Dog Food Ingredients that Cause Allergies

Many dog food ingredients have the potential to cause allergies in your dog. Although most dogs can eat commercially prepared dog food with no problem, about 10 percent of American dogs develop allergies to their food, which may require diagnostic tests and a dietary change to completely resolve.

How a Canine Food Allergy Affects Your Dog

The biggest indicator of a canine food allergy may not immediately lead you to believe your pet’s diet is the problem. A food-allergic dog will

  • chew his feet and paws,
  • rub his face,
  • scratch his belly and
  • have an overall dull coat.

Other indications of a canine food allergy can include sneezing, wheezing or digestive symptoms.

Although you may think your dog’s food allergy has developed suddenly, it’s actually taken time for the trigger ingredient in his diet to become a problem for him. If your dog has a food allergy, his body can tolerate only a certain amount of the ingredient before it changes from a harmless part of his food to an allergy trigger.

Once an allergic response has been triggered in your dog’s body, his immune system will begin producing histamine as a defense against the allergen. Histamine is the chemical that causes the physical symptoms of an allergic reaction, including:

  • skin irritation
  • hives
  • tissue swelling
  • anaphylactic shock (in extreme cases)

Proteins, Carbohydrates Can Cause Allergies

Both protein and carbohydrates have been identified as potential canine allergens. Proteins that can cause allergies include beef, chicken, fish and eggs, while carbohydrate allergens include corn and wheat.

Since either protein or carbohydrates can cause your dog’s allergies to flare up, your veterinarian will recommend a diet that contains unfamiliar sources of both for your dog’s exclusion diet. This 12-week test will help your veterinarian determine the cause of your dog’s allergies, so it will need to be strictly followed in order to help your dog feel better.

Some potential protein sources for the exclusion diet include:

  • rabbit
  • lamb
  • venison
  • kangaroo

Potential carbohydrate sources can include potatoes, sweet potatoes or rice. Commercially prepared diets are now available for your dog’s exclusion diet test, which is an improvement over the home-cooked diet option that dog owners had to rely on in the past.

During the test period, your dog will need to eat only the exclusion diet and water. If you have a multiple pet home, you will need to feed your dog separately from other pets to prevent him from cleaning your other pets’ plates at mealtime.

Your Dog’s Breed May Influence His Allergy Potential

Although food allergies can affect any breed of dog at any time, some breeds may be more prone to developing food allergies, including

  • bulldogs,
  • golden retrievers,
  • Labrador retrievers,
  • schnauzers or
  • terriers

How to Help Your Food-Allergic Dog

Once the caused of your dog’s food allergy has been identified, he’ll need to avoid that ingredient to prevent future allergy attacks. Most dog owners do this by feeding the exclusion diet as their dog’s new main diet. You cannot supplement your pet’s new diet with any flavored medications, rawhide chews, table scraps or treats because any of these items could trigger a future allergy attack.