We all want to do the best for our dogs, but how can we tell if we are harming them with the food we are giving them.

Looking after our beloved pets involves recognising the subtle signs of potential food allergies and intolerances.

From tummy troubles to itchy skin, being aware of these symptoms is crucial for maintaining your dog's health and happiness. 

Johanna Buitelaar-Warden, Founder of Lords and Labradors, has shared her expert guide to pet allergies, complete with essential insights and expert tips to help you navigate the common challenges.

Does my dog have a food allergy?

An essential aspect of caring for your four-legged friends is familiarising yourself with the signs of a dog’s allergic reaction to their food. While a playful pup might seem content, hidden discomfort can manifest itself in subtle ways.

Here are some key symptoms to watch out for:

  • Tummy Troubles: Vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive gas are all red flags and signs of potential allergies.
  • Weight Loss: If your pet is unexpectedly slimming down, it could be a sign of nutrient malabsorption related to food sensitivities.
  • Itchy Skin: Red, irritated skin and excessive licking or scratching can indicate an allergic reaction.
  • Recurring Infections: Frequent ear or skin infections might be linked to food intolerances.

Johanna explained: “Remember, early detection is key! If you notice any of these signs, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and dietary guidance.

“A great way to keep on top of this is to keep a food diary to track your pet's meals and any corresponding reactions. This valuable information can help your vet to pinpoint potential allergies.”

Should I be worried about my dog’s picky eating?

Unless an underlying health issue is apparent, your dog's picky eating habits are likely to stem from their cleverness rather than inherent fussiness. Over time, they may have learned that ignoring regular meals can lead to extra attention – and with it, tastier alternatives.

These pro tips are sure to have your pup eagerly anticipating dinner time:

  • Ditch the handfeeding: Although tempting, handfeeding can make them less interested in their bowl. Let their natural instincts kick in!
  • Boost flavour and moisture: Add a splash of high-quality wet food to dry kibble. Not only does it taste better, but the extra moisture is good for hydration.
  • Praise and consistency: Shower your dog with love when they eat from their bowl – it’s important to celebrate the little wins.
  • Switch up their bowls: Certain dogs may be unsettled by their reflection in stainless steel or glass bowls. Consider using ceramic bowls – such as the Scruffs Icon Dog Food Bowl - and ensure to keep them clean.
  • Make mealtime fun: Engage their minds with interactive feeding toys that release kibble as they play. Perfect for easily bored pups.

Johanna added: “While fussy eating in dogs can be frustrating, understanding the "why" behind it and staying persistent can prevent it from becoming a long-term habit. 

“Navigating fussy eating can be as straightforward as experimenting with various new methods to encourage your dog to enjoy their meals.”