Dog Food and Dog Allergies – Why Some Dogs Become Allergic to Their Dog Food

What Causes Some Dogs to Become Allergic to Their Dog Food?

There are several factors that may cause your dog to have food allergies, but it’s also related to your dog’s genetics. Certain dogs are more likely to become allergic to their food or specific ingredients in most dog foods because of their genetic makeup according to an article on on WebMD, Caring for a Dog with Food Allergies.

It takes a long time for dogs to develop a food allergy, sometimes even years. Feeding the same brand or a similar one with the same type of ingredients for many years may cause a dog that is genetically predisposed to suffer from food allergies to start to show allergy symptoms. A dog can become allergic at any age, and often shows symptoms of allergies to dog food that it has been eating for a long time.

It’s All About the Protein

The protein in your dog’s food is the ingredient that its immune system is trying to attack, causing the allergy symptoms to surface. If it cannot properly digest the protein, the dog’s immune system kicks in and starts fighting.

Proteins in dog food include not only the ones derived from meat such as chicken, beef, fish, etc., but also the ones contained in vegetables and grains too. So, foods with a long list of ingredients, for example, containing not just one meat but two or three, and containing more than one vegetable and grain may make it difficult to pinpoint which one is the cause of the allergies.

Maybe it’s better to feed your dog a more basic diet and find a dog food that contains less variety of ingredients in the first place, but then again I’m not a specialist or a veterinarian either. Just my thoughts on that subject…talk to your vet if you want suggestions about dog food is probably the best advice I can give.

Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs

Some of the common symptoms found in dogs:

  • Irritated, itchy skin
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • poor coat
  • chronic ear infections
  • red inflamed skin — especially in the face, feet, forelegs, ears, armpits, and butt
  • excessive gas
  • Suffers year round or becomes worse every winter — it’s not an occasional thing
  • dog’s symptoms do NOT respond to steroids

It Might Not Be Your Dog’s Food

Beware of other causes of your dog’s allergy symptoms. There are often other causes to these very same symptoms in dogs, so bring your dog to the vet to rule out these other possible causes. These just may be the culprit to your dog’s itchy, red patches and hair loss among other things.

  • atopy
  • fleas —allergies to their bites
  • intestinal parasites
  • sarcoptic mange
  • yeast and bacterial infections

Dealing with Dog Food AllergiesIs Your Dog Food Guilty? Put it on Trial!

No, not exactly a trial of the food it was eating….

Once all other possibilities of your dog’s symptoms being caused by something else are ruled out, then it’s time for the Food Trial.

Your veterinarian will most likely recommend looking into your dog’s diet and placing it on a special diet either containing a novel protein or a hydrolized diet.

A novel protein diet is food containing a different source of protein than what your dog is used to eating or found in most dog foods.These dog foods may contain ingredients such as buffalo, kangaroo, rabbit, or other sort of unusual meats.

Hydrolized diets basically mean the proteins in the dog food are already broken down making it easier to digest, which in turn avoids the whole allergic reaction…or so we hope!

The special diet should usually last for 12 weeks and your dog should show some improvement in its condition by around four to six weeks….but, of course, listen to your vet and do exactly what he or she recommends for your dog.

What to Avoid During the Special Diet Trial

  • ALL other foods
  • Treats
  • Flavored medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain relievers
  • Rawhides
  • Pig ears

Avoid giving your dog ANYTHING else besides the food prescribed by your veterinarian. Otherwise, the whole trial will be messed up and you’ll have to start over. Another thing is to try to keep your dog out of mischief such as getting into the garbage or eating stuff outside like grass, dirt, and squirrels.

Hey, I hate to mention your dog might eat squirrels or other animals, whatever they might be, but you never know what it might get tempted to munch on if not supervised. So, keep an eye on your pooch while it’s outside.

One thing you can try, at least if your vet recommended a canned food, is freezing or baking some of it for use as treats. This way you can still give your dog a treat, especially if you’re working on training issues. As always, you can pester your vet about what you can give your dog for treats too if you don’t have canned food prescribed.

Common Culprits Found in Your Dog’s Food

Most dog foods found in your local stores are made of the same types of common ingredients and since these are usually what we feed our dogs for years and years, they eventually become the ones that cause allergies in some dogs.

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Dairy
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Yeast
  • Grains — cheap, by product grains may contain insects, mites, and even mold.
  • Mycotoxins — caused by mold

So, if you’re suspecting your dog has developed an allergy to its food, I’d suggest you get your butt to the veterinarian…

along with your dog’s, of course!

Let your vet know what symptoms, food your dog has been eating and for how long, and any other information that may be an important clue as to what is going on with your dog and its dog food allergy symptoms.

Do you have a question about dog food and dog allergies? Any suggestions or tips you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Dog Food and Dog Allergies – Why Some Dogs Become Allergic to Their Dog Food

  1. Allergy in pets is a common sight yet it is poorly understood by most pet owners. Often times, an allergic dog isn’t just sensitive to one type of allergen (substance causing allergy). It’s merely a sign for more allergy symptoms to occur.

    Simply removing a ‘suspicious’ chicken ingredient, for example, will not instantaneously make the prevailing symptoms go away. The mechanism of allergy has a vicious cycle and it takes lots of medication and a compliant client to help the dog recover.

    By doing an allergy test, we can identify which allergen that’s causing the attack in your dog and how to go about preventing it. The test can be a bit costly, but it’s really the golden standard to follow.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Yes, very true most of the time dogs aren’t allergic to just one substance or allergen. That’s why I’d recommend dog owners to work with their veterinarian in finding which substances their dog is allergic to rather than trying to guess for themselves.

      It’d probably be impossible to figure it out without a vet’s help especially if your dog has been eating the same food for a long time and suddenly developed an allergy. There’s not a new food to pinpoint the cause of the allergy symptoms, so it could be the “old” dog food brand or it could be something else entirely.

      There’s just too many sources that could be allergens to dogs to be able to remove every single one on a trial and error basis one by one without at least some clue to go on, and an allergy test would give some very good starting points.

      Thanks for commenting and best wishes to you, Cathy!
      🙂 -Sherry

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