How to identify dog food allergies

Dog food allergies are surprisingly common. After all, dogs usually seem to be healthy and strong animals that are full of boundless energy. And that’s because they are, of course.

But despite this, dogs are in fact prone to suffering from quite a lot of ailments, especially allergies. And this includes allergies to their food.

In fact, apart from flea bites and irritants in the environment, the most common culprit when it comes to canine allergies is their food.

But it’s not always easy to identify the root cause of a problem that’s affecting your dog. So just how do you know if your dog has a food allergy?

The answer is quite simply to keep a close on the way that your dog is behaving. You need to keep a keen lookout for any signs of increased scratching. And you also need to look for any physical signs of a problem.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the symptoms you need to look out for.

Symptoms and causes of dog food allergies

Symptoms of dog food allergies

Dog food allergies don’t just occur in puppies – they can rear their head at any time in your dog’s life. Also, there’s no obvious link to any particular breed of dog or their sex. Nor are they linked to your dog’s medical history, although having said that dogs with food allergies do also often seem to suffer from other allergies too. But what all this means is that you need to keep a constant lookout for any signs of food allergies throughout your dog’s life.

The most common symptoms of dog food allergies are skin itchiness, redness and dryness, especially around the face and ears, the legs and feet, and the bottom. This itchiness leads to your dog scratching a lot and biting at their skin.

Other common symptoms include hair loss, recurring infections (especially severe ear infections), yeast infections and skin lesions and rashes.

If your dog has a food intolerance this will show itself in a quite different way – usually through diarrhea and vomiting.

Both food allergies and food intolerances in your dog can be treated in similar ways, but intolerances can pose a much bigger threat to your dog’s health.

Of course, the big difficulty in determining that your dog does indeed have a food allergy is that all these symptoms are similar to those caused by other allergies, such as a reaction to flea bites or irritants.

Causes of dog food allergies

While it’s true that your dog could suffer an allergic reaction to just about any food, the most common culprits are dairy products, eggs, fish and meat. Many commercial dog foods include various grains such as corn, soy and wheat to act as fillers and bulk up the food. And these are another common cause of allergic reactions in dogs.

Generally speaking, dogs will develop allergies to foods they frequently consume, rather than those they only occasionally come into contact with.

Treating dog food allergies

In order to treat a food allergy in your dog, you must first isolate the cause. Your vet will prescribe a protein-rich diet for your dog and you must cut off all other sources of food. This includes treats, medication, rawhide and even toothpaste.

Your dog will likely be on this special diet for twelve weeks after which you will gradually start to re-introduce other foods one at a time. The idea is that you’re looking to see which particular food causes an allergic reaction.

Obviously this is a long, drawn-out process during which it’s easy to feel sorry for your dog and be tempted to give them treats for example, but it really is the best way to identify the cause of the allergy and so must be followed.

Another option is to get blood tests done on your dog but the accuracy of these tests in identifying allergies is nowhere near the same as the above method.


Dog food allergies aren’t pleasant for your dog. In fact, they can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing. Not only this, but they can also be painful, and if you don’t deal with them, then your dog runs the risk of suffering serious infections.

If your dog shows any of the symptoms described in this article, you should take them to your vet so they can test for the possibility of dog food allergies.

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