A food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance is one of the most common health issues for dogs. Unfortunately, the foods that often cause allergies are the same proteins found in dog foods, which can make it difficult to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Scientists estimate that about 20% of dogs suffer from a food allergy, and even more dogs have a food intolerance or sensitivity. For most dogs, this allergy develops between 1 and 2 years old and those who have an allergy to one food are more likely to develop additional triggers.
While your dog can potentially be allergic to any food item, just like people can, there are certain foods that more often cause reactions. These include:
A major challenge with food allergies is that these ingredients are commonly found in commercial dog foods, making it difficult to pinpoint what your dog might be allergic to and avoid it.
When a dog is allergic to something, his body produces antibodies called histamines. These lead to itchy skin and gastrointestinal problems, which often show up as:
Many of these signs will also occur if your dog has a food intolerance. Unlike an allergy, there are no extra histamines produced for a food intolerance, but the outcome is the same: something about the food does not agree with your dog.
There is no cure as of yet for a food allergy in dogs. Instead, you will want to avoid feeding your dog whatever foods are triggering their reaction. This process starts by identifying which foods cause the allergies, and is a process best done in partnership with your vet.
Most often, allergy identification involves feeding your dog an elimination diet that consists of few ingredients, then slowly adding new proteins and foods back in one at a time until you have identified which foods cause problems for your pet.