Allergies & The Elimination Diet For Dogs

October 18, 2021 4 min read

Itchy skin, butt dragging, way too frequent sneezing, unmanageable ear infections- if these symptoms sound familiar, then you know the struggle of handling dog allergies.

Allergies are a pervasive health issue in dogs, often overlooked for being “what dogs do.” As dog owners are beginning to learn more about their pets, even calling them their “babies,” they have also started to recognize that many of the symptoms our dogs experience aren’t healthy or normal.

Food allergies are one of thefive most common allergies or hypersensitivities known to affect dogs, according to VCA. As humans can be allergic to certain nuts or milk, dogs can experience allergic reactions to specific proteins or dairy products. However, unlike humans, dogs often ingest these allergies every day in their meals- subjecting them to the symptoms listed above and much more.

This blog will talk about food allergies in our dogs and how we can detect and treat them. 

What Causes Food Allergies in Dogs?

Allergies work relatively the same way in dogs as they do in humans. When our body is introduced to an allergic substance, our immune system overreacts and produces antibodies that recognize harmless things, like pollen or peanuts, as a threat. 

When you come in contact with the allergen, immune reactions cause the symptoms that we see commonly in allergies; puffy skin, runny nose and eyes, and difficulty breathing. 

Our dogs’ bodies react the same way: they recognize a specific food as an invader, and their immune system overreacts. In our pets, the most common food allergens are in their protein sources. Alone, these protein sources are often not the problem- Rather, the ingredients alongside them are the troublemakers.

Kibble and Its Relation to Allergies in Dogs

Unbeknownst to many dog owners, the very food they give their dog daily is the most common cause of food allergies. Kibble, the dry and convenient food that the majority of dog owners feed their pets, is causing an uprising in food-related allergies in dogs.

The reason for the increased frequency of food allergies in our pets is the artificial, low-quality, and harmful chemicals stuffed inside every bag of dry food. Companies can mainly sell kibble so cheaply because hardly anything goes into making it- cheap fillers and carbohydrates like corn and cellulose are packed into tiny pellets, filling up the majority of your dog’s food.

Alongside fillers and carbohydrates, unhealthy amounts of preservatives and artificial ingredients are packed into dry food to make it more appealing. Kibble pellets are dyed fun colors, doused in synthetic scents and flavors, and treated with harsh preservatives. Each of these factors does nothing nutritionally for our pet- they are only put in for convenience and charm, with our dogs’ health at risk.

With all these extra ingredients packed into a single pellet of kibble, it’s no wonder why so many dogs are developing allergies to this form of dog food. After all, it’s near impossible to pinpoint what’s causing an allergic reaction when there can be 40+ ingredients in a single pack of food. 

If you suspect your dog’s food may be causing their allergies, compare their symptoms with these below:

Signs Your Dog Has Food Allergies

  • Frequent wheezing or coughing
  • Flaky, irritated, and itchy skin
  • Vomiting, gas, and diarrhea
  • Runny discharge in the eyes or nose
  • Pimples, cysts, or blackheads on the skin
  • Chronic or frequent ear infections
  • Rubbing head on floor or furniture
  • Bald spots or a dry, flaky coat
  • Constantly licking the paws, paw pads, and irritated skin

If you see any of these signs in your dog, it is a very telling sign that they have food allergies. Treating food allergies is a simple yet time-consuming process, which we call theelimination diet. 

We also recommend visiting a holistic or integrative veterinarian if you suspect your dog has allergies. They will likely recommend an elimination diet, which we’ll discuss shortly, alongside other natural treatments you can provide to your pup.

Treating Allergies in Dogs

As stated earlier, treating allergies in dogs is a simple yet time-consuming process. There are a few different ways to do this, depending on the type of allergy. Still, food allergies generally have one approach: Discover what is causing the allergic reaction, and avoid it. 

We do this first step by putting our dog through an elimination diet, also known as elimination trials. While it sounds like a confusing or complicated term, an elimination diet is just another way of narrowing down your dog’s allergy.

The Elimination Diet and How it Works

The elimination diet is a diet where components of a dog’s meals are gradually removed until allergies improve. Often, owners will find that a specific protein or chemical is causing an allergic reaction in dogs.

Not only are your dog’s meals accounted for- your dog’s treats are, too. When undergoing an elimination diet with your dog, narrowing down the treats you provide them is a part of the process. We recommend feedingsingle-ingredient dog treatsduring an elimination diet since they are straightforward with their ingredients and are 100% natural.

For dogs fed a fresh diet, the elimination trials are relatively simple. With little to no non-beneficial ingredients in their food, it’s much easier to narrow down the allergen to a specific ingredient. A shorter ingredient list means less ingredients to be the culprit! Oftentimes, owners will find that their dog can’t handle specific types of meats or veggies.

For dogs fed kibble and canned food, however, the elimination trials may show to be more of a challenge. Since there are so many different ingredients in a processed diet, you would have to deconstruct the kibble itself to find what is indeed causing your dog’s allergies- which is impossible.

This is why, at Cali Raw, we recommend feeding your pup afresh raw dog food diet. A fresh diet eliminates the fillers, preservatives, and chemicals found in most processed foods. With those extra ingredients out of the way, solving the mystery of your dog’s allergen is one step away.