Food Allergies in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment - Scratch

Food allergies in dogs

Itchy skin. Ear infections. Tummies that can’t handle change very easy. Food allergies in dogs seem to be becoming more and more prevalent.

Let’s take a look at food allergies in dogs, what to look out for and whether your dog’s issue might actually be an intollerance.

Find the perfect food to fix your dog's allergies
Itchy dog

There are three types of dog food allergies

  1. Environmental allergies
  2. Dog food allergies
  3. Dog food intolerance

Let’s look first at the difference between food allergies in dogs, versus intolerances.

Allergies are typically more serious and involve multiple body organs, but not typically the stomach. Environmental and dog food allergies send their immune system into overdrive, trying to flush whatever their body thinks is stuck in their system. While allergies are sometimes caused by food, most allergies in dogs are caused by the environment and seasonal changes, or intolerances. Only around 10% of allergies are due to food.

In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to their tummy’s. Dog food intolerances can range from serious and sudden, to minor where a dog can handle small amounts of something, but starts to develop diarrhoea.

Intolerances are far more common than true food allergies in dogs.

Common dog food allergies & intolerances

Any ingredient can create an allergy or stomach reaction, but the most common culprits are proteins found in:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Soy
  • Gluten (from wheat)

It’s no coincidence that these are the most commonly included ingredients in commercial dog food either and virtually impossible avoid in lower quality supermarket food. That’s why Scratch has created two single-protein dog foods.

Breed specific food allergies

No breed has specific food allergies that they’re guaranteed to face, but some have enough genetic history to increase the likelihood of suffering allergies and intolerances.

Based off the data we receive from Scratch customers when they sign up, we’ve found the following breeds to commonly suffer from food allergies and intolerances:

  • French Bulldogs (chronic skin issues)
  • Staffy’s (skin and tummy)
  • Boston Terriers (intolerances causing anal gland issues)
  • Boxers (lots of intolerances)

Dog allergy symptoms

When dog allergies strike, the immune system tries to flush the invader – real or not. Think of it like hayfever versus actually breathing in something nasty. Their bodies don’t know the difference, creating inflammation around the body.

The most common dog allergy symptoms are itching, licking paws, a rash or hives (most easily seen on their belly), or sore joints. Look out for difficulties breathing or wheezing, which suggests a more serious dog allergic reaction.

Intolerances don’t show through the body in the same way, instead creating gas, diarrhoea or vomiting.

Most common signs of food allergies in dogs

  • Gas- intolerance
  • Diarrhoea- intolerance
  • Vomiting – intolerance
  • Itchy skin
  • A rash or hives
  • Swollen tongue
  • Sneezing
  • Breathing difficulties

What to do if you think your dog has food allergies

First, use the advice on this page and from your vet to work out whether it is likely dog allergies or an intolerance to food. Only about 10% of allergies are food allergies in dogs, so you might notice that every year the same symptoms pop up. Seasonal environmental reactions (to grass, pollutants or things in the air) are quite common. If it’s an intolerance, look at your dog food. Often a vet will start them on a 3-month elimination diet or you can talk to a quality dog food company like Scratch or a nutritionist to work out a new diet.

How a condition is diagnosed

Most Australian vets diagnose a condition with a 3-month elimination diet, but it’s not a rigorous process and often nutrition and how dogs bodies process food and build up intolerances is under-appreciated. We suggest talking to our team or a holistic vet.

Treating food allergies in dogs

Switch up their eating habits

Diet can really go a huge way to avoiding (and even correcting) intolerances, as well as reducing environmental and dog food allergy responses. The ingredients in Scratch help to reduce inflammation, and don’t include dairy, chicken or gluten – common culprits of allergies.

Best dog food for allergies

For the most sensitive dogs, we recommend the Scratch Kangaroo dog food recipe. It’s single-protein, grain-free and avoids all of the common causes of dog food allergies and sensitivities. It’s also got a mix of 4 healthy oils (coconut, salmon, flaxseed and sunflower) to help sooth inflamed skin.


