What To Know About Dog Skin Allergies And Diet

Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies to a variety of foods. In many cases, dog allergies are caused by the proteins in certain meats and/or the naturally occurring proteins found in some plants, such as wheat. In people, food allergies often manifest in the form of gastrointestinal (GI) issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea (think shellfish allergy.) In dogs, however, allergy symptoms tend to be skin-related, such as persistent itching, recurrent ear infections, or skin infections.

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Dogs' Immune Systems & Allergies



How Do Allergies Develop In Dogs?

Allergies develop over time in dogs as their immune systems begin to recognize benign proteins that they’ve been exposed to in the past as dangerous foreign invaders. It often takes repeated exposure to a food – over many weeks or months – in order for an allergy in a dog to develop. This is because the immune system is developing a response to the “dangerous” protein it’s encountering. That’s why some dogs will happily eat the same food without issue, for an extended period of time, then suddenly seem to develop an allergy to it. As the immune system prepares its response to the protein, it slowly becomes more potent, until it results in allergy symptoms. This is a natural course of events, but could, understandably, be confusing you haven’t changed anything in your dog’s diet, yet one day, allergy symptoms appear.


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If You Think Your Dog Has An Allergy To Food...

If you suspect that your dog has an allergy, the first step you should take is to consult your veterinarian. After ruling out other health issues, your vet will likely recommend a hypoallergenic dog food. These are dog foods that contain “novel” proteins – ideally proteins that your dog has never encountered before. If your dog’s allergy symptoms subside, you can begin to add back sources of allergen in order to determine the exact culprit. For example, if you think that your dog is allergic to chicken, you can add a small amount of chicken back into their hypoallergenic food and then observe whether the allergy symptoms reappear. By continuing this process one protein at a time you can eventually determine the exact cause of your dog’s allergy.

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