13 Most Common Food Allergens for Dogs

food allergens for dogs causing itchy ear of a black dog

Food allergens for dogs are specific ingredients or substances that can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs when consumed. Just like humans, dogs can develop food allergies that can cause discomfort and health issues. 

The most common food allergens for dogs are proteins found in dairy, beef, chicken, corn, soy, etc. Each time dogs eat food containing these substances, their body reacts and symptoms occur. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of food allergens for dogs, exploring common culprits that can trigger allergies and intolerances in our canine friends. So, let’s dig in and uncover the secrets behind keeping our beloved pups happy and allergy-free!

Food Allergy Vs Food Intolerance In Dogs?

Before we go on to see the common food allergens for dogs, it is important to first differentiate between food allergy and food intolerance. This will help us to understand what we are examining in this article.

Food allergies in dogs happen when their immune system overreacts to certain proteins in their food. It’s like their body thinks these proteins are dangerous and launches an attack, causing allergic symptoms like itching, skin problems, and tummy troubles.

Food intolerances, on the other hand, are more about digestion. Dogs with food intolerances have a hard time breaking down or processing certain food components, like lactose or specific grains. This can lead to digestive issues like upset stomach, diarrhea, or gas.

In summary, food allergies involve an immune response, while food intolerances are mainly about trouble digesting certain foods. Both can make dogs uncomfortable, but the reasons behind them are different.

Now let’s go on…

a dog with stomach allergy digestive issues after eating food allergens

The Most Common Food Allergens For Dogs

The 13 most common food allergens for dogs are:

  1. Beef: Beef is a common allergen for dogs, causing symptoms such as itching, skin irritation, and digestive issues.
  2. Chicken: Chicken allergies in dogs can manifest as skin problems, gastrointestinal upset, and even respiratory issues.
  3. Dairy: Dogs can be allergic to lactose found in dairy products, leading to digestive problems like diarrhea and vomiting.
  4. Wheat: Wheat allergies are common in dogs and can result in itchy skin, gastrointestinal distress, and ear infections.
  5. Soy: Soy is another potential allergen for dogs, causing symptoms like skin irritation, gastrointestinal upset, and even breathing difficulties.
  6. Corn: Corn allergies can cause similar reactions in dogs as other food allergies, including skin itching, gastrointestinal problems, and ear infections.
  7. Eggs: Dogs can develop allergies to eggs, leading to symptoms such as skin irritation, digestive issues, and ear infections.
  8. Fish: Some dogs are allergic to fish, which can cause skin problems, gastrointestinal upset, and even respiratory issues.
  9. Lamb: Lamb allergies can lead to skin issues, digestive problems, and other allergic reactions in dogs.
  10. Pork: Pork allergies are less common but can still occur in dogs, resulting in symptoms like skin irritation and digestive issues.
  11. Rabbit: Allergies to rabbit meat can cause various symptoms in dogs, including skin itching, gastrointestinal problems, and ear infections.
  12. Venison: Dogs can develop allergies to venison, leading to skin issues, gastrointestinal problems, and other allergic reactions.
  13. Sensitive to grains: While not a specific allergen, some dogs may have sensitivities to grains in general, including gluten-containing grains like wheat, which can result in similar symptoms as food allergies.

Probiotics can help dogs with food allergies. Hence you can try giving your dogs sauerkraut to perform the probiotic function.

Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs

The symptoms of food allergies in dogs can vary, but commonly observed signs include:

  1. Itching, scratching, and excessive licking, particularly around the face, paws, ears, and rear end.
  2. Red, inflamed, or irritated skin.
  3. Recurrent ear infections.
  4. Digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, or flatulence.
  5. Chronic or recurrent gastrointestinal upset.
  6. Poor coat condition, including hair loss or dull coat.
  7. Skin infections or hot spots.
  8. Ear inflammation or chronic ear infections.
  9. Sneezing, coughing, or wheezing (less common).
  10. Swollen or inflamed paws.
  11. Face rubbing or head shaking.
  12. Runny nose or watery eyes.
  13. Hives or skin rashes.
  14. Gastrointestinal upset, such as constipation or excessive gas.
  15. Increased frequency of bowel movements.
  16. Weight loss or decreased appetite.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions as well. However, if you suspect your dog has a food allergy, continue reading to know how to handle it.

Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

List Of Dog Breeds Prone To Food Allergy

While any dog breed can develop food allergies, certain breeds are more prone to this condition. Here is a list of dog breeds that are commonly associated with an increased risk of food allergies:

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. Golden Retriever
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Boxer
  5. Cocker Spaniel
  6. Dalmatian
  7. Shar-Pei
  8. Lhasa Apso
  9. West Highland White Terrier
  10. Miniature Schnauzer
  11. Bulldog (English and French)
  12. Shih Tzu
  13. Maltese
  14. Yorkshire Terrier
  15. Irish Setter

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and any dog, regardless of breed, can develop food allergies.

Also, read about the 21 Most Expensive Dog Breeds In The World to see how expensive your dog is.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Dogs Have Food Allergies

If you suspect that your dog has food allergies, it is recommended to take the following steps:

1. Consult a veterinarian: 

This should be your first line of action. Schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to discuss your concerns and observations. The vet will conduct a thorough examination and may recommend diagnostic tests or a special elimination diet trial to determine the presence of food allergies.

2. Keep a food diary: 

Maintain a detailed record of your dog’s meals, including all ingredients and treats. Note any symptoms or reactions that occur after eating certain foods. This information will be valuable for identifying potential triggers.

3. Elimination diet: 

This is one of the two primary food allergy testing methods for dogs. Your veterinarian may suggest a special elimination diet trial, during which your dog is fed a novel protein source (such as venison, duck, or kangaroo) and a carbohydrate source (such as sweet potato or peas) that they have not consumed before. 

This helps identify if the dog is allergic to specific ingredients. Follow your vet’s instructions closely during this trial period, as even small amounts of other foods can affect the results.

4. Food allergy testing: 

In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend food allergy testing to identify specific allergens. These tests can help determine which ingredients your dog is reacting to, although their accuracy can vary.

5. Dietary management: 

If your dog is diagnosed with food allergies, your vet will provide guidance on an appropriate diet. This may involve feeding a commercial hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet or preparing homemade meals with ingredients that do not trigger allergies.

Remember, it’s crucial to work closely with your veterinarian to ensure an accurate diagnosis and develop a suitable dietary plan for your dog’s specific needs.

Read this article about Collagen Powder for Dogs to see the power of collagen for dogs.

How To Feed Dogs With Food Allergies

After identifying and eliminating the ingredients that trigger your dogs’ allergies, follow these guidelines when feeding dogs with food allergies:

  1. Introduce new protein and carbohydrate sources: Choose a novel protein source (e.g., venison, rabbit, or duck) and a novel carbohydrate source (e.g., sweet potatoes or peas) for your dog’s meals. These novel ingredients should be ones that your dog has not previously consumed. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of triggering an allergic reaction.
  2. Always read food labels carefully: When selecting commercial dog food, carefully read the ingredient labels to ensure they do not contain any allergens that your dog reacts to. Avoid foods with ingredients such as beef, chicken, dairy, wheat, soy, or corn if they are known allergens for your dog.
  3. Give dogs home-cooked meals: If preparing homemade meals, consult with a veterinary nutritionist or your veterinarian to ensure a balanced and nutritionally adequate diet for your dog. They can help you create a meal plan that includes appropriate protein, carbohydrates, and essential nutrients.
  4. Change your dog’s diet gradually: When switching to a new diet, whether it’s commercial or homemade, introduce it gradually to allow your dog’s digestive system to adjust. Start by mixing a small portion of the new food with the old food and gradually increase the ratio over several days.
  5. Monitor your dog’s response: Continuously monitor your dog for any signs of allergic reactions or adverse effects. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult your veterinarian for further guidance and potential adjustments to the diet.

Remember, every dog’s dietary needs are unique, and it’s essential to work closely with a veterinarian to develop a suitable and balanced diet plan that addresses your dog’s food allergies while meeting its nutritional requirements.

dog with itchy ears caused by food allergens for dogs
Photo by Rachel Claire

Nutritional Supplements And Probiotics For Dogs With Food Allergies

Nutritional supplements and probiotics can provide additional support for dogs with food allergies. Here’s how they can be beneficial:

1. Omega-3 fatty acids: 

Omega-3 supplements, typically derived from fish oil or algae, can help reduce inflammation and support skin health in dogs with food allergies. These supplements provide essential fatty acids that can help alleviate itching and promote a healthy coat.

