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Types Of Food Allergies In Dogs And How To Treat Them

If your dog is scratching more than usual or seems under the weather, it might be down to food allergies. These allergies are not just a nuisance for your pup, as they can be quite the head-scratcher for you to figure out and handle. This guide is all about food allergies in dogs – we’ll cover how to spot the signs, identify the common causes, and find ways to treat them.

Whether it’s your playful pet in the garden or your loyal buddy by your side, this article is a must-read for every dog owner. With some simple know-how and care, you can make managing your dog’s food allergies a breeze, keeping them happy and healthy.

What are Food Allergies in Dogs

Food allergies in dogs are an immune system response to a specific protein in their diet. The immune system mistakenly identifies the protein as a harmful invader and triggers an inflammatory response. This reaction can manifest in various ways, causing discomfort and distress for your canine companion.

Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs

food allergies in dogs

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Recognising the symptoms of food allergies in dogs is key to timely and effective treatment. These symptoms can vary in severity and frequency, but here are some of the most common ones to look out for:

  • Itchy skin: One of the most noticeable signs is frequent scratching. Dogs with food allergies often feel itchy, especially around their paws, leading them to scratch more than usual.
  • Skin rashes and inflammation: Allergies often cause visible skin changes, including rashes and inflammation. These can appear anywhere on the dog’s body but are typically more pronounced in areas that they scratch often.
  • Hot spots: As a result of persistent scratching, dogs can develop hot spots. These are areas of skin infection that arise from excessive scratching and can be quite painful.
  • Hair loss: Another sign of food allergies in dogs is hair loss. This can occur in patches, particularly in areas where the dog scratches frequently.
  • Scaly or oily skin: Look for changes in the skin’s texture, such as becoming scalier or oilier than usual, which can be indicative of an allergic reaction.
  • Skin discoloration: Dogs with food allergies may also exhibit changes in skin pigmentation. This might include areas of skin turning darker or lighter.
  • Leathery skin texture: The texture of a dog’s skin might change, becoming more leathery in response to chronic irritation and scratching.
  • Ear infections: Ear infections are a common complication of food allergies in dogs. These can cause discomfort and may require veterinary attention.
  • Red and watery eyes: Allergies can also affect a dog’s eyes, leading to redness and excessive discharge or tearing.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: Vomiting and diarrhoea are tell-tale signs of food allergies in dogs, indicating a reaction in the digestive system.
  • Sneezing: Some dogs with food allergies may sneeze more frequently, although this is less common than other symptoms.
  • Secondary infections: Chronic skin issues can lead to secondary infections, such as yeast or bacterial infections, particularly in areas like the ears or where the skin has been broken due to scratching.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Common Food Allergies in Dogs that Owners Need to Be Aware of

food allergies in dogs

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Understanding the common food allergens that can trigger an adverse reaction in your canine friend is crucial for maintaining their health and well-being. Let’s delve into the world of common food allergies in dogs:


Beef is a prevalent protein source in many dog foods, making it a common allergen. Dogs with beef allergies may experience skin irritation, itching, and gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhoea. If your dog exhibits signs of a food allergy, switching to a beef-free diet may be necessary to identify the source of the reaction.


Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt, can also trigger food allergies in dogs. Lactose intolerance, a common digestive issue in dogs, is often mistaken for a food allergy. However, true dairy allergies involve an immune system response to specific proteins in dairy products.


Wheat is another common ingredient in dog food, and it’s a frequent allergen among dogs. If you suspect your dog may have a wheat allergy, consider switching to a grain-free diet to eliminate wheat as a potential trigger.


Eggs are a highly allergenic protein source for dogs, and they can cause a range of symptoms, including skin irritation, vomiting, and diarrhoea. If your dog has a food allergy, avoiding egg-based treats and food is essential.


Chicken is a common protein source in dog food, and it’s a frequent allergen among dogs. If your dog exhibits signs of a food allergy, switching to a chicken-free diet may be necessary to identify the source of the reaction.


While lamb is often considered a hypoallergenic protein source for dogs with food allergies, some dogs may still develop a sensitivity to it. If your dog has a food allergy and lamb is a common ingredient in their diet, consider switching to a novel protein source, such as duck or venison.


