A dog lying on a carpet in a living room

Common food-related allergies in dogs and how to prevent them

Like humans, dogs can suffer from adverse reactions to food ingredients. From protein sources such as pork and beef to wheat, egg and soy, in a sensitive dog many of the common dog food ingredients out there could potentially cause a flare-up.  

  Here we’ll be going through common allergens, symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs, and ways you can avoid further flare ups.  

What is a food allergy?

You may have heard of two terms when it comes to food-related issues – ‘allergy’ and ‘intolerance’. First of all, the two are completely different – ‘intolerance’ is related to digestion problems, such as not being able to digest milk – i.e. lactose intolerance. This is when the dog is simply unable to process the sugar lactose as they do not have sufficient quantities of the correct enzyme. Food intolerances can also be a reaction to food toxicities, for instance to the compounds in onions or chocolate. An intolerance is not immune-mediated. An allergy, on the other hand, is an over-response of the dog’s immune system, where your dog’s body sees proteins within foods as a foreign body. Like in humans, their immune system will attempt to eject it from their body.

Signs of an adverse food response

Dog food allergies usually present as a skin reaction. Below you’ll find a list of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs:

  • Itching
  • Biting
  • Licking obsessively
  • Chronic ear inflammation
  • Poor coat quality

The below symptoms mimic symptoms seen in humans and can be an indicator of a food allergy:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Itchy rear end
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing

It’s important to be aware that the symptoms listed above can also be signs of other conditions in dogs, some of them serious. If any of the above symptoms occur, consult your vet who will be able to rule out any other causes.

So, which foods are more likely to cause a reaction?

Food sensitivities vary from dog to dog – but there are a number of common animal proteins, dairy products and vegetables that can cause a reaction. Take a look at our list below:

  • Egg
  • Soya
  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Pork
  • Beef

  These food ingredients are commonly used in pet foods. Food sensitives can develop over time due to repeat exposure and your dog may have consumed a food for a long period of time before an allergic response occurs. However, once your pet is allergic they will be allergic for life and you will need to avoid feeding them foods with that particular ingredient.

Elimination Diets

If your dog is showing signs of an allergic reaction, it’ll be quite tricky to identify by guessing alone. If you consult your vet, they will place your dog on an elimination diet, followed by a food challenge. This works by feeding your dog one or two foods until you find a product that doesn’t cause a reaction. It’s important to rule out any treats or additional food. Once you’ve found a couple of items which seem safe then you can start the food challenge, which involves introducing further foodstuffs until a reaction occurs. Then it’s a case of avoiding all foods that contain that specific ingredient. If, unfortunately, your dog seems allergic to everything presented then it could be the environment that’s the issue – not food. This can be anything from pollen, to the fabric in your carpet.  

Hypo-allergenic foods could ease the strain

James Wellbeloved pet food is naturally hypoallergenic, which is perfect for your dog’s everyday health, and reduces the risk of an adverse food reaction. We avoid six common allergens – wheat, dairy, beef, pork, eggs and soya. All of our diets are formulated with a single animal protein. So, for example, in our turkey foods we’ll only use turkey – it’s that simple. And if your dog experiences sensitives to a particular protein, we have a choice of three other delicious animal proteins – lamb, duck and fish. Alongside this, our foods contain no added artificial preservatives, colours or flavours. We believe that these ingredients are not beneficial for the dog and may be responsible for adverse physical and behavioural reactions. We disclose our full ingredient list on our packaging so that you know exactly what you are feeding your dog. We also offer a range of grain free diets for dogs who have particular sensitivities and who struggle with cereals.