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Determining if Your Dog Has a Food Allergy

By kimberlygauthier ; Updated October 17, 2017

Food allergies are frustrating for dogs and dog owners, and can take a while to diagnose and resolve. They can cause itchy skin and rashes, digestive issues (including gas and diarrhea), and ear infections.

Food allergies can be caused by a protein (beef and chicken being the leading culprits), grains, soy and dairy products. If your dog is displaying symptoms that might point to an allergy, it’s important for the health and comfort of your dog to try and determine what that might be.

Identifying Food Allergies in Dogs

If your dog is on a kibble diet, it can be more difficult to identify the culprit that is causing the allergic reaction.

“Most dog foods are formulated to include several protein sources,” says Dr. John Tegzes, VMD of the Western University of Health Sciences. “The protein sources can include meat from chicken, beef, lamb, fish, and non-meat sources like eggs and soy.”

Simplifying your dog’s food will also simplify the search for potential allergens. Choose a dog food brand that includes fewer proteins or removes soy and grain from its ingredient list.

Identifying the offending protein in a home prepared raw diet is easier, because there are limited ingredients added to each meal and are known by the dog owner, which is a reason for the growing popularity of raw food diets.

Steps to Take to Resolve Food Allergies

To connect the ingredient with your dog’s symptoms, use a calendar or keep a diary to note what your dog is eating, what symptoms your dog is experiencing, and how soon after consuming the ingredient the symptoms arise. Pay special attention to common allergens in dog food (beef, chicken, soy, grains, and dairy).

If all of your dog’s allergy symptoms clear up after removing chicken or grains from your dog’s diet, it’s reasonable to assume that you have narrowed down your dog’s food intolerance.

In addition to isolating the potential allergens at home, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to confirm your findings. Bring your notes, the food you suspect is causing the problems, and ask about adding enzymes to your dog’s diet. A quality supplement will help alleviate digestion issues while boosting the immune system to improve your dog’s response to allergens in the future.

Photo credit: Getty Creative