The most common allergy in dogs is flea bites. The second most common is created by inhaling allergens, such as molds and pollen. Food allergies come in on third place.
Allergies happen when the immune system overreacts to something that's not really a threat; the immune system believes something is foreign and should be eradicated. This is normally an important defense mechanism that protects the body, but when it comes to an allergy the immune system reacts to something that wouldn't otherwise be a problem.
Dogs are most often allergic to beef, dairy products, chicken, eggs, corn, soy, and wheat. To develop a food allergy, a dog must be exposed to the same ingredient for at least a couple of years.
Symptoms include excessive scratching, paw licking, paw chewing, repeated ear infections, rashes, and stomach problems. Some dogs with food allergies scratch until they lose all hair in an area.
If your dog develops a food allergy, he or she needs to stay away from that specific ingredient. In order to find out what causes the problem, you will need to feed the dog something completely different from what they've eaten in the past.
The dog should eat the new food for two to three months. During this time there can be no treats or tastes of human food. Once the dog is free of symptoms, add back one ingredient at a time to see if and when the immune system reacts.
Does your dog have a food allergy? How did you find out?
~ Maria Sadowski ~