In serious cases, your vet may prescribe medication to suppress the bodies excessive immune responses. Medication to initially treat the symptom and a healthy dog food diet to correct the cause is usually the winning combination.

Try Scratch for their allergies

We specifically designed Scratch dog food for allergies to help alleviate your dog’s allergic reactions. See how our food goes about it, the ingredients we avoid and how we’ve helped 1000’s of Aussie dogs with relief.

To put it simply, real good food makes a real good difference.

Kibble for allergies

5 reasons why so many thrive on our single protein Kangaroo dog food for allergies

Deliciously Fresh

Normal store dog food can be up to 9 months old before it hits your shelves. We ship Scratch within days of making it.

Lean, mean sustainably-sourced kangaroo

A 28% protein hit to keep your pup up and at it all day long.

The best produce a dog can find

Not all ingredients taste the same. We find the best, unprocessed Aussie ingredients to keep your dog healthy.

Designed to correct dodgy tummies

Say goodbye to runny tummies and hello to perfectly firm number 2s.




It’s 100% grain-free goodness

Most grain free food swaps a crappy grain for a crappy processed starch. Scratch is choc full of premium meat & whole veggies.

But hey, don’t take our word, take theirs

Mack has allergies

“Mack is a staffy with skin and food allergies, so you can imagine how happy I was to find a dog food with NO chicken listed in the ingredients.

I’m very happy with Scratch, and so is Mack!!”

Duke the Labrador

“Since starting Duke on Scratch he isn’t scratching so much & no more runny #2’s!!!

Now onto the customer service. Hands down THE BEST, customer service around!”


“Scratch is bloody awesome. Tooska has always had the worst tummy & we have given away multiple bags of food.

She has had so much more energy, she’s so much happier and has **** you can scoop… Thank you so much Scratch”

4.9/5 Average Rating from
over 40,000 Aussie dogs

So, do you wanna give us a go?

Full control over if, when or what food you want
Two freshly sealed 4kg bags at a time
Money back if your pup isn’t into it
Free delivery to metro areas
Smaller Scratch Box

Turkey, Beef & Lamb

From $83 PER 8kg

Our most popular option for dogs of all ages - even large breed pups.

Sensitive Kangaroo

From $94 PER 8kg

For any woofer that can't seem to shake tummy, skin or joint issues.

Pasture-raised Lamb

From $92 PER 8kg

Clean, mean recipe full of hypoallergenic lamb and some nutritious ancient whole-grains. Great for very active dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions about dog food allergies

If you do have anything super specific you want to chat about, hit us up on live chat.

Dog food allergies will show up within an hour, though only about 10% of dog allergies are caused by food and the rest the environment. If your dog is having tummy trouble or vomiting, it’s more likely a bug or intolerance.

If your dog is truly allergic to a foo d (any food is technically possible to produce an allergic reaction), you might notice anything from chronic ear inflammation, licking their feet, itchy skin or an itchy rear end.

Chicken is one of the primary causes of intolerances for dogs. It typically doesn’t produce immediate allergy responses, but does upset a lot of stomachs and over time, results in sore red bellies and itchy skin.

Avoid beef, dairy, chicken, soy and wheat – the most commonly used ingredients in commercial dog food. That’s why we make a single-protein lamb and a single-protein kangaroo recipe for dogs who suffer with allergies.

The longer a dog is fed the same thing, the higher the chance of a dog developing food allergies and intolerances over time. That’s why it’s crucial for long-term health to feed a well balanced recipe and avoid bacterial overgrowths.

If your dog is suddenly responding to food, it’s more commonly an intolerance. This can be due to seasonal changes in how they’re feeling, a change in the recipe (dog food companies regularly change without disclosing) or in some cases, their body telling them that their stomach bacteria is overgrown in a particular way (typically due to overexposure of an ingredient).