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Does my dog have a shellfish allergy?

First it’s important to understand if the issues your dog faces are allergies at all. And then you can further eliminate it to figure out what the allergy is and treat from there. Here are some examples of common allergens in dogs:

Allergen causes of itchy skin on dogs:

  • Fleas – no surprise here! Those little buggers can cause passing irritation to pets & people alike, but for a dog that is allergic to flea bites, the passing irritation can become unbearable for his entire system.
  • Environment – can be airborne (dander or pollen), or via skin (straw, grass, bedding). They may be constant or seasonal. Management may require regular medication or even allergy shots to maintain comfort & keep secondary issues at bay.
  • Food – a reaction to a protein that the body perceives as a threat. The only way to diagnose a food allergy is through an elimination diet. Your veterinarian’s guidance is necessary as you try to identify the culprit.  

Ways allergies can manifest themselves in your pet:

  • Sores & Hot Spots – External parasite or bug bite, a skin tear or scratch, stitches (think about the Cone of Shame), thorn or paw intrusion – these can all lead to HOT SPOTS.  Canine hot spots (acute moist dermatitis) can become quite painful. They are red, moist, irritated lesions that often grow quickly because dogs tend to lick & scratch the affected areas, further irritating the skin. 
  • Hair Loss – It can be challenging to accurately diagnose why a dog might be losing hair, this is an issue to take to your veterinarian. Reasons can range from a system parasite to thyroid disease. Blood tests & skin scraping are usually necessary for a proper diagnosis. 

Dull Coat – Dogs with dry skin & dull coats often improve quickly with vitamin supplementation or improved feed. Optimized levels of omega fatty acids are your dog’s friends in maintaining skin & hair moisture.

Most dogs don’t get shellfish in their food so the ability to get an allergy is limited. That said, many joint support products do have shellfish in them.  Whether your pet may require a joint supplement due to age, size or breed, determining when to start with this supplement is something most dog parents will face with their pet. Glucosamine is often made from the shells of shrimp, crab, and lobster. This can be a concern as shellfish allergies are a very real thing in dogs and cats and can wreak havoc on your pet’s welfare if you administer them a glucosamine with shellfish.

Symptoms of shellfish allergies include:

  • Itchy skin, licking, and bald spots
  • Skin infections and increased pigmentation
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Digestive issues and constipation
  • Stomach cramping and gas

Watching a beloved canine or feline friend suffer or seemingly grow old before their time can be heartbreaking. What’s worse is when we try to help them with a joint supplement and you only cause another problem. 

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a natural substance that is required within the joints to keep them moistened, absorbing shock, and to aid in the formation of tendons. Glucosamine has natural anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a popular supplement for people and pets with joint stiffness or arthritis. It also helps form and repair new cartilage and tissue within the joints.

A good glucosamine supplement can help improve mobility, motion, as well as slow the aging process of the joints. Glucosamine can be such a helpful tool, but what is an owner to do if their pup has a shellfish allergy and joint pain? Need help determining if the allergy is from shellfish? Get a second opinion from a televet service

The Good News

For owners who know their pet has a shellfish allergy or just wish to avoid the potential of a shellfish allergic reaction, there is shellfish-free glucosamine for dogs and also a shellfish free glucosamine for cats, made from a plant-based source.

As an added benefit, a shellfish-free glucosamine in liquid form is perfect for better digestion and absorption. ENP’s shellfish-free Canine and Feline Glucosamine Plus also includes turmeric – a natural ingredient with added antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties – making our glucosamine safer than NSAIDS for your pup. 


Glucosamine is a very common supplement, prescribed as a way to receive welcome relief from joint aches and pains in people and pets. If your pet suffers from a shellfish allergy, or you even suspect she might, try transitioning her to a shellfish-free glucosamine product and see if it makes a difference. 

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