2. Digestive Enzymes: 

Digestive enzyme supplements can aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, which can be beneficial for dogs with food allergies. These enzymes help optimize digestion, especially when there are digestive issues related to food allergies.

3. Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: 

Dogs with food allergies may have specific nutritional needs. Your veterinarian may recommend a balanced vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure your dog is getting all the necessary nutrients, especially if their diet is limited due to allergies.

4. Probiotics: 

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome. They can help improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption, and modulate the immune response. Probiotic supplements specifically formulated for dogs can help promote gut health and may aid in managing food allergies. Read more about probiotics for dogs.

5. Prebiotics: 

Prebiotics are fibers that serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Including prebiotic supplements or foods rich in prebiotic fibers, such as chicory root or inulin, can support the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria in dogs with food allergies.

Role of Probiotics in Food Allergy Management

Probiotics can play a beneficial role in the management of food allergies in dogs. Here are some key aspects of how probiotics can be helpful:

  • Probiotics help maintain a healthy gut and support the immune system, reducing the risk and severity of food allergies.
  • They strengthen the intestinal barrier, preventing allergens from entering the bloodstream and lowering the chances of developing food allergies.
  • Some probiotics have anti-inflammatory properties, helping regulate the immune system’s response and reducing allergic symptoms.
  • Probiotics can promote immune tolerance, decreasing the likelihood of an exaggerated immune reaction to harmless substances and managing food allergies.
  • Probiotics also aid digestion and enhance nutrient absorption, alleviating digestive symptoms and improving overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Food Allergens For Dogs

Can food allergies develop later in a dog’s life?

Yes, dogs can develop food allergies at any age, even if they have been eating the same diet for a long time.

How long does it take to see improvement after starting an elimination diet?

It typically takes about 8 to 12 weeks on an elimination diet to see improvement in symptoms. This allows time for the dog’s system to clear any allergens and for the body to heal.

Can food allergies be completely cured in dogs?

Food allergies in dogs cannot be completely cured, but they can be effectively managed by identifying and avoiding allergenic foods.

Is grain-free dog food always the best choice for dogs with food allergies?

Grain-free dog food is not necessarily the best choice for all dogs with food allergies. While some dogs have grain allergies, others may be allergic to different ingredients like meat proteins or specific vegetables. Individualized testing and dietary trials are essential to determine the specific allergens for each dog.

Are there any natural remedies for managing food allergies in dogs?

While there are no proven natural remedies for curing food allergies in dogs, some natural supplements like omega-3 fatty acids or coconut oil may help alleviate symptoms and support overall skin health. However, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new supplements.

Can dogs outgrow their food allergies over time?

While it is possible for dogs to outgrow certain allergies, including food allergies, it is not common. It is recommended to continue managing food allergies throughout the dog’s life, even if they seem to improve.

Can food allergies cause behavioral issues in dogs?

Food allergies are primarily associated with physical symptoms like skin problems or digestive issues. However, in rare cases, certain allergic reactions can lead to discomfort and restlessness, which might manifest as behavioral changes.

Can dogs be allergic to multiple food allergens?

Yes, dogs can be allergic to multiple food allergens. It is not uncommon for dogs to have allergies to more than one ingredient or protein source.

Should I consult a veterinarian for my dog’s food allergies?

Absolutely! It is essential to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis, management, and guidance on dietary changes for your dog’s food allergies. They can help determine the allergens, recommend appropriate diets, and monitor your dog’s health throughout the process.

Are there hypoallergenic dog food options available?

Yes, there are hypoallergenic dog food options available that are formulated to minimize the risk of triggering allergic reactions. These diets typically use novel protein sources or hydrolyzed proteins to reduce the chance of an immune response.


As we conclude our exploration of food allergens for dogs, we have gained valuable insights into the common culprits that can trigger allergies in our furry friends. 

Remember, just like humans, dogs can develop food allergies that cause discomfort and health issues. By understanding the difference between food allergies and food intolerances, we can better address our dog’s unique needs. 

If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, it’s important to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and guidance. Together with your vet, you can embark on an elimination diet trial or consider food allergy testing to identify specific allergens. 

By carefully managing your dog’s diet and providing balanced nutrition, you can help them lead a happier and healthier life. Remember, your love and care make all the difference in keeping your beloved canine companion allergy-free.


Similar Posts