Dog food allergies explained

Allergies in dogs are getting more common

Dog food allergies seem to be increasing as also allergies in humans have increased in the last 30 years.

About 10% of allergic dogs are having dog food allergies. It is the third common cause after flea bite allergies and atopy (an allergic reaction towards a substance or substances in the environment).


Food allergy takes time to develop and usually your pet will have eaten the offending dog food for years without any trouble!

Your dog's immune system is over reacting to a substance in his diet. Usually a particular protein is responsible. But also other ingredients are known food culprits.

This is different from food intolerance such as lactose intolerance for example. Any dog can develop an allergy though this is more common in younger animals. Also breed disposition seems to play a role, though not as strong as for atopy.


Depending on the type of allergy, your pet may exhibit different allergy symptoms.

The main signs of allergies in dogs are

scratching allergic puppy Could this be an allergy?
  • excessive scratching,
  • licking,
  • vomiting and
  • diarrhea.

Do not assume the scratching and licking is just a new habit your dog picked up. He is just very uncomfortable. So please give him a break and don't scold at him when it frustrates you. Not to say you are, but a constantly scratching dog just isn't pleasant.

I suspect my dog is allergic, what can I do?

Watching your pet go through the misery of allergy symptoms can be miserable in itself. And these symptoms will typically worsen as your dog grows older. You therefore need to take action. Desensitizing is no option for food induced allergy. The only remedy is identifying and avoiding the ingredient.

When you suspect your furry companion has dog food allergies, please visit your veterinarian for diagnosis and testing. It is better to err on the side of caution. There are all kinds of dog allergy tests which can confirm or rule out different causes. To boost your understanding of the principle of allergy testing, elimination diets and hypo allergenic dog food it helps to know a little bit about dog allergy types.


Your vet can support you in the elimination diet process as this is often difficult for a pet owner. This is especially true for the provocative food challenge test to confirm the diagnosis. But it's for a good cause of course. Your most loyal friend’s health is at stake here. Of course you can keep your pooch on the hypo-allergenic diet as long as it is well balanced. You may need switching dog food several times. It requires discipline and perseverance as your dog may be allergic to both food and environmental allergens. Use the symptoms checklist and keep a log so you can draw valid conclusions from your observations during the food testing. You will get there!

Prognosis is very good once you have identified the substance or substances. On a hypo-allergenic diet or sensitivity control diet your dog can live many happy healthy years.

You can read more about this process in this dog allergy case study, which is based on an interview held with a dog owner whose dog was suffering from multiple concurrent allergies.

Do you have similar or different experiences with an allergic dog? I would love to hear your story or tips.
Use the form below to share.

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Do you have a personal story about dogs and their allergies? Share it with all of us!

Perhaps you have tips to relief itching. By sharing what you know you can help other dog owners and their dogs.

Educate others by telling your story. How did you recognize your dog was suffering from allergies? Did you switch dog food endlessly? What hurdles did you come across? All tips are welcome!

Others can truly benefit from your experience, so don't be shy.

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