Can Dogs have Food Allergies?

Can Dogs have Food Allergies?
Just like people, yes — dogs can have allergies and intolerances to a variety of foods, although true immune response allergies are rare.

Although they may not show up for years, dogs can develop a negative reaction to ingredients like beef, dairy and wheat. A seemingly new wheat intolerance can often be down to having been fed a gluten free diet unnecessarily, meaning their gut microbiome is not used to needing to digest gluten. So if you’ve recently made a swap from a gluten free dog food to one that now contains gluten, that may cause stomach upset.

It’s important to see a vet if you’re worried about your dog and their diet causing them issues, as symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea can result in dehydration — and a very poorly, unhappy pooch.

What’s the difference between an allergy and an intolerance?

An intolerance is an issue with digestion, whereby the body doesn’t have the right tiny tools — enzymes — to break down the food. This results in tummy problems like diarrhoea. An allergy, on the other hand, is an immune response to a protein in the food, which causes cells in the body to release histamines. This is known as an allergic reaction - hence the word antihistamines in products for fighting hay fever or pollen allergies.

As they have similar symptoms, it can be tricky to tell the difference between an allergy and an intolerance or sensitivity. Your vet will be able to help you figure it out.

Symptoms of a dog allergy or intolerance

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Gas
  • Itchy paws
  • Frequent scratching or patchy hair loss
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Ear infections
  • Eye redness or discharge
  • Coughing, wheezing, sneezing or other breathing problems


Identifying what ingredient is causing your pooch problems is key to preventing further health issues.

Your vet may swap them onto a different protein and grain to see how they manage. Your dog may be put on an elimination or hypoallergenic diet for a number of weeks, excluding many of the potential ingredients that may be causing the reaction. During this time, it’s important to not give your pup any treats, no matter how many tricks they try and do!

You’ll then reintroduce different proteins and grains back into their diet and see if any of them trigger an allergic reaction, which will identify ingredients to avoid. As it may be more than one allergy, it is important to monitor them closely and feed back everything to the vet so they can suggest the best way forward to keep them healthy and happy.

Delicious, nutritious, natural meals for a four-legged friend

Here at Harringtons, our range of dog foods provide a balanced, tasty meal that’s full of natural goodness and packed with plenty of minerals and vitamins. With options for puppies through to adult and even senior dogs, we’re with you every step of the way, providing delicious, nutritious food which makes for strong, healthy and happy dogs. Our recipes are tail-waggingly good!

With natural and grain-free options, you’re sure to find something that keeps your dog and their tummies happy. Why not check out our Just 6 range? It contains a combination of six natural ingredients including fresh meat or fish, farm-grown vegetables and vitamin-rich oils, creating a highly nutritious and super-tasty dish.

Want to learn more? By becoming a member of our Pet Club, you’ll be able to access exclusive content, rewards and discounts on all your favourite products. Along with a fantastic team of pet lovers and nutritionists, we’ve even enlisted the expert help of Peter Wright, TV’s The Yorkshire Vet. Whatever you’re looking for, you'll find it there!