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dog food allergies

Dog Food Allergies; Everything You Need To Know

Does your dog have any food allergies? Similar to humans, allergies in dogs can develop at any stage of their life. They can even develop sensitivity to food they’ve been eating for years!

What does a food allergy in dogs look like, exactly? Some signs to look out for are: vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness, ear infections, foot infections, obsessive licking, and other skin issues. If your dog is showing any of these signs, we recommend talking to your veterinarian.

While food allergies in dogs can’t be cured, there are lots of ways to manage them so your dog can live their best life. Keep reading to learn more.

What is a Dog Food Allergy?

When your dog experiences an allergic reaction, it’s their immune system going into overdrive to react to a trigger, or allergen. (Think: Your body fighting off a viral or bacterial infection threatening your body.)

The most common food allergies in dogs include proteins, like beef, chicken, and lamb, dairy, and wheat. Some dogs can also react poorly to added flavorings or fillers in their kibble or treats. Depending on the severity of the allergy, a dog’s allergic reaction can range in intensity.

Because food allergies in dogs are typically genetic and inherited from previous family members, they’re not easy to avoid. But luckily, there are easy ways to navigate these issues.

Common Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs

You’ll see the most obvious and common signs that your dog is allergic to a certain food on their skin, via their digestive tract, or both. They might also experience anaphylactic symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, but this is extremely rare with food allergies in dogs.

Skin Symptoms

An allergic reaction on your dog’s skin is rather similar to a reaction you (a human) might have on your own skin. Your dog might itch their skin, especially on the paws, belly, face, and ears, develop red spots, rashes or gives, or even lose fur in some areas.

With your dog potentially licking or chewing on their skin to relieve these symptoms, they might also start to develop wounds or “hot spots,” which are areas of red, moist, and often inflamed lesions.

Digestive Symptoms

Similar to humans, signs of an allergy can show up in their digestive tract: diarrhea, vomiting, gas, or other gastrointestinal problems.

Unsimilar to humans, your pup could also have issues with their anal glands, which they might alleviate by scooting their butts on the floor.

Diagnosing a Dog Food Allergy

Pinning down a food allergy in your dog requires time and some detective work. If you suspect your dog is having allergic reactions to their food, start by talking to your veterinarian.

From there, your vet will likely do a physical exam, and ask about the symptoms you’ve noticed and what you’re currently feeding your dog. If your vet has ruled out other possible reasons for your dog’s symptoms, they might recommend an elimination diet.

An elimination diet requires time and patience, but in the long run it’ll be worth it to know you’re feeding your dog what’s best for them. Over the course of 1-3 months, you’ll feed your dog a restricted diet of very few ingredients, and slowly reintroduce a new food (like chicken) each week until a trigger is found. Your vet will provide you with a detailed plan of what, when, and how much to feed your dog, and how to keep track of your dog’s process week-by-week.

Depending on how your pup does with the elimination diet, your vet will guide you to the best next step toward a happy, healthy dog.

Treating Dog Food Allergies

Allergies can’t be cured, but knowing your dog’s triggers empower you to manage the situation as best you can.

After seeing your vet to discuss a possible food allergy, your pup might need to take medication to help relieve any acute symptoms they’re experiencing. Longer term, your dog will also need to be fed a diet that works with their body, as long as it’s a complete food that contains all the necessary nutrients

You can also prevent future food sensitivities and allergies from developing by rotating proteins every now and then. This involves rotating your dog’s food between 3 different proteins. There’s no one way to rotate proteins: You can switch every 3 days or every week, as long as you stay consistent. If you go this route, it’s smart to stick to the same brand of food as their recipes contain similar levels of protein, fat, and carbs, which will ensure your dog gets the consistent nutrition they need.

But, even though we’d like to have everything under control all the time, it just isn’t possible. Your dog might find a scrap on the street, be fed a chicken treat by a new friend, or just have an occasional allergic flare-up. Just like us, they might also develop new allergies as they get older. If these things happen, don’t be discouraged. You now know the best course of action to reduce your dog’s symptoms and get them back to their healthy selves!

The Outlook For Dogs With Food Allergies

If you discover that your dog does have a food sensitivity, rest easy knowing there are lots of dog food and treat options that will provide them with the nutrition and joy they need! With a loving dog parent like you, your dog can continue living a happy and comfortable life even with a food allergy.


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