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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 canines 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.

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 by far the most common poultry ingredient in dog foods and is also the most likely to induce allergies in canines. 

Duck

- Often used as an alternative poultry for those canines 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 symptoms of food allergy in canines 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. 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 and symptoms 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 ascertained, 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 canine’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 canine skin allergies and antibiotics may be prescribed to combat these infections. Although allergies to foods are not strictly curable, signs and symptoms 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 poultry-related components 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 should relieve the symptoms.

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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Boxer Chow

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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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0 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

dog-age-icon

Four Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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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0 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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Ozzy

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Licking
Biting
Scratching

Hi I have a 2 yr old American Staff Terrier. Since I brought him home he has been sneezing and he snores and when he sniffs outside he kind of grunts. He a also is very itchy though no skin rash can be found. He bites his paws and front legs. Licks like crazy too. The vet mentioned allergy yo chicken or beef and to try eliminating each for 2-3 weeks etc to check. I found some foods but he won't eat kibble much, but will eat canned. I also cook eggs and salmon and give him some too. Today he isn't eating but it is a very hot day. What can I do, just eliminate each from his diet for 2 weeks and see?

May 26, 2018

Ozzy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Exactly, generally we would recommend moving a dog over to a special allergy diet or a restricted ingredient diet to eliminate as many ingredients as possible and monitor for improvement over a few weeks. If there is an improvement in symptoms, we would then recommend reintroducing each ingredient individually and looking for another reaction to occur. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 27, 2018

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Sandy

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Mixed

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Scratching

is it possible to get a RAST (Radio Allergo Sorbent Test) for food allergies for dogs or some other blood test like ElISA(Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay) My dog has food allergies, that is a fact but I would like specifics and if possible quantifiable.

May 23, 2018

Sandy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are some tests like VARL which are intended for the identification of allergies to food and environmental allergens, however success results do vary depending on the study referenced but would be a good starting point. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.varlallergy.com

May 24, 2018

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Messi

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Boxer

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Spots East Infection

Done blood test elergick from all red meet rice egs piece and other stuff ...Been feeding like chicken turkey that shows in blood results it's good to go ,stoped giving her tablets and she was fine and now she gets east infection and heat spots again ,spend lots of money but geel like there is no result which is means have to go on the again wich cost me 160£ per month wich can't afford anymore ...she tryed all sort of food wet dry and raw and she defiantly don't like dry or wet that shed been giving to eat as always have direa ... any advice u can give it to me please Thank u

April 23, 2018

Messi's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Allergies can be very difficult and complicated to control. Without seeing Messi, and her test results, and knowing what her response to medications has been, I cannot comment on how to help her at this point, unfortunately. Since your veteirnarian has seen her recently, you may be able to call and let them know that she is having problems again, and get any recommendations that they may be able to offer. I hope that you are able to help her.

April 23, 2018

In allergy testing, only a true allergy will show up. This may be more of an "intolerance" that can usually be changed with limited ingredient, and/or grain free diets. The higher end foods that is.

July 19, 2018

Dylan J.

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Candy

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Belgian Malinois

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11 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Soft Stool

i Am trying to help my 11 months old Malinois , she was always on a skinnier side as she was the smallest in her litter and we are struggling to put some weight on her. I have noticed few times googling sound in her tummy and soft stool more often then firm. I am feeding her puppy Acana food and she is really well and a good eater but I am worried that she might be intolerant to chicken as I have noticed before when I give her fresh chicken she will get unpleasantly flatulent. I am changing her diet to all fish and adding slippery elm powder hopping this will do the trick .

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Smoochie

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Lhasa Apso mix

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Head Scratching
Licking, Head Shaking, Chewing Paws

My dog has always eaten chicken and homemade foods because we do not trust the kibble and she also does not like it. For some reason, she has had pretty bad skin infections like the one under her arm. She is completely bald under there and it is black. She always licks it and seems to have a yeast infection. I am not wondering, because the main thing that I feed her is chicken, if she may be allergic.

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Ezrs

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

14 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My 14 week old puppy started throwing up once a day about 5 days ago. He eats 3 times a day. About a month ago I started him on a grain free dehydrated raw/ cooked real food diet because he was getting severe rashes in his ears. The switch completely stopped the rash and itching. He eats honest kitchens grain free turkey and now chicken too, orijens, cooked chicken breast, sometimes eggs, and always organic pumpkin and a teaspoon of raw goats milk. He is energetic, urinates and drinks water like normal, his poop seriously looks picture perfect, but he has this throw thing. Now he sometimes sneezes and scratches (not excessively) as well. Today I just babe him pumpkin, a little raw goats milk and boiled chicken breast because he held it down from lunch just fine. He threw it up! Are it before my husband could get it. He hasn’t thrown it back up! What does that mean? I thought it was the chicken now I don’t know. Please help. Also there hasn’t been bile on his throw up. I also put prozyme on the cook chicken

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Bowie

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Portuguese Water Dog

dog-age-icon

16 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Ear Inflamation
Tail Biting
Chronic Paw Licking

I have a 16 week puppy who I suspect is suffering from a chicken allergy. I feed her a food that lists Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols) as the 10th ingredient. I was told by the mfg that 99% of the time, chicken allergies are from the protein in the chicken, and the fat contains no protein. What are your thoughts on this?

Poultry Allergies Average Cost

From 489 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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