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Avoid Feeding High Histamine Foods When Dogs Have Lumps, Bumps and Tumors

When it comes to feeding dogs with lumps, bumps, and tumors, it’s essential to consider the role of histamine. Histamine is a natural substance in the body that is involved in the immune response. When the body produces too much histamine or cannot break it down properly, it can lead to various symptoms, including inflammation and swelling. This is especially problematic for dogs with lumps, bumps, or tumors, as excessive histamine can further exacerbate the growth and development of these masses. Therefore, these dogs need to avoid high-histamine foods.  

The Goal of Unimpeded Flow of Qi

As an advocate of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I look at health differently. I believe good health is achieved through the unimpeded flow of Qi and Blood. When this flow is disrupted, it can lead to various health issues. One common manifestation of Qi stagnation is the accumulation of phlegm. 

Phlegm is a thick, sticky substance that obstructs the free flow of Qi, which, if unresolved, can eventually turn into lumps and bumps and the formation of masses. 

Therefore the goal of health is to ensure Qi and Blood are flowing freely so that the body is in balance and harmony.

Understanding Histamine Biomedically 

Histamine is a powerful chemical compound that is essential in various physiological processes. It is stored in mast cells and basophils, two types of white blood cells, and released in response to an injury or allergen. Once released, histamine binds to specific receptors in various tissues throughout the body, including the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. This binding triggers a series of reactions that lead to increased blood flow, swelling, and inflammation. 

Histamine also regulates gastric acid secretion and neurotransmitter release, making it a crucial player in the immune and nervous systems. 

While histamine is vital for our dog’s health, too much of it can cause many symptoms, including itching and hives.  

My dog Maggie first presented with allergy symptoms when she was eight months of age. I’ve been able to get her off Apoquel and Cytopoint and manage it through food. That said, she has been known to break out into hives. This has happened four times in her life; the onset’s speed was acute and needed medical intervention.  

About four years ago, she also presented with a benign sebaceous cyst on her shoulder at the site where she received a previous vaccination. And two years ago, she presented with a skin tag about two inches above her tail along her spine. Most recently, she had a cutaneous histiocytoma rapidly growing on her elbow. Due to the location, we elected to have it and the other bumps removed.  

Understanding Histamine in Food

Histamine is a natural compound found in some foods, especially those that have been fermented or aged. It is produced by certain bacteria involved in the fermentation process and the body’s cells as part of the immune response. 

Histamine is vital in the body’s defenses against pathogens and allergens. Still, it’s best to limit feeding high-histamine foods in some dogs who are sensitive to histamine or have conditions exacerbated by histamines, such as allergies or mast cell disorders.

Understanding Digestion from Traditional Chinese Medicine.

When it comes to the digestive system, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views the Spleen and Stomach as the foundation for optimal digestion. According to TCM, these two organs work together to take in food, break it down, and distribute its nutrients throughout the body.

The Spleen transforms food into (Nutritive or Gu) Qi and Blood, while the stomach digests the food and extracts the nutrients. The Spleen and Stomach work together to absorb nutrients and moisture from food while simultaneously transporting waste materials out of the body.

This Nutritive Qi is sent to the Lungs, which mix with Air Qi and then sent to the Heart, which is turned into Blood. The Liver, which is in charge of Qi, receives this Blood and moves it throughout the body.

When food fed, is what the body needs to have vitality; Qi and Blood move freely.  

But when the food isn’t what the body needs, it can lead to stagnation.  

What High Histamine Food Should Be Avoided?

We want to set up our dogs for success. We don’t want to overburden a dog with histamine intolerance to struggle more than it sure. Therefore the foods to stay away from include: 

  • Green tripe
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Fermented dairy
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Raw goat’s milk
  • Canned foods
  • Apples
  • Spinach
  • Most Citric Fruits – kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple, plums
  • Papaya
  • Shellfish – oysters, clams, mussels, and shrimp
  • Dehydrated treats and chews (if you make it at home or get them from a store that makes them in small batches, you should refrigerate them right away).
  • Old food 
  • Raw food

What About Supplements That Have Shellfish

There are a lot of supplements on the market that have shellfish. Most dogs are fed to keep their joints healthy. Mostly, these supplements effectively keep joints younger for a longer duration. 

But what do you do if your dog has any lumps, bumps, tumors or allergies?

