Is chicken allergy in dogs possible? Most pet owners feed their dogs chicken, whether actual meat they have prepared themselves, or kibble containing this ingredient. But what causes chicken allergy in dogs?
How common is it? Can you prevent it? How can it be treated, or, at least, how can its symptoms be alleviated? To find out the answers to all of these questions and more, keep on reading!
What Causes Chicken Allergy in Dogs?
Although it is rather unclear what the exact causes of protein allergies in this species really are, the most likely culprit seems to be feeding your dog chicken time and again.
Some dogs are more predisposed to developing allergies compared to others, and giving them the same food repeatedly can, unfortunately, lead to various food intolerances. But this doesn’t mean that if you change your pet’s diet with, say, salmon kibble, your dog might not develop an allergy to it in the future.
The best way of going about things when it comes to a dog’s diet is to keep it as varied as possible. While this might mean changing your dog’s kibble and treats regularly, and you could look at it as an inconvenience, it is by far the best piece of advice we can give you.
What Types of Dogs Are More Predisposed to Chicken Allergy?
Dogs that have a history of food intolerances and allergies are the first category that we will note here.
Those that were consistently fed chicken diets throughout their lives have a higher risk, too. Even though chicken allergies tend to affect senior dogs or older adults, in any case, more than they do young dogs or puppies, this is also due to the amount of time these age categories were fed poultry diets.
Symptoms of Chicken Allergy in Dogs
Protein allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms in dogs, and while some might be classic signs of skin allergies, others might involve the gastrointestinal system. Not all of the following symptoms can show up on the same dog:
- Skin infections, rashes, alopecia (bald patches)
- Repetitive ear infections
- Head shaking
- Diarrhea, gas, vomiting
- Respiratory distress (wheezing or coughing)
But what about other types of poultry? Yes, dogs can develop allergies to them, too, although they are a bit less common. Unfortunately, chicken is the cheapest and most common ingredient in dog food, so pets are a bit less likely to develop allergies to duck, goose, pheasant, or quail, for instance.
Turkey is a little more common since, like chicken, it is a more inexpensive protein source, so it tends to show up more often in commercial dog food.
When a dog showing some of the symptoms that we have mentioned is brought to an animal hospital, the vet will first perform a number of tests that can assess the animal’s general health status. These may include a complete blood count and biochemistry, but also a urinalysis or imaging diagnostic tests like an ultrasound.
If the main symptom is skin-related, some cells can be collected and examined under the microscope to see whether the dog doesn’t have any other skin condition, such as mites, yeast, or even a bacterial infection.
Once all of the tests have been performed and there doesn’t seem to be any particular pathogen causing the health issue, the vet will propose an elimination diet. Your dog’s symptoms might improve considerably simply thanks to this.
Your dog’s diet might consist of a different commercial alternative, but the vet might also recommend that you begin making your own dog food at home. While most veterinarians advise against raw diets for obvious reasons such as bacterial contamination (and Salmonella and Escherichia species can cause serious food poisoning in animals and humans alike), that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your own dog food with meats that have been properly cooked.
The protein source might not be the only one causing the skin, respiratory, or digestive symptoms exhibited by your dog. Perhaps there is an excess of grains in your dog’s diet, which can be quite common if you feed him/her an affordable kibble variant.
For example, your veterinarian might advise you to cook a stew with pumpkin and other vegetables, as well as lamb or any other protein that could be novel to your dog. But they might also advise you to avoid adding rice, for example.
The first solution might involve the use of anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy medications, at least until the clinical signs subside and your dog’s condition improves with the changes in his or her diet.
Your vet might also recommend supplements that could improve your dog’s symptoms, such as omega 3 fatty acids and probiotics.
There is another option, of course, and it consists of beginning to feed your dog a prescription diet combined with homemade food. Do keep in mind that even some prescription diets may not contain the best ingredients, so try to look for the healthiest and cleanest food while keeping in touch with your vet.
Recovery and Prognosis
Depending on your dog’s age and whether or not he or she has some other conditions, you can expect a relatively speedy recovery process. Most dogs get better in about two weeks, but there are some that can show a significant improvement in just 3-5 days after their diet was changed.
With the right medication, supplements, and diet, most dogs will get back to normal in approximately one month. After that, you might even be able to feed your dog very small amounts of chicken to get him slowly reacquainted with the ingredient, but in most cases, it should be bland chicken meat that you have cooked yourself — and should always be given as a treat, not the main protein source.
Also, do keep in mind that dogs that have a history of allergies to one type of protein should not be fed a single type of protein all the time. So, if your vet recommends a prescription diet and it is available in several different kinds, such as lamb, salmon, venison, or rabbit, you should switch between them on a regular basis. This makes it less likely for your dog to develop another food allergy.