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Egg Allergy in Dogs

Egg Allergy in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Egg allergy in dogs is sensitivity to proteins in the egg. Egg allergies develop as a response to the proteins in the egg white or yolk. Egg white allergies are more common than egg yolk allergies. 

Common signs of dog egg allergy are stomach upset, itchiness, ear infections, poor coat quality, foot licking/chewing, and unexplained weight loss. 

Egg allergies are diagnosed with food trials. The treatment is simple and entails removing eggs and egg-inclusive foods from the dog’s diet. 

The occurrence of egg allergy in dogs is moderately common, accounting for around 4% of canine adverse food reactions.

Allergic cross-reactivity is rare but possible. Pet owners often ask, “Can dogs be allergic to eggs from other domesticated birds if they are allergic to hens’ eggs?” The answer depends on the dog’s biology.

What is Egg Allergy in dogs?

Egg allergy in dogs is an immune-mediated adverse reaction to eggs. Egg allergies develop when the dog’s immune system becomes sensitive and overreacts to proteins found in eggs. 

The allergic reaction starts when the immune system misidentifies the presence of egg proteins as an external threat and produces antibodies to remove them, primarily immunoglobulin E (IgE). 

The newly made immunoglobulin E binds to the egg proteins and signals the immune system to release chemicals to destroy the threat. IgE serves as a tracker and points to the location of the egg proteins. 

Pet owners who ask, “Are dogs allergic to eggs?” must know the answer is yes. Food of all types has the potential to trigger allergies in dogs, particularly animal-sourced foods.

Dogs are allergic to egg whites, egg yolks, or entire eggs. Egg white allergies are more common than egg yolk allergies. 

Can Dogs have Egg Yolk?

Yes, dogs can have egg yolk. Egg yolks are highly nutritious and packed with vitamins and fatty acids. Eggs are an excellent addition to the menu served to healthy dogs in moderation. 

Egg yolks must not be offered to dogs with diabetes, pancreatitis, and egg allergies. Confectionary treats made with eggs are strictly forbidden. 

Can dogs be allergic to eggs?

Yes, dogs can be allergic to eggs. Dogs are allergic to eggs as a whole or to the different egg parts, meaning whites or yolks. 

The egg contains six identified allergens, designated Gal d 1-6, four of which are found in the white and two in the yolk. 

The four allergens in egg white are ovomucoid (Gal d 1), ovalbumin (Gal d 2), ovotransferrin (Gal d 3), and lysozyme (Gal d 4). 

Ovalbumin is the main protein in hen eggs. Ovomucoid has the strongest allergenic potential among protein types, according to a human study, “Current Understanding of Egg Allergy,” published in Pediatric Clinics of North America in 2012. 

The two allergens in egg yolk are alpha-livetin or chicken serum albumin (Gal d 5) and YGP42 (Gal d 6). 

What are the symptoms of egg allergy in dogs?

The symptoms of egg allergy in dogs are listed below. 

  • Stomach Upset: Stomach upset is dogs' most common sign of egg allergies. Stomach upset clinically manifests with diarrhea, mucus or blood in the stool, vomiting, excess gas, bloat, appetite loss, and abdominal pain, which are signs of stomach irritation. 
  • Intense Itchiness: Egg allergies trigger skin changes, making the dog feel itchy. The dog scratches itself excessively. Scratching causes skin damage and increases the risk of secondary bacterial infections.  
  • Foot Licking or Chewing: Paw pad inflammation is a common sign of egg allergies in dogs. The pads become red, swollen, and feel itchy. Dogs lick or chew their paw pads to seek relief and soothe the irritation. 
  • Chronic Ear Infection: Chronic or repeating ear infections frequently accompany food allergies. Signs of ear infections include head shaking, ear pawing, foul odor from the ears, and waxy discharge or excess wax buildup. 
  • Poor Coat Condition: Dogs fail to absorb nutrients from their food, resulting in poor coat quality. Dull, broken skin that loses its typical shine is a sign of egg allergy in dogs. Prolonged scratching and poor nutrient absorption lead to hair loss. 
  • Weight Loss: Poor nutrient absorption deprives the dog of essential nutrients and causes unexplained weight loss. The dog eats regular food amounts and regularly but loses weight. Frequent vomiting and diarrhea contribute to the weight loss. 

How can Dogs be Allergic to Eggs?

Dogs can be allergic to eggs if their immune system flags egg proteins as threats. Egg allergies in dogs are common and are believed to be based on a genetic component. 

Eggs are responsible for 4% of adverse food reactions in dogs, according to a study, “Critically Appraised Topic on Adverse Food Reactions of Companion Animals (2): Common Food Allergen Sources in Dogs and Cats,” published in BMC Veterinary Research in 2016. 

True egg allergies involve the immune system and are life-threatening in severe cases. Some dogs are not eggs allergic but eggs intolerant, a non-life-threatening adverse response to egg consumption. 

Food intolerance does not involve the immune system and is a milder reaction manifesting with stomach issues. 

How is Egg Allergy Diagnosed?

Egg allergy is diagnosed with food trials. The food trial is the golden standard for diagnosing food allergies and consists of the elimination and challenge phases. 

The elimination phase is based on feeding the dog a hydrolyzed or novel protein diet. A hydrolyzed diet contains proteins broken down into tiny pieces, while a novel protein diet is a diet the dog has never eaten before, like ostrich or kangaroo meat.

The elimination diet is used for around eight weeks to cleanse the dog’s body from allergens. The next stage is called the challenge and entails reintroducing foods that are suspected allergens. 