My ultimate health goal is to avoid any of my dog’s lumps and bumps turning into cancerous mast cell tumors. This is already an issue with the breed, so I’m keen to take the preventative measures I can.  

Supplements that contain shellfish-derived compounds, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, have been known to trigger allergic reactions in dogs. Since mast cells are an integral part of the immune system, it’s important to be cautious about introducing anything that could cause an adverse reaction.

In this case, given her history of allergies, hives, and lumps and bumps, I am electing not to feed any supplements with shellfish in them.  

The reason why is that given the two evils, I’d rather deal with the consequences of bad joints vs. a cancerous mass cell tumor.

That said, hopefully, I will avoid both by keeping her at a lean weight and a diet that keeps inflammation down.

What Type of Diet Should I Feed To A Dog With Lumps, Bumps and Tumors?  

Every morsel your dog eats contains energy. Each morsel of food should cultivate an environment of smooth flow of Qi and Blood. 

Often times someone will ask me what kind of kibble, cooked, raw or dehydrated food to feed a dog that has lumps, bumps, or tumors.

I observe that cooked food is best for dogs that are histamine intolerant.   

The cooking method can make a big difference when it comes to histamine in food. Raw meat contains higher levels of histamine compared to cooked meat. This is because histamine-producing bacteria are present on the surface of the meat, and they multiply rapidly at temperatures between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C). When you cook meat, the heat kills off these bacteria, producing less histamine. 

In Closing

It’s important to note that while histamine is a well-known mediator of mast cell tumors in dogs, it is not the only factor involved in their development and progression. Other factors, such as genetics, environmental factors, and immune system function, also play a role.

But since this website and what I do is talk about how nutrition plays a role in your dog’s health, that’s why I recommend that dogs with lumps, bumps, and tumors need to avoid high-histamine foods.  

Remember that Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes the importance of unimpeded flow of Qi and Blood to achieve good health.

Cooked meals made with low histamine ingredients can help minimize the further growth of the masses on your dog.   

Wishing you and your dogs, good health.  


Misdorp W. Mast cells and canine mast cell tumours. A review. Vet Q. 2004 Dec;26(4):156-69. doi: 10.1080/01652176.2004.9695178. PMID: 15663212.

Prester L. Biogenic amines in fish, fish products and shellfish: a review. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2011 Nov;28(11):1547-60. doi: 10.1080/19440049.2011.600728. Epub 2011 Aug 11. PMID: 21834642.

Sánchez-Pérez S, Comas-Basté O, Veciana-Nogués MT, Latorre-Moratalla ML, Vidal-Carou MC. Low-Histamine Diets: Is the Exclusion of Foods Justified by Their Histamine Content? Nutrients. 2021 Apr 21;13(5):1395. doi: 10.3390/nu13051395. PMID: 33919293; PMCID: PMC8143338.

Author Biography

Hannah Zulueta obtained her Certificate in Canine Nutrition from CASI Institute. She is also studying for her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.

She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.

She is available for one on one consultations. Additionally, you can find her sharing free content on Instagram.

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  1. Karen

    Hi Hannah,
    Ive been reading up on histamines and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) in humans..
    And also researching foods with histamines for myself the last few months… so I’m learning from 2/3 different perspectives…. its been an interesting topic.
    Human site on the topic say its the aged and processed meats that need to be avoided.. “All refrigerated and fresh meats are high histamine unless they’ve been immediately frozen upon catch or slaughter.” I guess once its been thawed the histamines will increase with age..

    With the research I’ve done, processed meats have more chance of triggering histamine reactions… (in humans).
    One study found that the histamine level in meat can change based on the cooking method. For most meat, boiling decreases the level of histamine, and grilling increases it.

    There are also probiotic strains that aren’t ideal.. there are some histamine producers and others that are distamine degraders.
    Now, in saying all of this, one could say it comes down to how many histamines receptors are in the gut.(?)

    I’ve also been reading up on other canine nutritionists posts on histamines, (not TCM)…
    All these perspectives have been interesting.

    While I think of it, have you written about preparing seeds.. like soaking them first?

    Thank you for another great post btw

    1. Cat Denney

      I also have been trying to learn more as I have these probs and I believe my american bulldog dog def does as well. Interesting what u said about meats and I def will dive into this a bit more so I thank u for this knowledge!

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