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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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Written by Darlene Stott

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Published: 09/17/2016, edited: 03/05/2021

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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Riley

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Black lab great dane mix

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Head Shaking
Head Shaking And Scratching

My dog is constantly shaking his head and scratching at his left ear mostly leaving all scabs. He had a hematoma about 4 years ago. We pull black tar our of his ear at least every 2 days. we have taken him to the vet and they just say it is normal stay away from chicken and beef which we have for 6 years but I does not get any better. We have had him on Fromm Lamb and lentil for about a year now and still nothing. We do not give him any table food except carrots and we occasionally give him Whimzees. What do you think this could be from? I feel so bad for him.

April 5, 2018

Riley's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Black debris and scratching is not normal in any dog, and food allergies are far less common than ear infections due to other allergies, or just being prone to ear infections. If your veterinarian believes that his condition is normal, it might be a good idea to get a second opinion, as he may need medication to clear up any infection that is happening in his ear.

April 5, 2018

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Theo

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Catahoula Cur / whippet

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3 Months

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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

Diarrhea
Vomiting
Gas
Allergy

Theo started throwing up yellow bile/chunks of food at 2AM yesterday and proceeded to vomit until about 11 AM yesterday. I noticed his kibble was not broken down at all in vomit. My husband said he ate a healthy amount of raw eggshells from the garbage that previous afternoon while we were at work. During the time of him eating the eggshells until now excessive licking, either myself, my husband, or himself. He has anxiety issues so I’m used to the constant licking, but he was soaking himself. Also, I noticed we had him on Beneful Puppy Chicken Formula, and he’d be literally going to town on his paws and head. We switched to beef by accident and he was doing somewhat better, but this week is fully transitioned to Hills Science Puppy Formula and it does have Chicken in it. Maybe an allergy ? He wouldn’t eat during that time span, but now he wants to eat everything. We withheld food from him during the day (my husband gave him treats throughout the day which I didn’t know of), we fed him around 830PM, and then had explosive diarrhea which was around 9 PM. He is farting a lot, but no more bowel movements. After our walk I could hear him as if he needed to throw up, but didn’t. We recently transitioned to Hills Science Diet(over the course of 1 1/2 weeks). He has only had his second set of boosters (he will be fully vaccinated in about a week) and is due for heartworm medicine in about 5 days. I’m really not too sure as of what to do.We are officially past the 24-Hour mark. Should I bring him in to our vet?

March 17, 2018

Theo's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It sounds like Theo has a stomach upset which may be due to the uncooked egg shells, thankfully egg shells are not toxic but any faecal material or anything else may cause a tummy ache; also if Theo took from the rubbish bin he may have consumed something else from there which is causing some stomach upset. Since you’re past the 24 hour mark, I would recommend you visiting your Veterinarian today since most likely they will be closed on Sunday (try to avoid out of hour fees). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 17, 2018

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Mister

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Boxer

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4 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

Ear Itching, Head Shaking, Paw Licking
Ear Itching, Head Shaking
Ear Itch, Head Shake, Paw Lick

What is the cost of allergy testing? My dog gets yeast infections in one ear, only his left ear. They seem to happen in winter months. He has been eating food with mostly lamb and rice. His most recent outbreak happened after I got a bag of salmon and sweet potato kibble. Thinking of trying a home cooked diet, but I'm not sure which protein to use.

March 11, 2018

Mister's Owner


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1 Recommendations

The price of allergy testing varies depending on the type of test done (skin versus blood test), your Veterinarian, your location and many other variables; prices generally fall between $250 and $1,000 but call your local Veterinarian’s office for an accurate local price. Ear infections may occur for various reasons which may include allergies among other causes; determining the type of allergy is the most difficult part since the allergy may be due to protein or another source. I would try feeding a basic ingredient diet for a few weeks and when there are no symptoms, introduce a protein source and see if there is a reaction. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 11, 2018

The carbohydrates/starches/grains are most likely what he is reacting to with yeast growth. His immune system is compromised and would probably benefit from a grain/starch free diet and some multi strain probiotics.

July 19, 2018

Dylan J.

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Capitan

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Poodle

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Rash
Anxiety
Ear Infections
Intense Licking
Hair Pulling

I have an 11 year old poodle/mix, he began to bite out his own hair about a month ago and he suffers from skin rashes and intense licking, (specifically on his arms along the sides). He also gets etremely nervous and agressive at times. He gets diarrhea a lot. Hes been on a chicken and rice diet, since hes allergic to alomst all kible. What would be a good solytion for his diet? And what would be a good solution for his anxiety?

March 3, 2018

Capitan's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. WIthout examining Capitan, I can't comment on what might be the best treatment for him. There are many causes of skin disease, including parasites, bacterial or fungal infection, or allergies, and environmental allergies are much more common than food allergies. It would be best to book an appointment with your veterinarian, have him examined, and your veterinarian can assess him skin, determine what might be going on, and give him appropriate therapy. They can also help you with his aggression, whether training or medication might be necessary.

March 4, 2018

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Cash

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Pit Heeler

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Dry, Itchy Skin

My dog has been suffering with dry itchy skin over the past several months. I've considered the heat being on as a factor, but I'm also considering food allergies, as he does sometimes exhibit "hot spots". I've begun an "elimination" diet to try to pinpoint what may be the cause. In eliminating chicken, do eggs also have to go?

Jan. 29, 2018

Cash's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. The protein in eggs is probably similar to the protein in chicken meat, so I would imagine that they would be related in the diet. The best way to do an elimination diet, however, is to use a prescription hypoallergenic diet available from you veterinarian - those diets are made to provide no antigenic stimulation to the gut, and if Cash's skin improves after being on that diet for 6-8 weeks, you can safely say he has a food allergy. There are many other causes for dry itchy skin that are more common, and a good examination with your veterinarian may be able to pinpoint the cause without having to do elimination diet trials. I hope that you are able to figure out the reason for his itchy skin.

Jan. 29, 2018

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Poultry Allergies Average Cost

From 489 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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