- Food allergies in dogs typically develop over time and can take years of exposure before manifesting as a reaction. Allergies are not specific to breed, age or gender. Additives, preservatives, processed protein and ingredients can trigger an allergic reaction that results in itching, scratching and biting. Dogs that suffer from food allergies may also be sensitive to environmental inhalants, chemical agents and pest bites, making the diagnoses of food allergies difficult.
- Symptoms of dog food allergies include skin irritation, ear infections, rashes, increased bowel movements and hot spots that reoccur after antibiotic or steroid treatment. Seasonal allergies are common to spring and summer, so dogs that continue to lick, bite and scratch throughout the cold months may be reacting to food allergens. Food allergies cause skin to become irritated around the face, ears, paws, armpits and anus, leading a dog to lick and gnaw persistently, which can cause bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections.
- Dog foods, treats and bones that cause allergic reactions may contain by-products, processed proteins, pesticides, additives and ingredients such as chicken, beef, soy, corn, eggs, dairy products, wheat and lamb. Years of exposure to such diets can cause a buildup of antigens in a dog, rendering the immune system incapable of creating an antibody to defend against the antigen, resulting in food allergies. Simple food formulas with fewer ingredients are best in treating food allergies.
- Real, unprocessed food made from fresh ingredients is recognized as being the best source of nutrients for dogs and humans alike. Vegetable-rich meals that avoid grains are digestible and safe for dogs with allergies. Salmon, lamb and venison are meats that are not regularly used in dog foods, meaning a dog's system may not resist these proteins as it has not been exposed to the associated antigens for a prolonged period of time.
- Grain-free dry or canned dog foods containing a single-source protein and single-source carbohydrate are affective in treating food allergies. Fish, in particular, is a lean protein that is more digestible due to a lower fat content. Barley is full of fiber, passing through the system and providing nutrients for a dog. Flaxseed and canola oil provide Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids that do not build up in the digestive system, providing healthy skin and coat. Sweet potatoes are a source of carbohydrates, providing potassium and energy. Dogs with food allergies should be fed food with premium-quality ingredients and without artificial flavoring, coloring and preservatives. Fish and sweet potato formulas are commonly recommended.