The symptoms of dog food allergies are similar to those of other types of allergies in dogs; these symptoms include itchy skin, loss of hair, skin sensitivity and infections. Dogs with food allergies may also have more frequent bowel movements. Symptoms that do not respond to treatment, or occur year round, are more likely to have a food-related rather than an environmental cause.
The common causes of dog food allergies are dairy, beef, chicken, lamb, corn, wheat or soy. If food is the suspected cause of the symptoms, a food trial can be used to determine the specific cause. To avoid digestive upset in the dog, gradually change the diet over several days when staring the trial. Feed the dog a different source of protein or carbohydrates than is contained their current food for at least 12 weeks and see if the symptoms subside. This may take some trial and error, replacing different ingredients and waiting several more weeks, before the specific cause is found. Homemade food may be the best way to restrict the contents of the dog’s food. Also, be sure to limit treats and access the dog may have to food outside the home. If desired, a commercially produced healthy dog food, such as a hypoallergenic dog food, can be used. These dog food products are made in a way that breaks down the molecules of protein and carbohydrate making them so small that they do not cause an allergic response.
Once the specific cause of the allergy has been determined through a food trial or other forms of testing done by a veterinarian, a solution can be implemented. The only real cure for a dog food allergy is complete avoidance of the food that is causing the problem. If a suitable one is found, a commercially prepared dog food may be used or the pet owner can make homemade food. If the food is homemade, care should be taken to ensure that the diet is balanced correctly for dogs.
Unfortunately, a dog with a food allergy may develop new allergies after eating a particular diet for a long time; so if symptoms reappear, this process may have to be repeated.