Is My Dog Allergic to Chicken? How to Determine if Poultry Is the Problem

A Golden Retriever Eating A Bowl Of Kibble
expert or vet photo
vet verified Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

If your dog is experiencing food allergy symptoms, it may be that they're allergic to chicken. Find out here what the causes, symptoms, and treatment options are for dogs allergic to chicken.

One of the most common ingredients in dog food is also one of the most common causes of allergies. Chicken shows up in many kibbles, wet foods, and treats. If you notice your dog suffering from allergy symptoms, your veterinarian may suggest that you start by looking at what they eat.

So how can you tell if your dog is allergic to chicken? Here we will look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a dog allergic to chicken.

Chicken Allergy Causes in Dogs

A dog develops a chicken allergy when its immune system becomes overly sensitive to the ingredient. The dog’s body begins to identify chicken as dangerous, and an allergic response is triggered every time your dog consumes it.

Once your dog’s sensitivity to chicken develops, the problem can worsen. As your dog continues to eat the irritating food, its immune system responds more vigorously over time, inducing agonizing allergy symptoms.

Some dogs are genetically predisposed to food allergies, while others may develop them along the way. Even if your dog has been eating the same food for years, it could suddenly develop an allergy to one or more ingredients. The exact reason for this is not known, but we know that a dog has to be exposed to the offending food more than once for sensitivity to develop.

Chicken Allergy Symptoms

Any food allergy can cause extremely uncomfortable symptoms for your dog, including:

  • Itching and scratching, especially around the rear end, feet, face, and ears

  • Ear inflammation as a result of scratching

  • Skin injuries, infections, or hair loss as a result of scratching

  • Gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea.

If you see any of these symptoms, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian.

Chicken Allergy Diagnosis and Treatment

If you think that your dog may be suffering from a chicken allergy, contact your veterinarian. They will help you to come up with a plan for determining if chicken is the cause of your dog’s allergies.

In most cases, your dog will be placed on a special prescription diet that does not contain chicken. Once your dog has been eating that food for a period of time and its allergy symptoms have subsided, you will reintroduce chicken to its diet. If your dog has an allergic reaction, then you know that chicken is the culprit.

The best way to treat a chicken allergy once it has been identified is to remove the ingredient from your dog’s diet completely. This may mean feeding your dog a special food recommended by your vet or preparing a homemade diet. Always discuss your dog’s new diet with your veterinarian to be sure that it is meeting all of its nutritional needs.

What to Feed Your Allergic-To-Chicken Dog?

Feed Your Dog a Meat-Rich Diet

If your dog is allergic to chicken, it is vital that you provide them with a balanced diet. Meat is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It also contains chondroitin and glucosamine, which can be beneficial for joint health. A meat-rich diet can also deliver omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your dog’s skin and coat, and help reduce inflammation in their body (such as from an allergic reaction).

If your dog has allergies, consider switching to a hypoallergenic diet made specifically for dogs with allergies. Some brands have additives that help increase their digestibility and lower the chance of allergic reactions. Be careful when choosing these foods because they tend to be more expensive than regular ones, but it's worth it if your beloved pet needs them!

Limit the Number of Ingredients in Your Dog’s Food

While it is tempting to want dog food with many different kinds of ingredients, it's important to remember that the fewer ingredients there are in any given food, the less likely there will be an allergy problem. The fewer ingredients in your dog's food, the less likely he'll be allergic to chicken.

Use Home Remedies

If your dog is allergic to chicken, chances are that he’s also sensitive to many other ingredients. This means that it might be difficult for you to find a commercial dog food brand that doesn’t contain any of the ingredients that cause him trouble. You may want to try making your own homemade meals at home using fish, lamb, or beef.

Consider Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your dog and can help treat skin issues and allergies. Many foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, but the best source is fish oils. Dogs who have skin problems or food allergies should be given a supplement that contains fish oil to help manage their symptoms.

Avoid Treats with Chicken Meat

If you're looking for a treat to give your dog, it's best to avoid treats that contain chicken. Your dog doesn't need them, and they may cause allergies.

There are many other great options for treats that won't contain chicken. For example:

  • Dried fruit and vegetables (pieces of banana or apple)

  • Vegetables cut into small pieces (carrots and sweet potatoes)

  • Cooked egg yolk (for training purposes only)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it common for dogs to be allergic to chicken?

Yes, chicken is considered a common allergen for dogs. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), chicken is one of the top three most common allergens for dogs, along with beef and dairy. This is likely due to the prevalence of chicken in many commercial dog foods, as well as the fact that chicken is a primary ingredient in many dog treats.

Why do dogs become allergic to chicken?

There is no definitive answer to why dogs become allergic to chicken. However, food allergies in dogs are believed to be caused by an immune system response to a protein in the food that the dog's body identifies as a threat. Over time, the dog's immune system may start to produce antibodies against this protein, which can result in an allergic reaction. It's worth noting that some dogs may be genetically predisposed to food allergies, and environmental factors such as exposure to certain toxins or the use of certain medications may also increase the risk of developing a food allergy. Additionally, it's possible for dogs to develop an allergy to a food they have been eating for a long time, as the immune system can become sensitized to a protein over time.

What should I feed my dog if he is allergic to chicken?

If your dog is allergic to chicken, there are a variety of protein sources and dog food brands available that are chicken-free and may be a good option for your dog. Some common protein sources that may be used in place of chicken include beef, lamb, fish (e.g. salmon, whitefish), duck, turkey, and venison. When selecting dog food for a chicken-allergic dog, it's important to carefully read the ingredients label and avoid any foods that contain chicken, chicken meal, or chicken by-products. You may also want to consider a limited-ingredient diet, which typically contains fewer ingredients to help minimize the risk of triggering an allergic reaction. It's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog's diet, particularly if your dog has a known food allergy. Your vet can help you select a diet that meets your dog's nutritional needs while minimizing the risk of allergic reactions. They may also recommend additional treatments or interventions to manage your dog's allergy symptoms, such as medications or supplements.

Can my dog be allergic to chicken but not beef?

Yes, it is possible for a dog to be allergic to chicken but not beef. Each dog is unique and may have different sensitivities and allergic reactions to certain proteins in their food. While chicken is a common allergen in dogs, some dogs may tolerate beef well or have a sensitivity to beef instead.

Is Turkey better than chicken for dogs with allergies?

Turkey is often used as an alternative protein source for dogs with chicken allergies, as it is a different protein source that some dogs may be less likely to be allergic to. However, whether or not turkey is better than chicken for dogs with allergies may depend on the individual dog and its specific allergy. It's worth noting that some dogs may also be allergic to turkey or other poultry-based protein sources. Additionally, some dog foods that are marketed as turkey-based may still contain chicken or other poultry-based ingredients, so it's important to carefully read the ingredients list on any dog food you are considering. If your dog has a known chicken allergy, it's best to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to its diet. Your vet can help you select a suitable protein source and diet for your dog based on their individual needs and allergies. They may recommend an elimination diet to help identify the specific allergen that is causing your dog's symptoms, as well as other treatments or interventions to manage your dog's allergy symptoms.

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.

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