Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Pet Expert: Solving Dog Food Allergies with Vegan Diets

Brandon Forder

Plant-based diets are quickly becoming the most popular hypogenic dog food option for dogs with severe allergies.

Food allergies are becoming an ever-increasing problem among North American pet owners. From chronic ear problems, to excessive scratching and licking, to digestive issues, food allergies are a dilemma that affect millions of distressed dogs.

Many pet owners struggle to solve their dog’s food allergies, even after eliminating dozens of ingredients from their pet’s diet. This leads to increasing concern and frustration as their dog’s uncontrollable scratching and licking worsens over time. There are many things you can do to help reduce or even eliminate symptoms associated with dog food allergies. And, naturally, the solution to dog food allergies lies in the diet itself.

Why are vegan diets the best option for dogs with allergies?

When it comes to finding the right solution for your dog’s unique needs, there are plenty of roads that lead to the hypoallergenic promised land, and leading the charge are plant-based dog foods. A growing number of pet owners are turning to plant-based diets for their dog with astonishing results.

Sounds crazy, right? Can a plant-based diet provide balanced nutrition for dogs and relieve food allergy symptoms? Yes, when done right, a wholesome plant-based diet will not only provide all the nutrition a dog needs, it is an ideal choice for dogs with animal-based food allergies.

What is a food allergy in dogs?

A food allergy transpires when the immune system detects a particular food as a threat, causing an allergic reaction. Normally, the immune system protects the body from germs, bacteria, viruses, and disease. However, with food allergies the immune system erroneously identifies a food ingredient as dangerous, and reacts via allergic reaction.

While closely connected, food allergies and food intolerances are not the same. Food allergies involve the body’s immune system, whereas food intolerances take place in the digestive system. Food intolerances pertain to the body’s inability to digest and absorb specific foods, and food allergies involve the immune system.

What are the symptoms of canine allergies?

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs can vary widely. Common symptoms include:

  • dirty ears that may lead to infection

  • licking and chewing legs and paws

  • itchy skin

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea

Less common symptoms include:

  • weight loss

  • hyperactivity

  • lethargy

  • increased aggression

What is the leading source of allergic reactions in dogs?

Food allergies are almost always due to specific proteins, however not all proteins are food allergens. With that said, any ingredient can manifest into an allergy, but proteins are the most common catalyst.

For dogs with food allergy symptoms, trying to figure out which proteins to avoid can be an overwhelming task. This becomes even more daunting when pet food brands throw out all sorts of terminologies like hypoallergenic, limited-ingredient, novel protein, and more.

How can I eliminate my dog’s food allergies using a vegan diet?

When it comes to solving the puzzle that is food allergies in dogs, the best solution is to first reduce as many variables as possible. This will make it easier to keep track of the ingredients your dog is exposed to. Keeping a food journal is a wise idea, as it helps to keep an accurate log of the food ingredients your dog has been exposed to.

Plant-based, vegan dog foods offer a real advantage in solving food allergies since there are no animal ingredients. By removing meat from the diet, you remove the most likely allergens.

The commercial plant-based dog foods of today are nothing like those of years past. What was once nothing more than bags of corn and rice fractions has evolved into some of the highest quality dog foods on the market, made with wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients like peas, brown rice, quinoa, whole oats, lentils, and more.

Since vegan dog foods do not contain any animal ingredients, they are an ideal hypoallergenic choice. High quality vegan dog foods are not only nutritionally balanced, they are also highly palatable, and enjoyed by millions of dogs all over the world.

How long does my dog need to be on a plant-based diet to see a reduction in allergy symptoms?

Seeing results on a new hypoallergenic diet takes time. When you begin feeding a vegan dog food, make sure that you also eliminate all other animal sources from their diet, including treats, table scraps, and all other consumables. Instead, substitute those items for hypoallergenic, plant-based alternatives. Dogs with food allergies can still have treats and snacks as long as they do not contain any animal ingredients.

Once your dog is on his new vegan diet, give it 6-8 weeks to see improvements in their symptoms. Remedying food allergies in dogs takes time, patience, and planning. Monitor your dog for improvements in their symptoms, and don’t forget to record all foods in your log as this information will help you identify food ingredients to avoid in the future.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not carnivores, and do not require meat in their diet to live healthy lives. Dogs are considered omnivores and have the capacity to obtain the nutrients they need from nutrient-dense, plant-based sources.

Studies prove that plant-based diets are not only perfectly suitable for dogs, they also have many added health benefits that can improve a dog’s overall quality of life. From their hypoallergenic benefits, to the reduction in carbon footprint, there are many reasons to consider a vegan diet for your dog with allergies.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon holds multiple certifications in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit

Popular this week

Latest news