I Think My Dog Has Food Allergies

I think my dog has food allergies

Lynn Potts - Author

Often dogs develop intolerances to the food they are eating and pet owners just want the scratching and licking to stop. The best way you can help your pet is to become informed, and as the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” 

It's pretty easy to figure out by looking at the animals’ teeth that horses don’t eat steak and hay is not a species appropriate food for dogs.


I’m pretty sure everyone will also agree that it’s not healthy to live on junk food and we should try and eat fresh whole foods. Let's examine how to look at what you are feeding your dog.

The first step many dog owners make with a pet showing a food intolerance is to try a new dog food. Before jumping to another food take a look at what is really in the “dog food” you are feeding. Just as we read the labels when we choose our human food, we need to take a look at dog food labels. 

Let’s take a look at some dog foods that contain duck.

This is a Prescription Duck and Potato Kibble for Sensitive Skin

Potatoes, Potato Starch, Duck, Potato Protein, Soybean Oil, Coconut Oil, Powdered Cellulose, Pork Liver Flavour, Dicalcium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Glyceryl Monostearate, Calcium Carbonate, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), DL-Methionine, Taurine, Magnesium Oxide, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavours, Beta-Carotene.

While there are probably quite a few ingredients that most of us can’t pronounce is there anything in the ingredients that is a “prescription?” Are there any ingredients that you personally would not want to eat or don’t even know what some of them are?

When looking at the list of ingredients they are listed in descending order of weight from greatest to smallest.  What most people do not realize is this is the weight including water and is before the kibble is processed. Raw potatoes contain about 80% moisture, potato starch around 15% and duck approximately 75%. After high heat processing of kibble how much potato and duck are really in this kibble?

Taking a further look at the ingredients, what are they really? Potato starch is the extracted starch from potatoes. During the process of extracting starch from potatoes a protein juice is produced, basically a byproduct of potato processing. Most of the first four ingredients in this dog food are potato based, so how much duck is really in this kibble? Powdered cellulose is obtained from the pulp of fibrous plant materials. Keep in mind we are not looking at the quality of the ingredients, just what they are.

Typically, in a highly processed food such as this kibble, synthetic vitamins and minerals need to be added. This is why when you look at the vitamin and mineral content of this kibble you do not easily recognize all the ingredients.

This is a Quick Baked Air-Dried Product

Duck, pork liver, eggs, ground organic sprouted barley seed, herring, ground fava beans, sweet potato, ground organic sprouted flaxseed, ground organic sprouted lentils, ground organic sprouted peas, potato starch, apples, carrots, sea salt, kelp.

Again, the weight would be before the quick baked process. This company advertises their product as synthetic free made with fresh, human grade ingredients. The vitamins and minerals come from the ingredients not a synthetically made mix. The ingredients are recognizable and do not sound like a chemical.

This is a Raw Product

80% triple ground duck including bone, muscle meat (including hearts); 10 % livers; 10% vegetables consisting of: romaine lettuce, dandelion leaves, sweet potato, carrot, kale, collards; kelp, cold water, cold pressed fish oil

As this is a raw product and not processed, the amount of the ingredients would be as listed. Whole fresh foods are used to provide the vitamin and minerals.  

One last thing to keep in mind when looking at your dog’s food is whether or not the manufacturer lists where they source their ingredients. Check out their website and look for facts - not marketing claims.

Just like humans, pets can also be sensitive, or ‘allergic’, to highly processed foods, synthetic ingredients, and the overall quality of the ingredients going in. Quality matters. In the food comparisons above, we can see that choosing a protein is not our only option. We can take into account the ingredient profile, how it is processed, and also what is not in the diet. Depending on the sensitivity in question which diet you choose for your pet can make a big impact on your pet’s healing journey. Choosing less processed is a step in the right direction, moving towards the freshest options possible will often show the greatest positive changes over time. 

If the idea of becoming a label reading expert seems daunting…ask for help at stores like Pet Grocer™, where holistic, fresh approaches with knowledgeable, trained staff are the specialty. At Pet Grocer™ we are excited to support you on your pet’s journey to vibrant health.