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What are Raw Food Allergies?

According to many veterinarians and nutritionists, a raw food diet is the best thing you can feed your dog. However, just like with any type of food, there are some dogs that are allergic to it. If you believe your dog is allergic to the raw food diet they are on, there are very few ways to test this. Symptoms are typically mild and once your dog is properly diagnosed, there are a few treatment options your veterinarian can offer and most patients usually recover with no long-term side effects. Even pets who suffer from severe allergies can be provided relief once the source of the problem is identified.

Raw food is a type of food you can offer your dog as their diet. While this can be an excellent source of nutrition for some dogs, it may not be the best for yours. If you are considering feeding a raw food for your dog, discuss it with your veterinarian.

Raw Food Allergies Average Cost

From 397 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Raw Food Allergies in Dogs

  • Runny nose
  • Runny eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Poor skin conditions
  • Poor hair coat
  • Hair loss
  • Bumps/rash 
  • Hives
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Obsessive licking/chewing of feet
  • Inflamed, red paw pads
  • Gastrointestinal upset

Types

 

Raw food comes in a wide variety for dogs. There are foods with different protein sources and foods with and without grains. While all the ingredients are of the best quality, your dog may still be allergic to one of them. Depending on which ingredient your dog is allergic to, your dog may or may not be allergic to one, some, or all of the raw food products.

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Causes of Raw Food Allergies in Dogs

If your pet's system reacts to the raw food, it is because his body is protecting itself from something it thinks will harm it. While the raw food diet is actually harmless, the body doesn’t recognize it as such. The body finds it dangerous and mounts a protective response to the threat. Your dog’s body produces an immune response to the ingredients found in the raw food mix. This allergic response may develop quickly or may develop over a period of years, and sometimes after an infection involving the stomach or intestines.

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Diagnosis of Raw Food Allergies in Dogs

When you first arrive at the veterinary clinic, the veterinarian will collect a thorough history from you asking questions related to what your dog eats in his raw diet, what he snacks on, and takes for medications. She will then exam your dog to assess him symptoms fully and ensure his vitals are normal. If your dog’s skin is irritated or showing any symptom that may be caused by something other than a food allergy, the veterinarian may take a skin scraping to check for external parasites or bacterial overgrowth. If your dog has watery eyes, the veterinarian may perform fluorescein staining to check for a scratch on the eye that could possibly cause the watering. If your dog has build up in his eyes, she may check tear production levels to rule out dry eye.

She will perform blood work to get some needed information as to what is causing your dog’s body to react the way it is. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with results for proper assessment.  If your veterinarian feels it is necessary, she may also perform a urinalysis for further evaluation of kidney function. 

Bicom testing is another method of determining a food related allergy in your dog. This method believes every being and substance in the world emits its own electromagnetic wave. The veterinarian takes a blood sample from your dog and tests different food items and substances to see if it has a ‘good’, ‘neutral’ or ‘bad’ response. If the item is compatible with your dog, the electromagnetic waves will be in sync and make the wave even stronger when together causing a ‘good’ result. If it is ‘neutral’, the item being tested does not put out a wavelength to alter that of your dog. If the response is ‘bad’, the item being tested causes your dog’s blood wavelength to become stressed. Stressed blood leads to a stressed body and therefore a response from the immune system. If it is not good for your dog, then you simply remove that food from his diet and the allergic symptoms should stop. The main downside to the Bicom testing for a premade diet like raw food, it does not tell you what specific ingredient your dog is allergic to, just that something in the food reacts poorly with your dog. Bicom testing is not commonly seen in veterinary practices because it is considered an ‘alternative’ medicine. Many holistic veterinarians use the Bicom testing with an extremely high success rate, but other veterinarians believe this method does not work. It is up to you to decide if you would like this test for your dog or not. 

