Peanut Allergies in Dogs

Peanut allergies in dogs are uncommon, but they can make your pet miserable if they are left untreated for any length of time.

Signs of a Canine Peanut Allergy

Like other canine food allergies, your dog’s peanut allergy is most likely to show itself first with clinical signs on his skin, including itching, redness and bald spots. He may also chew on his feet and legs repeatedly.

Although food allergies appear to develop without warning, they actually take a long time to develop. A food that is suitable one day can cause an allergic reaction the next, and your dog’s body will create histamine to fight the offending allergen. Histamine is the chemical that causes the physical signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs or people. Untreated histamine reactions can cause anaphylactic shock, a body-wide reactions that can affect an animal’s or person’s breathing, his heart rate or his ability to remain conscious. In extreme cases, an animal or person in anaphylactic shock can die.

How Canine Peanut Allergies Are Diagnosed

The first step in diagnosing your dog’s peanut allergy is to eliminate other possible allergens that cause similar clinical signs, including environmental triggers such as mold and dust, and other food ingredients.

Skin tests can help rule out environmental allergens. In these tests, small amounts of the allergen are injected under your pet’s skin in an effort to elicit an allergic response from his body. If he has any positive results to the skin test, he may be allergic to something else in your home in addition to peanuts.

Blood tests, which can also help eliminate environmental causes, combine small amounts of allergens with samples of your dog’s blood. If an allergic reaction is detected during the test, an environmental allergy is suspected.

Eliminate Environmental Causes During Diagnosis

Once your veterinarian has examined the environmental possibilities, he will probably move to food allergies next. To diagnose a food allergy, your veterinarian will likely recommend an exclusion diet that features a unique source of both protein and carbohydrates for your dog. Both the protein and the carbohydrate will be foods he has never eaten before, and he will eat the exclusion diet exclusively for about 12 weeks.

During the exclusion diet trial, your veterinarian will evaluate your dog’s clinical signs. If they improve, a food allergy is likely the cause. To validate the test, your veterinarian will begin re-introducing elements of your dog’s former diet to the exclusion diet in an effort to recreate the allergic response. When an allergic response is created, the assumption is that the last ingredient re-introduced to the diet is the cause of the allergic response.

Treating a Canine Peanut Allergy

Avoiding peanuts is the best way to prevent recurrences of a peanut allergy in your dog. This means you’ll need to read all ingredient labels on his food, his treats and even some of his medications and preventives (some medications and toothpastes may be peanut-flavored to make them more palatable) to prevent him from accidentally consuming peanuts.