4 Dog Food Allergy Myths

Allergies are a common problem for dogs. Typical symptoms include itchiness resulting in excess scratching, biting, or licking, and sometimes chronic or recurrent skin/ear infections. While dogs most frequently suffer from allergies to environmental triggers (e.g., pollen, molds, and dust mites or flea bites), allergic reactions to food are possible, and are frequently a source of greater controversy.

Diagnosing canine food allergies is not easy. It typically requires a food trial during which a dog eats ABSOLUTELY NOTHING other than a food containing protein and carbohydrate sources to which he has never been exposed before. Another option is to only allow your dog to eat food that has been processed in such a way as to make it hypoallergenic. A food trial needs to continue for at least eight weeks before its success or failure can be evaluated. This is easier said than done!

I think the difficulty we have in definitively diagnosing food allergies in dogs is at least partially responsible for some of the myths that have developed around the condition. Letís look at a few, along with the truths behind them.

Myth: Dogs are typically allergic to corn, wheat, soy, and other plant-based ingredients.

Truth: In a study of 278 cases of food allergies in dogs where the problem ingredient was clearly identified, beef was by far the biggest culprit (95 cases). Dairy was number two at 55 cases. Wheat came in third with 42 cases. Soy and corn were actually minimal offenders, coming in at 13 and 7 cases, respectively.

In fact, protein sources are more often to blame than grains. Beef, dairy, chicken, egg, lamb, soy, pork and fish were responsible for 231 of the food allergies, while wheat, corn and rice combined accounted for only 54. (Some dogs were allergic to more than one ingredient, which is why these numbers total more than 278.)

Myth: “Iíve changed my dogís diet several times and heís still itchy, so he canít have a food allergy.”

Truth: Dogs are allergic to particular ingredients, not to brands or types of food. So if your dog is allergic to chicken, and each of the foods you have tried contains chicken, he will still be itchy. Look very closely at the ingredient list; it will usually contain multiple protein and carbohydrate sources. It is not unusual for a food that is labeled “lamb and rice,” for example, to contain chicken or other potential allergens as well.

It is difficult to guess correctly as to what your dog might be allergic to, which is why veterinarians typically reach for foods with novel ingredients like venison and potato (your dogís dietary history is important for picking out the right one), or specially processed, hypoallergenic foods.

Myth: “I havenít changed my dogís diet. Itís hard to believe that he would be developing a food allergy now.

Truth: Dogs can develop food allergies at any time in their life, and with any dietary history.

Myth: “If my dog is suffering from food allergies, why doesnít he have diarrhea?”

Truth: Some, but not all, dogs with food allergies have concurrent gastrointestinal signs like vomiting or diarrhea, so you shouldnít rule out food allergies just because his GI tract seems to be functioning normally. If your dog has chronic gastrointestinal problems in addition to non-seasonal itchiness, a food allergy will be at the top of the list of potential problems.


If you think that your dog could have a food allergy, talk to your veterinarian. He or she can help you find the right food to keep your dogís symptoms at bay while still providing the balanced nutrition that is essential to good health.

By Dr. Jennifer Coates, PetMD

Good Nutrition for Healthy Vegan Dogs
Healthy Diets for Picky Dogs
The Essential Guide to Dog Food

Food Allergy Myths originally appeared on petMD.com


Sue H
Sue H4 months ago

Helpful information, thanks.

Hannah K
Past Member 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thanks for the information.

William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you for the article.

Stephen Hauer
Stephen Hauer4 years ago

Is Your Itchy Dog [Allergy] SAD ?

Flea = No
Skin Mites = No
Food Allergy = No
Enviro = 85% Yes

Because Allergy is a Mis-Wired Allergy SnowBall gaining Speed ( Frequency ) and Mass ( Severity ) as it Rolls Down Life's Hill.

The Only viable Option is to build Internal Tolerance to the actual Aero-Enviro Allergy Sources .. to the extent that Symptoms are Pushed into Remission.

Aside for Allergy Shots, Doggy GOO provides this Option

Else G.
Else G4 years ago

It you think that Andrea D then I guess you have never dealt with a dog with allergies. I have and the article is spot on.

Andrea Davis
Andrea Davis4 years ago

The article is a load of fecal matter.

Ulane V.
Ulane V4 years ago

Its very hard to figure out to what your dog is allergic to, it takes a long time.
And no treats during this time- explain that to them.
One of my dogs has allergies. First he had diarrhea and a lot of gas-that was wheat and corn, then a bad rash-from beef.
Leaving these out of his food he is healthy and happy dog.

Stephen Hauer
Stephen Hauer5 years ago

Many Pet Parents move their DOGs to special diets with the “Belief” that its Paw Chewing, Itchy, Gunky Ears are FOOD Allergy Driven.

When in fact, 85% of our Itchy Allergy DOGs = Allergy to the Same Pollens Mites ( not Skin ) & Molds that We suffer From.

To address Enviro allergy TroubleMakers, many Pet Parent have successfully moved their animals to Doggy GOO which builds Tolerance to major Enviro Allergy TroubleMakers.

BUT the above does not mean that FOODs are not troublemakers for our DOGs often they are. But it is not a true medically defined Food Allergy, but rather a GUT that is out of balance typically caused by Antibiotic Flora devastation.

In this case, because 75% of our DOGs Immune System is GUT Mediated Immunity, GOO Gut Rescue “Rescues” your Dogs Gut from Pathogenic Bad Bug Dominance.

Additionally, addressing the top 7 Provocative FOODs, GOO Gut Rescue also builds tolerance to Beef, Chicken, Pork, Lamb, Soy Wheat & Corn.

Norm Garrison
Norm Garrison5 years ago

I would like to see a list of the top 10 or 25 dog food allergies in order from most cases to least. And, it would be nice to see % of dogs (estimated, of course) affected; for example if Barley was .001%, even if top 25, it would be extremely rare that dogs would have an issue with it. Anyway, I see discussions about this allergy or that allergy, but no data or listed orders or percentage of dogs affected. How about a more detailed follow-up article?