Soy is a common ingredient in many dog foods, and it can trigger food allergies in some dogs. Soy-based products, such as soy protein isolate and soy flour, are often used as fillers in dog food. If you suspect your dog may have a soy allergy, carefully review the ingredients of their food.

Diagnosis of Food Allergies in Dogs

food allergies in dogs

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Diagnosing food allergies in dogs can be a challenging process, as symptoms can mimic other conditions, such as parasites or environmental allergies. A veterinarian will typically conduct a thorough physical examination and review your dog’s medical history to rule out other potential causes.

Elimination Diet Trial

The most common diagnostic method for food allergies in dogs is an elimination diet trial. This involves feeding your dog a novel protein diet, which contains a protein source that your dog has never eaten before. This could be a hydrolyzed protein diet, which is made from broken-down proteins that are too small to trigger an allergic reaction.

The elimination diet trial typically lasts for 6-8 weeks. If your dog’s symptoms resolve during this time, it is highly likely that they have a food allergy. Once the allergy is confirmed, the next step is to identify the specific allergen.

Food Challenge

Once your dog has been on an elimination diet and their symptoms have resolved, a food challenge can be performed to identify the specific allergen. This involves reintroducing different protein sources one at a time to your dog’s diet and monitoring for any recurrence of symptoms.

Blood Tests

While not as definitive as an elimination diet trial, blood tests can also be used to help diagnose food allergies in dogs. These tests measure the level of IgE antibodies in your dog’s blood. Elevated levels of IgE antibodies can indicate a food allergy.

Treatment of Food Allergies in Dogs

The primary treatment for food allergies in dogs is to avoid the specific allergen. This means avoiding all foods that contain the allergen, including treats and table scraps. It is important to be vigilant about reading food labels carefully and checking for hidden sources of the allergen.

Hydrolyzed Protein Diets

Hydrolyzed protein diets are a type of commercial food that contains broken-down proteins that are too small to trigger an allergic reaction. These diets are typically recommended for dogs with newly diagnosed food allergies.

Novel Protein Diets

Novel protein diets contain a protein source that your dog has never eaten before. These diets are often used once the specific allergen has been identified.

Home-Cooked Diets

If you are unable to find a commercial food that meets your dog’s needs, you can work with a veterinarian to create a home-cooked diet. This can be a more challenging option, but it can be a viable solution for some dogs.

Recovery and Management of Food Allergies in Dogs

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With proper management, most dogs with food allergies can live a normal, healthy life. Once the allergen has been identified and avoided, symptoms should resolve within a few weeks.

Preventing Recurrence

The best way to prevent the recurrence of food allergies in dogs is to strictly avoid the allergen. It is important to read food labels carefully and to be aware of hidden sources of the allergen.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

Managing food allergies in dogs is a continuous process that benefits greatly from regular veterinary check-ups. At Pretty Pets Kennel, we ensure that medical tests are conducted for each puppy, and a medical certificate is provided. This includes examinations for the following:

  • Eyes/Ears/Mouth (Checking for issues like otitis external and ocular conditions)
  • Heart (Assessing for heart murmurs)
  • Respiratory System
  • Skin
  • Joints (Specifically checking for medial patellar luxation)
  • Parvovirus Test
  • Health/Medical Certificate

These regular check-ups are essential to monitor and maintain your dog’s health, ensuring they receive the best care possible. Additionally, our team is committed to guiding pet owners through the journey of ethical puppy adoption, providing support and advice on how to nurture a healthy, happy pet.

Scheduling regular veterinary check-ups offers several benefits for your dog with food allergies:

1. Early detection and treatment: Regular check-ups enable the early detection of any signs of worsening symptoms or potential complications associated with food allergies, allowing for prompt intervention and treatment.

2. Personalised care: Veterinarians will tailor their approach to your dog’s unique needs, ensuring that their food allergy management plan aligns with their specific requirements.

3. Ongoing monitoring: Regular check-ups allow veterinarians to closely monitor your dog’s response to treatment and make necessary adjustments to optimise the management of their food allergy.

4. Comprehensive care: Veterinarians will provide a comprehensive range of veterinary services, ensuring that your dog receives complete care beyond allergy management, addressing any other health concerns that may arise.

Living with a Dog with Food Allergies

Food allergies can be a frustrating and challenging condition for both dogs and their owners. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment, and management, most dogs can live a normal, healthy life. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can help your dog avoid the discomfort and distress caused by food allergies.

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