Dog Food Allergy Symptoms

Dog Food Allergy Symptoms

Is your pet exhibiting dog food allergy symptoms? Not only will the allergy symptoms make your pet miserable, but if left untreated an allergy could also impact your pet’s health and longevity. Dog food allergies can develop at any point in their life. Often, the most common trigger will be ingredients in their dog food. So, if your dog seems uncomfortable or ill after every meal, it may be time to take a closer look. Consider these tips for diagnosis, treatments for dog food allergy symptoms, and what it might mean for your pet’s diet.

How Common are Food Allergies in Dogs?

Food allergies are a common concern for pet owners, but truth is, dog food allergies are pretty rare. In fact, they only account for 10 percent of allergies seen in dogs. More commonly, dogs suffer from flea bite allergies and inhalant allergies. That is to say, if your dog starts showing allergy symptoms you might not want to immediately start making drastic changes to their diet. The signs and symptoms you are seeing may not be related to your pet’s diet. Instead you should check things out with your veterinarian. However, there are some common things to know and steps to take that will give you a better idea of your pet’s symptoms and the likelihood of them having allergies. First thing, get to know common breeds that suffer from allergies and the most common symptoms to look for.

Breeds Prone to Food Allergies


  • Boxer
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Springer Spaniel
  • Collie
  • Dalmatian
  • German Shepherd
  • Dachshund
  • Shar Pei
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Miniature Schnauzer
Breeds Prone to Food Allergies

How the Digestive System Works

When the immune system and the digestive system interact together in the right way, then food allergies are prevented. A healthy dog will be able to break down amino acids and nutrients that pass through the GI tract. The digestive tract is a semi-permeable barrier that absorbs nutrients. Nutrients completely digested can pass through, but undigested substances cannot. Once nutrients pass the barrier they absorb into the bloodstream and from there the body does what it needs to with them. If undigested allergens do pass through the GI tract the immune system has a complex reaction and results in dog food allergy symptoms.

Most Common and Complete List of Dog Food Allergy Symptoms

Dog food allergies can strike at any age. They can develop to any protein or carbohydrate. This is why it can be difficult to pinpoint food allergies, because something they responded well to in the past could cause allergy symptoms in the future. Every time your dog eats the food the reaction becomes greater. This is why symptoms could develop over time and become more severe in the months to come. Then, in time, the constant symptoms of pet food allergies could lead to more serious illness or infection.

If your dog is suffering from a true food allergy the most common symptoms will be severe itching, skin breakouts, and hives. Other symptoms could include digestive issues. Often these symptoms will manifest in the form of constantly scratching, licking or biting their paws, and rubbing their face and ears on the couch or carpet. However, more concerning, are the symptoms that follow if your dog’s original food allergy symptoms are not addressed.

Pet Allergies and Ear Itching or Infections
One of the most common ways for an allergy to manifest is through itching ears. As a result, half of dogs with allergies have ear infections. If untreated, these infections can progress to chronic ear inflammation and deafness.
Pet Allergies and Skin Infections
The original itching and scratching can lead to secondary problems. Frequent scratching causes open wounds or breaks in the skin, places where bacteria can enter and fester. These bacteria will cause serious infections that can only be cleared with antibiotics. Unfortunately, the medicine will simply clear the infection. It will do nothing to treat the underlying allergy problem in your beloved canine. Instead, you will constantly be rotating through a cycle of skin irritants and vet bills if you don’t treat the underlying allergies.
Pet Allergies and Digestive Problems
Though these symptoms are more connected to pet food intolerance, some allergies may cause digestive upset. If your dog is allergic to an ingredient they may burp, vomit, bloat, or have diarrhea. If your pet is having a reaction to a carbohydrate this can be detrimental to the digestive tract. Those ingredients are difficult for your pet’s body to break down. As such, they will remain undigested and begin to ferment. This can cause bacterial overgrowth and lead to even more maldigestion.
  • Itching face, feet, trunk, limbs and anal area
  • Excessive scratching or licking
  • Ear infections
  • Eye infections
  • Bad odor
  • Recurring skin infections
  • Bald spots
  • Hot spots
  • Poor quality coat
  • Diarrhea
  • Burping
  • Flatulence
  • Vomiting
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Anaphylaxis

Triggers of Dog Food Allergies

Top Triggers of Dog Food Allergies

Unfortunately, the most common allergy triggers are also the most common ingredients in dog food. This is not simple coincidence. Also, sometimes it will not be the actual ingredients causing your dog’s allergies. It could be the contaminants, preservatives, or hormones in the food. That being said, there are some common culprits to look for when you worry about dog food allergies and symptoms. As an example, in a study of 278 cases of food allergies, the most clearly identified problem ingredient was beef. The second most common was dairy. Many people argue that dogs are typically allergic to carbohydrates like soy, wheat, corn, and other plant-based ingredients. This is not true. Though there are dogs who suffer allergies from these ingredients, more commonly these cause intolerance. The most common source of allergens is proteins.

