Just like their humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to certain foods. This can cause a number of issues including itchy hot spots, itchy skin and constant licking. This is a real struggle for both pet and owner, as they try to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
The good news: dog allergies are super common and your dog’s discomfort can be eliminated by identifying the symptoms and underlying causes of these skin reactions.
Firstly, it’s important to know the difference between a true food allergy and a food intolerance. A dog with a food intolerance has difficulty digesting a certain ingredient, like dairy, whereas a food allergy triggers an immune response.
Most dogs’ skin and gastrointestinal problems aren’t actually from a food allergy, but due to environmental allergies like grass or pollen. However, some dogs are truly food-allergic. While there isn’t any scientific literature on which breeds are more prone to food allergy, the following breeds are most commonly googled along with the search terms “food allergies” or “dog allergies”.
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Cocker Spaniels
- Shih Tzus
- Westies (aka West Highland White Terriers)
- Yorkies (aka Yorkshire Terriers)
Common Symptoms of Dog Food Allergies
Food allergies occur when your dog’s immune system misidentifies a particular ingredient as harmful. Your dog’s body then creates defensive antibodies to fight the ingredient. So how do you know if your dog’s food is causing an allergic reaction? These are the common symptoms.
Itchy skin (aka pruritus)
Hot spots (skin infections resulting from excessive scratching)- We have something for this! Our Pet Drs Hot Spot Gel will alleviate the itch, control the bacteria and heal the skin. Here’s a great before and after image from our four legged customer who used our Hot Spot Gel:
Before using Pet Drs Hot Spot Gel:
After using Pet Drs Hot Spot Gel:
(quick tip: Keep it in the fridge to give an instant soothing and cooling effect!)
- Skin rashes
- Scaly and/or oily skin
- Pigmented skin
- Leathery skin texture
- Eye discharge
- Red eyes
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Hair loss
- Ear infections
- Secondary yeast or bacterial infections (aka pyoderma) of the skin or ears
Most Common Causes of Food Allergy in Dogs
Beef, Chicken & Lamb - proteins are common food allergens. These meats can cause skin disorders as well as chronic conditions such as indigestion, ear infections and respiratory issues. An allergy to beef is an overreaction of your dog’s immune system. This basically means feeding your dog a single food for years, which increases their potential to develop an intolerance or allergy to one or more ingredients.
Dairy - dogs can suffer from lactose intolerance. This can lead to gas, diarrhea and vomiting.
Wheat - It’s much more common for dogs to have an allergic reaction to meet than grains. However, some dogs are allergic to wheat.
Eggs - dogs can have allergies to egg yolk and experience a number of symptoms, including itchy and inflamed skin.
Soy - some studies have suggested soy products can cause various health issues including reproductive and growth problems, thyroid, and liver disease.
Food Allergy Testing
The first thing you need to do if you suspect a food allergy is visit your vet. There are commercial skin and blood allergy tests on the market, and your vet may recommend starting there. However, these tests aren’t always 100% accurate, so another way to discover which foods your dog is allergic to is an elimination diet.
An elimination diet requires you to feed a diet that is limited to a single protein source, and preferably minimal other ingredients to test which ingredients your dog is and isn’t reacting to. It is recommended the single protein source to be a novel protein to help you limit the variety of ingredients in your dog’s diet.
How Novel Proteins Can Help
Novel proteins are ingredients your pet’s body has most likely never been exposed to. This would include kangaroo, wild boar and goat. Because your dog’s body is unfamiliar with these ingredients, they are unlikely to solicit an allergic response. Therefore, including these less mainstream animals into your dog’s diet may help alleviate food allergy symptoms.
Pet Drs know that treats are an important part of a dog's life, which is why we have carefully crafted these novel protein treats specifically for sensitive tummies and skin that cannot cause irritations to your furry friends! Our novel protein treats come in three flavours: goat heart, kangaroo kidney and wild boar liver. Click here to check them out!
As if dog food allergies weren’t bad enough, leaky gut syndrome can trigger a range of food allergies. When poorly or partially digested foods pass through the intestinal wall, this could signify a case of leaky gut syndrome. This causes inflammation of the dog’s mucosal wall of the intestine. With no way to prevent the flow of undigested food particles into the bloodstream, your dog's body may come to view all food as intruders.
But no need to worry! We’ve made a product to help with this! Pet Drs Mega Oil contains a supreme blend of Omega 3.6 & 9 oils that are mixed with only the finest ingredients. These oils prevent and improve leaky gut syndrome by regulating the immune system and lowering inflammation.