Food allergies are common in dogs and can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to recognize the signs of food allergies so you can take appropriate action.
In this article, I will discuss the top 7 signs of food allergies in dogs and what you can do to help your furry friend.
What is a Food Allergy in Dogs?
A food allergy is an immune system response to a specific ingredient in your furry friend’s diet.
When he eats something he is allergic to, his immune system overreacts and produces an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE triggers the release of histamine, which causes the symptoms of a food allergy.
College of veterinary medicine has published a detailed article about Immunoglobulin Measurement, which you can read here.
Common Food Allergens for Dogs
While any ingredient can potentially trigger a food allergy, there are a few common allergens for dogs. These include:
It’s important to note that dogs can develop an allergy to any protein, carbohydrate, or fat in their diet, not just the common allergens.
Top 7 Signs of Food Allergies in Dogs
- Itching and Scratching
One of the most common signs of a food allergy in dogs is excessive itching and scratching.
Your dog may lick, chew, or scratch his skin to the point of causing raw patches, scabs, and hair loss. He may also rub his face and ears on furniture or carpet to relieve his itchiness.
2. Digestive Issues
Another common sign of a food allergy in dogs is digestive upset. Your pup may experience vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and bloating after eating.
These symptoms can be caused by inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to discomfort and dehydration.
3. Ear Infections
If your furry friend has frequent ear infections, it could be a sign of a food allergy. The inflammation caused by the allergy can lead to a buildup of yeast and bacteria in the ear canal, causing infections.
Signs of an ear infection include redness, swelling, discharge, and a foul odor.
4. Red, Irritated Skin
Food allergies can also cause your pup’s skin to become red, inflamed, and itchy. This can occur anywhere on the body but is most commonly seen around the face, paws, and anus. You may also notice hives or welts on his skin.
5. Changes in behavior or energy levels
Dogs with food allergies may experience changes in their behavior and energy levels. They may seem lethargic, irritable, or anxious when they are not feeling well. They may also exhibit a lack of appetite or refuse to eat their food.
6. Respiratory Issues
In rare cases, food allergies can cause respiratory issues in dogs. He may experience coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
These symptoms are usually seen in conjunction with other signs of a food allergy and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
7. Chronic anal gland infections:
Similarly, dogs with food allergies may develop chronic anal gland infections or have difficulty expressing their anal glands.
Diagnosing a Food Allergy in Dogs
If you suspect your furry friend has a food allergy, it’s important to take him to the vet for an accurate diagnosis.
Your vet will likely perform a physical exam and may recommend blood tests, skin tests, or an elimination diet.
An elimination diet involves feeding your pup a hypoallergenic diet for 8-12 weeks and slowly reintroducing ingredients to determine which one is causing the allergy.
Treating Food Allergies in Dogs
The most effective treatment for a food allergy in dogs is to eliminate the offending ingredient from their diet. This may involve switching to a hypoallergenic diet or preparing homemade meals for your dog. In some cases, your vet may also prescribe medications such as antihistamines or steroids to alleviate symptoms.
Preventing Food Allergies in Dogs
While some pups are genetically predisposed to food allergies, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of your furry friend developing an allergy. These include:
- Avoid feeding him table scraps or human food
- Introduce new foods slowly and in small amounts
- Feed him a high-quality, balanced diet
- Rotate his protein sources every few months
- Consider feeding a hypoallergenic diet if your dog is at high risk for allergies
Food allergies can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms in dogs, but with the right treatment, your furry friend can live a happy, healthy life.
By recognizing the signs of a food allergy and taking appropriate action, you can improve your pup’s quality of life and prevent future allergic reactions.
Can a dog develop a food allergy later in life?
Yes, dogs can develop food allergies at any age.
Can a food allergy cause anaphylaxis in dogs?
Yes, in rare cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
How long does it take for a dog’s symptoms to improve after eliminating the offending ingredient from his diet?
It can take several weeks or even months for your dog’s symptoms to improve after eliminating the offending ingredient from his diet.
Can food allergies in dogs be cured?
While there is no cure for food allergies in dogs, the symptoms can be managed through diet and medication.
What should I do if I suspect my dog has a food allergy?
If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, take him to the vet for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.