The best treats for dogs with allergies

Words By Gemma Sheehy

March 06, 2020

Food allergies suck. Allergies are renowned for making dogs extremely itchy-and-scratchy after ingesting the offending protein, but they can also be responsible for a whole range of symptoms. Redness, inflammation, vomiting, and diarrhea are just some of the ways allergic reactions to food may manifest in your doggo and can range from mildly uncomfortable to very serious.

If you’ve got a dog with allergies, you know that hunting out treats that won’t irritate their sensitive system can be a tough task. Some doggos might even go without! But every dog deserves to indulge. And for the vast majority of dogs with food allergies, there still remains a choice of meat that they can dig into without side effects.

What is an allergy?

According to ASCIA, an allergy is “a misguided reaction to foreign substances by the immune system”. An allergic reaction is considered misguided because the substance it is reacting to is usually considered harmless. In the case of food allergies, it describes when an otherwise safe and edible food ingredient like beef, chicken or lamb becomes an allergen.

When a doggo comes in contact with an allergen – for example, consumes a beef treat when they have a beef allergy – their immune system rushes to produce antibodies. These antibodies are designed to attack the allergen, as the immune system has mistakenly identified them as dangerous. It is these antibodies waging war on the allergen that produces what you would recognise as an allergic reaction.

What are the symptoms of allergies in dogs?

The signs of an allergy can range from barely noticeable to extreme…or even deadly. Luckily, most doggos only experience mild to moderate irritation from coming in contact with allergens. Allergic reactions often look quite different in dogs than they do in humans, so it can be relatively easy to miss those signs that you might have an allergy-prone doggo. Understanding the signs can make it much easier to discern if your dog has developed an allergen. It can mean a quicker path to a symptom-free future.

dog eating kangaroo bone

Bellatrix (Greyhound) enjoys a Kangaroo King Tail 📷 Photographer: Amy Whitfield.

The symptoms of allergies, both environmental and from food, can often look very similar. Most frequently, doggos with allergies will present a few (or many) of these symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • redness, irritation and itching
  • skin damage (scabs and hot spots)
  • hair loss
  • repeated ear infections

Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea can occasionally indicate a food-related allergy as opposed to an environmental allergy – but not always.

While allergies can’t be cured, medications can be prescribed to reduce their symptoms. Avoiding trigger foods means your doggo can live a symptom-free life.

How do dogs develop allergies?

The funny thing about allergies is that they can sometimes take years to develop. This means that a food that your doggo might have eaten comfortably could one day trigger an allergic reaction! Because of this, many owners don’t immediately guess that the food their dog has eaten since puppyhood could suddenly be harming them.

Food allergies (also called food hypersensitivity) can develop at any age, and to almost any food ingredient – protein, carbohydrate and more. Surprisingly, dogs are far more likely to develop an allergy to meat and dairy ingredients than grains or vegetables.

The most common proteins that doggos of the world are allergic to are generally chicken, beef and lamb. This is due to the fact that as such popular products, doggos are encountering them everywhere. This constant exposure increases the likelihood of your dog’s immune system developing a misguided reaction to the protein…which then triggers an allergic response. And each time your doggo encounters the allergen, their response to it will get worse and worse.

Some experts agree that allergies can have a genetic component, meaning allergies are inherited from parents to puppy.

What treats are good for dogs with allergies?

While we know you’re desperate to ease your doggo’s suffering as quickly as you can, it’s important to stay patient during the process. Even though you’ve removed the offending proteins from your doggo’s diet, it can take weeks (or even months) for the inflammation and after-effects to settle down. Don’t lose hope! Monitor your doggo’s condition closely with a trusted veterinarian to make sure they’re slowly getting better… and not worse.

Kangaroo is a good alternative

Kangaroo meat is best for dogs with food allergies. It’s is considered a novel protein. A novel protein is essentially a meat (or ingredient) that your doggo hasn’t eaten before. This protein is often a rare and interesting type of meat, which is why your dog has had less opportunity to encounter it like they might have with beef, chicken, or fish.

Because your dog hasn’t encountered the protein, they haven’t had an opportunity to develop an allergy. This can be a life-saver for pet owners who are searching for a protein that won’t irritate their sensitive-stomached doggos. And because of its scarcity in traditional dog food and treats, kangaroo can be a magic meat for dogs who suffer allergies to the more common industry ingredients.

WAG Kangaroo Dog Treats

WAG Kangaroo Tail Bone & Kangaroo Toothpick 📷 Photographer: Amy Whitfield.

Not only that, some consider kangaroo to be a ‘cooling’ meat. According to Dr. Bruce Syme, the dry and parched environment that roos live in lends to their meat being gentle on the sensitive systems of dogs with allergies. But if your doggo is prone to severe reactions to certain proteins, it’s important to take some precautionary steps while testing out kangaroo meat.

When picking kangaroo treats, it’s essential to pick the ones that are 100% kangaroo. Processed treats have a tendency of slipping in alternative ingredients and fillers to cheapen the treat production – and this is seriously bad news for sensitive doggos! Always check the ingredients of your treats to ensure they’re completely natural, and only kangaroo.

And for those unfortunate doggos who are allergic to this novel protein, there are alternatives! Try venison or goat as substitutes for novel and low-allergenic proteins.

Fish is a great hypoallergenic choice

Fish is another option for sensitive doggos, and pretty easy to get your paws on – especially if you’re based in Australia. Adding fish to your dog’s diet should be encouraged either way, even if your dog isn’t allergic to anything. Fish comes packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids – EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). These acids are essential components of your doggo’s daily diet and boast some expansive health benefits.

Let kangaroo help your dog

If your doggo suffers from allergies, kangaroo protein might just be the meat for you. Every dog deserves a comfortable life, free of allergic reactions, itchy skin and inflammation, and switching to kangaroo could be the first step towards an allergy-free future.

Author

Gemma Sheehy

If there's one thing Gemma's passionate about in life, it's dogs. When she's not writing about them at WAG she's living, breathing, walking and snuggling with her own. Besides dog shows and sporting events on the weekends, Gemma is partial to cooking (sometimes) healthy meals, watching horror movies and making records for time spent in pyjamas.