Is it true that most dogs are allergic to chicken?

Is it true that most dogs are allergic to chicken?

No, it is not true that most dogs are allergic to chicken. While chicken is one of the more common food allergens in dogs, the majority of dogs can eat chicken without any problems. 

Food allergies in dogs are relatively uncommon, affecting only about 10% of all dogs with allergies. Of those dogs with food allergies, chicken is one of the more frequently reported allergens, along with beef, dairy, and eggs. However, this doesn't mean that chicken allergies are widespread among the general dog population. The perception that many dogs are allergic to chicken may be due to its frequent use in dog foods and the increased awareness of food allergies in pets.



Understanding Food Allergies in Dogs

To better understand the prevalence of chicken allergies in dogs, it's important to have a clear picture of food allergies in general.

What is a Food Allergy?

A food allergy occurs when a dog's immune system mistakenly identifies a protein in the dog's food as harmful. The immune system then creates defensive antibodies to fight this perceived threat, leading to allergic reactions. These reactions can manifest as skin issues, gastrointestinal problems, or both.

Prevalence of Food Allergies in Dogs

Food allergies are not as common in dogs as many people believe. They account for about 10% of all allergic conditions in dogs. Environmental allergies (such as pollen or dust mites) and flea allergies are actually much more common.

Common Food Allergens for Dogs

While any food can potentially cause an allergic reaction, some ingredients are more commonly associated with food allergies in dogs:

  1. Beef
  2. Dairy
  3. Chicken
  4. Lamb
  5. Fish
  6. Eggs
  7. Soy
  8. Wheat

It's worth noting that this list largely reflects common ingredients in dog foods rather than their likelihood to cause allergies. Dogs tend to develop allergies to foods they're frequently exposed to, which is why common dog food ingredients appear on this list.

Chicken Allergies in Dogs

Chicken is indeed one of the more frequently reported food allergens in dogs, but this doesn't mean it's inherently more allergenic than other proteins.

Why Chicken Appears Common

Several factors contribute to the perception that chicken allergies are common in dogs:

  1. Prevalence in Dog Food: Chicken is a popular protein source in many commercial dog foods. This frequent exposure increases the chances of some dogs developing an allergy to it.
  2. Misdiagnosis: Sometimes, other issues like environmental allergies or flea allergies are mistaken for food allergies.
  3. Protein Intolerance: Some dogs may have difficulty digesting chicken, which can cause symptoms similar to an allergy. This is not a true allergy but rather an intolerance.
  4. Quality of Chicken: In some cases, reactions might be due to additives or the quality of the chicken used in certain dog foods rather than the chicken itself.

Symptoms of Chicken Allergy in Dogs

If a dog is truly allergic to chicken, they might exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Itchy skin, especially around the face, paws, ears, and belly
  • Recurring ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Chronic licking, especially of the paws
  • Hair loss
  • Skin infections

It's important to note that these symptoms are not specific to chicken allergies and can be caused by various other conditions.

Diagnosing a Chicken Allergy

Accurately diagnosing a food allergy, including a chicken allergy, can be challenging. The gold standard for diagnosis is a food elimination trial:

  1. Elimination Diet: The dog is fed a diet containing protein and carbohydrate sources they've never been exposed to before, or a hydrolyzed protein diet, for 8-12 weeks.
  2. Monitoring: During this period, all other foods, treats, and flavoured medications are eliminated. The dog's symptoms are closely monitored.
  3. Challenge: If symptoms improve, chicken (or other suspected allergens) is reintroduced to the diet. If symptoms return, it confirms the allergy.



Alternatives to Chicken in Dog Food

For dogs with confirmed chicken allergies, there are many alternative protein sources available:

  1. Beef
  2. Lamb
  3. Fish
  4. Turkey
  5. Duck
  6. Venison
  7. Rabbit
  8. Novel proteins like kangaroo or alligator

Many commercial dog foods offer these alternative proteins, and there are also prescription diets available for dogs with food allergies.

Prevention and Management

While it's not always possible to prevent food allergies, there are steps you can take to manage them:

  1. Diverse Diet: Some veterinarians recommend rotating protein sources in a dog's diet to prevent overexposure to any single protein.
  2. High-Quality Food: Feeding high-quality dog food with named meat sources can help ensure your dog is getting good nutrition.
  3. Read Labels: If your dog is allergic to chicken, be sure to read labels carefully. Chicken can be found in many dog foods and treats, sometimes under different names like "poultry by-products."
  4. Consult Your Vet: If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, always consult with your veterinarian before making significant changes to their diet.


While chicken is one of the more commonly reported food allergens in dogs, it's not accurate to say that most dogs are allergic to chicken. The vast majority of dogs can eat chicken without any issues. Food allergies in general only affect a small percentage of dogs, and chicken allergies are just a subset of these.

If you suspect your dog might have a chicken allergy, why not try an at-home dog food sensitivity test? With a simple hair sample we can get a detailed analysis of potential intolerances back to you within days!