Food allergies in dogs seem to be on the rise and many pet owners are having to identify the food allergy and then provide the appropriate remedies to keep their dogs healthy and happy.
Knowing what food allergies are and the options available to relieve your dog’s discomfort is therefore very important.
After reviewing 3 different allergy testing kits for dogs we have given our best choice award to the 5Strands Dog Allergy Test. It’s a non-invasive test, you’ll get results fast and they provide a comprehensive report. You can read an extended review here. In this article, we’ll explain what food allergies are, the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. I will also review some dog food allergy testing kits, and provide information on other options that are available to tackle a food allergy.
The Allergy Test Kits I will review in this article are:
- What Are Food Allergies And What Causes Them?
- Food Allery Symptoms & How To Identify Them
- Dog Food Allergy Test Kit Reviews – Do They Work?
- Other Options For Diagnosing & Treating A Food Allergy.
What Are Food Allergies & What Causes Them?
First off it’s important to note the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. A food intolerance is due to the body having difficulty digesting a certain food. For example, many dogs, as well as humans, have a lactose intolerance. This means that they don’t have enough of the correct enzymes to break down the lactose when they drink milk. Your dog could also have an intolerance to fat, fibre or other ingredients in their food that just doesn’t agree with them but is not due to an allergic reaction.
A food allergy is caused when your dog’s immune system goes into overdrive due to the presence of a particular protein that it misidentifies. Your dog will then produce defensive antibodies to fight the invasion and it’s this process that leads to symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Although proteins are generally associated with meat they are also present in most other foods including grains and vegetables. Your dog could have an allergic reaction to any of these foods.
Although the environment can play a role in your dog developing a food allergy, they are generally seen in dogs that have a genetic predisposition to allergies. Also, some studies show that dogs treated with antibiotics in early life can later go on to develop a food allergy.
It’s also important to note that dogs are rarely allergic to just one type of food. In most cases, if your dog has an allergic reaction to something in their food they will also be allergic to other things too.
If your dog is showing symptoms of an allergic reaction they could be allergic to a variety of foods. The most common food allergens for dogs are:
Food Allergy Symptoms & How To Identify Them
The most common symptoms of a food allergy in dogs are excessive itching, hair loss and problems with their digestion. Below I’ll list other symptoms of a food allergy and how you can identify them.
Symptoms of a food allergy:
- Ear inflammation.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
- Hair loss.
- Excessive licking.
- Compulsive scratching.
- Itchy skin (especially around the head, legs, belly and tail).
- Itchy anus.
- Sneezing and wheezing.
How To Identify A Food Allergy
- Check your dog’s skin – You should look for areas of sore skin and try to notice if your dog is scratching or itching more than normal. Check if your dog’s skin is dry and if there are any rashes under the skin.
- Check your dog’s ears – Ear infections are a common symptom of a food allergy so you should give your dog’s ears a thorough examination to check for any swelling or red, sore skin.
- Monitor diarrhoea & vomiting – If your dog is vomiting regularly and has consistent diarrhoea this could be a sign that they are having an allergic reaction to a certain food.
Dog Food Allergy Test Kit Reviews – Do They Work?
There is a lot of controversy surrounding food allergy test kits in the pet community. Some say they are not accurate enough for a proper diagnosis but others claim they have helped to identify the allergy and were able to adjust their dog’s food accordingly and had no more health problems. It’s also been suggested that even invasive tests like blood and skin test and not accurate and the only way to properly diagnosis a food allergy is through a dietary elimination plan.
One of the benefits of a home allergy test kit is that they are non-invasive. All they require is for either a hair or saliva sample to be sent to a lab for analysis. When the test is complete you will receive the results of the test and can adjust your dog’s diet accordingly. After reading several reviews of these products it seems they have been helpful for some pet owners in identifying a certain allergy. And as they are non-invasive I would say they are a good option if they are affordable for you.
Below I will review 3 home food allergy test kits for dogs that are currently available and provide links to where you can purchase them if you think this is a viable option for you.
5Strands Allergy Sensitivity & Intolerance Test
5Strands Affordable Testing provides a simple hair analysis test that measures food and environmental substances that cause mediated reactions and intolerances. The test only requires between 10-15 strands of hair so is simple and non-invasive for your dog. Your dog will be tested for an allergy or intolerance to over 300 food and environmental items making it the most comprehensive test available at the moment.
The process uses a bio-resonance technology and provides an easy to read report that you should receive within 5-7 working days after the sample has arrived at the lab. You can learn more about 5Strands Dog Allergy Testing in the video below.
