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Signs Your Pet is Allergic to Their Food

Pet parents are always aware when there’s something wrong with their animals. When it comes to dogs and cats, you should always have patience and understand every dog is different and has different needs. Unfortunately, sometimes the food you give them to keep them healthy and strong can have the opposite reaction. Your dog can be allergic to their food, and food allergies in dogs are more common than you might think.


Before you assume your pet has food allergies, you should understand that they could have a food intolerance instead. Food allergies and food intolerances are not the same, and they cause different reactions. Food intolerance means your dog can’t digest certain foods, leading to diarrhea and vomiting, along with other digestive problems. On the other hand, food allergies mean your dog is reacting to a particular ingredient in their food that’s impacting their immune system. Food allergies in pets can be potentially life-threatening, so it’s important to know the signs your pet is allergic to their food. 


Signs Your Pet is Allergic to Their Food


Finding out your pet is allergic to their food is as simple as paying attention to their overall health and wellness. Signs your pet is allergic to food are:


Allergic Dermatitis 

Allergic dermatitis is one of the most common signs of an allergic reaction. It can occur throughout your pet’s entire body, including the ears, paws, belly, chin, and even their behinds. If you notice your dog dragging across the carpet, it might mean he has an itch he can’t scratch on his own. Allergic dermatitis causes flaky skin that might have an odor and severe itching. Your pet might be chewing their paws or scratching their ears excessively. 


Ear Infections

If your dog is scratching their ears more than usual and their ears have an odor, they could have an ear infection. While ear infections are common in dogs, chronic ear infections could indicate that they have a food allergy. Dogs with ear infections will scratch their ears vigorously, rub their ears on furniture, and shake their head persistently to scratch the itch. Of course, ear infections have other causes, such as yeast infections and mites. 


The only way to rule out another cause of ear infections is to visit your vet and have them look inside and swab your ear to determine what’s causing the infection. If there are no signs of yeast or mites, it’s likely your dog has some sort of allergy affecting its ears. 


Swelling in the Face

When humans eat something they’re allergic to; their faces might swell up. Dogs are the same. If your pet eats and you notice swelling on their face, ears, lips, and eyelids, it’s likely a reaction to something in their environment, such as thief food. 


Watery Eyes

Dogs’ eyes can water for several reasons, including seasonal allergies. Some dogs already have a natural eye discharge, but you should be able to tell when their eyes are watering more than usual. If you see your dog rubbing their eyes on furniture or trying to scratch their face, they might be having an allergic reaction.


Stomach Issues

Stomach issues can be a sign of food intolerance, but they can also indicate food allergies. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, unusual gas, or vomiting, they might have an allergic reaction that affects their digestive system. Additionally, if your pet experiences loose stool regularly, it may indicate their food is low in nutritional value or that they are allergic to it. 


What to Do If You Suspect Food Allergies in Pets

If you believe your pet is allergic to their food, it’s always best to stray away from a different dog food and consult your local vet. If you’re worried the food you’re feeding them is inadequate, you can put them on a chicken and rice diet for a few days to help them get at least a few of the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy. 


Other medical illnesses can have the same symptoms as food allergies, so you should always visit your vet for allergy testing to ensure there’s nothing else wrong with your dog’s health. Your vet may treat food allergies with medication topicals, and dietary changes. 


If your dog has a severe allergic reaction to their food, they may not be able to breathe. If your dog’s breathing has changed, go to your nearest emergency vet, and don’t wait for your next vet appointment; your dog requires immediate medical attention. 


What If Your Pet Has Minor Allergies?

Most food allergies are not life-threatening, but they can cause health issues for your dog, including:

  • Skin infections
  • Worsened symptoms
  • Behavioral changes
  • Worsening quality of life


If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction, you know how uncomfortable it can be, even if it’s minor. You don’t want your pet going through that or getting worsening symptoms by not treating the problem. Instead, you should pinpoint what your dog is allergic to by having your vet perform allergy testing to tell you whether your dog is allergic to environmental factors like dust or their food. 


Elimination Diet

If your vet suspects your dog has a food allergy, they will put them on an elimination diet to figure out what they’re allergic to. During this type of diet, you’ll feed your dog a different protein and carbohydrate for two months and report the effects to your vet. 


The elimination diet can help you determine what types of meats or carbs are causing the allergic reactions to eliminate them from your pet’s diet forever. Not to mention, if you are feeding your dogs some of your human food that contains sugar, this could be a factor. During the elimination phase, it is best to remove any human food and concentrate on what the vet is having you try. 


Final Thoughts


Your pet’s food is meant to keep them healthy, not make them uncomfortable or become life-threatening. If you suspect your dog is allergic to their food, stop feeding it to them immediately and call your vet. Your vet can tell you an alternative diet to feed them, such as rice and chicken, before your appointment so your pet can remain active and healthy


Once your vet determines what’s causing the food allergy, it’s up to you to eliminate it from your pet’s diet to improve their quality of life. 


By Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.