Dog Food Allergies

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Just like humans, dogs can have allergies to certain types of food. It may be an intolerance to individual ingredients such as wheat or corn, or a general complaint which is provoked my many types of food, such as colitis.

Food Allergy Symptoms

An animal with dog food allergies may experience any of the following symptoms: Vomiting bile or blood, poor appetite, diarrhea and blood in the stools, itching, dry coat and skin, chronic or recurrent ear infections, hair loss, excessive scratching, hot spots and skin infections, increased bowel movements and other unpleasant conditions.

If you suspect your dog is allergic or intolerant to a certain food, you will need to do some testing to ascertain that it is indeed food which is causing the problem, as other medical complaints can also cause similar symptoms, such as dog parasites, skin infections etc.

It may mean that you avoid all commercial brands and stick to a simple food of protein and carbohydrate, of which you can control exactly what goes into it. Twelve weeks of testing one combination of protein and carbs without any other food source or snack is required to thoroughly test the recipe.


The matter is further complicated because there are many additives in dog food, and it may be one of these which is causing the allergy rather than a certain kind of meat or grain.

The most common allergy-causing foodstuffs in dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, chicken eggs, corn, and soy. “What?” I can hear you say,”These are the most common ingredients in dog foods!” Correct, and there is a correlation here. Just as many humans are lactose intolerant, over exposure to these foodstuffs has caused the problem.

New recipes such as lamb and rice have been formulated because these are not traditional dog foods, therefore dogs have not had time to build up an intolerance. These may not actually be the solution to treating an intolerance though, as many of these brands contain soy, egg etc., so check the ingredients.

There are many hypoallergenic dog foods on the market to address the increasing numbers of dogs with allergies. As with any comparison, many foods may or may not be suitable or palatable for your individual pet, so these are just general guidelines.

One thing to consider is that many “healthy” dog foods may still cause allergies in your dog if they contain that trigger ingredient, and even human grade dog food might still be causing your dog stomach problems, so be prepared to compare dog food brands extensively.

Just as in humans, an intolerance to wheat or dairy contained in dog foods, natural and high quality though they may be, will still cause the end result. Canine skin allergies are another sign that your dog may have an allergy. Here is a general overview based on price for some of the brands marketed as suitable for dogs with food allergies.

At the cheaper end of the market Chicken Soup dog food has a higher level of fruit and vegetable in their recipe including potatoes, carrots, peas, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries and spinach. Avoderm is made with avocados to promote healthy, glowing, beautiful skin and coat. They also make vegetarian recipes.

In the mid price range Eagle Pack make Holistic Select which are protein rich recipes with added prebiotics, probiotics and antioxidants. The chicken meal is hormone free and fruits and veggies are all human grade. Eagle dog food comes in dry and canned formulas in a variety of flavors.

Blue Buffalo dog food bases its recipes on what humans eat, with high protein, whole grains, veggies and fruit. Because of their unusual ingredients such as sweet potato and brown rice, dogs are unlikely to have encountered these foods before, and therefore less likely to be allergic. It comes as dry and canned varieties (although some of their products were involved in a product recall in 2007).

Pinnacle & Nature Recipe, Innova EVO & Life’s Abundance

In the same way, Pinnacle’s Canine Holistic Allergen-Free Formulas for dogs use unusual foods in recipes such as trout and oats to which dogs are less likely to be intolerant.

Nature Recipe dog food is beef, wheat and corn free as these are common allergy-promoting foodstuffs. Inova dog food manufacturers make EVO, a high protein diet with veggies and raw fruit. Lifes Abundance dog food does not contain by-products, corn or wheat, chemical preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. Typical ingredients include chicken meal, fish meal, carrots, apples, spinach, celery, alfalfa meal, ground brown rice, antioxidants, live probiotics and chelated minerals.

At the top end of the market the Abady dog food company make frozen raw diets for dogs containing fewer “nasties” such as soybeans, beet pulp etc. They make dry and canned formulas with quite a hefty price tag. IVD dog food (now Royal Canin) make breed specific recipes and special need recipes like Royal Canin Veterinary Diet™ Canine Hypoallergenic HP 19™ which is a lactose and wheat gluten free recipe.

Remember though, these recipes may be a quick fix. If you do suspect your dog has food allergies, you would be better off analyzing which foods are causing the problem and then feeding accordingly. Your vet can provide advice if necessary, and if your dog is displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above, it would be wise to get him checked over.