to certain foods, your dog’s vet can perform dietary elimination trials.

Elimination diets are the most effective way to identify the allergen able to cause strong symptoms even when ingested in small portions. The test takes six to twelve weeks to complete.

During this time, the only food that your dog will be allowed to eat is a new, usually homemade, preparation that contains a single protein or carbohydrate source, which they did not have any previous exposure to. For example, the new foods could be lamb and rice, rich in proteins and carbohydrates respectively.

Allergies In Dogs – What You Need To Know

Natural products, such as biscuits or treats containing grains or rawhide should be completely eliminated of the diet. Signs of improvements showed during this time provide evidence of food allergies.

After the elimination diet period, your dog can return to normal feeding. The appearance of symptoms within ten days confirms the presence of food allergies. The tests continue adding single ingredients progressively to the elimination diet and repeating the process for each ingredient, until finding the one that triggers the reaction.

The treatment involves identifying the allergen and, most importantly, removing it from the diet, because regular treatment with medicines is not an effective solution when administered in concomitance with the intake of the allergenic ingredient.

Avoiding treats as well as restricting the use of vitamins and medication to only those prescribed by a veterinarian could help prevent the worsening of current symptoms or the development of new allergies.

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