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Chicken Allergies in Canines

Chicken Allergy in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Chicken allergy in dogs is a hypersensitivity reaction in the immune system in response to exposure to chicken protein. A dog allergic to chicken has symptoms such as itching, redness, swelling, and baldness and is prone to developing secondary infections. Systemic symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, hives, and sneezing also manifest with chicken allergies. The immune system is triggered in response to the chicken protein, creating a series of inflammatory processes that lead to chicken allergy in dogs

Consult a veterinarian for advice when wondering “how to tell if your dog is allergic to chicken.” A good physical exam and history-taking are crucial to diagnosing chicken allergy in dogs. An elimination diet trial is conducted for several months under the veterinarian's supervision to see when can dogs be allergic to chicken. The treatment for a dog allergic to chicken symptoms relies on removing chicken protein from the diet, with anti-itch medication, skin and coat supplements, and antifungal or antibiotic treatments for secondary infection.

What is Chicken Allergy in Dogs?

Chicken allergy in dogs is the hypersensitive response to chicken protein when ingested. The dog’s immune system reacts to the chicken protein and releases Immunoglobulin E to attack the allergen. The immune system's overreaction to the harmless chicken protein causes the symptoms of allergies. Symptoms such as reddening (erythema), itching, hives/swelling, conjunctivitis, vomiting, diarrhea, and sneezing are common allergies in dogs. Chicken allergy in dogs is manageable, as is avoiding chicken and chicken-based diets.

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Allergic to Chicken?

You can tell if your dog is allergic to chicken when symptoms of allergies appear after consuming chicken. The signs of allergies occur within a few minutes of ingestion. Mild allergies begin as itchy dog skin, rashes, and slight redness on the skin. Severe allergies lead to conjunctivitis, blepharitis, difficulty breathing, and intense redness and swelling. The onset of allergic symptoms is essential when confirming chicken allergies. Consult a veterinarian for ways to diagnose dogs allergic to chicken.

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Chicken?

Yes, dogs can be allergic to chicken. Dogs become allergic to many forms of food, similar to humans. Among the many animal proteins that dogs eat, “the most frequently reported food allergens involved were beef (102 dogs, 34 %), dairy products (51 dogs, 17 %), chicken (45 dogs, 15 %), wheat (38 dogs, 13 %) and lamb (14, 5 %)” according to the study by Mueller et al., titled “Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats”, 2016. Chicken allergies are common in dogs and occur in any dog regardless of breed, sex, and age. Dogs with chicken allergies must avoid chicken-based diets. 

Can Dogs Have Respiratory Problems with Chicken Allergy?

Yes, dogs can have respiratory problems with chicken allergy. Mild allergies begin as itching, rashes, and slight redness on the skin. Severe allergies lead to conjunctivitis, blepharitis, difficulty breathing, and intense redness and swelling. Anaphylactic shock occurs in high amounts of ingestion of chicken in dogs with chicken allergy. Take the dog to the veterinarian immediately when noticing signs of respiratory problems in dogs with chicken allergies. 

Why Dogs Are Allergic to Chicken?

Dogs are allergic to chicken because their immune systems overreact to the chicken protein. The immune system's response is a self-defense mechanism that perceives the amino acids found in chickens as a threat. This threat is met with an increased influx of immunoglobulins that cause redness, swelling, itchiness, and inflammation. The development of allergies is due to complex genetic and environmental factors. The exact cause of why dogs become allergic to certain types of food is still being examined. 

What are the Causes of Dog Allergy with Chicken?

The causes of dog allergy with chicken are listed below.

  • Hereditary Causes: Certain allergies are believed to pass from parent to offspring. In humans, “there is a 30-50% chance of their offspring developing allergies. This jumps to 60-80% if both parents are allergic,” according to the Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center. The findings are a probable basis for animal hereditary food allergies, but the exact mechanism is unconfirmed. 
  • Leaky Gut Syndrome: The abnormal increase in intestinal wall permeability leads to gut contents leaking through the intestines. The gut contents that usually pass through the intestines leak through the walls and enter the body’s circulation. Dogs with chicken allergies detect the leaking chicken proteins through the system, causing an allergic response. Inflammation and discomfort happen as a result of triggering the immune system. 
  • Cross-Contamination: Eating any food that has been contaminated with chicken triggers an allergic reaction. Serving dog food or bowls that have come into contact with chicken during preparation also causes an allergic reaction. Be careful when preparing meals for the dog. Avoid having chicken near the area where the dog’s meals are prepared or served. 
  • Product ingredients. Some dog food contains chicken-based flavorings or ingredients. Serving this food to the dog causes an allergic reaction. Screen the food items before giving them to a dog with a chicken allergy. The ingredients on the product packaging must be investigated for chicken derivatives. 
  • Excessive exposure: One theory of allergy development is that the body becomes overly sensitive because of overexposure to a substance. Repeated exposure to chicken elicits a stronger reaction than the initial times. The dog develops an exaggerated immune response that is able to intensify with each exposure. 

