Does your dog suffer from food allergies?
Did you know that dog food allergies are very common?
What are the symptoms of dog food allergies?
They represent about 10% of all the allergies in dogs.
If you really care about your pup’s health you should read this article where you’ll find some answers to the top questions about this issue.
Here they are:
1. What are food allergies?
Food allergies affect both male and female dogs.
Several dogs with food allergies also have simultaneous inhalant or contact allergies.
The immune systems of dogs with food allergies begin to identify certain everyday substances (allergens) as unsafe.
These allergens are included in most dog foods and are not dangerous to the majority of dogs; a dog with allergies will develop a tremendous reaction to them.
Allergens can cause a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms when:
- Contact with the skin
Food Allergy versus Food Intolerance
Food allergies are true allergies caused by an immune response characteristic from allergies and manifest by typical symptoms such as itching and skin problems.
Food intolerances can cause diarrhea or vomiting and do not induce a typical allergic response.
2. What are the dog allergies symptoms?
The main symptom is itchiness.
There are certain signs that augment the suspicion that food allergies may be present such as recurrent ear problems and persistent moderate or severe skin problems.
Some dogs with food allergies have gastrointestinal signs.
If your dog presents chronic gastrointestinal problems in addition to non-seasonal itchiness, a food allergy is a potential diagnosis.
The following list includes the most common skin and gastrointestinal symptoms seen in dogs with food allergies:
- Itchy, red and moist skin
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Itchy ears and ear infections
- Paw chewing
- Swollen paws
- Constant licking
- Secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections
If you suspect that your dog suffers from a food allergy, consult your veterinarian to help you find the right food to keep your dog’s symptoms controlled and at the same time providing a balanced and complete nutrition.
3. What are the more common foods that cause dog food allergies?
Scientific investigations have shown that some ingredients are more likely to origin food allergies.
The most common food allergens in dogs are:
- Dairy products
- Chicken eggs
Dogs are allergic to specific ingredients, not to brands or types of food.
This means that if your dog is allergic to chicken he will not tolerate any food that contains chicken.
4. How can dog allergies be treated?
The treatment for food allergies is basically avoiding the food allergen.
Once the allergen has been identified through a food trial it should be completely eliminated from the diet.
The owner can decide to feed the dog a special commercially prepared diet or a homemade diet.
In addition fatty acids supplements, antihistamines, and steroids may be administered.
If homemade diets are used, you should make sure that they are nutritionally completed and balanced, with a correct amount of ingredients, vitamins, and minerals.
Homemade diets, based on hypoallergenic dog food, should be developed by a veterinary nutritionist.
5. Are some breeds more susceptible to food allergies?
Food allergies in dogs can appear at any age, lots of cases are first seen in dogs under six months of age, or in those six years of age and older.
In my experience some breeds may be genetically predisposed to food allergies:
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Cocker Spaniels
- German Shepherds
There is no straightforward, rapid test to diagnose a food allergy.
An elimination diet feeding trial advised by your veterinarian is an efficient and consistent method that can help confirm a diagnosis.
It requires commitment and time, but if your dog gets well it worth the effort and can help you find the appropriate dog food for your dog’s allergies.