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What Are Symptoms Of Food Allergies In Dogs

Signs Your Dog Could Be Suffering From Allergies

Food Allergy Signs in Dogs

29 Nov, 2021

Just like in humans, seasonal and environmental allergies can cause discomfort for our canine companions. Unfortunately, identifying these symptoms as allergies isnt always easy. Since your beloved four-legged friend cant exactly tell you whats wrong, its up to you to look for the signs. Read on to learn about common dog allergens, allergy symptoms, and tips on how to help your dog if they have an allergic reaction.

Treatment For Dogs With Food Allergies

The best treatment for food allergies is avoidance. Once youve identified the food your four-legged friend is allergic to, you will be able to avoid it in the future and help your dog live an allergy-free life. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent your dog from developing food allergies.

If you have questions about canine food allergies, please talk with your veterinarianthe best resource when it comes to the health and well-being of your best friend.

Symptomatic Differentiation Of Food Allergies:

Atopy,mange and other skin problems must be differentiated from canine foodallergysymptoms. Even though it is hard to differentiate, if symptoms arepresentyear round, and become more severe over time, these signsshould be acknowledged ascanine food allergy symptoms.

Skinscrapings should be examined for flea infestation and thepossibility of mange. The presence of allergy symptoms in specificseasons,particularly in spring or summer, maybe due to seasonal allergies as pollen.

Caninefood allergy symptoms must also be differentiated from foodintolerance this may be done by identifying additional symptoms suchas vomiting anddiarrhea which represent food intolerance, but not canine foodallergies.

Somebreeds of dogs like Labradors, Spaniels and Terriers are moresusceptible tocanine food allergies, because of their genetic make up which includesa relatively hypersensitive immune system.

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What To Expect During The Food Allergy Diagnosis Process

If a food allergy is suspected in your pet, we will begin the process of diagnosis by planning a special diet for your pet. The diet is custom chosen for your pet based on what he/she has eaten before. The diet can involve either home cooking, where you are your pets personal chef, or feeding your pet prescription dog or cat food that we will help you choose.

In many cases, preparing food for your pet yourself is the ideal option when attempting to diagnose a food allergy, as it gives you increased control over exactly what goes into your pets body. Prescription food specially made for pets with allergies is also a good option, though the ingredients in these foods are not as strictly limited as what you prepare in your own kitchen.

Studies suggest that there is a small number of dogs who do not improve when simply switched to a new food. Many owners feel frustrated because they feel they have tried an endless number of different diets with no results. Pet foods, in general, have many similar ingredients across brands because certain ingredients are more available and affordable. Just changing from one brand to another, even a premium holistic brand, may not be truly eliminating your pets exposure to their allergic trigger, which is the goal of a diet trial. While a smart change in your dogs food is helpful in many cases, many times a home cooked diet is necessary to accurately diagnose a pets food allergy.

Prevalence Of Food Allergies

12 Homemade Dog Food for Allergies Recipes

With food allergies in humans being reported at an all-time high, many pet owners are becoming increasingly concerned about food allergies in their pets. But as it turns out, food allergies are not as common as many large commercial pet food companies try to make you to think. According to a 2018 State of Pet Health Report that analysed data from over 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats, food allergies affect just 0.2% of dogs and 0.1% of cats . So while food allergies are one possible cause for your dogâs recurrent ear infections and itchy skin, there are many more likely causes which may have nothing to do with the food theyâre eating.

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How Dogs Are Diagnosed With Food Allergies

An elimination diet is the only reliable method of diagnosing food allergies in dogs.

If your vet thinks your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, he or she will prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food for your pet. For a minimum of 8 to 10 weeks, you’ll only feed your dog the prescribed food in order to discern whether the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog’s symptoms.

It’s essential that your dog eats only the hypoallergenic food while they are on this elimination diet. . This special 10-week diet will help your dog’s body to adapt to the food and give your vet the opportunity to assess your dog’s overall health.

If your dog’s symptoms are alleviated or disappear while they’re on the elimination diet, your vet may ask you to return to feeding your dog their original diet. If original symptoms return, then your vet can be confident in diagnosing your dog with a food allergy.

Seasonal Allergies Vs Food Allergies In Dogs

A dogs immune system is programmed to help it stave off disease and infection. It does so by identifying harmful foreign bodies and then eliminating them via antibodies. In Laymans terms,

allergies are the result of a body having a hypersensitivity to an everyday substancewhether a type of a food or an environmental element such as pollen or mold.

We call these allergens.

Your dogs immune system identifies the allergen as a hostile germ. It then releases histamines and other chemical substances to try and eradicate the allergen, which lead to allergic reactions such as sneezing or rashes.

