Dealing With Food Allergies in Dogs

scratching dog
Photo courtesy of Beatrice Murch

Does your dog appear to be allergic to its food? Here are some things to help you deal with allergy problems in dogs.

Food allergies are a relatively common problem in dogs. If a dog is allergic to one or more ingredients in food, some of the most common symptoms it will display include:

  • scratching, biting or excessive licking of its paws or skin;
  • rashes, redness or other skin irritations.

If your dog is displaying some of these symptoms then you should definitely consider it as a reaction to something in its food and there are several things you can do. Firstly, it is important to realize that it could be an allergic response to something other than the food. Other causes that are also common include fleas and ticks, medications and even irritations from grasses and plants (the latter are especially common on springtime). So don’t automatically assume it is the food.

However, if you do think it is the dog food that might be causing the allergy, the first thing you need to do is to look at what you are feeding. If you are using a commercial food, look carefully at the ingredients on the product’s packaging. Ingredients that most often cause allergic reactions and other problems in dogs are: beef, wheat, dairy, soy. Also, anything artificial in the food such as flavorings, colorings or preservatives.

All of these are known to create allergies in dogs. Many people are surprised to learn that beef is actually one of the most common culprits. Your dog may also have a sensitivity to some grains, such as corn, although this is somewhat less common.

If the food you are feeding contains any of these ingredients then you should immediately suspect it as a possible cause. Try feeding your dog a food without any of these problematic ingredients. There are many good brands on the market and they are not necessarily expensive. You will also find that a better quality food works out to be quite economical; while the initial outlay for a bag may be more, you will find you don’t need to feed as much (there are fewer fillers). You will also have fewer expensive visits to the vet!

Try your dog on the new food for at least six weeks to judge if there is an improvement. Of course if your dog’s symptoms get significantly worse then you should stop immediately.

Finding the true cause of a food allergy in your dog is something of a process of elimination. However, by eliminating the most common ingredients that are known to cause allergic problems you can speed up the process considerably.

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