Main Content

What are Dog Food Allergies?


Dog food allergies are an immune system reaction caused by specific proteins in dog diets. Food allergies are difficult to diagnose but often begin with common dog food allergy symptoms like a gastrointestinal or dermatological disorder such as diarrhea or itching.

Small brown and white mixed breed terrier dog chewing on itchy paw.

10 Ingredients that cause allergies in dogs

Dog food allergies develop at any time during a dog’s life. A dog might become allergic to his food after just a few days or he may eat the same diet for years before developing allergies.


Some dogs develop food allergies caused by most or just one of the ingredients in dog food. On average, research shows that the most common ingredient that causes a dog food allergy is beef.


  1. Beef
  2. Pork
  3. Fish
  4. Dairy
  5. Eggs
  6. Corn
  7. Soy
  8. Wheat
  9. Preservatives
  10. Food dyes



Dog food allergy symptoms

Food allergies in dogs are difficult to diagnose. While pet parents act quickly when there are any changes in a pet, the best way to care for your dog is to ask for a professional diagnosis from a veterinarian.


Some typical dog food allergy symptoms may actually be a cause for an underlying medical issue. Always check with your veterinarian if your dog has gastrointestinal or skin changes.


Common dog food allergy symptoms:


  1. Persistent itching
  2. Constant licking
  3. Face rubbing
  4. Itchy ears and eyes
  5. Excessive gas
  6. Hair loss patches
  7. Chronic vomiting
  8. Diarrhea



Food allergy tests

Dogs can develop allergies that are environmental and treated with antihistamines or corticosteroids, dermatological and treated with shampoos and topical ointments, or food allergies treated by eliminating ingredients from a diet.


The most reliable way that a veterinarian can test for food allergies involves removing all suspected ingredients from a dog’s diet. A food elimination test by your veterinarian is performed over a period of eight weeks.


Food ingredients are gradually introduced back into the diet to see which ones trigger an allergic reaction. Your veterinarian may recommend food sensitive or limited ingredient dog food diets to alleviate allergies caused by proteins in food.



Which allergy diets can a dog eat?

It’s important to realize that an allergy is not caused by the quality of the dog food, but by a specific ingredient. There isn’t one food item that causes more allergies than another.


Some pet food companies have developed hypoallergenic diets in which the physical characteristics of protein molecules are altered to make them more easily tolerated.


While there are many choices of hypoallergenic ot prescription diets and therapeutic or food sensitivity treats, the best way to find the right dog food for your dog is to discuss alternatives with your veterinarian.


Always consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s regular diet.



Learn more about feeding your dog

Get dog nutrition tips from experts. Subscribe to the Petfinder Newsletter.


Share this Article

Recently Viewed Pets