Dog Food Allergies


The following items represent some of The Dog Food Advisor’s most frequently asked questions about dog food allergies.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy occurs when a dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies a particular food ingredient as harmful. And then creates defensive antibodies to fight the invading enemy (the food).

Is it better to feed your dog the same food each meal? Or is it safer to change menus on a regular basis?

For the surprising answer to these and other questions about dog food allergies, be sure to visit this video by Dr. Karen Becker.

What are the signs and symptoms of a food allergy?

The symptoms of an allergy include skin rash, hives, itching, paw biting, obsessive licking and sometimes nausea or vomiting.

What is a food intolerance?

A food intolerance is a digestive problem rather than an immune response. An intolerance occurs when a dog’s digestive system is unable to digest a specific ingredient.

What are the signs and symptoms of a food intolerance?

The signs of food intolerance include mostly digestive distress… gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

If my dog is allergic to a specific dog food, does that mean there’s something wrong with the quality of the product?

Allergies are related to your pet’s own immune system and are not due to a problem with the product itself. So, if a dog is allergic to a particular ingredient, he will likely experience the same unfavorable reaction to that ingredient… no matter what brand you find it in.

If my dog shows signs of an allergy, should I immediately suspect it’s caused by the food?

Maybe not. Because food is only the third leading cause of canine allergies, the signs and symptoms you observe may not even be related to your pet’s diet in the first place.

What are the most common causes of dog food allergies?

Dog food ingredients most likely to provoke an allergic reaction1 include…

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Yeast2

What else could cause my dog to be allergic to his food?

Many times, it’s not even the ingredients themselves that are the problem. In some cases, a dog can also be allergic to contaminants in the food itself.

What should I feed my dog if I suspect his allergy symptoms are caused by his food?

Since certain recipes have been intentionally designed to help you control or isolate these problems, you may wish to read our recently updated article, “Hypoallergenic Dog Foods“.

You may also wish to consider a grain free dog food.

What should I do if I believe my dog might have allergies?

Allergies can have serious consequences for your pet. Remember, much of the advice offered by well-meaning dog owners throughout this site may not be appropriate for your dog. So, be sure to consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.


  1. Drs. Foster and Smith, Food Allergies and Food Intolerance
  2. Yeast added by the Dog Food Advisor
  • ifiller

    I got my Mini Schnauzer when she was 9 months old (she’s now 7 years old) and within the first several months I noticed a lot of bumps on her back. I took her to the vet a couple of times who gave her steroid shots. I started doing my own research and discovered that bumps on a dog’s back might indicate a grain allergy. I started feeding her AvoDerm and Blue Buffalo grain-free food and the bumps went away. I’d definitely try grain-free if it hasn’t cleared up yet.

  • Peggy Gurney

    Wow, after reading your post, I went and checked the cans of dog food in the cabinet, and thankfully, none of our dog food lists chickory, chickory root, or inulin in the ingredients.

  • B Bowen

    Thanks. We’re on week 2 of the new food and the vet said it can take up to 6 weeks to clear up.

  • DDog

    Yes, my mini schnauzer gets very bad skin bumps, I call them hives, from food allergies. Especially down her spine. I put her on Royal Canin Reduced Allergy dry food and it really cleared up her back.