Dogs with potential egg allergy are given eggs in the challenge phase. The return of the allergy symptoms after the re-introduction of eggs confirms the diagnosis. 

Never base the egg allergy diagnosis on at-home rapid tests using hair or saliva samples. Hair and saliva tests are inaccurate and unreliable, according to a study published in The Journal of Small Animal Practice in 2018, “Hair and Saliva Test Fails to Identify Allergies in Dogs.”

How to Treat Dog for Egg Allergy?

The instructions on how to treat a dog for egg allergy are listed below. 

  • Determine the Allergen: The first step is determining whether eggs are the offending food. Diagnosing food allergies is challenging, but proper collaboration between the owner and the veterinarian makes the process easier. 
  • Consider Allergenic-Cross Reactivity: Eggs from different birds share similar proteins, resulting in allergenic cross-reactivity. For example, dogs allergic to hen eggs are at high risk of being allergic to duck eggs, geese eggs, quail eggs, and turkey eggs.  
  • Create a Food Spreadsheet: Document the dog's daily food intake. Remember to include treats, dental sticks, homeopathic remedies, supplements, and flavored medications, such as dewormers and anti-flea preventatives. 
  • Read Labels Carefully: Examine the labels of all the products listed on the food spreadsheet to determine if they contain eggs. Pet products sometimes contain egg proteins, dried eggs, or egg powder, so paying extra attention to the label statement is essential. Deciphering labels is tricky, so consult the vet if in doubt. 
  • Eliminate Eggs from the Diet: Remove all foods, treats, and supplements containing eggs from the dog’s diet. Eggs are a commonly used ingredient in dog food because they are cost-effective, but many brands offer egg-free formulas. Prepare homemade meals as an alternative option. Speak to a canine nutritionist if making egg-free meals at home to ensure the dog gets all the necessary nutrients.  
  • Consult the Veterinarian: Dogs with egg allergies often have other allergies simultaneously. For example, food allergies and atopic dermatitis coexist, frequently masking and complicating each other’s signs and symptoms. 

How can Hydrolyzed Protein Help Dogs with Egg Allergy?

Hydrolyzed protein can help dogs with egg allergy in the diagnosis phase. Hydrolyzed protein diets are the cornerstone of food trials in dogs with suspected allergies. 

The proteins in hydrolyzed diets are broken down into small pieces that escape the immune system’s radar. 

Hydrolyzed diets clean the dog’s body from previous allergens and prepare it for the next stage of the challenge. The hydrolyzed protein diet has a specific diagnostic purpose and is not intended for long-term use.

What can be the Cause of my Dog's Sudden Allergic Reaction to Eggs?

The causes of your dog’s sudden allergic reaction to eggs are listed below. 

  • Dogs need time to develop food allergies and adverse reactions. Eggs are a common ingredient in pet food because of their affordable price and excellent nutritional value. Dogs eating egg-inclusive formulas for several years develop a sudden egg allergy in adulthood. 
  • The allergy was mistaken for another adverse condition. A dog that has never eaten eggs in its regular diet but occasionally has a treat with eggs develops stomach issues. The issues are often linked to the dog treats when another trigger is more likely. 
  • Certain meds, gut microbiota changes, chronic GI tract infections, and digestive issues are responsible for adverse food reactions in some cases. A dog that has never reacted to eggs becomes sensitized due to explained reasons and suddenly develops an allergy.

What foods related to eggs should be avoided for dogs with allergies?

The foods related to eggs that should be avoided for dogs with allergies are listed below. 

  • Baked Goods: Baked goods, like pastries, are sometimes made with eggs, causing adverse food reactions.  
  • Breakfast Foods: Breakfast foods, like pancakes and waffles, regularly contain eggs for flavor and appearance. 
  • Pasta: Commercially available pasta contains eggs for a richer flavor and is processed on equipment used for egg-containing food products. 
  • Bread: Breads are sometimes coated with a thick layer of egg wash to ensure a shiny appearance, depending on the recipe. 
  • Crackers and Pretzels: Crackers and pretzels are often glazed with egg wash before being dipped in seeds, spices, or salt. 
  • Ice Cream: Eggs are a hidden ingredient in ice cream recipes and removing them is an essential part of the egg food allergies treatment

Can you Give a Small Amount of Egg for Dogs with Egg Allergy?

No, you cannot give a small amount of egg to dogs with egg allergy. Eggs trigger allergic reactions in sensitive dogs, regardless of the dosage. 

Egg yolk allergies are rare compared to egg white allergies. Some dogs with egg white allergy are given a small amount of egg yolk and see no adverse effects. 

Pet owners asking, “Can dogs have egg yolk?” are advised to avoid all parts of the egg and egg-inclusive products if their dogs are allergic.  

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Eggs but not Chicken?

Yes, dogs can be allergic to eggs, but not chicken. Chicken meat allergy is a separate condition from egg allergy. Allergenic cross-reactivity is possible but rare. 

Alpha-livetin, or chicken serum albumin, is one of the two allergens found in egg yolk and poultry meat. Dogs allergic to the alpha-livetin in yolks develop adverse food reactions to chicken meat. 

Cross-reactivity is rare because alpha-livetin is heat-liable. High temperatures during cooking change the protein structure of alpha-livetin, transforming it into something the dog’s immune system does not flag as a threat. Egg yolk-allergic dogs consuming raw chicken are at risk of developing allergic reactions because raw meat contains intact alpha-livetin allergens.