How to Prevent Food Allergies in Dogs

These allergies are usually the result of consuming meats, eggs, fish and some vegetables. If your dog is having this problem, you may notice him scratching himself to the point he open wounds and gets them infected. A veterinary check-up and a natural diet could be the trick of taking care of this issue. 
How to Prevent Food Allergies in Dogs
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 22 December, 2022

Just like humans, dogs also have allergic reactions from eating certain foods. Therefore, the first thing you should do is distinguish the difference between a food allergy and a specific food intolerance.

Food intolerances and allergies

In general, food intolerances cause dogs to expel certain foods through vomiting or diarrhea every time he eats that same food.

However, Food allergies often produce several symptoms in your pet. Some of them are: itching in some parts of the body such as the chest, legs, armpits, anus, and ears. Therefore the itching causes the animal to often scratch himself, which results in redness and burning.

Usually, the self-inflicted wound becomes infected as a result from all the scratching. Red eyes and spots in his fur may also be signs of this allergy.

A white puppy scratching himself

The food products that usually cause these allergies are chicken, veal, fish, eggs, lamb, corn, soybeans and wheat. These same ingredients are in many processed pet foods.

Why do dogs have food allergies?

Just like humans, the canine body doesn’t recognize some proteins found in foods. Therefore, the body activates its immune system to fight against them. Once an owner suspects that his dog has a food allergy, he/she should not diagnose or medicate the dog himself. 

Many other illnesses have similar symptoms; for example, certain types of scabies, insect bites, intestinal parasites, atopy, and infections. The vet is the only person authorized to give an accurate diagnosis and will indicate what treatment or solution should be intended to treat a dog. 

How to treat food allergies in dogs

When the vet detects a food allergy in your dog, he/she will usually prescribe a diet that’s free of the suspected ingredient that’s causing the allergic reaction. YOur dog could be on this diet for 6 to 12 weeks.

After this time, the animal is fed again and observed in order to confirm if that ingredient was the cause of the allergy. This process is called elimination diet and provocation testing.

Husky getting a check-up by the vet

Dogs that are allergic to a specific allergen may be instructed to consume a commercial dog food that contains hydrolyzed protein.

This type of protein doesn’t usually produce an allergic reaction in dogs because it’s degraded by enzymes that produce lighter peptides. These molecules are hypoallergenic and are easier for animals to digest.

Instead of these special formulas, a vet may also suggest a homemade diet, which is another way to control your dog’s intake of food allergens. The BARF diet is specially designed to be made from scratch.

Another measure that vets recommend, when your pet has a very strong allergic reaction, is taking antihistamines and corticosteroids. 

What is the BARF diet?

The BARF diet stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

BARF diet ingredients

This diet consists of feeding dogs ingredients they would eat in their natural environment. It basically consists of raw meats and vegetable proteins, some oils, yogurt, cheese and some other carbohydrates. You should serve these foods completely raw or lightly cooked.

You can also add meat with bones, organs, raw meats and some fruits to the list. Any of these products could cause problems in your pet.

This is how to imitate the ancestral diet of wolves and canines before the emergence of industrial animal feed. Given the concern of whether this raw or semi-raw food could contaminate your dog with bacteria, you should try to freeze your rations for at least three days. 

A disadvantage of this diet is that it can be time-consuming, expensive and become an unbalanced preparation if you don’t plan it out well. You should remember that industrial dog foods calculate the nutritional and vitamin requirements of pets.

As you can see, the problem of food allergies in dogs is just an adverse reaction to an ingredient in food, and it has different solutions. You should always speak with your vet before starting any type of treatment.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.