Can a Dog Be Allergic to Chicken but Not Turkey?


So your dog has been eating chicken for many years, and then all of a sudden it seems that she has developed an allergy to chicken. You then rule out an alternative such as turkey because surely she’ll be allergic to turkey also.

Can a Dog Be Allergic to Chicken but Not Turkey? A dog can certainly be allergic to chicken and not be allergic to turkey. Allergies do not occur overnight, they take a long time to develop. The proteins in chicken and turkey are different, so having an allergy to one, doesn’t automatically mean an allergy to the other.

How Can a Dog Be Allergic to Chicken But Not Turkey?

Allergies are very specific.

A dog is not born with a chicken allergy, it takes time for the dog to acquire this allergy. A dog can eat the same food for many years and suffer no allergic reactions whatsoever.

What has been happening inside your dog however has been sowing the seed for this allergy to become a problem.

Over the years your dog will have been eating chicken and your dogs’ digestive system will have been struggling to digest a particular protein.

Initially, this digestive issue will have been ignored by your dog’s immune system. But over time, the immune system recognizes that this particular protein is a problem and starts to treat it as an invading enemy.

Initially, this digestive issue will have been ignored by your dog’s immune system. But over time, the immune system recognizes that this particular protein is a problem and starts to treat it as an invading enemy.

Now that your dog’s immune system has begun to wage war on the enemy protein, your dog will start to exhibit the signs of an allergy.

So You Then Decide to Avoid Turkey Because a Turkey is Like a Chicken, Right?

Actually. No.

All bird species have developed very differently over the millions of years that they have been in existence.

For us humans, a turkey is like a very large hen. But the protein make-up of each fowl is distinctly different. The same is true for duck and any other fowl that you may find in popular dog foods.

Remember earlier when I said that allergies are very specific?

Well, allergies can be very specific.

Allergies can be so targeted that even two different dog foods (both containing chicken) can affect your dog in different ways. One brand may be the trigger for your dog’s allergy, while the other brand may be completely harmless.

It can be that one brand of dog food containing chicken contains chicken that came from poultry that had been farmed in a specific way. And it could be that the other brand of dog food contains chicken that came from poultry that was farmed in a very different way.

One of the aforementioned chicken dog foods could trigger your dog’s allergy while the other brand doesn’t.

That’s what I meant when I said that allergies are very specific.

From what has been said so far, I think you can now appreciate that turkey may cause no issues at all for your chicken-allergic dog.

How Do I Know That My Dog Has a Chicken Allergy in The First Place?

This is where it gets tricky.

The symptoms for a dog allergic to chicken can be all, or just some of the following:

  • Pawing at her face
  • Gnawing at her paws
  • Skin irritation and associated scratching
  • Licking to the point of obsession
  • Skin Rashes
  • Hives
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Lumps on the skin
  • Digestive issues

While the list above may seem helpful. It is only helpful in that it gives clues that your dog may have an allergy. It doesn’t identify what the allergen is. This is because most dog allergies can produce exactly the same symptoms as shown above.

How Can I Test if My Dog Is Allergic to Chicken?

Stop feeding your dog chicken.

While my super-short reply above is true, it’s easier said than done!

When we suspected that our own dog was allergic to chicken, we headed to the pet store and bought some dog food which clearly showed the picture of a salmon on the can. The picture also showed a picture of vegetables. The description on the tin said that the dog food was salmon and vegetable.

So we bought 3 cans of that food to try out.

After the first two cans had been consumed, Alfie was still showing signs of his allergy, and in fact, he seemed worse.

Before we opened the third can, we read the ingredients. Sure enough, in small print was the ingredient: chicken.

So why wasn’t chicken mentioned on the front of the tin along with the salmon and the vegetables?

Later that week we returned to the pet store and we studied all the tins like professors studying books at a library.

Virtually every dog food contained chicken, yet the front of the tin didn’t mention it!

Be warned… read the ingredients and not just the main text on the front of the can!

The Full Chicken Allergy Testing Process

So, now that we have some information under our belts, here’s how to check if your dog is allergic to chicken.

Step 1

Make a note of the date, and after this date, your dog must not be fed any chicken. That means no chicken meat, no chicken flavored snacks, and make sure to read the ingredients if you buy canned food or kibble. Even better, make your own dog food and simply don’t include chicken.

Step 2

Patience is now the key factor.

Don’t expect your dog to be symptom-free overnight, as it can take many days or even up to six weeks for your dog’s immune system to stop fighting.

Step 3

If your dog’s allergy is related to chicken, then at some point within six weeks or so, your dog’s allergy symptoms will ease off.

At this point, feed your dog some chicken again. This may seem heartless, but you are trying to make sure that the allergy is chicken and nothing else.

If the allergy symptoms start to return, then your dog has a chicken allergy and you don’t feed her chicken ever again in the future.

If your dog does not start to suffer with the symptoms again, then either your dog is not allergic to chicken, or, your dog is perfectly fine with this particular brand of chicken.

Step 4

By this stage, you will have a clear verdict of whether your dog has a chicken allergy or not. After this point, it’s up to you how you proceed. You can return to the chicken-free diet or return to a chicken diet that didn’t bring back the allergy. That’s your call.


Whether your dog is allergic to chicken or not, remember that allergies are very specific. Changing from canned chicken to home made chicken meals can often stop chicken allergy symptoms on its own.

Then also, keep in mind that a dog that is allergic to chicken, is not necessarily going to be allergic to turkey – or duck, or any other kind of poultry.

The immune system reacts to a specific protein, and that same protein is not likely to be found in every type of poultry.

For a complete change however, also consider other dog foods that contain rabbit, venison, fish or anything else other than poultry. Just remember to read the ingredients on the back of the can and not just the large description on the front.

As always, consult with your vet if you have any doubts at all about your dog’s health.