Dog Food Allergies 101: Symptoms, Common Allergens, and Finding Wholesome Foods

Dog Food Allergies 101: Symptoms, Common Allergens, and Finding Wholesome Foods

Suspect your furry friend might have allergies? We’re here to help. Learn how to provide delicious, safe, and nutritious meals that will keep your pup’s sensitive stomach happy and healthy.

Discover the best food for dog with allergies

You’ve seen those memes about dogs, right? The ones that compare wild dogs to our domestic furry buddies saying things like “my ancestors were avid hunters, and ate what they could…and I get diarrhea whenever my human changes my food.” Most dogs haven’t inherited stomachs of steel — in fact, some may have actually inherited a particularly sensitive stomach, and possibly even food allergies.

Sure, their ancestors might laugh at those weak stomachs, but us dog parents are left scratching our heads trying to figure out what caused the digestive upset this time.

If you’re noticing that your dog is experiencing stomach upset a little too frequently, and you can’t seem to figure out the culprit, it might be time to find out if food allergies could be the root cause.

Signs your dog might have food allergies

Obviously, our dogs can’t say, ‘hey, stop feeding us chicken — we love the way it tastes, but it’s giving me hot spots!’ so, it’s up to us to pick up on those cues.

There are a few key symptoms to look out for when trying to determine if your dog has food allergies. VCA Animal Hospitals notes, “the signs of a food allergy are usually itchy skin, paws, or ears or digestive disturbances such as vomiting or diarrhea.”

Keep an eye out for coat changes in addition to skin changes, like hair loss, or a new odor (this could be due to a yeast imbalance caused by exposure to an allergen). If your dog seems to have an uptick in infections — like ear infections, skin infections, eye infections — allergies could be the culprit.

Food allergies can also present symptoms that aren’t physical. This issue can actually impact your dog’s mood and behavior, too! Which shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, as us humans tend to not be so happy when we’re not feeling well either.

VCA Animal Hospitals shares other signs to look for, like “hyperactivity, weight loss, lack of energy, and even aggression.”

Common food allergens for dogs

As you’re working to zero-in on what could be upsetting your dog’s stomach, or causing other uncomfortable issues or changes for your furry friend, it’s helpful to know common food allergens that exist for dogs.

Some foods that are most known for causing allergic reactions in dogs include:

  • Chicken

  • Beef

  • Dairy

  • Gluten

  • Soy

  • Fish

  • Lamb

  • Pork

  • Rabbit

  • Peanuts/peanut butter notes that, while it’s not necessarily a proven fact, some breeds may actually be more prone to food allergies than others, which is especially helpful for pet parents to know! So, what breeds are on that list?

  • Dachshunds

  • Bulldogs

  • Golden Retrievers

  • German Shepherds

  • Pugs

  • Pitbulls

  • Cocker Spaniels

  • Shih Tzus

  • Westies (aka West Highland White Terriers)

  • Yorkies (aka Yorkshire Terriers)

Finding allergy friendly food options

The most important thing to find when you’ve discovered your pet has food allergies? Healthy, wholesome, nutritious food that they can eat, of course! It may take a little trial and error, and a little extra effort, but there are many great food options (and treat options!) out there for dogs with food allergies.

First and foremost, talk to your vet before making any food changes, or investing in any new food options! Your vet can give you some of the best recommendations that cater specifically to your dog's needs — some of which might even be prescription based.

Once you’ve got the ok from your vet, you can start experimenting to find the ideal food for your dog: something that satisfies their hunger, pleases their palate, and keeps them healthy and strong so they can live a long, happy life!

When it comes to determining food allergies in dogs, generally the first place to start is with an elimination diet. The elimination of certain ingredients (usually starting with the most common allergens) will help pet owners (and their vets!) zero in on what their dog is allergic to.

Thankfully, most food allergies can be managed through a change in diet. While the elimination diet approach can be tedious, it is worth the effort!

Once you land on what foods your dog should avoid, you can begin experimenting with finding a food option that your dog not only tolerates well, but also enjoys — and while this may take some time to guess, test, and revise, there are plenty of options out there for pet parents to try so don’t get discouraged if your first option isn’t a winner.

Additionally, many brands that offer allergy-friendly foods have a kibble and a wet food version. Mixing both kibble and wet food can give your dog a sense of variety and help keep them excited for meal time.

If you’ve changed your dog’s food and are still noticing some lingering allergy symptoms, discuss with your vet the option of medication to help manage those issues, like Apoquel or Cytopoint.

Allergy-friendly food & treats

While there are plenty of companies and brands out there creating special dog foods and treats for pets with food allergies (like Royal Canin, The Farmer’s Dog, Hill’s, Blue Buffalo, and Shameless Pets, of course), don’t be afraid to experiment with homemade options, too!

When you know the ingredients that your dog’s stomach can tolerate, and you know what flavors they most enjoy, you can start trying out some homemade recipes to keep them excited about meal time and keep them feeling good!

Some generally safe foods you can incorporate into your pet’s diet include:

  • Sweet potato

  • Pumpkin

  • Butternut Squash

  • Zucchini

  • Blueberries

  • Bone broth

  • Rice

  • Carrots

*But, as always, be sure to check with your vet first before introducing any new ingredients into your pet’s diet. Oftentimes when you’re working to rule out certain foods that could be allergens, you’ll have your dog on a strict diet — so introducing new ingredients at this time can really throw a wrench in the process of elimination.

We know treat time is an important time for pups — and for owners, because nothing is more fun than seeing their excitement, or watching them come running, when the treat bag crinkles.

Creating treats that dogs love is so important to us, and we wanted to create treats that humans will love, too! That’s why our ingredient lists are short and sweet — filled with things you recognize, and probably even things you’d eat yourself! We’ve got a variety of protein options from poultry to fish, and we even have plant-based options if your pup has an allergy to meat proteins.

The bottom line…

Discovering that your dog has food allergies may seem daunting at first, but brands like Shameless Pets exist to make things easier for pet parents to keep their dogs healthy and happy. Be sure to pay attention to cues from your pup to ensure they’re feeling their best, and as always, consult with your vet at the first indication of anything being amiss. Food allergies aren’t fun, but they’re manageable, and with a bit of research (and maybe even some recipe DIYing at home!), you can be sure that your pup is eating good and feeling good!