What are the Symptoms of Dog Allergies from Chicken?

The symptoms of dog allergies from chicken are listed below.

  • Itching is one of the most common signs of allergies in dogs. Itchiness is caused by the inflammatory response of immune cells, which releases histamine and other cytokines. Rashes, hives, and occasional hair loss often accompany itchiness. Persistent itchiness damages the skin and coat, making the dog more prone to secondary infections. Dog itchiness from allergies is managed with short-term anti-itch medication and avoiding the allergen. 
  • Redness. Redness is caused by the inflammatory action of the dog’s immune cells. Skin redness (erythema) is a hallmark of inflammation that needs immediate attention. The redness is localized in one area or widespread throughout the body. Dogs with triggered chicken allergies have increased skin heat, rashes, and hives. These lesions are itchy and cause the dog discomfort. 
  • Respiratory signs. Dogs with allergies have respiratory signs like sneezing and difficulty breathing. The inflammatory action of immunoglobulins causes the airways to become irritated. Sneezing is how the body tries to eliminate the allergen and clear the airway, including inhaled allergens. Difficulty breathing happens as a result of airway swelling in severe cases. The dog is unable to breathe normally and needs emergency medical attention. 
  • Conjunctivitis. The eye's conjunctiva becomes swollen due to the histamine release in the bloodstream. Histamine is a potent vasodilator that makes the blood vessels swell. Swollen vessels result in puffy eyes and eyelids. Conjunctivitis is accompanied by severe lacrimation or watery eyes. 
  • Gastrointestinal signs. Dogs that are allergic to chicken occasionally have gastrointestinal signs. Vomiting and diarrhea after eating chicken are observed when there is food intolerance. The chicken protein is processed in the gut and is recognized as a foreign material that triggers bowel inflammation. Prolonged vomiting and diarrhea cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. 

How to Diagnose Dog Allergy from Chicken?

To diagnose dog allergy from chicken, conduct a food elimination trial. The veterinarian prescribes a hypoallergenic diet that does not contain what the dog has previously had. The dog is fed the food for eight to twelve weeks. The hypoallergenic diet is the only food that the dog is permitted to eat while undergoing the trial. 

Once the allergic signs cease, the dog undergoes a food challenge by reintroducing chicken. A dog allergy to chicken is confirmed when the allergic signs return within a week of reintroduction to the dog’s diet.

What are the Effects of Chicken Allergy in Dogs?

The effects of chicken allergy in dogs are listed below.

  • Loss of appetite. A dog with a chicken allergy most likely avoids eating the same thing again. The uncomfortable effects of an allergy create a negative memory for the dog. Feeding the dog after an allergic episode becomes challenging. The dog needs positive reassurance and the introduction of more palatable diets guaranteed to be without chicken. 
  • Lack of playfulness. Allergies are uncomfortable and affect the dog’s mood. The inflammation and discomfort make the dog less active and unwilling to interact. Some dogs want to spend more time in a corner or sleeping. The behavior is how the dog copes with the persistent discomfort. 
  • Irritability. Dogs with chicken allergies develop aggressive behavior. The change is due to the irritation and itchiness of the allergic response. Some dogs are reluctant to be touched or petted. Some dogs turn aggressive when they have chronic allergic issues. Positive reassurance and treatment are needed to stop irritability in dogs with chicken allergies. 
  • Lack of sleep. Chicken allergy is a pruritic condition. Some dogs are unable to sleep due to intense and persistent itchiness. They are constantly awake, trying to scratch and batch themselves as an attempt at relief. Lack of sleep in dogs with chicken allergy eventually leads to irritability and poor mentation. 
  • Prone to ear infections. The ear is one of the most commonly affected organs for dog allergies. Allergies lead to “about 50 percent of dogs with allergic skin disease and 80 percent of dogs with food sensitivities,” according to the American Kennel Club. The ear creates excessive cerumen, partnered with the moist and warm conditions of the ear canal. Opportunistic bacteria and fungi favor this environment. 