Benefits of 5Stands Affordable Allergy Testing:
- Non-Invasive – Collecting a hair sample is non-invasive. You can simply brush your dog and collect the hairs left on the brush. There are no painful pricks or prods to your dog’s skin.
- Fewer Restrictions – Hair testing removes any transportation and storage restrictions found with other types of testing.
- Fast Results – The test is completed quickly and efficiently with the results available within 5-7 working days after the sample has been received at the lab. Similar tests can take several weeks.
- Extensive Testing – The test will cover over 300 of the most common food and environmental items including most grains, vegetables, fruits, trees, grasses and the and all the major proteins.
- Comprehensive Report – You will receive a comprehensive but easy to read report.
Ratings & Reviews
This product has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon at the time of writing this article so it may have changed by the time you are reading this. This is pretty good but it’s only from 8 reviews. I would prefer to see more reviews of this product to fully endorse it but that being said, 7 out of the 8 reviews are very positive from customers who say the test was successful at identifying the allergy or intolerance their dog was suffering from. You can read the reviews for yourself here.
A.T. My Pet Dog Allergy Test
As with the 5Strands testing kit the A.T. My Pet Allergy Test is also non-invasive. However, this test requires you to extract some saliva from your dog’s mouth rather than collecting hairs. The kit comes with a cotton collection device that you put in your dog’s mouth to soak up some saliva. The test works by testing the immunoglobulins in your dog that will react to any allergens your dog may be sensitive to.
The test will check for sensitivities and intolerances for up to 150 items including food, common household and environmental factors. Once the lab has received your sample you should receive a report within 2 weeks. The report will give you details on what food and household products you should avoid and what ones are safe in your dog’s food.
Ratings & Reviews
Unfortunately, this product only has 1 review on Amazon and even though it’s a positive one it’s very difficult for me to give an opinion on this product. Maybe by the time you read this article, there will be more reviews to give a better idea of its quality. One feature of this product that should be noted is that it is significantly cheaper than the other 2 tests reviewed and although this may be appealing, you generally get what you pay for in life so this should be taken into consideration.
PetMedella Dog Allergy Test Kit
The PetMedella dog allergy test kit is also non-invasive and you will need to collect saliva, hair, and nail clipping from your dog. Once the lab has received your sample you should get the results within 10-12 working days. You will be sent a username and password to log into your account on their website to check the report.
This test will scan for food and environmental sensitivities, toxicity, organ stress, and nutritional and hormonal imbalances and covers over 1000 items. As well as receiving a report on the things your dog may be allergic to you will also receive information on remedies and supplements to help bring the allergies under control.
Below is a sample of the comprehensive report you will receive when the test is complete. You can click on the images to enlarge them for better reading.
Benefits of PetMedella Allergy Test:
- Tests for over 1000 food and environmental sensitivities.
- Identifies mould, bacterial, vital, chemical, parasitic, and heavy metal toxins.
- Identifies nutritional and hormonal imbalances.
- Test levels of stress throughout your dog’s body.
- Comprehensive and easy to read report.
- Provides remedies to improve your dog’s condition.
- Results received within 10-12 working days.
Rating & Reviews
This product has a 3.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with 15 reviews. As with other reviews of this kind of product, it seems they mostly receive positive reviews but for some people, they don’t get what they expected. You can read the reviews for this product here.
After spending some time reviewing these products I would say the best option would be the 5Strands Affordable Dog Allergy Test. Although I was very impressed with the number of items scanned by the PetMedella test and their comprehensive report it was the reviews of the 5Strands test that swayed me. Also, with this test, you only have to provide between 10-15 strands of hair and they provide the results in the quickest amount of time.
Please note that if your dog is showing any of the symptoms of having an allergic reaction you should first take your dog to the vet for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan.
Other Options For Identifying Your Dog’s Food Allergy
Elimination Diet & Recommended Dog Foods
By far the most effective way of determining a food allergy in your dog is through the process of an elimination diet. This method will need patience and commitment but in the end will be worth the effort so your dog can be happy and healthy.
An elimination diet involves giving your dog a diet with limited ingredients and observing what effect this has on your dog’s symptoms. If your dog has no reaction to a limited ingredient dog food you can then start adding ingredients to see what specific food leads to an allergic reaction. Through this process of trial and error, you can narrow down the possible food or foods that your dog is allergic to.
Step 1 – The first step to list all your dog’s symptoms when they have an allergic reaction and grade them from 1-10. This is important for tracking any improvements when you start to eliminate certain foods from their diet.
