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What are Poultry Allergies?

Poultry can include meats like chicken, one of the most common food allergens for dogs, as well as options like duck which has lower incidences of allergic reactions. Food allergies can cause distressing skin conditions in dogs as well as chronic disorders such as indigestion, ear infections, and breathing troubles. Allergies are due to an abnormally high defensive response to a protein, in this case, a type of poultry, which the immune system perceives as an intrusive substance. Foods are broken down into amino acids by the digestive system, and the amino acids are then absorbed by enterocytes, a type of white blood cell. If the digestive system doesn’t completely break down the proteins, the enterocytes see them as intruders and attack the body.

An allergy to poultry is an over-reaction of your dog's immune system to an unwelcome protein, in this case, a poultry protein, that is present in a particular ingredient of their diet.

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Poultry Allergies Average Cost

From 489 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Poultry Allergies in Dogs

Allergies to food usually occur in adult dogs, over the age of three. There are exceptions, and a food allergy can have a detrimental effect on a young dog's growth if not addressed. Skin reactions are usually more concentrated around the face, groin, toes, and under the front legs.

  • Bald patches
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Chronic gas
  • Chronically inflamed feet
  • Coughing 
  • Diarrhea
  • Hives
  • Obsessive licking
  • Paw biting
  • Pawing at face
  • Poor growth (puppy and adolescent) 
  • Shaking of the head
  • Skin infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

Types

If your dog has developed an allergy to a particular poultry, other avian options may still be available. Several types of poultry can be included in your dog’s food. The three most common poultry sources are: 

Chicken

- This is the most common poultry ingredient in dog foods and is also the most likely to induce allergies in dogs. 

Duck

- Often used as an alternative poultry for those dogs with chicken or turkey sensitivities as it has a lower incidence of allergic reactions.

Turkey

- Turkey is sometimes used as an inexpensive alternative to chicken. Although it is less allergenic than chicken, allergies are somewhat more widespread to turkey than to the more exotic choices.

Incidences to more exotic avian proteins are less frequent, but they do happen. These types of proteins could include any of the following: 

  • Emu
  • Goose
  • Ostrich
  • Pheasant 
  • Quail
  • Squab
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Causes of Poultry Allergies in Dogs

Food allergy - An allergy to food is a self-defense response by the immune system to an amino acid that it perceives as a threat. An allergic reaction doesn’t happen the first time an individual is exposed to the allergen as the immune system has to encounter the protein more than once for enough enterocytes to recognize it as an invader. If your pet is showing an intolerance to a particular food, it may indicate that an allergy is in the process of developing. Any individual ingredient can cause an allergic reaction, but certain foods, including chicken, dairy, beef, and egg products, tend to induce canine allergies more often than others.

Food intolerance -  Food intolerance is different from a food allergy because the reactions in food intolerance are not caused by histamine. Additional symptoms, including changes in the consistency or color of the stools, gurgling sounds from the digestive system, and abdominal pain, are common with a food intolerance. Food intolerance, although different from an allergy, can lead to allergies as the intolerance may cause the food to be improperly broken down by the digestive system.

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Diagnosis of Poultry Allergies in Dogs

The signs of food allergy in dogs show up mostly on the skin and will prompt your veterinarian to perform a cutaneous cytology to diagnose the issue. Cutaneous cytology is a procedure in which the affected skin cells collected and then examined microscopically for signs of disease, yeast infections, or mites. Your veterinarian may suggest the most common diagnostic tool for confirming and later pinpointing food allergies, which is an elimination diet. During an elimination diet, the dog’s food regimen will be switched to reduced ingredient commercial foods or unseasoned human grade food. Proteins and carbohydrates that are not included in the dog’s current food, referred to as novel ingredients, are generally the best choice for an elimination diet, and your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet.  All of the ingredients in the current food should be avoided when choosing the proper replacement diet. It is important to check the ingredient list for poultry meal, by-products, and flavorings to ensure the possible allergens are completely removed. 

Although either poultry or egg allergies often exist separately, it may be wise to remove egg products during an elimination diet as well if an allergy to poultry is suspected, as the proteins can be similar.  Properly implemented, an elimination diet should cause the signs to disappear after several weeks, at which point additional ingredients will be included into the canine’s diet one at a time until the allergen is uncovered. Ensuring that your dog does not consume anything other than the food used for the elimination diet is a primary concern during this diagnostic treatment. A single treat or leftover with the offending protein can cause the allergy to resurface. Poultry proteins can be found in pet related items as diverse as: 

  • Flavored medications or supplements
  • Flavored plastic toys
  • Flavored toothpastes
  • Pigs Ears
  • Rawhides
  • Treats
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Treatment of Poultry Allergies in Dogs

During the several weeks that are often required before the elimination diet can reveal the allergen, your pet may continue to experience some symptoms. Corticosteroids and antihistamines can sometimes reduce swelling and control itching, however, many veterinarians prefer to complete the elimination diet before recommending symptomatic treatment. This is  because the use of these remedies can also make it harder to determine which component in your dog’s food is causing the allergic reactions by masking visible signs. Once the allergen has been determined, the initial course of action is the removal of the ingredient from the dog’s diet. 

Supplements, such as Omega-3 oils and probiotics, are often recommended to support the immune system and to protect the skin itself. The additions of these supplements are intended to assist your dog’s body in handling any accidental exposure to allergens as well as to prevent the cultivation of new allergies. Secondary skin infections are also common with skin allergies and antibiotics may be prescribed to clear these infections. Although allergies to foods are not strictly curable, signs generally disappear with removal of the offending ingredient from their diet. Relapses can occur from even small exposures to the allergen, so it is important that you continue to be vigilant for the component in ingredient lists. Allergic responses to one type of food will often indicate a predisposition to developing an allergy to the components of the replacement diet as well over time.

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Recovery of Poultry Allergies in Dogs

Many types of proteins are suitable as a replacement to poultry in the patient’s diet. Using limited ingredient foods with novel protein sources may relieve the signs.

Alternative protein sources for your dog could include one or more of the following:

  • Broccoli
  • Buffalo
  • Eggs
  • Elk
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Rabbit
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Venison
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Poultry Allergies Average Cost

From 489 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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Poultry Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Boxer Chow

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Blisters Between Toes

blisters between toes, vet has prescribed cefpodoxime 200 mg twice and again the blisters are back. Please advise

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If there is an underlying problem that is causing the blisters, the antibiotics may help, but the problem will probably come back. It would be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about possible allergies or underlying problems that are making this happen, and see if there is another medication, like Apoquel, that might help keep that problem from recurring. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Blue pit bull

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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14 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

I’m looking into getting some new dog food because the food she is eating now, she does seem to like it. (Purina Pro Plan sensitive skin and stomach- salmon and rice formula) We often have to reboost her system with ground beef and rice after a day or two of not eating because she does have poultry allergies. My question is, do you have a recommendation for a good dog for dogs with those kind of allergies or does chicken fat affect a poultry allergy?

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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14 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Chicken fat will affect a poultry allergy, yes. turkey, duck or any other poultry may affect that allergy as well. There are many good hypoallergenic diet available through prescription, that she may like better, and your veterinarian would be able to tell you which ones they carry. There are also many limited antigen diets that do not contain chicken. It really depends on where you are in the world as to what's available in your area, and it would be best to either talk to a knowledgeable pet store employee or your veterinarian, or their staff, to see what might work best for your dog. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Poultry Allergies Average Cost

From 489 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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