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Managing Food Allergies in Your Dog: 10 Expert Tips

Managing Food Allergies in Your Dog: 10 Expert Tips

Critter Culture Staff



Dogs can develop allergic reactions to irritants in the same way humans can. After all, an allergy is simply hypersensitivity to a specific ingredient. Continued exposure to an irritating substance can increasingly sensitize the dog's immune system until the dog develops a strong reaction to the allergen.

Allergies also have a genetic component, meaning that a dog can inherit them from a parent. In this case, a dog can develop an allergic reaction to a substance they've never encountered before, which is important to keep in mind if your dog is exhibiting any signs of allergic reactions.



Meat-based proteins are known for being potent allergens. Feeding your dog the same food for an extended period of time increases the risk of them developing an allergic reaction. As beef is the chief ingredient in most commercial dog food, it makes perfect sense that so many dogs have a sensitivity to it. Keep your pooch on a varied diet and change up the kinds of meat you feed them to decrease the risk of them developing an allergy.

bowl of fresh beef in front of dog Zontica / Getty Images



Lactose intolerance and dairy allergies are two distinct conditions, although they are easy to confuse. Intolerance means that your dog can't digest lactose properly, affecting their digestion. A true allergy is a reaction to the milk protein. Your dog may still develop digestive issues, but those are often accompanied by typical allergy symptoms such as skin rashes, bald patches, hair loss, and lethargy. In both cases, avoid giving dairy products to your dog if they have an adverse reaction.

Golden Retriever puppy licking milk from a spilled bottle cmannphoto / Getty Images



Similarly to beef, chicken is a fairly overused ingredient in dog foods. As it's getting increasingly more common, the number of dogs with a chicken allergy has predictably risen. If this seems true of your pet, try out a rotation of less common meats, such as lamb, venison, or fish.

Beagle dog looking to roasted chicken leg on white plate. bit245 / Getty Images



Both gluten intolerance and celiac disease are common issues for dogs that stem from products in wheat. Although these conditions share many of the same symptoms, such as stomach pain and bloating, the two disorders are different. Celiac is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system interprets gluten as a threat and produces an overactive immune response. Intolerance is milder, but it's still highly uncomfortable.

Most commercial dog food includes gluten, as it's commonly used to bind kibble together. Feed your gluten intolerant dog special gluten-free food or prepare your dog's food yourself.

Golden Retriever, lay on the floor to eat dog food chendongshan / Getty Images



Soy is the most widely-used plant protein. It's incorporated in many affordable varieties of dog food, as it's cheaper than meat, allowing for lower prices. It's also the main ingredient in some hypoallergenic dog foods, as it's a suitable way to provide all of the benefits of a protein-rich diet. Those include hydrolyzed soy protein, which doesn't get recognized as protein by a sensitized immune system. However, there are rare cases of dogs having allergies to soy. If your pup has a soy allergy, you'll need to feed it soy-free dog food.

Dog eating pet dry kibble food from bowl looking into camera alexei_tm / Getty Images



Shih tzu dog getting food from owner at kitchen.

As high-quality, healthy meat, lamb is a great addition to a dog's diet. It's far more nutritious than chicken while also being cheaper than other red meats such as beef, venison, or goat. While lamb is an excellent choice, don't be tempted to lean on it too heavily. Like any other food, overexposure to lamb increases the risk of developing an allergy. You can decrease the risk by rotating the meats you feed your dogs on a regular basis. If your pooch seems to be expressing symptoms of a lamb allergy, eliminate it from their diet and see if the symptoms persist.



It's not intuitively obvious why corn would be an issue. Dogs are carnivore animals, after all! The reason is simple — corn is used as a filler ingredient in many store-bought dog foods as it's far cheaper than meat. Corn has less nutritional value; it's harder for your dog to digest, and it's a common allergen. If you're worried that your pup may be allergic to corn, try incorporating high-grade dog food that doesn't use corn or other fillers. Alternatively, prepare their food yourself so that you can omit corn from their diet.

Dog and corn. bodza2 / Getty Images



In most cases, egg allergies are triggered by the egg. Egg residue is common in food and agriculture, particularly in products such as artificial flavoring, pasta, shampoo, and baked goods. If your dog is allergic, you need to be careful and always read the labels to ensure that you're not unwittingly exposing them to harmful substances.

The Dog watching egg and viewed with suspicion. MeePoohyaphoto / Getty Images



Fish-based dog food has increased in popularity to accommodate the growing number of dogs with other meat allergies. On top of that, it's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits. However, fish can still be a potential allergen with overexposure. Vary your dog's diet to reduce the risk of developing fish allergies, just like with meats and grains.

Hungry beagle looks on dinner table with served meal Solovyova / Getty Images


Less common allergens

Keep in mind that any food can cause an allergic reaction, even if it's not one of the most common allergens. Don't be tempted to feed your pooch their favorite food on a daily basis, as this significantly increases the risk of them becoming sensitive to one or more of the ingredients. Rotate between different foods to minimize your dog's risk of developing an allergy, and be mindful of allergy risks if your dog starts exhibiting symptoms. Do this, and you'll help your furry friend live a comfortable, healthy life.

woman feeding her cute dog with salad indoors RossHelen / Getty Images


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