Step 2 – The next step is to write down all the ingredients in the current food you are feeding your dog. Then you have the option of changing the food to a limited ingredient or hypoallergenic food or cooking the food yourself from scratch.
Step 3 – Now it’s time to start eliminating certain types of foods and see if there are any improvements. It’s best to start with the easy ones first. The 5 most common sources of food allergies in dogs are:
So start by feeding your dog a food that has a different protein source. For example, if your current food contains beef, then try a food that only has chicken protein. You can try a dog food that is grain free or a food that has only one source of protein and one source of carbohydrate. Another good choice to start with might be a dairy free dog food.
Try to avoid fish as the main source of protein unless this is the last resort, as many fish products are full of mercury and other toxins. It’s also important to note that you will need to stop any other supplements or treats your dog might be eating.
You get the idea, it’s a process of trial and error. When you change your dog’s food you will want to keep them on that food for at least 4 weeks as they might not show a reaction immediately. Use the list of your dog’s symptom and severity you made in step 1 to keep track of how the changes are affecting them.
A genuine concern with pet owners who limit their dog’s food is that their diet becomes unbalanced and they won’t receive all the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy. While this is a valid point, your dog will be ok for a few weeks without the full range of nutrients they need and you should view it as a trade-off for eventually finding the source of your dog’s discomfort and returning them to a happy, healthy life.
For more information about an elimination diet please watch the highly informative video below.
Dog Food With Limited Ingredients
Below I will review some quality dog foods that would be useful for limiting certain food types in your dog’s diet and can help in the process of identifying the allergen affecting your dog. Once you have decided on what type of protein or carbohydrate you are going to remove from your dog’s diet you can then select a food that has these ingredients missing.
Taste Of The Wild Grain-Free Natural Dog Food
Taste Of The Wild Natural Dog Food is a highly recommended grain free dog food. This is a good choice of dog food if you want to see if your dog’s allergic reaction is being caused by a grain source as it’s 100% grain free with no corn or soy. It comes in 4 different flavours – Bison and venison, lamb, duck, and salmon and is also available for puppies. It also comes in 3 different size bags – 5lbs, 15lbs and 30lbs. This dog food has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with over 13,800 reviews meaning you can be confident you are buying a quality dog food. You can read the reviews of this product here.
Wellness Natural Limited Ingredient Dog Food (Dry & Wet)
Another excellent limited ingredient dog food is the Wellness Limited Ingredient Dog Food. This product is produced by a reputable brand and uses only natural ingredients. The food contains only limited ingredients making it a good choice for trying to identify a food allergy. It contains a single source a good quality protein, easily digestible carbohydrates and contains no gluten, wheat, fillers or artificial additives. It comes in 4 different flavours, has a dry or wet option and is also available for small breeds. You can get this food in 3 different size bags – 4.5lbs, 10.5lbs, 26lbs and also comes with a wet food option. This dog food has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and you can read the reviews for yourself here.
Benefits of Wellness Limited Ingredients Dog Food:
- Single source of high-quality protein.
- No gluten, wheat, corn, dairy, or eggs.
- No fillers, artificial additives, preservatives or flavours.
- Formulated to be easily digestible.
- 100% natural ingredients.
- Short but complete list of ingredients for a balanced diet.
- Contains probiotics and prebiotics.
- Nourishes healthy skin with flaxseed.
- No gluten, wheat, corn, dairy, or eggs.
- Made in the USA.
- Comes in 4 different flavours.
- Available in a small breed variety.
You can learn a bit more about the Wellness Limited Ingredient Dog Food in the video below.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food (Dry & Wet)
My final recommendation for a limited ingredient dog food would be the Natural Balance Potato & Duck Dog Food. This food has been awarded the “Amazon Choice” in the limited ingredient dog food category. As with the other foods recommended it contains only a single protein source that is useful for trying to identify if your dog’s allergy is being triggered by a particular meat protein. It’s grain free, has no fillers and no artificial preservatives. Although the ingredients are limited this food contains a balanced diet with added vitamins and minerals. This food has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating from over 650 reviews on Amazon and you can read them for yourself here.
Benefits of Natural Balance Dog Food:
- Single protein source.
- Grain Free.
- No fillers.
- No artificial flavours, colors or preservatives.
- Balanced nutrition.
- Awarded “Amazon Choice” for limited ingredient dog foods.
- Available for puppies, adults and small breeds.
- Available in both dry and wet food.
- Comes in 3 different sized bags.
- 9 safety tests performed on each batch produced.