What are the Treatments for Dog Allergies Caused by Chicken?

The treatments for dog allergies caused by chicken are listed below.

  • Anti-itch medication. The most common side effect of chicken allergy in dogs is itching. Medications such as Oclacitinib (Apoquel) or Cytopoint (Lokivetmab) control the itching response in dogs. The medication reduces the intensity and frequency of itching, which mitigates damage to the skin. Anti-itch medication resolves intense itching that interferes with daily activities such as play and sleep. 
  • Antibiotics. Complicated chicken allergies feature bacterial infections or pyoderma. Pyoderma results in pustular or suppurative lesions that cover the skin. The lesions are painful and affect the skin’s natural barrier. Antibiotics eliminate bacterial infections that damage and prevent the skin from healing properly. 
  • Antifungals. Chicken allergies make dogs sensitive to opportunistic infections. Fungal species exploit the dog’s compromised immune system, causing an infection. The condition is visible in dogs with chronic, bilateral ear infections that persist over long periods. The skin becomes yeasty and flaky, with poor coat quality. Antifungals reduce/eliminate harmful fungal overgrowth that affects the skin and return it to normal. 
  • Prescription Diet. Shifting to special, dermatological diets is often necessary for dogs with skin allergies. The dietary change hastens healing and returns the skin to normal. Prescription diets include hydrolyzed or novel protein sources that are designed for skin issues. A veterinarian is able to give the best advice on what skincare diet is suitable for a dog with chicken allergies. 
  • Anti-allergy medication. Medications such as antihistamines and epinephrine are used during more severe allergic reactions. The medicine promptly relieves allergic symptoms to avoid cardiac and pulmonary distress. Over-the-counter antihistamines are available for everyday use. A veterinarian administers epinephrine as an emergency treatment for anaphylaxis. 

How Does Hydrolyzed Protein Help Chicken Allergies in Dogs?

Hydrolyzed protein helps chicken allergies in dogs by avoiding the immune system’s radar. The protein results from chemically breaking down large chicken proteins into smaller pieces via hydrolysis, rendering them less likely to trigger an allergic response. The dog’s immune system no longer detects the small amino acids like chicken. The result is a lack of immune system response. Veterinarians prescribe diets from hydrolyzed protein for dogs with allergies or inflammatory bowel disease. Hydrolyzed protein is suitable for chicken allergies in dogs because it is incapable of triggering the immune system. The dog is able to have hydrolyzed protein daily without developing any uncomfortable symptoms of allergies. 

How can a Dog Develop a Chicken Allergy?

A dog can develop a chicken allergy by consistent exposure to the allergen. Factors such as repeated exposure, genetics, and environment are possible causes of developing allergies in humans. Repeated, long-term exposure to an allergen leads to immune system sensitization, magnified to a point that creates adverse effects in allergies. The exact cause of the development of chicken allergies is under investigation. 

Are there Specific Dog Breeds that are Allergic to Chicken?

No, there are no specific breeds that are allergic to chicken. Chicken allergies occur regardless of age, sex, breed, and diet. Other forms of dog allergies are suspected to be caused by hereditary factors, although food allergies are not confirmed to be hereditary. The parental genes of being allergic to certain triggers are sometimes passed on to the offspring. Food allergies are common in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Mini Schnauzers, and Chinese Shar-Peis. 

Are Allergies Genetic in Dogs?

Yes, allergies are genetic in dogs. Specific allergies, such as atopic dermatitis and plant allergies, are believed to be inherited from the parents. There is a genetic influence on the occurrence of allergies in dogs. The exact mechanism of how food allergies develop is yet to be confirmed. In humans, “There is a 30-50% chance of their offspring developing allergies. This jumps to 60-80% if both parents are allergic”, according to the Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center.

How can CBD Oil Help Dogs Allergy?

CBD oil helps dogs allergy by soothing itchiness, inflammation, and pain. CBD acts on the ECS or Endocannabinoid System, a complex mechanism that regulates primary bodily functions. The ECS influences metabolism, stress, memory, pain control, and inflammatory and immune responses. CBD oil for dogs’ allergies helps reduce inflammatory cytokine production, relieving redness and itchiness. Consult a veterinarian for the proper use of CBD in dogs with chicken allergies.