Dog Allergies to Food: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

It has only recently been discovered that dogs, just like people, can be allergic to specific foods or foods from a particular food group. Food allergy in dogs is one of the five most common types of canine allergies, and though the dog is usually born with the condition, a dog allergy to food can develop at any time during their life.

The Causes and Symptoms of Dog Allergies to Food

Dogs will often have reactions to the different types of foods they eat. Usually, the response is just an upset stomach, which may cause vomiting and diarrhea.

dog vomiting

A food allergy is different though, rather than just getting an upset stomach, it will cause itchy skin in dogs in addition to the previous symptoms of a dog allergy: bloating, vomiting and diarrhea. The dog’s itching and scratching can lead to dandruff, eczema, skin rashes, and even hair loss. In some cases, additional symptoms of food allergies in dogs may include weight loss, hyperactivity, and even aggression. For more detailed information about dog itching, see our post on dog itching and scratching.

In a dog with food allergies, the immune system will overreact to a certain substance that it normally tolerates causing an allergic reaction. Proteins generally cause a canine food allergy in dairy foods (lactose), sugars (glucose), and wheat (gluten) as a result of being fed table scraps. Though proteins are the most likely cause of the dog’s food allergy, any food or ingredient can cause an allergic reaction.

Diagnosing Food Allergies in Dogs

In the past, an elimination diet was the only way to determine whether or not a dog food allergy was present. The animal would have been fed hypoallergenic dog food containing no ingredients found in the previous diet for two to three months. Today, diagnosis can be performed by a veterinarian using simple dog allergy tests. Allergy testing for dogs is done by using a blood sample drawn from the canine.

Treatments for Food Allergies in Dogs

dog allergic reaction to food

The only dog allergy cure is an avoidance of the food or ingredient that is causing the allergy. The best dog food for a dog with allergies would be hypoallergenic dog food containing natural ingredients.

Hypoallergenic dog food can be fed to your dog for the rest of his life without the worry of recurrence of the dog allergy to food.

Due to the dog’s itching, it may be necessary to treat the dog’s skin problems. The veterinarian may prescribe the use of corticosteroids, antihistamines, and topical creams. But because these dog allergy treatments can cause harmful side effects such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease, a natural remedy for dog allergies is preferred.

There are several homeopathic and herbal remedies available that work just as good, if not better than, antihistamines.

Allergy Itch Ease from PetAlive has given us the best results of the natural dog allergy remedies that we’ve tested as it has been effective in over 90% of cases. The use of natural shampoos or sprays has also been found to provide relief for most pets suffering from seasonal dog allergy symptoms.

The best shampoo for dogs with allergies contains certain omega fatty acids like those found in colloidal oatmeal shampoos, with our preference being Comfy Dog from HappyTails Canine Spa. We’ve found to work best to bathe the dog with the Comfy Dog shampoo once every 1 to 2 weeks in combination with using the Allergy Itch Ease formula. Using this method, most dogs will stop itching almost completely within the first few days.

Within about three months, the dog’s coat should be fully restored, and all sores and hot spots cleared up. This is not a cure for dog allergies, but it will provide relief for the symptoms of dog allergies.