Many dog owners wonder whether there are dog food allergies like there are human food allergies. The answer is yes, there are actually many foods your dog may be allergic to.
What your dog eats is important. The ingredients that make up their dog food, how these ingredients are processed, and how much nutrients they contain are all vital aspects of your dog’s health.
However, even if you think a specific dog food brand is healthy, it can still contain common allergens for dogs and be irritating to your dog’s system.
Just like humans have common allergies to foods like shellfish, dairy, and nuts, dogs have common allergies to certain foods, too. If you’ve ever noticed your dog’s behavior changing after introducing a new food into their diet, it may be in response to a dog food allergy.
So, how can you know if your dog has a food allergy, and what are the most common allergens in dog food? Let’s find out.
Most Common Dog Food Allergies
In general, there are a few common ingredients that result in dog food allergies. However, no two dogs are exactly the same, and depending on a variety of factors, they may be allergic or sensitive to one or more common ingredients.
Chicken and Eggs
Chicken is one of the most common dog food allergies. It can cause itchy skin, gastrointestinal issues, and a variety of other symptoms such as aggression or sudden weight loss. Chicken is a main ingredient in many dog foods, but it can be easily substituted for other powerful proteins such as beef, pork, lamb, or salmon.
You can learn more about identifying a chicken allergy here, and remember you can always consult with your vet, too.
Soy is another common food allergy in dogs. While soy contains protein and nutrients, it can also cause irritation and a reaction if your dog is allergic to it. If you notice any of the signs of a dog food allergy, it’s best to eliminate soy right away and see if their symptoms improve.
Similar to lactose intolerance in humans, many dogs are sensitive or allergic to dairy products. Especially if you switch to a different dog food that contains dairy, you may notice changes in behavior, stools, and vomiting, as dairy can severely irritate your dog’s digestion if they’re allergic.
Corn is another common dog food allergy. Not only can it irritate your dog’s stomach, but corn flour and cornmeal are often included with other grains in dog foods and can act more as fillers rather than nourishing ingredients.
In addition to this, corn doesn’t contain a ton of essential nutrients. It has a high glycemic index, which can raise your dog’s blood glucose levels, plus it isn’t very easily digestible.
All in all, it’s best to avoid corn in dog food.
Sticking with human-grade dog food that avoids using fillers and unnecessary ingredients like corn and wheat will ensure your dog gets the nutrition they need with each bite.
While whole grains are a vital ingredient for your dog to consume on a regular basis, gluten and wheat can often lead to irritation and be the culprits of discomfort.
In addition to this, many dog food brands will include unnecessary amounts of wheat or grains because it tends to fill your dog up faster, so these foods can actually lack the wide variety of nutrients your dog needs.
This doesn’t mean your dog shouldn’t have any whole grains at all. There are other sources of whole grains aside from wheat and gluten, such as quinoa which is an excellent source of nutrients for your dog and is much less likely to result in a dog food allergy.
Signs of Dog Food Allergies
Most dog food allergies result in symptoms that are easy to spot and manage.
If your dog has a food allergy, they may either have a skin condition such as hives, inflammation or swelling, itchy sensations, excessive scratching, and dry skin, or digestive issues such as vomiting or diarrhea.
In addition, your dog may experience sneezing or itchy and watery eyes, and you may notice an increase in them licking themselves.
On rarer occasions, dogs can have similar allergic reactions to humans and experience anaphylaxis.
It may also be the case that your dog has a food sensitivity as opposed to an allergy. In this case, you may notice the same skin and digestive conditions, as well as ear and foot infections, and typically to a milder extent.
The main difference between an allergy and a sensitivity is in the body’s response. Your dog will have a more prominent immune response to any food allergies, whereas food sensitivities may only cause digestive comfort or very, very mild immune symptoms like itchy skin.
While it can be comforting to know that your dog only has a sensitivity to a certain food as opposed to an allergy, you’ll still likely want to avoid that food rather than cause your dog digestive or physical discomfort, so if you notice the signs start narrowing down which ingredients may be causing the reaction.
What To Do if your Dog Goes Into Anaphylactic Shock
If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy severe enough to result in anaphylactic shock, it’s important to know what to do if your dog has a reaction.
Just like there are epi-pens for humans, there are some for dogs as well. These pens contain epinephrine, better known as adrenaline, to reverse the anaphylactic reaction.
If you don’t have an epi-pen, take your dog to the nearest animal hospital as soon as possible.
Ways To Identify Dog Food Allergies
Once you’ve noticed the above symptoms of food allergies, there are a few ways you can narrow down your dog’s food allergies.
Visit the Vet
To diagnose the food allergy as quickly as possible, it’s best to visit your veterinarian. They will be able to perform tests that can rule out other allergens and help you target which food is bothering your furry friend.
In addition, only one percent of skin diseases in dogs are caused by dog food allergies, so your veterinarian may also want to test for a number of other health conditions that may result in similar symptoms.
For instance, bacterial infections, parasites, viruses, fleas, and even seasonal or indoor allergies can result in similar symptoms, so your veterinarian may want to rule these out before proceeding.
While testing for dog food allergies is often effective, it doesn’t always provide perfect results. In this case, there are other ways to narrow down the foods that may be bothering your dog.
Luckily, you can narrow down which food is bothering your dog using an elimination diet. The process does take longer than going to the vet, but it’s relatively easy to do at home.
Ask your vet to help you through the steps of an elimination diet for the best results.
Ways To Treat Dog Food Allergies
Dog food allergies typically don’t require extensive treatments or medications. In general, as long as you avoid the ingredient your dog is allergic to in the dog food you buy, you’ll be able to keep your dog reaction-free, happy, and healthy.
However, there are some instances in which your veterinarian may recommend putting your dog on allergy medication. This can help manage any symptoms your dog may experience from irritation or allergies and may help to prevent infections, too.
Finding the Right Diet for Your Dog with Allergies
Depending on what dog food allergy your dog suffers from, different dog food may meet their needs.
Sundays worked hard to avoid common allergens — our food is chicken-free and only contains the highest quality USDA-grade beef.
We also make our dog food to meet human-grade standards, so you won’t find any junk fillers like corn or wheat on our ingredient list. Instead, you’ll find fruits, vegetables, pumpkin, quinoa, and beef to provide your dog with the nutrition they need in every bite.
If your dog has a food allergy, you can use the elimination diet or perform a blood test to identify which foods are irritating your furry friend and how you can ease their symptoms.
Our dog food contains only the best ingredients for your dog, without some of the most common dog food allergens like chicken, corn, wheat, soy, or dairy that may irritate your dog’s stomach or result in an allergic reaction.
And with delicious nutrition packed into every bite, your dog will be more excited for mealtime than ever.
Food Allergies | Pet Food Institute
What every pet owner should know about food allergies | Cummings Veterinary Medical School