Just like humans, dogs can also experience various health conditions, including allergies. Among the most common food allergens for dogs, chicken ranks high on the list. Chicken allergies can manifest in various ways and can be distressing for both you and your fur baby. In this blog, we’ll delve into the symptoms, diagnosis, and management of chicken allergies.
Understanding Chicken Allergies
An allergy is essentially an exaggerated immune response to a specific substance, known as an allergen. In the case of chicken allergies in dogs, the immune system reacts adversely to the chicken protein. The immune system perceives these proteins as threats, triggering a cascade of reactions that result in allergy symptoms.
Food allergies differ from food intolerances in that a food allergy is an immune response elicited by a glycoprotein, whereas a food intolerance is related to the effect the food has on the body and can be elicited by anything from flavors to preservatives. More importantly, while a food intolerance can occur the first time your dog eats a food, a food allergy does require previous exposure – meaning your dog has to have eaten the item at least once before for the body to have an allergic response.
According to a scientific paper published in 2017, chicken is the third most common food allergen for dogs, following beef and dairy. Next on the list are wheat and lamb.
It is important to mention here that if you are feeding a “beef” diet, for example, while the primary protein source may be beef, it may also contain chicken. Many diets labeled as a specific protein source contain protein from other sources, and for this reason it is imperative to check the ingredients list if you believe your dog is suffering from a food allergy.
Symptoms of Chicken Allergies in Dogs
Chicken allergies can present with a range of symptoms that can vary in severity. Some common signs of chicken allergies in dogs include:
Skin Irritation: Dogs with chicken allergies often experience itching, redness, and inflammation on the skin. This can lead to incessant scratching, licking, and chewing of affected areas.
Gastrointestinal Issues: Digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and flatulence can also be indicative of a chicken allergy.
Ear Infections: Allergies can lead to recurrent ear infections in some dogs.
Respiratory Symptoms: Although less common, dogs may develop respiratory symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge due to chicken allergies.
How to Diagnose Chicken Allergies
The only reliable way to confirm whether your dog has a chicken allergy is to perform a diet trial. This means feeding your pet a hydrolyzed or novel protein diet (such as Wild Earth) for 8 weeks. During this time, your dog is not allowed to eat any other treats or table scraps. Keep in mind that many supplements and parasite prevention are chicken flavored, so speak with your vet to find one that is not during this trial.
If your dog does improve during the trial, in order to confirm a chicken allergy, it is recommended that you challenge your dog by reintroducing the suspected offending allergen– in this case, chicken. Typically symptoms will return within 2-3 days, but can take up to 2 weeks.
It is important to mention that while many companies offer blood, hair and saliva tests to determine whether your dog has a food allergy, these tests are not very reliable. In a study evaluating a popular allergy test kit that uses hair, the authors tested hair from stuffed animals, confirmed food allergic dogs and non-food allergic dogs, and they found that the test was not able to differentiate between allergic dogs, non allergic dogs, and stuffed animals.
How to Treat Chicken Allergies
If a diet trial has confirmed that your dog has a chicken allergy, then it is important to continue to make sure that the offending allergen is eliminated from their diet.
Wild Earth dog food is free from the top five most common food allergens: beef, dairy, chicken, wheat and lamb. Our high protein formula is also free from less common allergens such as pork, egg, corn, and soy, making our food a great option for food allergic dogs.
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It is important to remember that the allergen must be avoided entirely… and this means in treats and table scraps as well. The good news is that Wild Earth’s low calorie treats are also free from all of these common allergens, and are the perfect way to spoil your dog with none of the itching!
No More Scratching!
As responsible pet parents, it’s important to be vigilant about our dogs’ health and well-being. Chicken allergies are a reality that some dogs face, but with proper diagnosis and management, their quality of life can be significantly improved. If you suspect your dog has a chicken allergy, consult a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and guidance on the best course of action.
Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva, VMD, cVMA
Dr. Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva is the Professional Services Veterinarian here at Wild Earth. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Brown University, and attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in general practice, on telehealth platforms, and in animal rehabilitation. She has worked tirelessly to gain expertise in the field of canine nutrition through numerous certifications and coursework, and plans to pursue her Masters in Animal Nutrition.