Is Your Dog's Food Making them Sick? Signs to Watch Out For

October 3, 2023
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Is Your Dog's Food Making them Sick? Signs to Watch Out For

Pet owners always want the best for their pets. There’s nothing worse than watching your pet battle a mystery illness with no idea how to move forward. Unfortunately, many pet owners may not realize that the food they are feeding their pets could be making them sick. This could be for a variety of reasons - a pet may have undiagnosed allergies, the food may be low in quality, or maybe it just doesn’t agree with your pet’s tummy! 

In this blog post, we delve into the important topic of how your dog's food can affect its health. We’ll highlight the signs and symptoms to watch out for that could indicate your dog's food is making them sick.

Main Causes of Food-Related Sickness in Dogs

Dogs can experience food-related sickness due to various reasons. Some of the main causes include: (1)

  • Poor quality ingredients: Commercial dog foods often contain artificial preservatives, fillers, and low-quality meat byproducts, which can lead to allergies, digestive problems, and obesity.
  • Allergies or sensitivities: Just like humans, dogs can have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients, such as grains or specific proteins. Many dogs may have specific allergy risks depending on breed. If you’re suspicious of allergies, a veterinarian can run an allergy panel for you! 
  • Bacterial contamination: Improper handling or storage of dog food can lead to bacterial contamination, resulting in gastrointestinal issues.
  • Incorrect storage: Storing dog food in unsuitable conditions, such as high temperatures or excessive moisture, can promote the growth of mold and bacteria, which can be harmful to your dog's health. This is way easier to do than you might think, so vigilance is required!

Signs and Symptoms of Food-Related Sickness

It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate your dog's food is making them sick. Some of these signs include: (2)

  • Vomiting: If your dog vomits frequently after meals, it could be a sign of food-related sickness.
  • Diarrhea: Loose stools or diarrhea can be a result of an adverse reaction to the food your dog is consuming.
  • Loss of appetite: A sudden decrease in appetite or refusal to eat can indicate that your dog is not feeling well due to their food.
  • Weight loss: Unintentional weight loss in your dog could be a sign of a food-related issue, especially if they are not receiving enough nutrients.
  • Lethargy: If your dog is unusually tired or lacks energy, it may be a result of an underlying food-related sickness.
  • Allergic reactions: Dogs can develop allergies to certain ingredients, just like humans. Common allergic reactions include itching, redness, and skin rashes.

How to Choose a Healthy Dog Food

Choosing the right dog food is essential for your pet's overall health and well-being, but it can be tricky. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Reading ingredient labels: Look for high-quality ingredients and avoid products that contain artificial additives, fillers, or byproducts.
  • Avoiding common allergens: If your dog has known allergies or sensitivities, opt for dog foods that exclude those specific ingredients.
  • Considering specialized diets: Some dogs may benefit from specialized diets, such as grain-free, hypoallergenic, or limited ingredient formulas.
  • Seeking veterinary advice: Your veterinarian can provide valuable guidance and recommend suitable dog food options based on your pet's specific needs and health conditions.

It’s important to keep the needs of your pets at the forefront and try not to be swept up by dog food trends and fads. It is very true that the food your pets eat has a serious impact on their health, so it’s a decision not to be made lightly — but not every dog needs to be on a grain-free, allergen-free, raw-only diet! Focus on the pets in front of you and choose a food that fits their specific needs. When in doubt, contact your vet. 

Tips for Preventing Food-Related Sickness in Dogs

Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your dog healthy and avoiding food-related sickness. Consider the following tips: (3)

  • Proper food storage: Store dog food in a cool, dry place to prevent bacterial growth and preserve its nutritional value. Keep your food in its original packaging and purchase an airtight container to place it in. Alternatively, try to make your dog’s food bag shut as tightly as it can through the use of clips. Don’t keep your dog’s food bag open to the air!
  • Regularly cleaning food bowls: Wash your dog's food bowls regularly to remove any bacteria or residue that could lead to illness. The CDC recommends that pet water and food bowls are washed every day, although many pet owners report doing it much less frequently. 
  • Gradual transitions between diets: When switching your dog's food, do it gradually over several days to prevent digestive upset.
  • Monitoring for signs of illness: Keep a close eye on your dog's behavior, appetite, and overall health. If you notice any concerning symptoms, consult your veterinarian.

Check Our Dog Food Buying Guide

We all want the best for our pets. By understanding the potential risks of subpar dog food and handling, and watching out for signs of food-related sickness, we can make informed choices when it comes to their nutrition. So, in short - choose high-quality dog food, avoid allergens and sensitivities, and seek veterinary advice when necessary. By prioritizing our dogs’ dietary needs, we can help them to live longer, healthier, and happier lives! Check out our dog food buying guide for more information!


  1. Burke, A. (2022). How to choose the best dog food. American Kennel Club.

  2. Staff, A. (2023). Types of dog allergies and how to treat them. American Kennel Club.

  3. Urban, P. (2023). How often do you wash your pet’s food bowl? AARP.

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