Understanding Dog Food Allergies

by Healthy Barks Social September 02, 2022 8 min read

Understanding Dog Food Allergies


 What Every Dog Parent Should Know About Food Allergies

With the onset of Spring, we see dogs generally miserable with seasonal environmental allergies. They are found itching and scratching. The environment-induced allergies can be prevented if pet parents take diligent care of the dog’s hygiene and grooming. Regular baths with dog-friendly products, use of appropriate lotions, wipes, sprays can help to a great extent in preventing these seasonal skin allergies.

Understanding Dog Food Allergies

But what about the allergies that stem from the diet of your dog? Does your dog show consistent poor coat or frequent ear infections? 

If your dog feels itchy, causing them to sneeze and scratch constantly, it might be a symptom of something bigger. Chances are, your dog is showing signs of afood allergy

Allergies are an exaggerated immune system response. Managing your dog’s allergies include addressing their diet and providing essential nutrients in their meals. 

The two main categories of dog allergies are food and environment. Food sensitivities usually create year-round symptoms. Dogs also suffer from reactions to seasonal allergens such as pollen. However, seasonal environmental allergy symptoms flare intermittently.

Pet Allergies can be equally uncomfortable and irritating as in the case of human allergies.According to a survey done byThe News Market, 44% of pet owners admitted that they didn’t realize their pets can suffer from allergies as do humans. 

In this blog, we will cover the common food allergies found in dogs, the symptoms and ways to manage them. Keep reading to know more about dog food allergies. 


What is a Food Allergy?

Food Allergy or Food Hypersensitivity happens when the dog’s immune system attacks protein from their food. While we may think that the problem starts in the nose or the eyes, it is actually the immune system gone wild giving rise to allergies.

Understanding Dog Food Allergies

Food Allergies can cause severe gastrointestinal discomfort for dogs. 

When a dog’s immune system detects a protein source as an invader and not as a food, it develops an immune reaction. The reaction is observed as either skin disorders (itchy skin, ear infections) and gastrointestinal upsets(vomiting, diarrhoea) or both. 

Food allergies can be introduced in your pet’s genome due to incorrect breeding practices in the past. India, sadly, has a very weak regulatory framework around pet breeding practices. It’s best to get your pet checked and take regular blood tests to ensure any particular food sensitivity/allergy doesn’t show up.

Food allergies may be observed after long-term exposure to a particular food ingredient.Your dog’s immune system is responding to a specific protein found in those foods that causes an allergic reaction.

[Related]: Food Allergy Signs in Dogs


Do certain ingredients boost allergies in Dogs? 

Food allergies can present challenges for both the dog and the parents. Food intolerances can be severe and lead to conditions such as arthritis, hypothyroidism, etc. Many common dog food ingredients like corn, wheat, and milk products, can be potential food allergens for dogs. 

General food allergens are proteins, specifically in dairy products, lamb, beef, soy, chicken eggs, chicken and wheat (gluten). So when your pet relishes food with allergens, the antibodies react faster and symptoms occur. Hence, it’s important to analyze the ingredient list when selecting a particular food for your dog. This is why opting for customized foods for their dogs is a great option for dog parents. It maintains overall health and provides only the essential nutrients required by the dog’s body. It’s critical for pet parents to address their dog’s diet and prevent any artificial preservatives and fillers that can be potential allergens and highly toxic for dogs.

At healthy barks, meals are clinically formulated by vet nutritionists to provide only the required nutrition for your pupper. To build your pup’s fresh, tailor-made meal box, Get Startedhere. You can keep updating your dog’s profile with their changing needs as they grow and we will take care of the rest. 


Do all breeds have a tendency for Food Allergies? 

Food Allergies can make the dog severely sick and should be taken extremely seriously by pet parents. An adverse reaction or an abnormal response to a certain kind of food can occur at any life stage.

Understanding Dog Food Allergies

However, some dog breeds are more likely to catch up on a food allergy/intolerance. These breeds are historically found more susceptible to allergies - Retrievers, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels, and Rex Cats are the most commonly affected breeds. 

Purebred canines are at a larger risk for food allergies than mixed breeds, yet mixed breed dogs face allergies in lower proportions.

[Related]: 10 Breeds That Are Prone To Allergies


My dog appears itching and sometimes has diarrhoea, is that start of an allergy?

Apart from known symptoms like itching and skin irritation, the less commonly known symptoms are gastrointestinal signs like digestive issues including vomiting and diarrhoea that are witnessed in many cases of dog food allergies. For example, diarrhoea is the foremost symptom realised in parvovirus (viral infection) that results in fatal illness for various canines. 

Other symptoms include hyperactivity, lack of energy, frequent scratching and hair loss, coughing and sneezing, chronic ear problems, inflamed skin, weight loss and even aggression. 

If your dog suffers from the above-mentioned conditions frequently, they should be immediately evaluated for food allergies. Consult your veterinarian urgently if you notice any of these conditions in the dog. 


Can allergies impact a dog’s appetite?

Dogs can possess a loss of appetite. Like food intake reduction or asking for different food choices and flexible appetites.  However, different choices and flexible appetite is observed in larger cases; for example, not showing interest in morning breakfast but eating fine in the evening; favouring a food for a few days then getting bored of it or annoying their food until the pet parent adds several toppings.

