Food allergies in dogs are more common than you’d think. Ranging from grain and gluten, just like humans, to even chicken, poultry, fish or beef! Food allergies in dogs can appear in various ways, and although many of us pet parents would like to believe our dogs have stomachs like Scooby-Doo – it simply isn’t the case.
We’ve written about allergies before and how they’ve manifested in our dogs. For Darren, he contended with continuous itching with both his dogs Sorrel and Roscoe due grain, causing their skin to become irritated.
Even Hannah, with her dog, Oscar, had to contend with food allergies that caused Oscar to have a sore stomach and itchiness that changed his behaviour entirely.
Signs Your Dog May Have A Food Allergy
Now we aren’t trained vets or canine dieticians, but we’re pet parents, and we’ve seen how food allergies have affected not only our dogs but also other dogs within our community.
All dogs are different, and there isn’t just one single way that them having a food allergy will present itself, so it’s important to always keep an eye out for any or all of these signs.
- Gastrointestinal Issues.
These can present themselves in the form of diarrhoea, constipation, loss of appetite, bloating or even a change in their stool. If your dog’s stomach is bloated, this may make them feel uncomfortable, so they don’t want you to touch their stomach either.
- Continuous itching and scratching.
This may be constant itching and scratching all over their bodies or in a specific area such as their paws or legs.
- Physical Changes.
One sign that your dog may have a food allergy can result in physical changes such as changing their nail beds or having recurring health issues such as frequent ear infections.
- Behavioural Changes.
As Pet Parents, we know that when we aren’t feeling 100%, we may become irritable or not as patient with others as we usually are. Well, it’s the same with dogs, and a sudden change in their behaviour may be a sign of your dog having a food allergy.
What to do if you think your dog may have a food allergy.
If you ever suspect that your dog may have a food allergy, then it’s always best to contact your local vet or a canine dietitian, as they’ll be able to access your dog and decide the best course of action to take. But there are some things you can do to try and figure out what your dog may or may not be allergic to.
- Diet Tracking
One of the easiest ways to decipher if your dog has a food allergy is diet tracking. Keeping an eye on what they’re eating, when they’re eating it and when the symptoms occur. This means you can use the process of elimination once you’ve pinpointed when reactions tend to occur with what they’re eating and remove them from your dog’s diet to determine if that is causing their issues.
- Research the Breed
Although dogs are different and there is no guarantee that every dog of a single breed will experience the same food allergy, sometimes it does happen.
For example, many breeds cannot have offal, so it’s important that you check their breed if you think your has a food allergy and if that breed has any common allergies. If they do, then you could start the process of elimination there.
- Seeing a Skin Specialist
We’ve already mentioned seeing a vet or a canine nutritionist, but seeing a skin specialist is always a good option, too, especially if you’re unsure whether your dog has a food allergy or not.
A skin specialist will be able to assess your dog if they are having skin irritations and will be able to determine if it is to do with their diet or if it’s related to something else.
- Reading Ingredients
Now, sometimes it can be hard to figure out what your dog may have a food allergy to, especially if they’ve been on the same diet all the time. But food allergies can develop at any moment, but sometimes it’s not quite that simple.
Unfortunately, many places use animal derivatives, so it means that the ingredients in your dogs favourite foods might not always remain the same. So, it’s imperative that even if the front of the pack says 100% Chicken, that you check the back at well to ensure that it’s the same and reduce the chance of giving your dog something they’re allergic to.
- Trying One-Ingredient Treats.
Of course, many of your dog’s favourite treats may have quite a few ingredients, so it becomes harder to use the process of elimination to figure out what may be causing them to have a bad reaction.
Instead of cutting treats out altogether, consider trying one ingredient treats so that you have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what your dog is eating, and if they do react, you may have found what they are allergic to.
- Consider Alternative Diets.
However, if you’re entirely unsure where to begin, sometimes a change in diet is an excellent place to start and opting for a grain-free diet or a raw food diet to eliminate the chances of any hidden nasties that might be irritating your dog.