How To Tell If Your Dog Has Allergies and How to Help

February 07, 2020 5 min read

We are well aware that dogs and allergies, unfortunately, tend to go hand in hand. Whether environmental, breed-related, or caused by their diet, the number of dogs suffering from allergies is significant. With up to 40% of dogs having allergy issues, it is essential to determine the cause in order to give our fur babies some relief. Figuring out exactly what is causing your dog allergies can be challenging, but once you do, your pup will thank you! 

What is a Food Allergy In Dogs?

Food sensitivities, or intolerances, usually appear internally in the GI tract, causing vomiting or loose stools. Many times when we think our dog has a food allergy, it may actually be a sensitivity or intolerance to a particular ingredient in their diet. Many times, this sensitivity is to a specific protein. Actual food allergies in dogs are quite rare, but you will see an immune response if your dog is allergic to something.

If your dog has a food allergy, this means their immune system has decided that this ingredient is attacking their body; therefore, they reject it. In this case, your dog's immune system will fight back like it would against real danger. 

You might ask, how can a dog be allergic to what nature intended them to eat? As we know, dogs are carnivores. Biologically, dogs are meant to eat a balanced diet comprised of real meat!

Unfortunately, protein is commonly the culprit of allergies. It may be in hormones in the meat, antibiotics, or chemicals, rather than the actual protein itself.

This brings us to low-quality meat and ingredients. Many times pet owners find that their dog is allergic to the artificial protein found in processed food, or to a low-grade protein in their diet. This is why it is imperative to choose a high-quality protein diet for your dog.

Symptoms Of Dog Food Allergies:

If your dog has allergies, you may see symptoms such as itchy skin, hot spots, constantly licking their paws, ear infections, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Dogs will display these symptoms externally, as we see very often. Below are some common food allergies symptoms to help you determine whether your dog has a food allergy or food intolerance. 

Chronic Ear Infections

Frequent ear infections are usually a sign of a food allergy. To determine this, you must first rule out ear mites, yeast infection, or “swimmers ear.” A chronic ear infection presents itself with gunky black or brown build-up in the ears, constant scratching of the ear, or yeast build-up. Frequent cleaning and treatments may not eliminate this issue if food is the culprit.


Watery Eyes

We’ve all seen dogs with runny eyes, which may cause staining and irritation. Watery eyes can be a sign of a food allergy or an environmental allergy, being especially noticeable in small breeds with light fur.


Itchy Skin

If your dog is constantly itching, you will quickly come to the conclusion that they must have an allergy of some sort. Itchy skin is commonly an environmental allergy, especially if your dog has fleas!

Many pet parents don’t think about the kind of shampoo they’re using or how often they bathe their dog. Be sure to use a mild shampoo and rinse multiple times, leaving no shampoo on your dog's skin. Skin allergies may be food-related but are usually related to their environment. Once you rule out one factor, you’ll be able to pinpoint what exactly is causing the allergy.


Inflamed and Discolored Mouth

You may notice pink, inflamed areas around your dog's lips, feet, and skin. These symptoms are usually caused by a yeast-based infection but could signify a food allergy as well. Alongside abnormal coloration, your dog may also appear to be irritated and itchy in the afflicted areas.


Red Itchy Paws

If your dog's nail beds are red or brown, this is a sign of an inflammatory immune response. If your dog is constantly itching and licking their paws, it is best to perform a food elimination diet or allergy test to identify what it is that your dog is allergic to.

allergy symptoms in dogs

Testing Your Dog For Allergies

Testing your dog for allergies will give you peace knowing what to keep away from for your little one! There are tests available for environmental allergies and food allergies, recommending elimination diet paths. You can purchase a home kit or have your holistic veterinarian do so for you. These tests use your dog's saliva to measure antibodies to common food allergies to help identify the culprit of your dog's allergies. 

If you choose to do a food elimination diet, you can do so at home, but this does take time. You can start with one specific protein for 1 to 2 weeks, then introduce a new protein, and so on, observing your dog's skin, eyes, and other symptoms. 


Why A Raw Diet Is The Best Dog Food For Allergies

If your dog has the symptoms listed above, they may have a food allergy. Switching to a species-appropriate raw diet is something you can do to help subside these issues and give your dog some well-deserved relief. A natural raw diet with no additives, soy, grain, carbohydrates, and artificial flavors will give you confidence and clarify, knowing their allergies are not coming from those culprits. If your dog's food allergen is a specific protein, stay away from that protein! 

At Cali Raw Nutrition, we offer formulas in Lamb, Beef, Turkey, and Chicken. You can conduct an elimination diet to find what protein works best for your dog. If your dog stays on one protein their whole life, they may develop an allergy to it.

This is why it is important to give them a variety of proteins to ensure this does not happen. Correspondingly, more choices for your dog will keep them enthused about their food, just like us!

Treats Make a Difference, Too!

While treats are primarily used as a supplemental snack, they can actually be a large culprit in your dog's allergies. Many store-bought treats are packed with preservatives, fillers, and chemicals that can cause a flare-up in allergic reactions. This is why it's important to choose single-ingredient, human-grade treats for your pup.

Crafted Dog Treats has a variety of single-ingredient and natural treats that can help treat your pup's allergies. With Crafted Dog Treats, you will know exactly what ingredients your dog is consuming. Like raw dog food, there are no additives, fillers, soy, grains, carbohydrates, and artificial flavors, so narrowing down allergies will be a million times more efficient! 

To find out if your dog has food allergies, we recommend speaking with a holistic veterinarian. You can find a holistic veterinarian here