Food Allergy in Dogs

An important note for dog owners

Food allergic reactions account for about 10% of all the allergies seen in dogs. It is the third most typical cause after flea bite allergies and atopy (inhalant allergies) Food allergies generally account for 20% of the causes of itching and scratching in dogs. Food allergic reactions plus atopy represent another 20%.
The whole process of an animal being sensitized to a particular agent in food and the complicated antibody reaction that occurs in the digestive tract in animals with food allergies are not effectively comprehended. In spite of our absence of understanding of the real disease process, there are many things that we do know consisting of the symptoms, how to detect food allergies, as well as how to treat them.

Food Allergy in Dogs

Food allergies affect both dogs and cats. Unlike atopy, there is no strong link between particular breeds and food allergies. Food allergic reactions affect both males and women and neutered and undamaged animals similarly. They can show up as early as five months and as late as 12 years of age. Many animals with food allergies likewise have concurrent inhalant or contact allergic reactions.

Food allergic reaction or intolerance?

There is a difference that needs to be made between food allergic reactions and food intolerances. Food allergies hold true allergic reactions and reveal the characteristic symptoms of itching and skin problems associated with canine and feline allergies. Food intolerances can lead to diarrhea or vomiting and do not produce a common allergic action. Food intolerances in animals would be similar to people who get diarrhea or an upset stomach from eating spicy or fried foods. Luckily, both food intolerances and allergic reactions can be eliminated with a diet free from offending agents.

Typical food culprits

Several studies have actually revealed that some active ingredients are most likely to cause food allergic reactions than others. In order of the most typical offenders in dogs are beef, dairy items, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. As you may have observed, the most typical culprits are the most common ingredients in dog foods. This connection is not a coincidence. While some proteins might be somewhat more antigenic than others, lots of proteins are similar in type and the incidence of allergic reactions are probably connected with the amount of direct exposure.


The symptoms of food allergies resemble those of most allergic reactions seen in dogs and cats. The primary symptom is itchy skin impacting mostly the face, feet, ears, forelegs, armpits and the area around the anus. Symptoms may likewise consist of chronic or reoccurring ear infections, hair loss, extreme scratching, locations, and skin infections that respond to antibiotics but reoccur after antibiotics are discontinued. There is evidence that dogs with food allergies might sometimes have an increased incidence of bowel movements. One study revealed that non-allergic dogs have around 1.5 bowel movements daily where some dogs with food allergies may have 3 or more daily.

It is hard to differentiate an animal suffering from food allergic reactions from an animal suffering from atopy or other allergies based upon physical signs. However, there are a few signs that increase the suspicion that food allergic reactions may be present. Among these, is a dog with reoccurring ear problems, particularly yeast infections. Another, is an extremely young dog with moderate or severe skin issues. A third suggestion off, is if a dog struggles with allergic reactions year-round or if the symptoms start in the winter. And the final hint, is a dog that has very itchy skin however does not react to steroid treatment.


The medical diagnosis for food allergic reactions is extremely simple. But due to that lots of other problems can cause comparable symptoms and that sometimes animals are suffering from more problems than simply food allergic reactions, it is essential that other problems are properly identified and dealt with prior to going through medical diagnosis for food allergies. Atopy, flea bite allergic reactions, digestive parasite hypersensitivities, sarcoptic mange, and yeast or bacterial infections can all cause comparable symptoms as food allergies. When all other causes have actually been eliminated or treated, then it is time to carry out a food trial.

Food trials and elimination diets:

A food trial includes feeding an animal a novel food source of protein and carb for a minimum of 12 weeks. A novel food source would be a protein and carb that the animal had actually never eaten prior to. Examples would consist of be bunny and rice, or venison and potato. There are a variety of such business diets available on the marketplace. In addition, there are customized diets that have the proteins and carbs broken down into such little molecular sizes that they not would trigger an allergic reaction. These are called ‘limited antigen’ or ‘hydrolyzed protein’ diets. Homemade diets are typically used, as the active ingredients can be thoroughly restricted. Regardless of the diet used, it should be the only thing the animal eats for 12 weeks. This suggests no treats, no flavored medications, no rawhide or pig’s ears; absolutely nothing but the unique food and water. In addition, the dog needs to not be allowed to stroll, which may result in him having access to food or trash.