Its important to note that there is also some overlap in dogs that experience both conditions. Per Dr. Joseph Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessees College of Veterinary Medicine:

They do overlap, however, and approximately 30 percent of pets with food-responsive disease also have seasonal allergies or allergies to fleas, he said. Many of these pet allergies present themselves either with skin problems like itchiness, recurrent infections, ear infections or hair loss, and/or gastrointestinal signs like vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite.

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Best Foods For Dogs With Allergies

Prescription Dog Food

If your dog’s food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend that you feed your dog a prescription dog food. While this option can be pricey, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available by prescription only are typically superior to those that can be purchased over the counter.

Grain-Free Dog Food

If your pet has a sensitivity to corn, wheat and other grains a grain-free dog food may be ideal. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free.

Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just one protein source, , often combined with just a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited ingredient dog foods it’s important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control , as well as a “complete and balanced” claim from the manufacturer.

After your dog is diagnosed, your vet will work with you to find the best diet for your dog. Many food options are available to help alleviate your dog’s food allergy symptoms.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your dog might be suffering from a food allergy? Contact our Scottsdale vets to schedule an appointment. We can help you find a solution.


Purina Beyond Simply Lid Adult Hypoallergenic Dog Food

5 Signs of Food Allergies In Dogs

Next up, we have the Purina Beyond Simply LID Hypoallergenic dog food. Carefully formulated by expert nutritionists, this is one of the best commercial dog foods that has been designed with a unique selection of ingredients to keep it as natural as possible. With steroid-free chicken as its first ingredient, this dog food also contains a variety of whole barley, fiber-rich grains, vegetables, and omega-6 fatty acids that helps to nourish the skin and coat of your dog, while natural probiotics simultaneously help to promote good digestive health.

On top of that, this food also contains zero traces of wheat, corn, or soy and is one of the most affordable hypoallergenic dog foods on the market, priced at only $36. Excellent for breeds big and small, the Purina Beyond Simply Hypoallergenic food is simple, straightforward, and rich in vitamins and minerals for a truly earth-friendly and enhancing experience for adult dogs.

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What Is The Dog Elimination Diet

Currently, the only way to truly diagnose and treat a food allergy in dogs is to do a food trial. The most popular method is whats called an elimination diet.

If your dogs symptoms do not dissipate during the course of the elimination diet, check with your vet to see if they still suspect a food-related allergy. You can then change out the protein and carbohydrate source, beginning the food trial all over again until you find the right combination. Its important to keep a journal of what you have tried so you will have a better idea of what to steer clear of.

What Is Food Allergy And How Is It Treated

Food allergy or food hypersensitivity can develop to almost any protein or carbohydrate component of food. It most commonly develops in response to protein of the food dairy products, beef, wheat gluten, chicken, chicken eggs, lamb, and soy are commonly associated with food allergies in dogs. Food allergy can develop at almost any age. Food allergy may produce any of the clinical signs previously discussed including itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress. A dog may have multiple types of allergy, such as both food allergy and atopy making the exact diagnosis of a dogâs itching quite challenging.

“Food allergy typically does not respond well to corticosteroids or other medical treatments.”

Food allergy typically does not respond well to corticosteroids or other medical treatments. Treatment requires identifying the offending component of the diet and eliminating them. The most accurate way of testing for food allergies is with an elimination diet trial using a hypoallergenic diet. Because it takes at least eight weeks for all other food products to be eliminated from the body, the dog must eat the special diet exclusively for eight to twelve weeks. If a positive response and improvement of your pet’s clinical signs occurs, your veterinarian will advise you on how to proceed.

“If the diet is not fed exclusively, it will not be a valid test.”

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But What Exactly Is A Food Allergy

Food allergies are different from food intolerance. Food intolerance is the result of poor digestion, such as lactose intolerance. People and dogs with lactose intolerance are either missing or have low levels of the milk digesting enzyme lactase.

Food allergies are the over-response of your dogs immune system to an invading protein. In the case of a food allergy, this protein is contained in your dogs food. Proteins are present in most of the foods your dog eats. While most people recognize that meats are a source of proteins, there are also proteins present in grains and vegetables. Any one of these proteins has the potential to cause a food allergy.

Recognizing The Symptoms Of Food Allergies In Dogs

Dog Allergies are the WORST! » ZigZag Wags

If a dog has a food allergy, then the itching will start after he has eaten something that he is allergic to. If a dog has a food allergy, that means he or she has a hypersensitive adverse immune reaction to something he or she ate.

The most common food allergens are chicken, beef, pork, and soy.

Food allergy is a nonseasonal problem, it happens year round. In comparison, flea allergy and atopy are more seasonal problems.

Itchy dogs with food allergies are less responsive to steroid therapy, so if your dog has received a steroid shot and is still itching, then your dog might have a food allergy or another problem such as a skin infection, that doesnt respond to steroids.

