FOOD ALLERGIES Caused by Leaky Gut

Food Allergies are often referred to as a food intolerance, and that is a more accurate label for what is happening. If Leaky Gut is healed, the dog can safely eat that protein in the future without a reaction. This is usually not possible with a true allergy but I will use the terms interchangeably since that is how most people perceive the problem.

Leaky Gut is the primary reason that dogs develop allergies to the meat proteins they are designed to eat.

Leaky Gut is a common and serious health problem in dogs that occurs when the small intestine becomes porous and leaks fecal matter along with partially digested proteins into the blood stream.

They are not born with an allergy to a meat protein - they acquire it along the way due to partially digested proteins leaking into the blood stream as a result of Leaky Gut.

The lining of the gut is only one cell thick and is made with block like cells, called Enterocytes, that butt against each other like bricks. The surface of these cells facing inside the small intestine are covered in a mucus membrane with hair like fingers, called Cilia, that transport nutrients from the small intestine through the enterocytes into the blood stream.

Proteins are long chains of amino acids in a specific sequence for each protein. Ten of those amino acids are "essential" which means they have to be supplied by the food.

When properly digested, the protein is reduced to individual amino acids which can be used throughout the body to repair or build new proteins like muscle or tissue.

When the gut gets out of balance or it is exposed to certain toxins, gaps develop between the Enterocytes. This is commonly the result of an imbalance between the harmful bacteria and beneficial bacteria in the gut (called Dysbiosis) caused by too many carbohydrates that convert to sugar and feed the harmful bacteria (Candida Abicans) which grows faster than the beneficial bacteria and eventually overpowers it.

This happens more frequently after antibiotics are prescribed which kill the good and bad bacteria indiscriminately and equally.

In the presence of sugar, from high glycemic carbs, the Candida fungus grows faster than the beneficial bacteria and produces fungal rhizomes that penetrate the joints between the Enterocytes causing the small intestine to be porous and leak fecal matter into the blood stream. Thus the term “Leaky Gut”.

At this point partially digested pieces of protein (random lengths of amino acids) leak into the blood stream.

The system is designed to use individual amino acids to repair and grow the body, not chains of amino acids from partially digested proteins.

If a partially digested protein leaks through the gut wall before it is reduced to individual amino acids the immune system considers it to be an invading pathogen, makes a record of that particular amino acid sequence, and builds anti-bodies to attack and destroy it should it ever return, which it does unless the Leaky Gut is healed and the gut wall is restored to full functionality.

If the Leaky Gut condition is not resolved, the immune system becomes overworked and hyper vigilant, as fecal matter and partially digested proteins continue to leak into the blood stream. It begins attacking anything resembling the thousands of partial amino acid sequences it has been recording and building antibodies against, including healthy parts of the body or organs that have similar sequences, which is an auto-immune response against its own body.

It does not help to feed your dog a “novel” protein or a limited protein diet if the Leaky Gut condition is not healed. The novel protein will simply leak through the gut wall into the blood stream like the previous protein did, and the result will be a dog that has an Allergic response to two proteins.

Things that can cause Leaky Gut are too high a percentage of high glycemic carbohydrates in the dog food (potatoes, grain, sugar), which fuels the overgrowth of the Candida Albicans fungus, the use of antibiotics, and various toxins.

Things that help heal Leaky Gut are dog foods with high amounts of animal sourced protein, low carbohydrates, added probiotics to keep Candida in check, long chain prebiotics to feed the healthy bacteria in the gut, digestive enzymes to help the complete breakdown of the proteins into individual amino acids, and elimination of steroids and antibiotics as much as possible.

For more details on Leaky Gut see our BLOG POST:

Leaky Gut Syndrome in Dogs

Below is a pie chart of the ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, on a calorie weighted basis, that we have been using successfully for 15 years to heal Leaky Gut and prevent it from developing in the first place. You can figure out the ratio of calories for the food you are using fairy easily given the following: Carbs = 4, Protein = 4, Fat = 9

Multiply the percentage of protein by four and the percentage of fat by nine. Add them together and subtract that number from 100 to get the carbohydrates.

This will give you the percentage of calories that are carbs. In our experience the percentage of carbs should not go above 34% on a calorie weighted basis, which is the maximum amount of carbohydrates you can use without triggering a state of Dysbiosis at some point and encouraging Leaky Gut.

Dog Food Advisor has a pie chart showing the percentages on a calorie weighted basis below the individual dogs foods it has reviewed. When there are numerous dog foods lumped together, as happens with the large manufacturers, then the pie chart shows an average which could be very different from one of the foods that are all lumped together to get the average.

We have found it very helpful to add special probiotics that are coated to protect them from activating before they get to the gut where they are needed. Tests show that normal probiotics added to dog food are prematurely activated by the warmth and moisture in kibble when it is being bagged and are permanently inactive within a few hours.

It is important to add long chain prebiotics to feed the probiotics since they are able to do so without feeding the Candida Fungus.

Finally we add digestive enzymes to ensure thorough digestion and make sure the proteins are completely broken down into single amino acids that do not contribute to Leaky Gut.

Setting aside the ongoing argument as to whether a dog is a carnivore, a facultative carnivore, or an omnivore (which they most definitely are not!) we find that including high protein in the dog food, of which over ninety percent is animal sourced protein, along with equal calories of animal fat, is very important when mixing carbohydrates into their diet. 

Remember that dogs have absolutely no dietary need for carbohydrates at all and while they may be able to metabolize some degree it is best to keep that degree as small as possible.

Mother Nature made them carnivores a long time ago and that is what they are designed to prosper on. Dogs may be family members but they differ from humans in how they get energy from food.

Humans convert carbohydrates to glucose for energy and dogs convert fat to glucose for energy. When dogs eat carbs they convert them to fat and store them which is why over 60% of dogs are overweight or obese. 


Written by Richard Darlington, CEO

Brothers Dog Food, LLC




Leaky Gut Syndrome in Dogs

FOOD ALLERGIES Caused by Leaky Gut

Probiotics and Beneficial Bacteria in Dog Food





[1] Less is more? Ultra-low carbohydrate diet and working dogs' performance,Cite,-Collections

[2] Altered Immunity & Leaky Gut Syndrome

Dr Zoltan P Rona MD, MAc


In vitro fermentation and prebiotic potential of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.) flour

[4] Dogs Naturally Magazine

[5] Wiley Online Library

Cassava-enriched diet is not diabetogenic rather it aggravates diabetes in rats.

 [6] Dog Food Advisor

Are High Protein diets good for overweight dogs?

 Dog Food Advisor

Best Dog Foods for Weight Loss

 Dog Food Advisor

Best Dog Foods for Allergy