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Can my dog have a food allergy?

You’d be surprised to find out that dogs can develop allergies to certain ingredients even in premium foods. Increasingly, it’s easy to find pet foods made with high-quality ingredients and limited fillers and yet our dogs can still be allergic or intolerant to a number of these ingredients.

First off, it’s important to know there’s a big difference between a food intolerance and a true food allergy for dogs. A dog food intolerance is when a dog has difficulty digesting a certain ingredient, like dairy, whereas a food allergy triggers an immune response.

For most dogs, skin and gastrointestinal problems are not usually the result of a food allergy, but rather due to environmental allergies like pollen or grass.

However, some dogs are truly food-allergic, so let's find out WHAT IS A FOOD ALLERGY?

A food allergy occurs when your dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies a particular food ingredient (usually the protein source) as harmful. Your dog’s body then creates defensive antibodies to fight the invading enemy (the ingredient).

Food allergy symptoms commonly include:

  • Itchy skin (aka pruritus)

  • Sneezing

  • Itchy paws

  • Hot spots (skin infections resulting from excessive scratching)

  • Skin rashes

  • Scaly and/or oily skin

  • Pigmented skin

  • Leathery skin texture

  • Eye discharge

  • Red eyes

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Hair loss

  • Ear infections

  • Secondary yeast or bacterial infections (aka pyoderma) of the skin or ears.

Dogs are most commonly allergic to the following foods (in descending order):

beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb/mutton, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. Rabbit and fish are by far less common food allergens than the others.

Food allergy testing for dogs

If you suspect your dog is suffering from a food allergy, the first thing to do is talk to your vet about how to pinpoint the allergen. There are commercial skin and blood allergy tests on the market, and your vet may recommend starting there.

How to feed a dog with food allergies

Once you’ve determined the offending items in your dog’s diet, the next step is avoiding them as much as possible. You can use prescription food from your veterinarian, make your own food from scratch, or you can try a limited ingredient diet. In any case look out for the best for your dogs' nutrition, read the labels and understand that always natural is best and the less ingredients the better.


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