Dog Food Allergies

Dog Food Allergies NewDoggy.com blog

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Dog Food Allergies

Imagine the situation: your dog is itching like crazy. They’ve lost huge chunks of fur, and their skin is looking raw. Maybe they have an ear infection, or puffy eyelids. You’ve treated your pet for fleas and ticks, but the itching continues, and you’re at your wit’s end. Don’t lose hope! It could be that your dog has a food allergy.

What is a food allergy?

A true food allergy (also called a food hypersensitivity) leads to an immune response when the animal eats a particular food item. The consequences can be severe or even deadly to the animal.

What is food intolerance?

An animal can eat small amounts of a particular food, but in quantities, the animal will suffer from digestive issues. The symptoms triggered by food intolerance are far less severe, and are usually limited to the Gastro-Intestinal System.

What happens when a dog has a food allergy?

When an animal’s immune system accidentally identifies a food protein as a harmful invader, it will start an immune response. This typically results in dermatitis, which eventually leads to itching, which in turn can lead to skin or ear infections. Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, may also occur.

Which dogs are affected by food allergies?

The exact prevalence of food allergies in dogs is currently unknown. Some breeds are more commonly affected, such as Labrador Retrievers, West Highland White Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels. Food hypersensitivity with Protein Losing Enteropathy (a condition in which the digestive tract loses proteins) and Nephropathy (a disease in which the kidneys lose proteins to the urine) can occur in Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers.

The age of onset varies considerably, ranging from two months old to 14 years old. Most food allergies seem to begin when the dog is under 12 months old. In the case of adult dogs that develop food hypersensitivity, they will typically have been eating the allergen in questions for more than two years.

What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

Food allergies cause non-seasonal skin and/or gastrointestinal disorders. Severe itching (Pruritus) is the main issue and is mostly corticoid-resistant. Ear canal disease that manifests as pruritus and secondary bacterial or yeast infection are also common, because itching can create open wounds for bacteria and other harmful organisms to invade. Swollen eyelids are also common.

Dogs tend to itch and lose hair on the ears, feet, between the hind legs, under the front legs, on the front of the forelegs, around the eyes, and on the muzzle.

What foods can cause an allergic reaction?

The most common “allergenic” foods for dogs are:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Milk

How are dog food allergies diagnosed?

Unfortunately, there is no reliable diagnostic test other than a strict food elimination diet. Many tests using blood, saliva, and even hair can be performed a veterinarian or purchased by a pet owner online but there is no proof that they work.

An elimination diet involves feeding your dog a special hypoallergenic diet that contains no allergens. The ideal food elimination diet should be:

  • Balanced
  • Nutritionally complete
  • Not containing any ingredients that have previously been fed

Elimination diets should contain novel protein or carbohydrate sources (such as venison and rice). A novel protein or carbohydrate is one that a dog has not encountered before, so they are far less likely to have an allergic reaction to it. If the elimination diet contains a previously fed ingredient, which the animal is allergic to, then the diet trial will be a failure. This means that you cannot feed anything, including treats, scraps or flavoured chews, to your dog, except for the special hypoallergenic diet.

To confirm that a food allergy exists, the animal should eat previously fed food ingredients. If the clinical signs reoccur, the food allergy is confirmed. Clinical signs usually return between one hour and 14 days later. Once a food allergy is confirmed, the elimination diet should be started until clinical signs resolved: this usually takes 14 days or less. One ingredient at a time should be tested to see if it causes allergic symptoms in the pet. This test will prove that the special diet helps the pet and that it isn’t a coincidental improvement.

What’s the treatment for dog food allergies?

Food allergy typically does not respond well to corticosteroids or other medical treatments. Feeding a specialised diet will help to manage the pet’s symptoms. Your dog can be fed a special home-made diet, or a pre-made specially formulated hypoallergenic diet: your vet will help you to decide what the best option for your dog is. Sadly there is no cure for food allergies, but they can be managed with a bit of care and patience.


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The following is needed to bring a puppy into Dubai:


  1. All dogs entering Dubai from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Dubai must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Dubai must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Dubai specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Dubai must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Dubai must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Dubai.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Abu Dhabi:


  1. All dogs entering Abu Dhabi from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Abu Dhabi must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Abu Dhabi specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Abu Dhabi must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Abu Dhabi.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Hong Kong:


  1. All dogs entering Hong Kong must be at least 3 months old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Hong Kong must be equipped with either a 9 or 15-digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Hong Kong must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Valid for up to 6 months.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Hong Kong specific vaccinations: Canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus and rabies.
  5. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Hong Kong.
  6. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.
  7. Captain’s Affidavit – Document to be provided by the airline personnel confirming that your dog has not left its crate or interacted with other pets at any point during the journey.


* Hong Kong classifies countries into 3 groups. Vaccinations against rabies are only required from Groups 2 & 3.
  • Group 1: Rabies-free countries (at least 6 months of residency) Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Bailiwick of Jersey.
  • Group 2: Rabies-controlled (at least 4 months of residency) Austria, Bahrain, Bermuda, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Guam, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Bahamas, Belgium, Brunei, Cayman Island, Denmark, France, Gibraltar, Iceland, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands, USA (Continental), Virgin Islands.
  • Group 3: All other countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Switzerland:


  1. All pets entering Switzerland must be equipped with a 15-digit microchip that is compliant with ISO 11784/11785.
  2. Dogs must be vaccinated against distemper.
  3. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory. Dogs must receive their first rabies vaccine at least 21 days before entering the country.*
  4. The state veterinarian of the origin country must equip the dog with a valid Health Certificate.
  5. Import Permit – all dogs entering from a 3rd level rabies country must carry an import permit issued at least three weeks in advance. Entry points through Basel, Geneva, Zurich.
  6. Different regulations depending on whether it is a commercial purchase or individual and where the dog is coming from.


* Specifications differ for booster shots. ** Switzerland categorises countries by level of risk of rabies in three levels.
  • Level 1: All EU Member States and Andorra, Switzerland, Faeroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino, Vatican City State.
  • Level 2 (Low Risk of Rabies): Ascension Island, United Arab Emirates, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Aruba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Barbados, Bahrain, Bermuda,Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Curaçao, Fiji, Falkland Islands, Great Britain (including Crown dependencies), Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Saint Lucia, North Macedonia, Montserrat, Mauritius, Mexico, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Russia, Singapore, Saint Helena, Sint Marteen, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, United States of America, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
  • Level 3: All other countries are considered as having a high risk of rabies.
Travel Requirements