You have probably realised for a while that each generation of human children seem to be getting sicker, or at least more reactive to their environment.    That typically comes in the extreme way of anaphylaxis where they are so allergic to a food substance that their throat closes over.

This has made big sales in epi pens, but the jury is still out on what causes the spike in human allergies when no one seems to recall this amount happening when they were at school-  well at least baby boomers and gen x.

Well it turns out that your dog is just as likely to have bad reactions to their environment too, without specific causes in general, but often not at that deathly level that human children have.

For dogs they can often suffer similar allergies as children, like hayfever,  or sensitivities to certain proteins in certain foods.  But the one that most people are familiar with is contact allergy from various grasses in the dog park or even nature strips when you take them onlead for walks.

In this article we will concentrate on Allergies and sensitivities in Dog food and dog treats, and how to spot and mitigate them somewhat.  Like humans its very difficult to eradicate an allergy, but you can reduce the effects, read on.

The main dog treat food allergens

These can be similar to what humans are allergic to, but its worth spelling these out and categorise them so you can get insite into what to test or avoid .


There are around 500 amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), with only TWENTY COMMON amino acids found in food.

For dogs (it differs for humans and cats) there are TEN essential amino acids.  THIS MEANS, that your dog MUST get sufficient amounts (in total grams for their size, and taking into account bio-availability of the specific food) to function correctly.

There are even things called limiting amino acids  (ie if you don’t have sufficient amounts of these, then other amino acids total amounts available to your dog will be reduced).

So yes, being allergic or having a sensitivity (a lower negative reaction) to a specific protein should be avoided, but you can’t avoid giving your dog protein, in fact its probably the most vital thing you can provide in their diet.  So given this information and assuming that you will allow your dog to eat meat and plant matter … these are some of the most common ingredients in foods, AND the most common causes of allergens:

  • MEATS – like beef, chicken, lamb, fish.
  • GRAINS – such as wheat, corn, and soy.

The trick with this is that unlike humans (who evolved many tens of thousands of centuries ago) to process plant matter – ie they converted from mostly a carnivore diet.  DOGS have only existed for 20,000 years.  They didn’t choose to become omnivores.  Cheap humans kept feeding them plant matter (because they couldn’t afford meat food for themselves) and so dogs were forced to evolve a tiny bit to produce things like amylase that help break down carbs in plants.

Don’t get me wrong,  dog’s can survive on a plant diet, they just do so very poorly.  Because 1  they have carnivore organs (high acid stomach, short intestinal tract), and 2 they need bio-available meat in large quantities to provide the levels of proteins that dogs need for their very busy bodies (growing / healing / exercise levels).

While aafco (the USA global dog food volunteer association sets VERY LOW level of protein required to keep a dog alive (18% from any source), plants typically have much lower bio availability of proteins than meats do.  That means that dogs need a lot of meat, and can easily process that protein’s amino acids into the things their bodies need.

Unfortunately, the dog treat and dog food industry is rife with manufactures making a quick buck, by putting little meat in the packs, and charging you similar to those companies that do provide meat in the dog treats.  If meat cost the same as grains, your dog would be eating 80% meat, like it prefers in the wild.

IMPLICATIONS for food allergies in dog treats ingredients

Different reports will have different stats about what meats or grains are most likely to cause allergies.  Dog treat makers that provide mostly grain treats, will try and put the blame all on meats.

But the thing is, with commercial dog food having to only provide 18% protein (dry weight) in dog food (from any source) – the bio available level can be much lower.  And since dried meat jerkies are typically 60% plus quality (bio available) protein,  it makes sense to try and feed your dog mostly meat based dog treats , to make up for any potential deficits of quality protein in commercial dog food.

This means for you to safely give any food to your dog, if it is showing allergic reactions, like skin rashes (caused by food), you need to track down what single foods (ie a specific meat, or a specific grain) are causing your dog’s allergies.  But don’t demonize meat, because one supplier puts out propaganda.

If your dog is allergic to one meat or that meats fats, reduce the fat level, cook the meat and trial that with rice over a few weeks to see if that resolves the issue.  A six week trial is the typical vet elimination diet.  But if you have learned anything from reading this, there are many other types of meat out there, many are hypo – allergenic, that will provide the perfect mix of high protein, low allergen value you are after!