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How To Treat Food Allergies In Dogs

The first step to treating a food allergy in dogs is discovering what ingredient is causing the allergic reaction. The only way to do this is by feeding a special diet to your dog over about eight to 12 weeks. Although blood testing and skin swabs for allergies are available at some labs, most veterinarians agree that these tests are not accurate enough to correctly identify food allergies in dogs.

Your Dog Has Chronic Ear Infections

Relatedly, many dogs with allergies will experience ear infections that recur frequently or never seem to fully go away. As with the feet, this problem is often caused first by the allergies.

The allergies break down the healthy skin barrier, then opportunistic bacteria or yeast create an infection, which all further contributes to the itch .

Dogs that have gone years with allergies that are either undiagnosed or undertreated will often have ears that are raw, smelly and thickened.

In severe cases, ear infections may become so resistant to treatment that surgery to remove the ear canal may be required. To avoid this situation, it is important to have your dog examined by your veterinarian as soon as you suspect that your dog may have allergies or ear infections.

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What Is A Food Allergy

A food allergy is when a dogs immune system overreacts to one or more of the ingredients in their diet. Symptoms usually include skin problems and/or tummy problems .

Dogs tend to be allergic to proteins . They can be allergic to any protein they have ever eaten, most commonly to ingredients used regularly in dog food such as beef, chicken or lamb. Some dogs will be allergic to other ingredients, such as wheat.

What Are The Best Dog Foods For Allergies

Symptoms of food allergy in dogs

The most reliable way to diagnose a food allergy is to feed your dog something that it hasnât eaten before and which is relatively pure, for example, just the muscle meat, organ meat and bone of a single animal species, for at least 8 weeks. This can be a homecooked diet or a commercial food, but whichever option you choose, by far the most important factor when it comes to an elimination diet is that you know exactly what’s in the food that youâre feeding and that you can be confident that it’s made without contamination from ingredients that aren’t listed on the label. This is where commercial canned foods and kibbles generally come unstuck, because as mentioned previously, multiple published studies highlight the prevalence of contamination in these more conventional diets.

According to one of the worldâs foremost experts in veterinary nutrition , when it comes to the best dog foods for allergies, his top recommendations are :

  • Foods that are made fresher and in smaller batches â that way you can see what’s in it, and traces of allergic ingredients are less likely to slip in during processing.
  • Food that’s freshly prepared with human-grade ingredients and no artificial fillers. Homemade dog food is one option, but if you’d rather not spend time preparing your dog’s food, consider a made-from-scratch, small-batch commercial dog food that emphasizes ingredient quality and purity.

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Treating Your Dog’s Food Allergy

Once youve determined, to the best of your ability, what your dog is allergic to, you can start to make daily dietary changes. Keeping them away from any known allergens is the only way to prevent a flare-up.

Generally speaking, feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is the best way to maintain a healthy system. When it comes to the dog food itself the fewer ingredients and additives the better. Make sure your dog cant access another household pets food and dont let anyone in the house give it table scraps. Check treats and chew toys thoroughly before letting your dog have a turn at them.

There is also some evidence to suggest that feeding puppies probiotics when they are young can help keep their digestive systems supplemented with enough good bacteria to ward off possible allergies that can develop later in life. Adult dogs may want to adopt a regimen of prebiotics to help feed these good bacteria and keep their systems regular.

If You Suspect Your Pet Has A Food Allergy/intolerance

  • look for a hypoallergenic food as this avoids common allergens like beef or wheat
  • choose a diet with a single protein source
  • choose a diet with novel ingredients
  • follow our elimination diet guide

And lastly, contact a friendly Burns nutritionist for advice. Our nutritionists are on-hand every Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm to answer all your pet nutrition enquiries. Reach us on freephone 08000836696, or via email at and LiveChat, if you prefer to communicate digitally.

I’ve worked at Burns for over four years and head up a busy, dedicated team of pet nutritionists at our Kidwelly head office. No two days are ever the same. We are often busy going the extra mile for our customers and offer free advice via LiveChat, telephone and email.

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Try To Find Out What They Are Allergic To

Once your dog is settled without symptoms on a special diet, your vet may recommend adding ingredients back into their food to try and find out what they are allergic to.

If your dog doesnt show any symptoms, this is a safe food. If your dogs symptoms come back after eating a certain food, its likely they are allergic to it. This will help you select a dog food that only contains safe foods.

Food trials and exclusion diets can be tricky and take a lot of time, the alternative is to keep feeding your dog a special veterinary diet for life.

Some dogs with a food allergy will also have allergies to things in the environment, this may cause allergic skin disease . In this case, they might improve a bit on a special diet but they may need some other treatments as well to help keep their skin symptoms controlled.

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