Dogs can sometimes become allergic to something in their food. This is a pretty common form of allergy, and it happens gradually in response to eating the food. It’s usually one of the main ingredients in dog food that is causing the reaction (beef, chicken, milk products are the most common causes).
What are the symptoms?
Dogs that get food allergies often have skin conditions, and they can cause hair loss as well. Other common symptoms are appetite problems and behaviors that suggest itching such as rubbing their face or head and licking their paws. Dogs sometimes show general digestive problems as well such as diarrhea and vomiting.
In many cases, a food allergy is only discovered after skin conditions begin showing up in the dog. Usually your vet will want to try to exhaust other potential causes first, as it can take a month or so after switching diets for you to really know whether a food allergy was responsible.
How do I know if my dog has one?
You basically have to switch your dog over to a hypoallergenic dog food for about a month or so and see if the allergy goes away. There isn’t any set kind of food that is “hypoallergenic” – what you’re doing is giving the dog something that does not exist in normal dog food. Because the dog has had no exposure to this kind of food, it will have no allergy to it. Meats such as venison, rabbit, and salmon are not used in normal dog foods so you can switch to a food that uses one of those.
What if a hypoallergenic diet doesn’t work for my dog?
Your dog might not have a food allergy. Sometimes fleas can cause allergic reactions in dogs. Chemicals, pollen and the stuff that normally causes allergies in people, and other random things can cause your dog to have an allergic reaction – so it could be something else.