Dogs, like humans, experience allergic reactions to food. These food allergies pose the same diagnostic challenge for veterinarians as they do for physicians when humans have allergies. When dogs are suffering from a food allergy, they have a wide range of physical reactions. If you notice any of the listed behaviors or reactions below, your dog may be reacting to a food allergy:

  • Itchiness
  • Inflamed skin or skin redness Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Frequent licking
  • Runny nose
  • Swelling of the face, lips, eyelids, ears, or earflaps
  • Hives
  • Itchy ears
  • Red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy, runny eyes

If you see any of these symptoms in your dog, he or she may have a food allergy. Diagnosing which food is causing the problem could get complicated. Identifying and treating an allergy in your pet may demand the following steps:

1. Identify the allergic trigger
It could be one of the usual suspects: beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, soy, or milk. Your veterinarian may prescribe an elimination diet, essentially a food trial that involves feeding his dog a new source of carbohydrate and protein for twelve weeks.

2. Avoid the allergen
Naturally, the best treatment for a food allergy is avoidance. Your dog should stop eating the offending food. Your dog could suffer a greater response than a simple itch, his face, lips, throat, eyelids, ears and ear flaps could swell. He may need your veterinarian to administer an antihistamine to counteract his reaction.

3. Work closely with your vet
It’s even possible in a rare situation for your dog’s food allergy to cause anaphylactic shock. This severe reaction is possible in dogs. In such cases, rush your dog to the veterinarian. He may be administered several drugs and require one or two overnight stays at the vet. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication in addition to altering your dog’s diet. Avoiding the offending food is not always possible, so you may need the medicine just in case beef or soy accidentally gets into the production line at the dog food factory. Your dog’s eating habits may also be disturbed by his having to share his dining time with another animal in your home. Again, this may make medication the only sure way that your dog’s allergies do not reoccur.

4. Non-food allergies in dogs
Dogs are living creatures that respond holistically to the world around them. Food can cause a negative reaction in certain dogs. Dogs also suffer from hay fever, bug stings, asthma, dermatitis, allergies to pollen, etc. Genetics and environment can contribute to the irritants your dog is experiencing. Still, as his guardian you have an obligation to ease his suffering. With most food allergies, that will be possible.