Here are the most common food allergies in dogs. See our tips about how to avoid them.
If your dog is like mine, they LOVE to eat. They'd eat anything you give them. They are no picky eaters. Okay, fine, maybe not lettuce or raw green beans, but the list is short, and the things your pup won't put in their mouth are probably few and far between.
As a pet parent, it's your responsibility to keep your dog safe, which includes ensuring that the food and treats you offer are safe for them to eat.
In addition to making sure food is stored at the right temperature and fresh, it also means making sure your dog isn't eating anything they're allergic to.
You might be wondering how to tell if your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, so we broke down some of the most common food allergy symptoms and the allergens themselves, so you can help your dog avoid them and stay healthy.
What are food allergies?
Allergy symptoms in dogs will appear after six months of age but most commonly after one year of age as the dog has to have been sensitized to the allergen. Allergies can come in different forms, and while we are tempted to only look into food allergies, skin allergies are just as essential to monitor and the most common type of allergy in dogs and can easily be confused with food allergies.
Skin allergies will affect your dog physically and are usually caused by fleas. This is called Flea allergy dermatitis. While fleas themselves already bring a handful of issues, your dog might be allergic to the bite. Just like humans can be allergic to bees or mosquito bites. You will see if your dog has fleas by noticing an increase in him scratching, having flaky skin, looking like there is dirt in his fur, or even seeing the fleas themselves. If your dog is allergic to flea saliva, he will be extremely itchy, especially at the base of the tail, around the ears or the belly. Fleas like warmth, so they will look for crevices or areas with less fur to reach the skin. You will notice the skin may become red, inflamed, and scabbed.
The protein in dairy products, beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, soy or gluten can cause food allergies in canines. They are the most common ingredients in dog food and have been for a long time. Allergies are immune system reactions in which your dog's body reacts abnormally to a stimulus. And no matter how well you manage them, if your dog is constantly exposed to his allergens, the issues and pain will persist. Some pets may get itchy skin, swelling of the face or ear and skin infections, while others may experience vomiting or diarrhea.
Dog food allergies causes
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what causes allergies in canines. If you suspect your dog has an allergic reaction, it is best to consult your vet as soon as possible. In most cases, your vet will use the method of elimination. This method will usually last around 12 weeks, maybe more, depending on your dog's situation. Your vet will send you and your pup home with a prescribed diet that contains only a few ingredients: one protein and one carbohydrate, as well as necessary fats, vitamins, and minerals, that your pet has never had before.
It will be important that this diet is the only thing you are feeding your dog. You should not give any treats, table food or snacks to your dog. If you see a significant improvement in your pet while using this limited diet, you will likely be suggested to go back to the old food and continue eliminating ingredients one at a time. This might seem like a long process, but it is essential to your pet's health.
Dog food allergies vs dog food intolerances
Intolerances and allergies are often mistaken for one another. Although the symptoms might seem similar, it is essential to know the difference.
Compared to diagnosed allergies, food intolerances do not include an immunological response and instead require a progressive sensitivity to an item that your dog does not tolerate in his diet. These items can be the same as those mentioned in allergies, including beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, or milk.
Dogs' food sensitivities can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea and skin indicators like itching, irritated skin, dull coat, and persistent ear infections. While the diet may still play a significant role in the situation, your dog is unlikely to have allergies over intolerances. We always suggest visiting your vet if your dog shows signs of illness.
Long-term effects of food allergies in dogs
If the immune system comes in contact with the allergen, after many exposures over months to years, it could cause an over-reaction. The immune system typically defends the dog from infection and disease, but in the case of allergies, the immune reaction can damage the body. Your dog could potentially suffer from an Anaphylactic shock.
Hereditary predisposition to dog food allergies
Allergies in dogs are a genetic problem, amongst others. Meaning your dog could come from a line of dogs that have allergies. The area you got him from, and the breeder could also have an impact. According to WebMD, some breeds are more prone to allergies like retrievers, German shepherds, Dachshunds and cocker spaniels.
Food allergy treatment and cures
Homemade diet: The advantage of making your dog's food yourself is knowing exactly what's going in it. There are tons of amazing sites that provide easy and healthy homemade dog food recipes.
Probiotics: Since allergies will develop after six months, you could try adding probiotics to your puppy's diet. It can't hurt to have a healthy gut!
Switching up your dog's food: Adding a variety of foods and ingredients to your dog's meals can help you determine which ones work best for him. We suggest switching every three months. Keep an eye on your doggo when switching foods, as some have more difficulty digesting new products.
If your dog is allergic to a particular ingredient like chicken and doesn't particularly like the taste of other foods, try adding a tasty topper that contains multivitamins and encourages him to lick his bowl clean.
Avoidance : The best solution is always to avoid feeding your dog ingredients he is intolerant or allergic to
Best dog food for allergies
It is always best to reach out to your veterinarian for an adapted diet if you think your dog may suffer from allergies. Foods that may not contain the ingredient your dog is allergic to might still be made in a facility where it is in contact with said ingredient. If your dog has a severe allergy, it could be problematic.
Your vet may prescribe hypoallergenic dog foods for your pet. You can buy such foods online too.
Hypoallergenic foods are usually made using hydrolyzed proteins (chemically split proteins). Such proteins are divided into basic amino acid blocks. This approach makes the original allergen invisible to the dog's immune system. In this way your dog will less likely experience an allergic reaction to the food.
If you think your pet has a food allergy, talk to your veterinarian about it. He or she can help your pet get back to living a healthy, itch-free life.
Then order the foods that your vet recommended on your favorite website.