How to Figure Out What Your Dog Is Allergic To

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Skin allergies and food allergies are common in dogs, but figuring out the specific thing they are sensitive to can be difficult. When a dog is allergic to something, it can cause many unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive scratching. 

allergy dog

This obviously isn’t very nice for your dog, so you’ll need to find out which ingredient your dog is intolerant to as soon as possible. Let’s take a look at some ways to help you determine your dog’s allergy.

What Is the Most Common Allergy in Dogs?

The most common allergy in dogs is skin allergy (allergic dermatitis), which can be caused by food allergens, flea allergy dermatitis, and environmental allergens. 

If your dog has a food allergy or sensitivity, itchy skin is fairly common, followed by digestive issues like diarrhea and vomiting. Some of the most common food allergens in dogs are chicken, soy, dairy, wheat, eggs, beef, and lamb. 

Flea allergy dermatitis is exactly like its name suggests. It’s an allergic reaction to fleabites. Dogs with this condition are allergic to flea saliva. 

After being bitten by a flea, pooches with flea allergy dermatitis experience intense itching, particularly at the base of their skin. Their skin might also be red, scabbed, and swollen.

Lastly, environmental allergens like pollen, dust, mold, and cigarette smoke can cause rhinitis, asthma, or atopic dermatitis. Some allergies, such as pollen, are seasonal, so your pooch might only have symptoms at specific times of the year. 

Commonly affected itchy areas of dogs with environmental allergies are around the paws and ears. Your dog can also experience itchiness on their ankles, muzzle, wrists, groin, underarms, face, and in between their toes. 

No matter what type of allergy your dog has, any symptoms involving itchy skin can result in infection. When your dog scratches, licks, and bites at the affected area, yeast or bacteria can enter the cut or wound. 

How Can I Tell What My Dog Is Allergic?

allergy dog sniff

Diagnosing a food allergy in dogs is a little hard as there are so many potential ingredients your dog could be sensitive to. Additionally, some dogs are allergic to more than one type of food, which can complicate things further.

So, how do you know if your dog is allergic to their food? If your dog is allergic to their food, they will normally experience symptoms like hives, itching, scratching, vomiting, diarrhea, and flatulence.

While other conditions can cause these side effects, if you notice them occur specifically after your dog eats their food (or a certain ingredient), an allergy is likely the culprit.


In Dogs with a Dog Food Allergy, How Long After Eating Do Symptoms Appear? 

Symptoms caused by a food allergy in dogs can appear in as little as a few minutes or as long as 24 hours. Hives, in particular, can emerge around 6 to 24 hours after your dog eats something they’re allergic to. 

Also known as urticaria, hives are itchy red bumps. They’re easier to see on dogs with short-haired coats. If your pooch has long hair, you might need to feel their skin to spot them. 

Dog Food Allergy Elimination Diet 

adult pug

“How to figure out dog food allergies†is a common question asked by many owners who aren’t sure what their pooch is intolerant to. Commercial dog foods often have a very long list of ingredients, so finding out which ingredient your dog is sensitive can seem daunting. 

The dog food allergy elimination diet is one of the best methods for figuring out your dog’s food sensitivity. Vets will often prescribe a special diet that doesn’t contain the food or ingredient they suspect your pooch is allergic to. 

For example, if you think your dog has a chicken allergy, then you should feed them a diet that contains a different source of protein. 

To start the food elimination diet, try to think of all the types of food you have fed to your dog since their symptoms first appeared. You should then write down the ingredient lists from all the commercial dog foods and treats you have given your dog.

This can be quite a time-consuming task, but it’ll make things easier for when you choose the foods that need to be eliminated from your pooch’s diet.

If you or your vet aren’t sure what your dog is allergic to, then a homemade diet or commercial food that contains a protein source your dog has never eaten before is typically advised. 

Elimination diets normally contain other ingredients less likely to trigger an allergic reaction such as sweet potato and rice.

Natural dog foods that contain limited ingredients are the best choice for elimination diets. These types of foods consist of very few ingredients, which makes it much simpler to work out what your dog might be sensitive to. 

As it’s not uncommon for dogs with food allergies to be sensitive to more than one ingredient, a diet that has fewer components is helpful.

Ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, and venison are particularly good foods to look out for when choosing a food to feed your dog during an elimination diet. Ideally, it should also be grain-free and dairy-free as both wheat/gluten and dairy products are common allergens for dogs.

Alternatively, your vet might suggest a hydrolyzed protein diet, which uses the method of hydrolysis to break down proteins into tiny pieces to stop your dog’s immune system reacting to them.

Your dog should be on a food elimination diet for quite some time, normally at least 8 or 12 weeks. During this period, you’ll be able to monitor your dog to see if their symptoms improve, disappear, or stay the same.

If your dog’s symptoms improve or disappear after this time, you can then reintroduce the food you think they’re allergic to. If their symptoms worsen again, you’ll be sure it’s that particular ingredient that’s the problem. 

How Much Does It Cost to Get an Allergy Test for a Dog?

Allergy tests are not reliable for food allergies, but they can be useful for figuring out whether your dog has an environmental allergy. Your vet might recommend blood or skin testing if they believe your dog is allergic to pollen, dust, or other environmental allergens. 

So, how much does it cost to get an allergy test for a dog? The price for an allergy test varies between clinics and the number of allergens tested, but you can normally expect to pay around $200 for a skin test. Skin tests are usually done by a pet dermatologist rather than a veterinarian. 

Blood tests, on the other hand, can be done by your vet. Despite being the easier route as you don’t need to hunt down a specialist, there is evidence that implies that skin testing is a more reliable option. Blood tests typically cost $200 to $300. 

Conclusion 

Determining what your dog might be allergic to can seem like an impossible task, but there are a few things you can try to help you figure out the mystery. 

If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, then the food elimination diet is your best bet. Natural foods that consist of limited, hypoallergenic ingredients are a good choice to help you narrow down the ingredients responsible for your dog’s symptoms. 

For dogs with possible environmental allergies, skin testing or blood testing are a good option for helping you pinpoint what your dog is sensitive to. 

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