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Common Dog Food Allergies

Updated on May 13, 2011
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has over 10 years of experience in dog training, rescuing, and healthcare.

Dog Allergies

Your dog can have just as many allergies as you do... That means, yes, he can be allergic to cat dander, other dog dander, perfumes, grass, and even food. Although, the frequency of a dog being allergic to another dog is much less common than a dog being allergic to a particular food ingredient.

 For the most part, it can get expensive dealing with a dog with specific allergies because depending on the particular allergy, it may entail that you get regular shots, medications, foods, shampoos, etc.  But, if you know exactly what your dog is allergic to, you can find ways around it and try to eliminate the allergen throughout your home. 

Dog Food Allergies

Probably one of the more common dog allergies is a food allergy, besides a flea and tick allergy or a skin allergy. The more common food allergies are those towards corn or wheat, as in the wild, they do not eat either corn or wheat and survive on a sole meat diet, but in captivity corn and wheat are common fillers in dog foods.

This is why what you feed your dog is very important. I mean, looking at most dry foods, and even some canned dog foods, you'll find that the main ingredient is commonly a filler, typically a rice.

When choosing a dog food, dry or can, you want to always read the ingredient label before purchasing the dog food. You want to make sure that the first ingredient is a protein, because that means the main ingredient is a protein.

There are many all natural dog foods on the market today, and you will find that although a little more pricey, they are much better for your dog. Plus, the fewer fillers that are in the dog food, means the less your dog has to eat in order to get the nutrients that he needs, which means you save money because you can feed him less. And, because he's eating a little less, he'll potty a little less.. It's really a win- win situation.

Types of Food Allergies:

  • Additives in commercial dog food
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Grains (commonly wheat)
  • Soy
  • Specific meat or protein
  • Specific vegetables (commonly corn)
  • Whey

In many cases, it's not the actual food, but the chemicals (preservatives and pesticides) used in and around the foods that cause the allergic reaction.

You will find many lamb-based foods marked for dogs with food allergies, but now, lamb, too, can produce an allergic reaction, so it will be up to you and your vet to figure out what all your dog is allergic  to so that you can find a food that will best suit his food allery.

And, remember that it is nothing more than a mere myth that by feeding the same dog food every day throughout your dog's life will prevent a food allergy from developing. In actuality, by feeding your dog a variety of foods cn prevent the development of a food allergy.  

Signs of a Dog Food Allergy

The main sign of an allergy, no matter what type of allergy is going to be itchy skin, which can manifest into scratching and/or chewing, sores, head shaking, hair loss, face rubbing, and reoccuring infections (commonly ear infections).

If the food allergy isoverlooked, then the simple skin irritation can manifest into more serious symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, sneezing, asthma like respiratory symptoms, seizures, and even behavioral changes.  

Typically a food allergy is overlooked, as skin problems are typically just associated with fleas, mange, or some external allergen such as pollen or dust.

And, in many cases, a food allergy is not the first suspect because the dog has eaten the same dog food for years, and the problems have just recently started to occur. Well, like people, dogs can suddenly develop a food allergy, and it's not uncommon for a dog food manufacture to make a slight change in the ingredients.

A food allergy can appear in any age dog, breed, and gender. There is nothing that can prevent a dog from developing a food allergy, not even spaying/neutering (although, you shold spay/neuter your dog for other reasons). 

Diagnosing a Food Allergy

It can be hard to distinguish a food allergy from other health problems or allergies, but there are a few things to look for.

  • Dogs who experience the symptoms year round versus seasonally.
  • Dogs who don't respond to anti-histamines or steriods.
  • Dogs who develop skin problems at a young age.
  • Dogs that have reoccuring ear problems, such as infections. 

Your vet can perform an allergy test on your dog in order to find out the source of your dog's allergy. For the most part, it consists of removing the dog's current dog food and replacing it with a completely different food for a period of time, usually at least six weeks, to see if the symptoms go away, and then re-introducing the food to see if the symptoms return. 

