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If you are allergic to a certain type of food, you may be familiar with the symptoms – hives, swelling of the face, trouble breathing, and even anaphylactic shock. What you may not know is that dogs can experience food allergies as well, though the symptoms may look very different. Keep reading to learn more about food allergies in dogs and to determine whether your retriever is at risk.

Understanding Food Allergies in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to everything from environmental allergens like smoke and pollen to food allergies like wheat and dairy. About 10% of all allergy cases in dogs can be attributed to food allergies and the most common culprits are beef, dairy, egg, wheat, chicken, soy, lamb, and fish. It is also worth noting that dogs who suffer from food allergies are frequently allergic to more than one thing. All dogs can develop food allergies, but some breeds are more prone to them – this includes retrievers as well as Boxers, Dalmatians, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, and Schnauzers.

Though food allergies in humans typically produce digestive or respiratory symptoms, they more common cause skin-related problems in dogs. It might start with dry, itchy skin but, over time, could develop into open sores or wounds that are prone to infection. If your dog suffers from chronic ear infections or allergy symptoms that don’t seem liked to the changing of seasons, it could be a food allergy. Other common symptoms of food allergies in dogs include chronic diarrhea or gas, licking the feet, recurrent ear infections, and severe itching and scratching.

What Should You Do If Your Dog is Allergic?

If you suspect that your dog is allergic to an ingredient in his food, the first thing you should do is talk to your veterinarian. Report your dog’s symptoms as accurately as you can to ensure that your veterinarian has all of the necessary information to make an accurate diagnosis. If your vet believes that your dog is suffering from a food allergy, he may recommend an elimination diet. Choose a new dog food that doesn’t contain the same protein or carbohydrates as your dog’s current diet – ideally, it should be a source of protein and carbohydrate that he has never had before. Then, simply feed your dog that food for at least 12 weeks until all signs of the allergy disappear. At that point, you and your vet can decide whether you want to reintroduce potential allergens one at a time to identify the culprit, or you can simply keep feeding your dog the new food.

Food allergies may seem like a minor annoyance but they can cause some serious problems if left untreated. If your dog is allergic to one of the ingredients in his food, he could develop severe skin problems which might even lead to infection. Your dog may also develop digestive issues that could interfere with his absorption of nutrients. If you think your dog might have an allergy, don’t delay in speaking to your veterinarian.

Photo credit: Joop Snijder Photography/Shutterstock
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