Canine Food Allergies: The Basics

Allergies don’t just affect people – pets can suffer from allergies, too. In fact, approximately 20 percent of all dogs suffer from some type of allergy, such as flea, inhalant or food. It is important to understand the symptoms of dog allergies.

Food allergies, also known as food hypersensitivities, occur when the immune system overreacts to an ingredient in food. Food allergies account for about 10 percent of all pet allergies and can occur at any time.

Since food allergies are acquired, a dog can suddenly become allergic to a food that he/she has eaten for years without any problems.

Beef, chicken, soy, milk, eggs, corn and wheat are some of the most common food allergens reported in dogs.

Unlike inhalant allergies that are often seasonal, the signs and symptoms of food allergies are typically present year-round.

The most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:

  • Itchiness (all over or just in a few areas)
  • Excessive skin licking or chewing
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Hair loss
  • Skin infections
  • Ear infections

Some dogs with food allergies may also develop gastrointestinal signs and symptoms such as:

  • Flatulence
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Unfortunately, there are no reliable tests available to diagnose food allergies, so most veterinary dermatologists recommend food trials. A well-balanced, grain-free diet may help some dogs that are hypersensitive to certain foods.

Pet owners who suspect their dogs may be suffering from food allergies should consult their veterinarians to learn if changing their pet’s diet will help.