Is Your Dog Allergic to Certain Food? Food Allergies and Dogs

Is Your Dog Allergic to Certain Food?
expert or vet photo
vet verified Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

Dogs can have food allergies just like people can, with sometimes serious consequences. Learn how to recognize and treat a dog food allergies.

Are you wondering if your dog is allergic to some foods? If your pet is having trouble keeping food down or experiencing diarrhea, canine food allergies may be to blame.

Food allergies, or intolerance to particular elements in dog foods, is the third most common cause of dog allergies. Food allergies affect all breeds, both genders, and can suddenly show up years into a dog’s life.

If you find signs of food allergy, it is best to visit your vet and get allergy medicine for dogs. The dog allergy medicine will help reduce the discomfort while you figure out what food ingredient is causing the problems and eliminate it from your dog’s diet.

Signs of Dog Food Allergy or Intolerance

It could be that your dog has food intolerance rather than a food allergy. Food allergies usually show signs of itching, skin problems, and diarrhea. It might cause chronic skin infections that recur after antibiotic treatment or diarrhea that keeps coming back. Conversely, food intolerance is often seen as vomiting or diarrhea without skin issues. However, there can be exceptions to this rule, so it's always best to bring your veterinarian into the conversation.

Typically, the most common causes of allergy in dogs are the most common ingredients in dog foods—beef, dairy, soy, and wheat, among others. While you will need time to find the culprit and remove it from the diet, it is best to give your pet some anti-allergenic medicine like Prednisone for dogs after consulting with your vet.

Treatment for Food Allergy

Your veterinarian will rule out other possible causes of any skin problems, such as parasites or fleas. One other potential cause is ruled out; you can look at your dog’s diet. If you suspect food allergies in your dog, keep a list of what it eats, bring the can or dried food bag to your veterinarian for his or her review, and don’t feed your dog any table food.

Your veterinarian may recommend a special food formula for pets with common food allergies in dogs to help rule out the offending food. Most allergy-specific recipes have limited ingredients and include protein sources from lamb, rabbit, venison, or duck. Sometimes a homemade diet is recommended, starting with primary protein sources. It's sometimes recommended to gradually add other sources until food allergy signs are seen again to pinpoint to cause of the allergy. This helps you determine what food is causing your dog’s allergy so you can avoid feeding it to them. It also allows you to see what foods don’t cause allergies, so you can use these ingredients to ensure your dog's diet still gets all the essential nutrients they need. Be sure to work closely with your veterinarian during this process.

Some homeopathic veterinarians feel that dogs can react to the additives and preservatives in commercial dog foods. If this is the case for your dog, you might try feeding a more natural brand of dog food that doesn’t contain preservatives or color additives.

You might want to switch to only popular dog food brands so that they get only quality food that doesn’t lead to allergies. You should also read the ingredients and additives added to the packed or canned dog food. This will give you an idea of whether it's the additives or some specific ingredients causing the problems.

Moving Forward

Once you determine the cause of your pet’s food allergy or intolerance, you must ensure they never eat it again. Much like a child with a peanut allergy, your dog’s food allergy isn’t going to go away. Your diligence in keeping their diet free of the offending allergen will keep them healthy and comfortable.

Suppose you find out that your dog is allergic to grains, you can feed him Taste of the Wild Grain Free Pine Forest Recipe from the Taste of the Wild dog food brand. Similarly, you can also go for the Zignature dog food brand that comes with limited ingredients.

Foods to Avoid for Bulldogs

While all dogs share some specific nutritional requirements, Bulldogs may also need to avoid certain foods because of genetic diseases or allergies. If some bulldogs eat the wrong food, they can suffer allergic reactions and dermatitis. Bulldogs are susceptible to kidney stones caused by too much protein in the diet. Other bulldog health issues traced to specific foods include indigestion, flatulence, joint problems, and heart issues. Bulldogs eat quickly and will eat just about anything if left to their own devices.


Protein is a crucial component of dogs' diets, but bulldogs need less protein than most other dog breeds. The body uses protein for growth and development. Bulldog puppies can grow very quickly, but too much protein can strain their musculoskeletal systems. High protein also can cause kidney stones in bulldogs. In addition, proteins that are not burned as calories are then stored as fat. Bulldogs are prone to obesity and should not be overweight. Obesity can worsen problems such as hip dysplasia and cause joint and cardiac diseases.

Flatulence in Bulldogs

Diet is the primary source of excessive flatulence in dogs. The shortened face of bulldogs may worsen the problem. Bulldogs must ingest a lot of air when eating, which adds to flatulence. Feed your bulldog small kibbles, so your bulldog will have to eat more slowly. Table scraps can upset your bulldog's stomach. Foods that can cause flatulence include soybeans, peas, beans, milk products, and fatty or spicy foods.

Use a slow feeder dog bowl to feed your bulldog to ensure that it eats slowly. These dog bowls come with smaller compartments that prevent your pet from wolfing down all the food quickly.

Toxic Foods

Certain foods, such as chocolate, are toxic to all dogs and should be avoided, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Some foods can worsen digestive problems. Some of these foods are more dangerous for bulldogs than most other breeds. For example, ingested raw bread dough can expand in the stomach and worsen a bulldog's breathing difficulties. Grapes and raisins can damage the kidneys of any dog, but bulldogs are genetically prone to kidney disease. Hops, found in beer, can cause dangerously high body temperatures in dogs, and bulldogs are already highly susceptible to heatstroke.

You need to be aware of such toxic foods and prevent adding them to your bulldog’s diet. So if you are feeding raw dog food to your bulldog, ensure to give it in small quantities. This will prevent bloating and other digestive problems and even help reduce the chances of allergies. However, if you find that your bulldog is allergic to raw food, it is best to simply avoid it.


Choose a commercial dry dog food that has meat as the first ingredient, and avoid soy as an ingredient as many bulldogs become allergic to it over time. Do not free-feed your bulldog. Divide your adult bulldog's ration into two or more meals daily to reduce the chance of bloat. Provide your bulldog with a constant supply of fresh drinking water.

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Limited Ingredient Pruritus (Scratching/Itching) Pyoderma (Skin Infection) Enteritis (Diarrhea)

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