Work out if your dog has a chicken allergy and learn how to manage their symptoms

Dog allergic to chicken

Quick takeaways about chicken allergies

  • Chicken is one of the most common dog food allergies, but it isn’t easy to recognise.
  • Symptoms include skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea, recurring infections and coughing.
  • Choose chicken-free dog food and treats to manage a chicken allergy naturally.


If your dog has itchy skin, is biting their paws or gets diarrhea often, they could be allergic to chicken.

Only 10% of dog allergies are food-related. And chicken is one of the most common offenders, alongside beef and dairy products – according to a study published in BMC Veterinary Research.

“Chicken is thought of as a common allergen because it’s found in so many popular dog foods and treats,” says veterinary nurse and educator for Natures Menu, Melanie Sainsbury.

If you suspect your pooch has a chicken allergy, you’ll need to take them to the vet to get a diagnosis.

Food allergies can cause unpleasant skin conditions and chronic problems like indigestion, ear infections and sloppier poos.

Managing symptoms will help your dog live a happy, comfortable life.


What are the key symptoms of a chicken allergy?

It’s not easy to figure out if your dog is allergic to chicken. Common signs of allergies or intolerances in dogs include:

  • Red, swollen or itchy skin on the paws, ears, stomach, groin or face
  • Fur loss and bald patches
  • Recurring skin, ear, and paw infections
  • Pawing at the face
  • Obsessive licking
  • Paw biting
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and gas
  • Excessive scratching
  • Inability to settle after eating

If your pooch shows any of these symptoms, it’s best to visit the vet for a check-up.

Don’t delay the trip – especially if they vomit often, lose their appetite, or scratch a lot.


What causes a chicken allergy in dogs?

Dogs can develop a chicken or specific protein allergy because of genetics or exposure. Your pooch could have inherited the allergy from a parent or become allergic because they eat too much chicken.

It’s worth mentioning that there’s a difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance.


Food allergy vs food intolerance

A food allergy affects the immune system. The dog’s immune system attacks a protein in the food, which it views as a threat. Even small quantities of the ingredient can prompt an immune response, like a skin rash or vomiting.

A food intolerance, on the other hand, affects the digestive system. The dog can’t break down and digest the specific food type well.

Common signs of food intolerance are abdominal pain, gurgling sounds, and changes to the colour and firmness of their poo.

“If your dog is intolerant to chicken they could develop an allergy to it but both conditions show very similar symptoms so it’s difficult to determine the true cause without veterinary tests,” says Melanie.


How is a chicken allergy diagnosed?

Diagnosing a chicken allergy isn’t straightforward and can take time. But sticking with the process can help you find the cause behind your dog’s health problems sooner.

On your first visit, the vet will do a physical exam and ask questions about your dog’s diet and lifestyle.

Next, they might take a sample of your dog’s skin to look at it under the microscope. This allows them to find any sign of yeast infection, mites or parasites.

Then the vet will likely recommend an elimination diet to find out if it’s a chicken allergy. Following your vet’s advice, you might need to switch to chicken-free and grain-free dog food and treats for 1-3 months. This is called an elimination diet.

During the elimination diet, you will need to make sure your pooch doesn’t eat anything that contains chicken. This means checking the ingredients of the snacks you give them and preventing them from taking treats from strangers.

Alternative protein sources for dogs include:

  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Lamb
  • Venison
  • Rabbit

Check the ingredient list of all food you buy and stay away from products with ‘meat by-products’.

Traces of chicken often hide in:

  • Treats
  • Flavoured medications and supplements
  • Toothpaste
  • Flavoured plastic toys

If your pooch is still unwell after a strict elimination diet, the vet might need to check for other types of allergies, such as pollen or grasses, by doing a blood test.


What to do if your dog is allergic to chicken

“You can’t cure a chicken or specific ingredient allergy,” says Melanie. “But you can easily manage symptoms through a carefully selected diet, so your dog doesn’t feel discomfort.”

If your dog’s symptoms are still serious after the elimination diet, the vet might prescribe medication, like steroids or antibiotics. These help treat skin infections, irritations, and inflammation.

Also, your dog could be allergic to more than one food. Dogs can also be allergic to beef, dairy products and wheat.

If this is the case, your vet might suggest putting them on a hypoallergenic dog diet. Hypoallergenic foods contain proteins, which don’t activate a dog’s immune system.

We also offer 80/20 raw foods with no-grain recipes and single protein options – ideal for an elimination diet.

Once your dog is better, you can simply continue feeding them a chicken-free (or allergy-free) diet. Some vets suggest reintroducing certain treats later on to see how the dog does.

The vet might also recommend supplements, like omega-3 oils and probiotics, to help your dog recover and protect them from developing new allergies. Don’t experiment with these – your vet needs to figure out the correct dose.


How to switch to a chicken-free diet

If you’re switching between two different types of dry food, you should transition slowly over a week to help your dog get used to the change.

Mix the new and old kibble, increasing the quantity of new kibble over the 7 days. Here’s a breakdown for you to follow:

Day 1-2: 25% new kibble, 75% old kibble
Day 3-4: 50% new kibble, 50% old kibble
Day 5-6: 75% new kibble, 25% old kibble
Day 7 onwards: 100% new kibble

If your pooch has serious symptoms, the vet might recommend you transition over more days.


Is raw food good for dogs allergic to chicken?

Because raw dog food has few ingredients, it can help you quickly pinpoint specific allergies. Plus, some raw dog food comes with a single type of protein, so excluding chicken from your dog’s diet is easier.

Transitioning to raw food can also be done over 7 days and is very simple. You can read our transition guide here.


Dog chicken allergy FAQs

Can a dog suddenly become allergic to chicken?

It might look like the allergy has come about suddenly. But it has probably developed over time.


What are the best chicken-free dog foods?

Kibble with one particular protein, wet food and raw food are the safest options.

Whatever you pick, check the list of ingredients carefully to make sure there are no chicken or hidden meat protein products, like meat by-products, in it.

Or, try our personalised meal plans, and you can skip chicken from their meals and select other proteins like beef or lamb instead.


If my dog is allergic to chicken is turkey ok?

Usually, yes. You could feed turkey as an alternative protein source for a dog with a chicken allergy.

However, all dogs are different and this will depend on your dog and their specific allergy. If in doubt, ask your vet before switching up their food.


Are there natural remedies for dog food allergies?

The easiest remedy is to feed your dog chicken-free food and snacks only.

If you’re looking to eliminate chicken from your dog’s diet, try Natures Menu meal plans. You can select the proteins and ingredients for your dog and get hassle-free delivery on repeat.