Could your dog have a food sensitivity?

Like their owners, dogs can experience sensitive skin and digestion. While this could be a stand-alone or seasonal condition, symptoms can sometimes be caused by an allergy or intolerance to an ingredient in their food. By leaving these issues unmanaged your dog can experience a ‘ruff-time’.

What is the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance in dogs?

While you might think an allergy and an intolerance is the same, it’s not. While the symptoms displayed can be similar, with an allergy – the immune system starts to react adversely to one or more protein. However, the immune system is not directly involved in the case of an intolerance, and such reactions can occur in response to any food ingredient (usually those that are not very digestible).

Symptoms of an allergy

The common symptoms a dog with a food allergy might experience are: 

  • Itching
  • Crusty patches of skin
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Chewing/nibbling the paws
  • Agitation
  • Ear infections
  • Weight loss
What allergies are common in dogs?

While your dog could be allergic to any ingredients within their food, some of the most common offenders are dairy, beef, soy, and wheat/gluten.

How do I get my dog a diagnosis?

Diagnosing allergies is difficult since testing remains unreliable. Most vets concur that food trials are still the most effective way to obtain a diagnosis. More information can be found in our adverse food reactions fact sheet.

Can a food allergy be cured?

Unfortunately, food allergies in dogs are not curable and medicine may be required if your furry friend experiences a severe reaction. Though the good news is that a food allergy can be managed through diet and feeding a food suited to their needs. Some young animals may grow out of allergies, and some may experience much reduced reactions if their immune system can be strengthened.

How are food allergies treated?

Food allergies can be treated by avoiding the triggering ingredient. To start with, you can swap your pet to a hypoallergenic diet (and treats, if fed) which should immediately eliminate some of the more common food allergy offenders from their diet.

If symptoms persist, the next step is to try a diet with a novel primary protein and carbohydrate source (i.e., ones that your dog has not eaten as dietary staples previously). If for example your dog has been eating a chicken and grain based diet, it could be that a lamb based grain free food could suit the individual’s immune system better.

Sometimes a hydrolysed veterinary diet may be suggested by your vet for a trial period. This type of food has undergone a special process to break down protein molecules into tiny fractions that are too small to annoy the immune system. These foods are “anallergenic” (i.e., they contain nothing that can provoke a food allergy) as opposed to “hypoallergenic” (i.e., excluding some of the more common ingredients responsible for food allergies). After a successful trial, you may then (under the supervision of your vet) be able to start slowly and carefully re-introducing selected ingredients. This is known as re-challenging.

How to swap to a suitable food?

If your dog is experiencing a reaction to their ‘regular’ food, this could be either itchy skin or tummy distress, consult your vet and discuss whether you should try feeding a grain free diet to help alleviate these issues. In cases where food is thought to be exacerbating a health condition, ceasing the current diet as quickly as possible may be advisable.

If you’re intrigued to see if your dog enjoys eating grain free meals, you can use our recommended feeding pattern for a successful diet change.

Arden Grange is allergy friendly

All of Arden Grange’s dry food recipes are naturally hypoallergenic, and benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin for joint aid and FOS and MOS prebiotics to help with digestion and immunity.

We have also just released a range of super premium, grain free recipes. Every product is filled with our special blend of nutrient-rich superfood ingredients, which have been selected for their excellent antioxidant properties and the support that they can provide to your dog’s immune system and overall health and well-being.