Diagnosing allergies can be a long discouraging process with very few diagnostic tests available. A dietary trial is the most frequently used method because it is typically the most accurate. In a dietary trial, you have to feed your dog a novel diet, meaning you feed him a diet without any suspected allergen ingredient whatsoever. You have to feed your dog the novel diet for at least 90 days before you can get a reliable diagnostic. After the 90 days, if resolution of the allergic symptoms occurs, you then must reintroduce the raw food to his diet. If a relapse in allergy symptoms occurs once the raw food is reintroduced, then you know the source. If symptoms do not return with the reintroduction of the raw food, then it was a source other than the food your dog was reacting to. 

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Treatment of Raw Food Allergies in Dogs

Many veterinarians will prescribe a medication to get your dog to stop scratching. While this is beneficial so that he may avoid causing a secondary infection, the medication is a temporary solution for the skin irritation. If you do not remove the source of the itching, you will have to continue to give the prescription and possibly continuously increase his dose as time goes on. Instead, it may also be beneficial for you to find a natural balm or anti-itch ointment to use with or as a substitute for a prescription medication.

Removing the allergen from your dog’s diet completely will offer him relief from all his food allergy related symptoms. If the allergen remains in your dog’s diet, it will continue to weaken his immune system over time. This can lead to long term and recurring issues. While it may be a long process, if you are able to discover the actual ingredient your dog is allergic to, you may or may not be able to keep him on a raw food diet. Plus, once you know the actual allergen, you are then able to have strict control over your dog’s diet and can keep him from ingesting it in any form.

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Recovery of Raw Food Allergies in Dogs

Once you discover the exact food allergen causing issues for your pet healthwise and remove it from his diet, all of his allergy symptoms should stop. While there have not been any cases of death from an allergy to raw food, the longer your dog is eating a food that weakens his immune system, the higher his chances he may develop a more serious secondary infection. Once your dog is consuming a diet healthy for him, his immune system will return to full strength and prognosis of a full recovery is good. 

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Raw Food Allergies Average Cost

From 397 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400

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Raw Food 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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Chiweenie

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Chewing

My dog chews and bites at his paws (in between them) and scratches his whole body (mostly underneath where his chest and belly are). He’s starting to get scrapes and redness everywhere and I don’t know if it’s from the environment or his raw food diet. Help! I don’t know how to determine what is causing it and it’s concerning to see him so irritated.

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello From what you are describing, it sounds like your pup has skin allergies. Allergies in dogs can be from food, fleas or the environment (like grass or something else the pet is coming in contact with). I recommend taking him to a veterinarian for an exam. They will be able to determine what is going on and possibly prescribe medication to help with the itchiness. Good luck.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Sam

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Pit bull

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itchy

My dog has suffered from allergies ever since we rescued her 5 years ago. We were giving her PurVida kibble but were told a raw diet is better for dogs with allergies. I now cook her Salmon, chicken or beef mixed with carrots, green beans, peas and greek yogurt. Do you know how long it takes to see a change in their skin/allergies after starting a raw diet? Also, what is the best raw food to give to avoid allergies? She is still itching and scratching like crazy. I also have been applying 50/50 Apple cider vinegar and water to her skin topically and coconut oil. I am not sure what else to do at this point. She does seem to get worse with laying in Grass or dirt. We did take her to a vet and they said she most likely has environmental allergies based on her rash. My dog is a Pit bull/German Sheppard mix.

June 27, 2018

Sam's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If your Veterinarian has determined that the cause is most likely environmental allergies, dietary changes will not help with that; if it appears that there may be a grass allergy, the best course of action would be to prevent any contact with grass for a fortnight to see if there is any improvement in the severity of the rash (bathe her as well with a mild hypoallergenic shampoo). Generally it may take a few weeks to see improvement after removing a suspected allergen from the environment or food; as for the diet, there is contradicting information regarding raw diets etc… I would look at a commercial diet with a novel protein source so that all nutritional requirement are met. However, speak with your Veterinarian about allergy testing as this will help narrow in on an allergen faster. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 28, 2018

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Raja

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Cane Corso Italiano (Italian Mastiff)

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Skin Itching, Ears Scratching
Skin Itching, Ears Scratching,
Skin Itching Shedding

Skin allergy in my dog, she itches her skin, sucks on her paws and had a red back with pustules down spine. Also sheds horrendously. No flea or worm issues. Vets said she may have a skin infection and gave her cephalexin for 2 months and special shampoo which seemed to clear up back but didn’t stop general itching. Antihistamines just make her sleepy. Gave steroids for 4 days and seemed to help. All meds have been stopped and switched her to raw for past 9 days and now the itching and discomfort is worse. Vet just said long term steroids whilst I don’t want for her and to continue to daily bathe her in anti fungal/bacterial shampoo. Any advice would be welcomed as it’s very expensive and upsetting to see her struggle.

