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Published on April 15, 2024

What Foods Should Dogs with Skin Allergies Avoid?

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from a variety of allergies that can affect their skin and overall health. If not managed properly, skin allergies in dogs can manifest in symptoms such as itching, redness, inflammation, and even secondary infections. One crucial aspect of managing skin allergies in dogs is paying attention to their diet. Certain foods can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive dogs, exacerbating their skin issues. This blog post will explore the foods dogs with skin allergies should avoid to help them lead healthier and happier lives.

Understanding Dog Allergies

Before delving into specific foods to avoid, it’s important to understand the nature of allergies in dogs. Dogs can be allergic to a wide range of substances, including pollen, dust mites, certain fabrics, and food ingredients. Allergic reactions occur when a dog’s immune system overreacts to a perceived threat, leading to various symptoms depending on the allergen and the individual dog’s sensitivity.

Skin allergies in dogs, also known as allergic dermatitis, are quite common and can be triggered by environmental factors or food. Food allergies in dogs are less common than environmental allergies but can still cause significant discomfort and health issues if not addressed. Identifying and eliminating the allergen from the dog’s environment or diet is key to managing allergic reactions effectively.

Common Food Allergens for Dogs

Several food ingredients are known to trigger allergic reactions in dogs. It’s essential to note that each dog is unique, and while some dogs may be allergic to specific foods, others may tolerate them without any issues. Common food allergens for dogs include:

  1. Proteins: Certain animal proteins, such as beef, chicken, lamb, and fish, can trigger allergies in sensitive dogs. Proteins are vital to a dog’s diet, but some dogs may develop allergies to specific protein sources.
  2. Grains: While grains are a controversial topic in dog nutrition, they are not inherently bad for all dogs. However, some dogs may be allergic to grains like wheat, corn, and soy, leading to skin issues and gastrointestinal problems.
  3. Dairy Products: Just like some humans are lactose intolerant, some dogs may have trouble digesting lactose found in dairy products like milk and cheese. This can manifest as skin allergies or digestive upset.
  4. Eggs: Eggs are a common source of protein in dog food, but they can also be allergenic for some dogs. Both egg whites and yolks have the potential to cause allergic reactions.
  5. Additives and Preservatives: Artificial additives, preservatives, and food dyes present in commercial dog foods can also trigger allergic reactions in sensitive dogs. These ingredients are often found in lower-quality dog foods and treats.

Foods to Avoid for Dogs with Skin Allergies

If your dog is experiencing skin allergies, your veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet to identify the specific allergen(s) causing the reaction. During this process, it’s crucial to avoid certain foods known to commonly trigger allergic reactions in dogs. Here are the foods that dogs with skin allergies should avoid:


Beef is a common allergen for dogs and can cause skin itching, redness, and inflammation in allergic individuals. If your dog is allergic to beef, it’s important to read ingredient labels carefully, as beef by-products can be present in many commercial dog foods.


Chicken is another protein source that some dogs may be allergic to. Symptoms of chicken allergies in dogs can include itching, rashes, hot spots, and ear infections. Opt for novel protein sources like duck, venison, or rabbit for dogs with chicken allergies.


While lamb is often considered a hypoallergenic protein, some dogs can still develop allergies to it. If your dog shows signs of skin allergies after consuming lamb-based foods, consider switching to alternative protein sources.


Fish, particularly common types like salmon and tuna, can also trigger allergic reactions in sensitive dogs. Look for dog foods specifically formulated with alternative fish sources such as whitefish or herring if your dog is allergic to common fish types.


Wheat and other gluten-containing grains like barley and rye are common allergens for dogs with gluten sensitivities. Gluten allergies can manifest as skin issues, digestive problems, and even behavioral changes in some cases. Opt for grain-free or limited-ingredient dog foods if wheat allergies are suspected.


Corn is a common filler ingredient in many commercial dog foods, but it can also be a source of allergies for some dogs. Corn allergies can cause skin itching, gastrointestinal upset, and poor coat condition. Choose dog foods that are free from corn and other grains if your dog is allergic.


Soy is another plant-based allergen that can cause allergic reactions in dogs. It is often used as a protein source in lower-quality dog foods and should be avoided for dogs with soy allergies. Look for soy-free alternatives or choose foods with novel protein sources.

Dairy Products

Dairy allergies in dogs can lead to skin issues as well as digestive problems such as diarrhea and vomiting. Avoid feeding your dog milk, cheese, and other dairy products if they are allergic. There are lactose-free dog food options available for dogs with dairy sensitivities.


Egg allergies in dogs can cause similar symptoms to other food allergies, including itching, redness, and gastrointestinal upset. Check ingredient labels carefully to avoid foods containing eggs if your dog is allergic.

Artificial Additives and Preservatives

Lastly, avoid dog foods and treats containing artificial additives, preservatives, and food dyes. These ingredients can exacerbate allergic reactions and may contribute to skin issues in sensitive dogs. Choose natural and high-quality dog foods without unnecessary additives.


Managing skin allergies in dogs requires a comprehensive approach that includes identifying and eliminating potential allergens from their diet and environment. While food allergies are just one aspect of allergic dermatitis in dogs, they can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life if not managed properly. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has food allergies, and work together to develop a suitable diet plan that meets your dog’s nutritional needs while avoiding allergenic ingredients. Being proactive and attentive to your dog’s dietary needs can help them enjoy a happy, itch-free life despite their allergies.

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