Food Allergies in Pets

Are you aware of your pet’s allergies?

For unknown reasons, an animal’s immune system may overreact to certain food proteins (allergens), causing the animal to suffer allergic reactions after eating these foods. Food allergies in pets occur when proteins attach themselves to antibody molecules in the animal’s blood. Once molecules start targeting soft tissue mast cells, inflammatory chemicals called histamines to attack the animal’s immune system, producing symptoms of a food allergy. Depending on the severity of these symptoms, pet owners may need to bring their pets to our animal hospital for diagnosis and treatment by their veterinarian in Santa Barbara.

Signs of Food Allergies in Pets

Fillers such as corn, soy, and wheat are common culprits of canine and feline food allergies. Sometimes, food allergies emerge from pets consuming dairy and even meat products. Symptoms of possible food allergies include:

  • Constant itching around your pet’s armpits, face, anal area and ears
  • Hot spots/hair loss due to excessive scratching and biting
  • Ear infections
  • Diarrhea or increased defecation
  • Bacterial or fungal skin infections
  • Visible skin plaques/patches of skin that feel “leathery”
  • Seeping hives or pustules
  • Hyperpigmentation of skin (visible under bald patches)

Diagnosing Food Allergies

If your veterinarian in Santa Barbara suspects your pet is suffering food allergies, she may perform tests such as an ELISA (blood test to determine antibody levels in your pet’s blood) or an intradermal skin test that involves administration of multiple, separate injections under your pet’s skin. If an animal is allergic to the component in a specific injection, a bump or hive will form at the site of the injection. Intradermal testing for food allergies is more time-consuming than an ELISA test but nearly eliminates false positives and pinpoints exactly what food proteins your pet is allergic to.

Food allergies in dogs and cats may be misdiagnosed as seasonal or non-specific allergic reactions by veterinarians who do not take the time to use diagnostic tests. To receive a competent second opinion, bring your pet to our animal hospital in Santa Barbara for complete food allergy testing.

Treating Food Allergies

Depending on the results of your pet’s ELISA or intradermal skin testing, you may need to develop a special diet customized to accommodate your pet’s health needs. A commonly prescribed diet to eliminate food allergy symptoms in pets is the hydrolyzed protein diet offering food that has had proteins broken down so your pet’s immune system does not react negatively to proteins. Purina HA and Hill’s z/d are popular brands of hydrolyzed pet food. If your pet is allergic to fillers only, you will need to switch to an exclusively fresh meat diet composed of poultry, beef and/or organ meats.

Welcome to The Goodland Pet Hospital!

We're open five days a week to serve the pets of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Ventura, Carpinteria, and surrounding areas.

For emergencies, please call ahead so we may be prepared for your arrival.


Mon - Thurs: 8 am – 5:30 pm
Fri: 8 am – 5 pm
Weekends: Closed

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7126 Hollister Ave
Goleta, CA 93117
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