April 28, 2018

Raja's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Management of these conditions can be difficult because we don’t fully know what the underlying cause is, however if we notice improvement with steroids then it is in Raja’s best interest to be on steroid treatment until the conditions is resolved and then to try to wean her off them to see if there is a recurrence of symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 29, 2018

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Chloe

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Poodle

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16 Weeks

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Serious severity

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Hair Loss

16 week old miniature puppy has had no shots, still intact, no worm/flea meds (so that is not her issue). Has no ringworm or mites. She is eating Primal Freeze-dried Raw with 1T raw kefir (from cows milk)3X's a day. She gets fresh ground meat in addition to this. She has developed an angry hot red rash on belly (no bumps) and under ear flaps...and is scratching relentlessly. No discharge or smell. Losing a lot of hair all over. She has been doing this for 6 weeks now. She is now being very picky about eating at all(I have to hand feed her). I buy her 6 different protein varieties of this food (except chicken) and I rotate each meal. No treats. Only wash bedding/towels with Borax/vinegar. Can there be something in the Primal food causing this at such a young age? Or could it be the Kefir?? Thanks!

Jan. 25, 2018

Chloe's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without seeing Chloe, I can't determine what might be causing her rash, but puppies are susceptible to bacterial, fungal and parasitic skin conditions. If it has been going on for 6 weeks, she should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible to get some relief from the itching. A veterinarian can examine her, determine what might be going on, and give her appropriate therapy. Food allergies are not common in younger dogs. I hope that she does well.

Jan. 26, 2018

Try skin balm from the “natural dog company” I had the same problem! Worked like a miracle

March 21, 2018

Adriana T.


Forgot to say that Chloe does not go outside or on carpet. She does not lick her paws (yet) either...only her belly. Sometimes she seems hotter than usual and wants to be held the last few days, which is totally out of character for her. I put 1 teas coconut oil in her food, and a teaspoon of ACV per day. I also put coconut oil on her fur to soothe her itching.

Jan. 25, 2018

Chloe's Owner

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Winston

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Pug

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2

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Serious severity

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Since our pug was a puppy he hated kibble (salmon protein kibble)! We'd have to coax him into eating by masking it with coconut oil or a small amount of wet food. He had no health issues with it but just hated it. We switched him over to raw - at first we didn't know to keep the protein the same as the kibble so we were alternating between Salmon, Lamb, Chicken, Beef, Turkey. After a few months he developed serious allergies (pododermatitis). He'll go on meds and be fine but the second he's off the meds it goes back to allergy mode. Our vet told us to stick with the same protein as the kibble (salmon) which we've done and still the allergy remains. Any and all insight is much appreciated.

Nov. 19, 2017

Winston's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

At this point it would be a case of trying allergy testing since there may be another ingredient in the raw food which is causing this allergy reaction; allergies can be difficult to get under control and are rarely a quick fix but allergy testing would save you time instead of doing elimination trials. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 20, 2017

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Grady

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Labrador Retriever

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6 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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I have been feeding my 6mo black lab pup Volhard Nutrition ndf2 dry mix along with 80/20 ground beef. He has a beautiful coat but is SO itchy! I have tried mixing in coconut oil and peanut butter but nothing seems to be stopping the itching...

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ollie

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French Bulldog

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7 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Rash
Fur Loss

my 7 months french bull dog just started raw fed a week ago with lamb based protein. his skin started to become red and few bald patched can be noticed. his bowel is normal and doesn't scratch. is this a normal process of detoxification as we were feeding him kibbles before this.

Raw Food Allergies Average Cost

From 397 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$400