Understanding Dog Food Allergies

Pet parents should know about the common food allergens and identify them through elimination trials (limited-ingredient nutrition). It is vital to note that limited-ingredient nutrition offered without a prescription is risky to be non-allergenic. They may still cover trace amounts that could cause problems for sensitive dogs. If your vet proposes a prescription supply, it is essential to follow their references.

By engaging your dog on a firm diet, you can gently restore ingredients into the meal while observing for a reaction. Your pet’s vet will suggest a prescription plan or instruct you in preparing strict, but nutritionally stable meals. This time-intensive (12-16 weeks) process helps to determine the allergen. 

Indeed several dogs’ health problems expose food allergy-similar symptoms. Hence, it’s important to consult your vet to prevent any other health problems first. 


Are Antibiotics predisposing cause of food allergies?   

Overall, Pet parents are worried about antibiotics usage for treating health ailments in dogs. It messes up your dog’s gut balance and becomes allergic over time. Moreover, the dogs are able to build resistance to antibiotics, rendering the medications ineffective.

Side effects are abundantly associated with these medications. Some of them are allergic reactions, including skin irritations like rashes and hives, as well as intestinal issues like stomach upset, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Your dog might also develop secondary conditions like yeast infections and might become tired or lose their excitement.

The usage of antibiotics in budding dogs is risky as it makes them highly allergic over time. For puppies, it’s crucial to stop antibiotics and prefer probiotics for around 6 months to 1 year of oldness and offer food that’s fairly fresh and great in variety.

The healthy and more effective alternative to antibiotics is ‘nutrition’. Food allergies may last a lifetime but if your dog is given a healthy diet from early years, it can be prevented to a huge extent. It’s critical to feed the right food to your dog in all their life stages and keep a proper check on their nutritional needs. A balanced diet with no additives or artificial supplements and by-products is important for your dog’s well being.

In order to manage the allergies, try identifying and avoiding the food ingredients that cause the skin or gastrointestinal signs in your dog. Consult a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and treatment procedures. Pet parents can proceed to soothe their dog’s signs, such as, by common bathing. Never try to diagnose the allergies on your own. There are various disorders that can exhibit allergy-kind symptoms, so accurately pinpointing the problem is critical. 

The only treatment is avoidance. Some pets will require medication during severe episodes, but most pets can be successfully treated with a hypoallergenic diet. Feed veterinarian-approved food to your dog for the best results against food allergies. Be mindful of what you feed your dog. 


Sudden feeding of new food - A Reason for Allergic Dogs?

All in all, dogs don’t feel affected for the first time, after eating new food. But constant consumption for years might suddenly develop allergies to that diet.

Mostly, elimination diets correct your dog’s allergies. As a pet parent, you should find 2 to 3 foods your dog can endure. It’s recommended to repeat them every two or three months. Make your dogs stable constantly for months so you can ultimately do their challenge testing to find what the breed is really affected too. If your dog’s lucky, you can return to more normal foods and not to those luxurious, bizarre diets. 

And if your pet’s young enough, allergies resolve themselves. Hence, it’s advisable to switch to healthy and wholesome dog food in the early development years of the pup.  Good nutrition is the most important factor in their growth.   


The Bottom Line

If untreated, dog food allergies can lower the quality of your pup’s life. A quality diet is the wisest option for any pet parent, saving lots of money spent on vet bills down the road. Many people think that home-cooked diets would be best for their dogs since they know what’s exactly going in and can control it but the disadvantage is, unfortunately, most people won’t do it right, hence missing out on essential nutrients in the diet. They will cease supplements, won’t observe instructions, and result in giving their pet unbalanced food.

An unbalancedhome-cooked diet does more harm than good. 

There’s nothing mystic about raw foods. Some dogs adore raw foods and others won’t like them. Indeed protein structure remains different in a cooked and processed diet and that dose creates modification on some breeds. But it’s not evident enough that pet parents should serve mainly raw, wet or dry diets. 

Sometimes commercial, processed diets claiming to cover all the right ingredients do not actually offer them in reality.


We highly recommend human-grade, fresh and healthy foods for dogs. It helps in the holistic care and development of your dog. At healthy barks, we provide fresh whole food that is tailor-made for our furry friends. Check out Healthy Bark’s wholesomeChicken and Fish meal for your doggo.


Most pet-parents often struggle with managing their pet’s nutritional requirements. We help pet parents with fresh, complete and tailored nutrition for their pets by providing personalized meal plans (made fresh with real ingredients) specially designed to meet their pet’s health needs, and formulated by a veterinary nutritionist so that they stay worry-free & can get on with spending real-time with their doggos. We are currently serving in Bangalore. So, if you reside in Bangalore, book a free, in-person consultation with the Healthy Barks family at https://www.healthybarks.in/free-consultation or feel free to call or drop us a ‘Hi’ on WhatsApp at +91 - 76767 20200. Come and enjoy a food tasting session with us!

PS: If you have any additional queries, or would want us to cover any specific topic, feel free to tell us in the comment section below.

Happy Wagging & Healthy Barks! :D

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