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Egg
  • Yeast
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Soy
  • Pork
  • Rabbit
  • Fish
  • Egg

Aside from monitoring dog food allergy symptoms, what can you do to determine if your pet has an actual food allergy? Diagnosis of food allergies in dogs is not easy. There are some skin and blood tests the vet can do, but they do not produce accurate results for food allergies. Usually the only way to diagnose the problem is through a food trial.

During a food trial your dog will only eat things containing novel protein and carbohydrate sources. They cannot have anything else. This exposure to things they have never had before will help determine the allergen source and cleanse the system. Most importantly, it will keep your pet from suffering common dog food allergy symptoms. For the novel diet to work it has to continue for at least eight weeks to determine the success or failure of the new diet. That is quite a commitment, but your pet is worth it. If they do have food allergies, this process will also help alleviate the symptoms.

How to Treat Dog Food Allergies

The last thing you want is a short term fix for dog food allergies and dangerous symptoms. Most veterinarians will not recommend anti-allergy drugs or antibiotics if your dog has an allergic condition associated with food. Instead they have to address the source of the problem and combat it from there. It is the only way your dog will not have a lifelong problem with food allergies. So, the only real treatment for dog food allergies and symptoms is through avoidance. It is the safest way to get relief for dog food allergy symptoms once you have identified the offending ingredients.

Many pet owners think all they have to do is change foods or change brands. This probably won’t be effective because the dog is likely to be allergic to a particular ingredient, not the whole food. Determining the source is the key.

Dog Food Trial

If your pet has been on the same food for months and years on end, it is probably time for a switch. If they are itching, there is a good chance your dog has developed an allergy to something in their daily diet. Pets need some diversity in their diet, just as humans do. To accomplish this you want to implement novel ingredients into your pet’s diet, specifically rotating the proteins. When introducing a novel or limited ingredient diet you want a single protein source and a single carbohydrate source. Some common, novel proteins include venison, ostrich, buffalo, or rabbit. These are supposed to be ingredients your dog has never eaten before. You may also want to try hypoallergenic dog foods or grain free dog food.

Once the dog food allergy symptoms are under control you can either keep them on the novel diet, or you can start an ingredient challenge. That means each week you add an ingredient into their food for two or three days to see how they respond. If the food allergy symptoms do not return then your ingredient is probably safe. Just continue picking one thing at a time and find out what other quality ingredients your pet can have. Then you can uses these safe ingredients in rotation to help prevent future allergies.

The best part of all this is that pet food manufacturers can help make the process a little easier. They understand the need for limited ingredient diets and have provided many dog owners with top quality food products to limit allergens.



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I've been a dog lover since the day I was born but it's the current four legged love of my life, Phoebe who inspired me to create the Munch.Zone.

We moved together from Israel to New York in 2013, love hiking together, and never pass up a trip to the dog park. Watching her over the years sparked so many questions about dog behavior and health needs, and it wasn't always easy to find answers. Thus, the Munch.Zone was born.

On any given day you'll find me watching Netflix originals, eating popcorn, and thinking about how to get into house flipping.

Latest posts by Shay Atik (see all)

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5 thoughts on “Dog Food Allergy Symptoms

  1. My dog’s been having a terrible time lately with itchy skin. He keeps scratching and biting at it, rubbing around on the carpet, etc. I couldn’t figure out what the problem is, but maybe it is an allergy to his food. After reading this article I will take him to the vet and ask about trying a new food and getting him tested for food allergies.

  2. Our pup has a lot of food allergies, and we have found that a limited ingredient diet is the best thing for him. We started noticing that he had a lot of gas and digestive problems early on, so we made the switch and we haven’t had a single issue since. This is a lot of great information to help pet owners identify this common issue so that it can be corrected!

  3. My dog from what I can recall has never had any allergic reactions to food or anything. I take pretty good care of my dog, and the only thing she does is sometimes sneeze on rare occasions. Could this be something to do with dust? I have a fairly dusty house and I need to clean it very soon. Could that cause her sneezing?

  4. I think I’m going to try this food trial with my dogs. They’ve been dealing with allergies for a while now and I’m all for finding the right food to feed them. I figure anything that’s meant for dogs is a good thing to go with, as long as it’s organic and natural and doesn’t have weird additives. Thanks for sharing this bit of info guys! 🙂

  5. We have noticed that our puppy has some serious stomach sensitivities, but we didn’t realize that it may be a direct result of a food allergy. This makes sense, and now that we know more about it, we are going to try out a limited ingredient diet. I hope that this will alleviate the upset stomach.

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