Lamb used to be the recommended diet for dogs with food allergies, but currently a duck and potato diet is more commonly recommended.

It will take a good bit of time to fully eliminate the substances from your dog's system after changing the dog's diet, but over time your dog will be able to recover his food allergy and stop producing the antibody that is causing the symptoms.In many cases, it can  take anywhere from six to ten weeks, and up to two weeks for the symptoms to reappear, if the new diet is still affecting your dogs allergies. 


Homemade Dog Food Diet

In many cases, it may just be as easy to put your dog on a homemaade dog food diet. There are many different diets that you can choose to put your dog on, but sometimes knowing that you are using all fresh vegetables and meats, will put your mind at ease just a little.

Before you put your dog on a homemade diet, you want to consult with your vet as to a diet that will be best for your dog and his dietary needs. 


Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub! One of my german shepherds have developed food allergy and his ear is really swollen.

    • RichardCMckeown profile image


      10 years ago

      ohh, what the good information. Thanks about this.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Piper check out Purina HA. Expensive but does the trick and will save you a boat load of money in the long run. Check reviews of people who use it NOT people who dont like the company or ingredients. It works!!!

    • Piper Day profile image

      Piper Day 

      10 years ago

      Excellent! I'm going to see if my dog is allergic to his food. This is his 3rd month on Orijen large breed puppy food and lately he's been scratching a lot. I suspect it might be the chicken content in the food. When I first adopted him, he had rashes and I put him on Fish-for-Puppies which is basically all fish as far as meat content. The rashes went away and I don't recall him scratching so much.

    • plentyofpuppies profile image


      10 years ago

      I had a dog that had allergies. I put them on a special diet and followed steps very similar to the ones you listed in the article. It was spot on, one other thing that REALLY helped was giving him vitamins, we used special vitamins for dogs though, not human ones ;)

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      i had my springer sppaniel allergy tested and hes allergic to pretty much everything, his whole invirment and food. his food allergies are duck,potatoe,rice,brewers yeast,pinto beans,wheat and turkey. i need someone to recommend some good dry dog foods i can buy for him.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      how bad can food allergies get? My dog is a little over 3. She got sick 1 week ago. For the first few days when she was sick she would sleep all the time, look and act like she was in pain, not eat very much, not jump, or go up and down stairs. Usually she is jumping of the walls. We took her to the vet they thought maybe she had some sort of lime disease and she was given an antibiotic. about a day later she was taken to the vet again, because when she walked she would walk kind of sideways, and she was stumbling around and running into things. Now she is on a whole bunch of drugs steroids, pain killer, and stomach settler. We are not sure whats wrong with her. The vet thought maybe something was wrong with her spine. Now she can only turn left and falls when she tries to go right. She has very labored breathing sometimes fast and rapid or sometimes more like wheezing. She also drooling a lot too. She is a miniature poodle and never ever drooled before. So I don't know if its allergies. Her medicine doesn't seem to be doing a thing except making her act all the stranger and more loopy. She was eating beniful which was she always has. Any of you guys have any clues about her strange sickness? I hate seeing the life get drained out of her.



    • profile image


      11 years ago

      A well thought out article and helpful. Our dog is on a venison and potato diet and it is helping but we were so long misdiagnosed, or he was, that it's taking a bit longer but he's showing steady improvement.

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Georgia

      It is funny to think that the food your dog eats can really control his health. A good premium food can benefit health for sure. Glad you were able to figure out the root cause.

    • Brunettemom profile image


      11 years ago

      i know for a fact about food allergies since my shepherd/lab had ear infections for the last 4yrs used ear drops/medicine with no success, til we changed his food/treats the last 2months. No more pain/odor finally its all cleared up completley :) who knew commericial foods, (top brands) too were the cause of this. well said whitney05

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      that says a lot about so many things. great

    • jackinabox profile image


      12 years ago

      Great hub, thanks :)


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