Food Allergies in Dogs- Causes, Symptoms and Cures

by Sreeraj Krishnan

Is your dog itching, scratching or facing any kind of infections?

Well, that’s probably a sign of an allergy. Food allergies are a rising concern for dog parents. Hence, it is necessary to provide them with food that has no ingredients, they are allergic to.

If a parent has an allergy, their offspring is more likely to inherit it from them. There has been no evidence for a particular dog breed to be more allergic than the other. Although dogs of any breed can suffer from food allergies, some breeds are more prone. 10 breeds that are usually googled for food allergies are-

  • Bulldogs
  • Dachshunds
  • Pugs
  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Pitbulls
  • Shih Tzus
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Schnauzers
  • Yorkshire Terriers

What Is Food Allergy in Dogs?


Food allergy in dogs 

Photo by flickr


You might often not relate your dog itching and scratching to the ingredients of the provided meal. The symptoms that dogs show when allergic to food are quite similar to environmental allergies. So, it becomes important to be aware of your dog’s allergies and provide them with food items fit for their body and health. 

In the case of a food allergy, dogs develop allergies to certain ingredients of the food. It occurs when your dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies a protein source in the meal as harmful. It then creates defensive antibodies to fight the invaders (protein).

What Causes Food Allergies?

Food allergies occur when your dog’s immune system misidentifies a protein as an invader and mounts an immune response. These are a misguided reaction to foreign substances by a dog’s immune system.

Is Food Allergy Different from Food Intolerance?

Many times, you can get confused between your dog facing food allergy or food intolerance issues. The two are completely different from each other. If your dog suffers from a food allergy it is because of over-response of your dog’s immune system to an invading protein. While food intolerance is when your dog has difficulty digesting certain ingredients.

The signs of both remain the same but the fact is the latter doesn’t involve an immune response.

Most Common Allergens in Dog Food

Dogs with food allergies are generally allergic to proteins of the food items. The protein part in beef, meat, eggs, wheat, and dairy products are often problematic for a dog’s health.  

Some starches like potato starch (not whole potatoes) are quite low in or free of protein content. These starches are safer for your dog’s health.

Symptoms of Food Allergy in Dogs


Signs dog show when suffering from food allergy

Photo by Wikimedia Commons


The true food allergy symptoms can range from skin conditions to gastrointestinal symptoms or a combination of both. If your dog suffers from a food allergy, they’ll show some of these common signs-

  • Sneezing
  • Body itching
  • Hot spots
  • Itchy paws and/or ears and/or belly
  • Skin rashes
  • Bacterial infections of the skin or ears
  • Red eyes
  • Leathery or pigmented skin
  • Hair loss
  • Oily skin
  • Ear infections

You can also observe certain gastrointestinal signs or chronic symptoms while your dog faces food allergies-

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or chronic gas
  • Strain to pass stool

Your dog may show symptoms like nasal discharge, breathing difficulties, seizures, and weight loss too.

Common Food Items That Can Trigger Allergy in Your Dogs

Dogs are mostly allergic to these common food items (mentioning in descending order)-

  • Beef- Feeding your dogs with the same meal for years can increase their potential to intolerance or allergy. Since a lot of pet foods contain beef, it makes beef the most common food allergen. 

  • Dairy Products- Some dogs face problems in digesting lactose. They thus suffer from intolerance issues rather than an allergy. Although the signs your dog shows are similar, lactose intolerance is always about indigestion.

  • Chicken/Meat- Your dogs can be allergic to even plain old chicken protein. 

  • Wheat- Higher protein grains like corn and wheat are safer than meat to cause allergies in dogs. However, your dog might be allergic to wheat as well. So, it is better to check with your vet in case you notice any allergy symptoms.

  • Soy- Eating soy cannot only lead to allergies but various reproductive and growth problems as well. While soy can be a healthy protein, avoid serving it to your dogs if they are allergic to it.

  • Lamb- To cope up with common food allergens (like chicken and beef) in a dog’s regular meal, the lamb was considered as a good alternative. But vets have tested lamb to be a cause of food allergy in dogs. Try serving sweet potato and venison in place of lamb and rice.

  • Eggs- When your dog’s immune system overreacts to the proteins in egg yolk, they suffer from an egg allergy.

Treating Food Allergy in Dogs


Home-cooked fresh food for dogs with food allergy.

Photo by Flicker

The best solution to treat food allergy in dogs is to identify food they are allergic to and then feed them with the right food items. You can treat them with particular food items to check what they are allergic to. For treating food allergy in your dogs, you have to serve them the right meal. Serve them the food excluding what they are allergic to and including what they would love to eat. 

The canned food and kibble can be a bit dicey, so, read all the mentioned ingredients before feeding them to your dogs. Choose your dog's food wisely and always see that it does not contain items your dog is allergic to. a fully dependable meal for your dog’s good and healthy body. 

You can opt for feeding your dog with organic home-cooked food as well. You can add fresh, wholesome foods, meat, and vegetables to your dog’s commercial diet. Avoid feeding him with fast food or spicy dishes.

When to See a Vet?

Food allergies can be a bit tricky to deal with. A food allergy mostly happens when your dog is fed the same brand of food for a while. Your dogs can be allergic to any food item.

Visit your vet and tell him about symptoms your dog is having, the food you are feeding them and also about any meds or supplements you are providing to your dog.

Make an immediate appointment with your vet if your dog shows any signs of having a food allergy. 


Watch Out!

Do not overlook any symptoms in your dog's action and immediately concern a veterinary doctor if they face health issues. Choose a food that is prepared with fresh and required (all that your dogs aren’t allergic to) ingredients.

The sooner you feed them right, the healthier they’ll be. 

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Feature photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels