Pet Blog / Dog Food Allergy Symptoms & Treatment

Dog Food Allergy Symptoms & Treatment

Even though your dog might be willing to eat just about anything, it’s important to be aware that pets can suffer from food allergies or food intolerance. With this knowledge, it can become easier to recognize signs of food allergies in dogs, and you can work with your vet to come up with a diet that’s suitable for your unique canine companion. 

Dog food allergy vs. dog food intolerance 

Is there a difference between food intolerance and food allergy? Yes! 

Basically, in the case of dog food intolerance, there’s an adverse reaction to an ingredient, but the animal’s immune system doesn’t respond like it would with an allergy. However, when your dog has an allergy to a certain food, it does cause the immune system to overreact. 

How long does it take for a dog to react to a food allergy?

While an intolerance might cause symptoms that make you think your pet has an allergy, the symptoms might develop shortly after the first exposure. On the other hand, when it comes to allergies, the symptoms might not appear until your pet has been exposed to an ingredient more than once. 

Discussing the timing and severity of your pet’s symptoms with your vet can help you figure out whether it’s an intolerance or allergy.  

Can a dog suddenly become allergic to their food? 

Yes, it’s possible for your dog to develop symptoms even after the same food has been fed to them for a while, such as months or years. 

Dog food allergy symptoms

Knowing the signs of food allergies in dogs can help you figure out what might be going on with your pet if they start exhibiting new symptoms. 

Here’s a list of some symptoms that might indicate your canine companion is allergic to a food they’re eating:

  • Itchy skin or paws
  • Ear inflammation or infection
  • Hot spots
  • Skin ailments
  • Hair loss
  • Eye redness or discharge
  • Chronic digestive problems like diarrhea, gas, or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced energy 
  • Nasal discharge
  • Behavioral problems  

Note: The most common symptom of food allergy is itching, and the areas of the body that are usually affected include the ears, paws, inner thighs, front legs, belly, and eyes.

What is the most common food allergy in dogs?

A dog might be allergic to a single food or they might have problems with more than one ingredient. 

Different dogs can be allergic to different foods, but there are some common culprits, such as:

  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Rice
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Corn

When you look at the ingredients lists on the most popular dog foods on the market, many of the ingredients above are included, so it can be hard to avoid some of them, but your vet can prescribe a diet that will do the trick.  

Treatment options for a dog’s allergic reaction to food

When you’re wondering if your dog is intolerant or allergic to their food, talking to your vet is the best way to get answers. After discussing symptoms, the vet might perform tests to figure out which allergies are present, and this can help them develop a targeted treatment plan. 

Your veterinarian can also guide you when it comes to testing out different diets to figure out which one would be best for your pet. An elimination diet that prevents exposure to certain ingredients may help your dog get relief, and it can help your vet figure out which foods are to blame. For example, if an elimination diet finds that a grain allergy is the culprit, you’ll need to work hard to ensure your pet doesn’t eat any foods that contain grains. 

Tackling food allergies is important

What happens if you don’t bother treating a food allergy? Well, if your dog is continually exposed to an allergen, it might result in more serious problems down the road. Secondary infections, changes in behavior, and other allergies are just a few of the issues that might arise. Plus, your dog will feel miserable, and you certainly don’t want that!

But what if you’re worried about affording the cost of trips to the vet to address dog food allergies or intolerance? Pet insurance may be able to help. Check out the Direct Benefits Marketplace to see the policies available in your area.