Friday, September 6, 2013

Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergy – Do You Know the Difference?

Morris K9 Campus is all about training, daycare and agility, but we decided to take a slight detour to discuss a common topic that has come up a lot recently – food tolerance vs. food allergy. 

If you notice that your dog’s skin is itchy and that they have been losing hair, this could be a reaction to their diet. Although a food allergy is a possibility, this type of reaction could also be caused by a food intolerance. Like us, dogs can experience a variety of different reactions from certain types of foods. But how do you know if your dog has an allergy to a certain type of food, or if it is a food intolerance? What exactly is the difference?  

According to Dr. Jean Dodds, a renowned veterinarian specializing in nutrition, knowing whether your dog has a food allergy or food intolerance is very important. A food allergy is an immediate reaction, meaning your dog is experiences issues from it right away. Food allergies, although they may be more widely understood, are actually quite rare in dogs. 

“Food intolerance is the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs and cats,” says Dr. Dodds on her website. A food intolerance is a delayed reaction that deals with digestion issues and, according to Dr. Dodds, can begin anywhere from 2-72 hours after the dog consumes whatever food is the issue. The remedy, she says, is often as simple as a change in their diet.

Simplifying and changing your dog’s diet can be important to address the food insensitivity issues, but be sure to consult your veterinarian before you change what you feed your dog. A general suggestion from Dr. Dodds is to move the dog from a common protein diet, such as beef or chicken, and introduce them to a less-used protein such as turkey or fish. This is because dogs tend to develop an intolerance after eating the same type of food for awhile. 

Skin issues are one of the main signs of food intolerance, which can manifest and appear as different types of skin conditions. Even if your dog has tested negative for food allergies, they could test positive for food intolerance. There is a simple cheek swab that can determine the sensitivities your dog has, which could help steer you on the path to getting your dog’s food-related skin irritations under control. NutriScan is a test invented by Dr. Jean Dodds that can determine if your dog has any food intolerances.

There is no breed, age or sex that makes your dog more susceptible to food intolerance. Discuss with your vet about whether your dog could have a food allergy or intolerance, and what steps you could take in order to help solve it. Providing your dog the proper nutrition is the key in order to have a well-balanced, healthy dog.

Keep an eye on our blog as we continue our food discussion and put Dr. Jean Dodds' Nutriscan swab system to the test.


  1. Man, I hope vets are more keen to the "intolerance" issue than human doctors. I have a wheat intolerance and the traditional doctors kept doing allergy tests on me and saying I was fine. When I insisted it was an intolerance, they dismissed me and said there is no scientific proof about intolerance' there was nothing they would do for me. Luckily, I found a good Naturopath that gave me some help.

  2. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.