Chicken isn’t just a favorite protein for humans, your furry companions love it as well! In fact, you can find many dog food products made with chicken or even cook up a little yourself if you want to treat your pup to a homemade meal. While many dogs love the taste of chicken, some can actually become sick, resulting in digestive issues and other unfavorable side effects.
While we know not all dogs can tolerate certain ingredients, is it possible that pets have a sensitivity to this tasty protein? So then it’s important to ask, can dogs be allergic to chicken as well?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes, dogs can be allergic to chicken. In fact, not only is chicken by far the most common poultry ingredient in dog foods, it also happens to be the most likely ingredient to induce allergies in canines. Common food allergies in dogs are not to be overlooked – they can cause many problems for pups both in the short and long-term.
Some of you may be thinking, “how could my dog be allergic to food? Especially something so commonly consumed by humans?” – after all, it’s a completely valid question. These types of food allergies are driven by a dog’s abnormally high defensive response to a protein.
How Your Dog Processes Food
What usually happens when a dog eats food (proteins included) is it is broken down into amino acids by the digestive system, which can then be absorbed by a type of white blood cells called enterocytes. When a dog is allergic to poultry, his digestive system cannot completely break down the proteins and his immune system will perceive the poultry protein as an unwelcome and intrusive substance. The dog’s immune system will then respond by sending the enterocytes to attack the body and eliminate the proteins.
This process results in several symptoms, some of which are more common than others. If you believe you have a dog allergic to chicken, here are some symptoms to look out for.
Typically, food allergies in dogs do not develop until after the age of three. However, the development of food allergies in young pups is certainly serious as they can ultimately have a detrimental effect on their growth. These are the types of symptoms you may see if your dog is allergic to chicken.
- Skin irritation
- Skin rash
- Skin infection
- Bald patches
- Obsessive licking
- Pawing at face
- Paw biting
- Shaking of head
Causes of Chicken Allergies
So, what actually causes a dog’s immune system to see the protein in chicken as an enemy? Contrary to what you may think, this process doesn’t happen right away with the first time a dog ingests chicken. The allergic reaction actually builds over time. A dog’s immune system has to encounter the protein multiple times for enough enterocytes to eventually recognize it as an invader. If you notice your four-legged friend showing an intolerance to chicken, it may be a sign an allergy is developing. Remember, it may be a certain brand of dog food containing chicken that’s ultimately the culprit.
With that said, it’s important to note there is a difference between food intolerance and a food allergy. The reactions in food intolerance are not caused by histamines, a big differentiating factor. If your dog has developed an intolerance to chicken, you may notice a change in the color or consistency of stools, or you may hear gurgling sounds from the digestive system which could lead to canine abdominal pain.
Treatment & Recovery
Because most symptoms affect the skin, your vet will be able to run multiple tests including those using skin cells to help confirm the presence of a chicken allergy. A common form of treatment is implementing an “elimination diet” into your dog’s daily life until you find the source of his issues. This diet is usually followed for several weeks during which your pet may continue to exhibit symptoms. Most vets tend to prefer the elimination diet to run its course prior to prescribing medications to treat any lingering symptoms.
While food allergies are generally not curable, it comes as no surprise the most effective method of treatment then becomes complete avoidance of chicken altogether. Once this process is complete, your furry friend will be well on his way to a full recovery.
If you are worried that your pet won’t get enough protein, fear not. There are several other viable sources of protein you can add to your dog’s daily diet. Broccoli, lentils, quinoa, soybeans, and spinach are all protein-rich veggie alternatives. Buffalo, elk, fish, rabbit, and venison are some of the other common animal alternatives as well. Long story short, if you need to remove chicken from your dog’s diet, he will still have plenty of tasty food options to choose from. All he needs is a little change in diet and he’ll be good as new!
“Poultry Allergies in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost.” WagWalking, Accessed 3 Dec 2018. www.wagwalking.com/condition/poultry-allergies.
Allen, Meredith. “Is My Dog Allergic to Chicken?” PetCareRx, 12 Jan. 1970, Accessed 3 Dec. 2018. www.petcarerx.com/article/is-my-dog-allergic-to-chicken/1586.
Chen, Nancy. “Allergy to Chicken in Dogs.” Pets The Nest, 21 Nov. 2017, Accessed 3 Dec 2018. www.pets.thenest.com/allergy-chicken-dogs-4128.html.