Food Trial Tips


Only the recommended diet needs to be fed.
Do NOT provide:

  • Cow hooves
  • Treats
  • Pigs Ears
  • Rawhides
  • Flavored medications (including heartworm preventives) or supplements
  • Flavored toothpastes
  • Flavored plastic toys
  • Any kind of food when providing medications

If you want to give a treat, use the recommended diet. (Hint: canned diets can be frozen in pieces or baked, and these can be used as treats.)

If possible, feed the other the same diet as the patient. If not, feed other pets in an entirely different location than the patient, and do not enable the patient access to that food.

Do not permit the dog access to the cat’s litter box.

Keep your family pet out of the space at meal times. Even a few percentages of food dropped on the floor or licked off of a plate can void a removal trial and need you to begin over. Wash the hands and faces of any children after they have actually consumed.

Do not enable your animal to stroll. Keep dogs on leashes when outdoors.

Keep a journal where you can record the date and any foods, treats, etc. your animal might have unintentionally eaten.

Vets used to advise that an animal just had to be put on an unique diet for 3 weeks but new research studies reveal that in dogs, just 26% of those with food allergic reactions reacted by day 21. Nevertheless, the huge majority of animals responded by 12 weeks. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep the family pet on the diet for the entire 12 weeks. If the dog reveals a significant reduction or elimination of the symptoms, then the animal is put back on the initial food. This is called ‘provocative testing’ and is necessary to confirm the medical diagnosis. If the symptoms return after going back on the original diet, the medical diagnosis of a food allergic reaction is confirmed. If there has been no modification in symptoms however a food allergy is still strongly presumed, then another food trial utilizing a various novel food source might be tried.

Blood Testing:

There is no evidence that blood tests are accurate for the medical diagnosis of food allergies. Veterinary skin specialists firmly insist that there is no merit in these tests whatsoever in the diagnosis of food allergic reactions. The only method to precisely detect food allergic reactions is with a food trial as detailed above. While the intradermal skin testing is exceptional for detecting atopy (inhalant allergies) it is inefficient for food allergies. While specialized blood tests can be used to help in the medical diagnosis of atopy, they have no benefit in diagnosing food allergic reactions. In our review of all the existing books and short articles on veterinary dermatology and allergies, we might not find a single skin doctor that endorsed anything besides the food trial as an efficient diagnostic help. If you want to diagnose and treat food allergic reactions you must do a food trial.


The treatment for food allergic reactions is avoidance.Once the offending active ingredients have actually been identified through a food trial, then they are removed from the diet. Short-term relief may be gotten with fatty acids, antihistamines, and steroids, but elimination of the items from the diet is the only long-lasting solution.The owner of the animal has two choices. They can opt to feed the animal a special commercially ready diet or a homemade diet.

Read also: Cetirizine is an effective Allergy medicine for dogs.

If the owner opts to feed the homemade diet, then they can occasionally challenge the family pet with brand-new ingredients and identify which active ingredients are causing the food allergy. For instance, if the animal’s symptoms decreased on a diet of rabbit and potatoes, then the owner might include beef to the diet for two weeks. If the animal revealed no symptoms, then they might then add chicken for two weeks. If the animal started to reveal symptoms, then it could be assumed that chicken was among the important things the pet was allergic to. The chicken might be withdrawn and after the symptoms cleaned up, a different component could be included and so on until all the angering active ingredients were recognized. A diet could then be created that was free of the upseting food sources.

If homemade diets are used, it is important that they be stabilized, with right quantity of components, vitamins, and minerals. Homemade diets for such long term use must be established by a veterinary nutritional expert.

Be aware that some family pets with food allergies may establish allergic reactions to new foods if they are fed those foods enough time. If you see signs of food allergies returning, consult your veterinarian.

Also read: Best Dog Food.

D. Roberts (Junior Expert)/ author of the article

He is a specialist in the field of veterinary medicine, and pet care. Believes that the person responsible for each pet, which was taken into the house, and therefore should study his behavior, means of determining health status and methods of first aid.

Like this post? Please share to your friends: