Any dog can experience food allergies, even dogs eating premium kibble. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find dog foods that don’t contain fillers, preservatives, or common food allergens.
If you suspect that your dog is experiencing food allergies, it’s important that you’re able to identify food allergy symptoms and what ingredients are the most likely culprit.
Today, we are sharing EVERYTHING you need to know about food allergies in dogs, what the most common food allergies are from A to Z, dog food allergy symptoms, treatments for dog food allergies, and alternative dog food that may benefit your pup if they have food allergies.
- Common Food Allergies in Dogs
- Human Foods Toxic to Dogs
- Dog Allergy Symptoms
- Allergy Treatment Options
- Choosing a Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Can Dogs Have Allergies?
Yes, dogs can have allergies the environment, food, insects, and other animals. According to the Veterinary Centers of America, allergies are any type of hypersensitive immune reaction your dog has when it comes into contact with an allergen, such as pollen or food. Over time, exposure to the allergen can lead to increased overreactions and sensitivity to the allergen, which can cause your dog significant discomfort.
Keep reading to learn more about dogs’ most common food allergies, what kind of symptoms they may experience, and why your pup may have developed an allergy to the specific food.
Common Food Allergies in Dogs: A-Z
Let’s start by looking at the most common food allergies in dogs. Since allergies are often caused or worsened by prolonged exposure to the allergen, it’s not surprising that many of the following foods are commonly found in dog food and kibble.
Food Toxic to Dogs
Can dogs be allergic to Beef?
Yes, beef is a common food allergy, likely due to its prevalence in many dog foods, leading many dogs to prolonged exposure to this potential allergen. Beef allergies may occur after prolonged exposure to beef, resulting in the dog’s immune system believing that beef is an intrusive substance that causes the overreaction. A beef allergy can cause unpleasant symptoms in dogs, such as ear infections, breathing problems, and indigestion.
Compared to other items on this food allergy list, beef is among the most prevalent because it is so common in dog food, allowing many dogs to be exposed to it and possibly develop a beef allergy.
Are dogs allergic to blueberries?
The short answer is yes. Some dogs are allergic to blueberries. Despite being a nutrient-packed, healthy fruit, blueberries can still cause an allergic reaction in some dogs. Your dog may also have an adverse reaction to blueberries due to eating too many of them, so it’s important to assess whether your dog is reacting badly to blueberries simply because they ate too many or because they have a true food allergy to blueberries.
Common signs of blueberry allergies in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, skin or ear infections, excessive scratching or licking, and skin hot spots. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms after consuming blueberries, consult with your vet.
Compared to other foods on our food allergies list, your dog’s risk of a blueberry allergy is more minor as long as you are feeding your pup an appropriate amount at one time and they aren’t overindulging. Some commercial dog foods contain blueberries, so if you suspect your dog has a blueberry allergy, double-check what you’ve been feeding your pup to see if they’ve been exposed to blueberries over time.
Can dogs be allergic to Chicken?
Dog chicken allergies are more common than most food allergies on this list because chicken is a popular protein source for many dog foods. Like all food allergies, a chicken allergy in dogs is caused by a heightened immune system response to the consumption of the allergen, in this case, chicken. If your dog has chicken allergies, they may also experience allergic reactions to other poultry, such as duck or turkey.
If your dog is allergic to chicken, they may have unpleasant symptoms like excessive licking, coughing, diarrhea, bald patches, skin rashes or infections, vomiting, and more.
Are dogs allergic to cinnamon?
Yes, dogs can be allergic to cinnamon as well as cinnamon essential oils or cinnamon potpourri. Dogs may develop an allergy to cinnamon after being exposed to it orally or topically. Many desserts also have cinnamon, especially human desserts, so if you are in the habit of feeding your dog scraps, they may be exposed to cinnamon through that.
If you plan on giving your dog cinnamon medicinally, consult with your veterinarian first before adding it to their diet or placing it on their skin. Your vet may recommend a skin test first to ensure they don’t have a bad reaction.
Common cinnamon food allergy symptoms in dogs include skin irritation, diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, drooling, excessive salivation, low blood sugar, and liver disease. Dogs may also experience respiratory distress if they exhale cinnamon power. Compared to other items on this list, cinnamon is a less common food allergy because it’s not as common or heavily concentrated in dog foods as protein sources, eggs, or grains may be.
Can dogs be lactose intolerant?
Dairy is a common dog food allergy that occurs when dogs react to lactose, a sugar in milk. When puppies are weaned from their mother’s milk, the lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose, decreases significantly. This reduction can cause lactose intolerance. Cow’s and goat’s milk also have much high amounts of lactose in their milk than canine milk, so dogs are more likely to experience problems if they are feeding on cow or goat milk.
Common signs of lactose intolerance in dogs include lack of appetite, diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, and flatulence. Your pup may also experience skin symptoms, like redness, hives, facial swelling, and itchiness. If your dog has skin symptoms, they likely have a true allergy to dairy, whereas stomach upsets are more commonly caused by lactose intolerance.
Can dogs be allergic to eggs?
The answer is definitely yes. Eggs are among the most common canine food allergies. If your dog has an egg allergy, their immune system overreacts to the proteins found in egg yolks. Common symptoms of egg allergies in dogs include gastrointestinal problems, like vomiting and diarrhea, and skin problems, such as itchy ears and paws.
If your pup has an egg allergy, start checking food labels and avoid anything with eggs.
Can dogs be allergic to grains?
Grain allergies in dogs are some of the most common food allergies, likely due to how prevalent grains are in many dog foods, chews, and treats. While “grain-free” dog food has been popular for some time, many dogs are still exposed to grains frequently through table scraps, chews, and treats.
For most dogs, this isn’t a problem. However, if your pup has a grain allergy, they may experience ear infections, red skin, itchiness, hair loss, gastrointestinal problems, and skin irritation. If your dog has a grain allergy, “grain-free” food choices are abundant and should reduce their symptoms.
Can dogs be allergic to grass?
Grass is a happy place for many dogs. Unfortunately, some dogs do experience topical allergies and food allergies to grass. If your dog is itchy or sneezing a lot after playing in grass, they may be experiencing a topical reaction to the grass or pollen.
Grass allergies in dogs are actually quite common, with more than 80 percent of dogs tested in one trial being allergic to grass, weeds, or tree pollen. Many dogs may also have a food allergy to grass where they have an upset stomach if they ingest grass.
Are dogs allergic to lavender?
Many humans love diffusing, eating, or smelling lavender, but lavender is toxic to dogs because it contains linalool. However, the amount of toxin lavender contains is slight and mild exposure to lavender through a diffuser or candle can safely relax dogs.
Lavender essential oil should never be fed to dogs without first consulting a vet because of lavender’s toxic nature. It’s unlikely that a dog who ingests a small amount of lavender would experience severe symptoms, but it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. Aromatherapy with lavender can be soothing to your dog. It may even be an excellent way to ease their anxiety, although traditional treatments with your vet may be the most effective treatment in the long term.
Peanuts & Peanut Butter
Can dogs have peanut allergies?
We’re happy to report that dog peanut allergies are rare, and it’s typically considered safe to feed your dog peanut butter, as long as it doesn’t have xylitol in it. If you feed your pup peanuts, choose unflavored and unsalted ones. We also recommend being careful with the size of the peanut because smaller peanuts may cause obstructions if swallowed whole, so it’s better to feed your pup natural peanut butter if they enjoy the peanut taste. Symptoms of peanut allergies in dogs include scratching, bald patches, redness, and itchiness.
Can Dogs be allergic to pork?
Pork is a widespread dog food allergy likely due to its prevalence in many dog foods, which allows more dogs to be exposed to pork throughout their lifetime. Common symptoms of pork food allergies in dogs include itching, excessive licking, flaky coats, ear inflammation, and paw biting.
If your pup experiences these symptoms, immediately reach out to their vet to have them tested and to work on eliminating any food allergens they may be currently eating.
Can dogs be allergic to rice?
Rice is a popular grain in many dog foods, which can lead to hypersensitivity to rice. If your pup does develop a rice allergy, you’ll need to be extra careful when choosing their foods. “Grain-free” food options will be your best bet if your dog does have a rice allergy.
Common rice allergy symptoms in dogs include chronic ear infections, gastrointestinal problems, itchy or flaky skin, hair loss, rash, or excessive licking or chewing of their paws.
Can dogs be allergic to salmon?
While salmon is a nutrient-rich protein that can supply your dog with essential fats, vitamins, and minerals, some pet parents may notice their dog experiencing food allergy symptoms if salmon is fed too often. We recommend owners diversify proteins to prevent allergies from developing.
Common salmon allergy symptoms include ear infections, diarrhea, fur loss, skin infections, itchy skin, hives, and vomiting. Salmon is somewhat common compared to other food allergies because it is a popular choice among pet parents trying to provide their pup with a nutritious diet.
Can dogs be allergic to shrimp?
Use caution with shrimp. Shellfish are can be safe for some dogs to eat when prepared properly. However, in the most extreme cases, vulnerable pups may experience anaphylaxis, which can result in death. If your dog experiences allergy symptoms, like swelling, vomiting, or excessive drooling, after eating shrimp, immediately consult with your veterinarian immediately. Anaphylaxis, or allergic shock, can cause your dog to have trouble breathing, go into shock, or have the inability to control their bowels and should always be treated immediately by your vet.
Shrimp allergies are one of the most common food allergies, so always watch your dog closely if you plan on feeding them shrimp.
Can a dog be allergic to soy?
Soy is one of the most common dog food allergies, so we recommend monitoring your dog’s soy intake if you are suspicious of allergy symptoms. Soy allergies occur when a dog’s body treats the soy protein as an allergen and experiences an overreaction to soy in the body. Typical signs of soy allergies in dogs include excessive licking or scratching, vomiting, diarrhea, eyelid inflammation, ear infections, and hair loss.
Unfortunately, soy is found in many forms in commercial dog food, including soybean meal, germ meal, soy flour, soy grits, soy protein concentrate, and soy isoflavones. So, if your dog has an allergy to soy, be on the lookout for the many names that soy will show up as on dog food labels.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Food Allergies?
So, how do you know if your dog has allergies to a food they’re eating? There are many signs a dog is allergic to food, with the most common signs usually being digestive disturbances and skin issues, according to the Veterinary Centers of America.
Often, allergy symptoms in dogs will take anywhere from 6 to 24 hours to show up after your dog eats their food, especially when it comes to common skin allergy symptoms in dogs. Gastrointestinal issues may only take a few hours to show up in some cases.
Most common signs of food allergies in dogs:
- Dog allergy hives
- Itchy or reddened skin
- Digestive problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Lack of energy
- Facial swelling
- Pawing at their face or eyes
- Dog swollen lymph nodes allergy
How to Treat Dog Food Allergies
If your vet suspects that your pup has a food allergy, they will likely suggest that you avoid all known allergic foods and feed them a hypoallergenic diet for 8 to 12 weeks. By eliminating known allergic foods, your dog will have a chance to eat a diet without their allergen, and you and your vet can watch and see if their symptoms improve.
Another popular way to help your dog with their food allergy symptoms while you work on finding what they are allergic to is an antihistamine. The best antihistamine for dog allergies is usually Benadryl, which can be used for mild to moderate allergy symptoms in dogs for food, environmental, and insect bite allergies. Your vet may recommend Benadryl for dog allergies if your dog’s skin is extremely itchy to relieve their discomfort while you find the responsible allergen. So, to answer the common question of “can dogs take Benadryl for allergies?” yes, dogs can take Benadryl for allergies under the guidance of a vet.
If your dog has severe food allergies, your vet may recommend allergy injections for dogs or immunotherapy for dog allergies. Allergy injections for dogs can work quickly, sometimes within a day, and last up to eight weeks, making them a great alternative to medication. On the other hand, immunotherapy for dog allergies helps to reintroduce your dog’s allergen in small doses with allergy shots to retrain your dog’s immune system to tolerate the allergen.
Can I Get a Dog Food Allergy Test?
Several companies have developed and marketed “at home” dog food allergy tests over the years. However, veterinarians have largely scrutinized these tests, and their validity is questionable, so it’s recommended that you skip any “at home” dog allergy testing kits.
Other dog food allergy testing options include intradermal skin testing, blood allergy tests, and food trials. Intradermal skin testing is performed by vets who inject small amounts of possible allergens into your dog’s skin while they are sedated or anesthetized to see if they react to any of the allergens. Blood allergy tests check your dog’s blood and how it reacts to specific allergens.
Food trials are the standard for the most accurate dog food allergy test. Typically, your dog will be placed on a hypoallergenic diet for 8 to 12 weeks to see if their allergy symptoms improve. Then possible allergens will be slowly reintroduced to see what may be causing your pup’s allergy symptoms. Food trials should always be performed with your vet’s help so that your vet can monitor your dog and the test can be performed appropriately. You’ll need to avoid any possible allergens during this time, including their usual dog food, treats, chews, medications or vitamins, and more.
Allergies vs. Toxicity in Dogs
So, what is the difference between an allergy and toxicity?
Toxic foods, such as chocolate or avocado, will cause an adverse reaction in all dogs because they contain toxins that our dogs can’t process. On the other hand, food allergies are usually developed over time and are only present in some dogs, such as an allergy to beef or eggs. Most dogs can eat beef or eggs with no side effects. However, a dog with an allergy to one of these ingredients may experience negative side effects that can mimic the symptoms of a dog who ate something toxic.
Are Dogs Allergic to Chocolate?
This is a common misconception. Dogs are not actually allergic to chocolate but they are sensitive to chemical compounds like theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to all dogs.
As small as a dose of 20 mg/kg of chocolate in dogs can have harmful side effects. Most dogs will experience severe symptoms and death after consuming a dose of 40 to 60 mg/kg of chocolate. Since all dogs cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine effectively, chocolate should be avoided at all costs to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Are Dogs Allergic to Grapes?
Dogs are not allergic to grapes, but should avoid them in all forms. Grapes are highly toxic to dogs and can lead to sudden kidney failure in dogs, even when as little as one grape is consumed, so dogs should avoid this fruit completely. This includes grape variations, such as raisins and wine, as well.
Are Dogs Allergic to Garlic?
Garlic is part of the Allium family, which contains popular root vegetables like leeks, chives, and onions. Unfortunately, the Allium family contains n-propyl disulfide, a toxin that causes oxidative damage to red blood cells in dogs and cats. Dogs simply don’t have the enzymes needed to process garlic and other Allium family members.
In short, dogs are not allergic to garlic. However, all dogs can experience severe and possibly life-threatening consequences if they eat garlic, so you should never feed your dog anything with garlic, onions, chives, or leeks.
Are Dogs Allergic to Nuts?
While some dogs can develop allergies to tree nuts, all dogs should avoid varieties like macadamia nuts that are entirely toxic for dogs to consume. Consumption of toxic varieties will cause allergy-like symptoms, like vomiting or lethargy. If you are suspicious of your dog’s exposure, contact a vet immediately.
Safe varieties like cashews and peanuts should be given sparingly as they are high in fat and can contribute to obesity and pancreatic issues.
Are Dogs Allergic to Avocados?
Avocados are generally considered toxic to dogs. Avocados contain persin, a toxin that can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness in dogs. As a result, avocados should never be given to your dog in any quantity.
If your dog consumes avocado, you should immediately contact your veterinarian or call an animal poison control center for your next steps.
Interested in learning more about human foods that are toxic to dogs? Check out our previous article on five human foods that are toxic for dogs here.
Best Dog Food For Allergies
So, what are my options for dog food for dogs with allergies?
The best food for dogs with allergies is either hypoallergenic dog food or a limited ingredient dog food diet. As the name suggests, limited ingredient dog food diets have very few ingredients, making it easier for you to avoid allergens and identify what your dog is reacting to.
Hypoallergenic dog foods are usually prescribed by a vet as part of a food trial, although certain hypoallergenic dog foods can be ordered online. Most are created by splitting proteins in your dog’s food, which causes the allergen to go undetected by your pup’s immune system.
Another option for helping your dog with food allergies is choosing a novel protein for dogs with allergies. Proteins are some of the most common culprits for food allergies in dogs, so choosing an uncommon or novel protein source like goat, venison, rabbit, or salmon, may eliminate the protein upsetting your dog’s system.
Try PetPlate – Real Food For Dogs With Allergies
If your pup is suffering from a food allergy, or you’re simply looking to eliminate unhealthy ingredients and additional fillers from your dog’s diet, PetPlate is an excellent option.
PetPlate’s meals are fresh-cooked in a USDA-approved kitchen using human-grade, nutrient-packed ingredients expertly balanced by our veterinary nutritionist. Our meals are made with limited ingredients, making them an ideal choice for the pet parent wanting the best for their dog. Each meal is flash-frozen and delivered right to your door to make mealtimes easy, exciting, and fun for you and your pup! Learn more about our amazing, crave-worthy entrees here.