Did you know that dogs can also develop allergies over time just as you or I might? Today, our Rochester vets share some of the common signs that a dog has allergies and what the best food is for dogs experiencing allergies.

Is it possible for a dog to have food allergies?

Did you know that your dog can be allergic to dog food? While uncommon, some dogs can experience food allergies or sensitivity to an ingredient in their usual food, it's important to know what the most common symptoms of food allergies are, and what to do if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy. 

What are the typical signs of food allergies in dogs?

These allergies can appear at any point in a dog's life but are most commonly noted before the dog's first birthday.

Some of the typical signs of food allergies in dogs include:

  • Red, irritated skin 
  • Itching
  • Gassiness 
  • Rashes on the ears and feet 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting

Are there any known causes of allergies to food for dogs?

Problems from animal or plant-based ingredients in a dog's diet are most often to blame for dog allergies. Typically, corn, dairy, beef, and wheat are the most problematic foods for dogs. While it may seem counterintuitive, it can take a fairly long time for symptoms of food allergies to appear. It's not unusual for a dog to exhibit allergy symptoms after eating food they've been dining on for many months. 

How will the vet diagnose my dog's food allergies?

The only real way to diagnose food allergies in dogs is through an elimination diet.

If your vet conducts a physical exam and suspects that your dog is suffering from a food allergy, a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food will be prescribed for your pet. For a minimum of 8-10 weeks, you will only feed your dog the prescribed food to gauge whether the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms. 

Only the hypoallergenic food must be given to your dog while they are on the elimination diet. (Unfortunately, that means no sneaking in the odd treat). This special 10-week diet will allow your dog's body to adjust to the food and allow your vet to assess your dog's overall health.

If the symptoms that your dog was previously experiencing successfully clear up while on the elimination diet then your vet will likely request that you return to their original diet. If the symptoms return once continuing with the original diet then your vet can confirm that your dog does have a food allergy.

What are the best dog foods for dogs with allergies?

If your dog has allergies then your vet will work with you to determine what diet will best fit their needs while preventing a reaction. There are a variety of foods and options available for dogs with allergies such as:

A Special Prescribed Diet

For dogs that are experiencing a more severe food allergy, your vet may recommend that they stick to a prescription diet to ensure safety. While this option can be pricey, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available by prescription are typically superior to those that can be purchased over the counter.

Grain-Free Dog Foods

If a grain is at the root of your dog's food allergy then your vet may recommend a grain-free diet. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free.  

Dog Foods Containing Limited Ingredients

Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just one protein source, (such as beef, lamb, or chicken), often combined with just a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited-ingredient dog foods it's important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer.

Novel Ingredient Dog Food

Novel ingredient dog foods replace traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison. Many novel ingredient dog foods also use unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you are concerned that your dog may be showing signs related to food allergies, please contact our Rochester veterinary clinic to schedule an exam and diagnostics.