Food allergies are not uncommon for dogs and can present a challenge for both pet and pet owner. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, PupLife.com recommends that you first bring him or her to the vet for an expert opinion. With that in mind, here is helpful information regarding dog food allergies.
Common Signs of Dog Food Allergies
Columbia Animal Hospital defines an allergy as “a condition of sensitivity to a substance which is perceived by the body as foreign”. They also note that “common signs of food allergies in dogs include itchy skin and paws, and in some cases dogs may experience vomiting or diarrhea. A dog with a food allergy may exhibit itchy skin, usually around the feet, face, ears, armpits, and groin.” No matter what the symptoms, should your dog exhibit any of these behaviors immediately visit your vet for a proper diagnosis.
Wondering how your vet will proceed diagnosing your dog’s allergy problem? Most likely your veterinarian will first rule out more common causes of allergy type symptoms. The rule-out process might first include a physical examination. This would be followed by laboratory tests for flea allergy dermatitis, seasonal reactions to pollen and other reactions that do not involve the immune system.
If the problem has not been pinpointed at this time, your veterinarian will then work to analyze the dog’s diet. Is this truly an allergic reaction to the dog food and treats your pet is used to eating? If so, what foods or additives could be causing the reactions? Although food additives including preservatives may be a cause of the allergy, they are in fact, rare. Usually food-allergic dogs are overly sensitive to only one or two ingredients. Surprisingly, beef and dairy proteins are the most common. Corn, wheat, and soy have also been pinpointed as possible culprits to some food intolerances.
Dog Food Elimination Diet
Most veterinarians will recommend that you put your dog on a trial elimination diet to accurately determine the cause of the allergic reaction. The elimination diet consists of proteins or carbohydrates that your dog has never been exposed to. Follow your vet’s instructions carefully when it comes to your dog’s diet.
While tossing your dog a few scraps from the table may seem harmless, this could impact the data you are trying to gather and compromise the trial diet. After all, what is important here is properly diagnosing the problem, and coming up with a solution that makes your dog healthy and happy.
Food Intolerance and Allergen-Free Dog Foods
Many common dog food ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy can lead to food intolerances. Some researchers believe food intolerances compromise the immune system and can lead to disorders such as hypothyroidism, colitis, and arthritis. As stated earlier, PupLife.com strongly recommends that you ask your vet for the best way to approach any medical condition involving your dog.
Organic dog food is a wise option for any pet owner, and while high quality choices may cost more up front, they can save with lower vet bills down the road. At PupLife, we are big fans of Dehydrated Raw Dog Food, but we also will change up our pet's dog food from time to time for a little variety.
Above: This ten pound box of Honest Kitchen's Dehydrated Grain Free Dog Food actually rehydrates into forty pounds of delicious dog food!
Should your vet recommend that you switch dog foods to an allergen-free dog food, it is important to choose your brand carefully. There are several very good allergen-free foods available commercially. When selecting an allergen-free food or treat, be sure to analyze the ingredient list.
Here are some things to avoid:
- Artificial preservatives
- Artificial colors
How To Change Your Dog's Diet
When changing your pet's diet, it is a great idea to transition gradually. Add a little of the new food in with your pet's old food, and increase it over time. An all-at-once switch can be upsetting to your pet's tummy, and many dogs will reject a new dog food, simply because it seems different. Our tips on Switching Your Dog To A Raw Food Diet can be of help.
Choosing high quality, American made Dog Treats is also a great idea. Again, the idea is to check with vet first, and then check the labels of the treats you are buying. If you are a new dog owner, or just brushing on the basics, Dog Health Basics For New Owners article is a great resource.
With proper veterinary guidance, and some wise food choices, you can help your pet live their healthiest life. If you do not have access to a vet, another option would be purchasing a Pet Food Intolerance Kit online. This product allows you to send your pet's hair sample to a lab for testing. While this is a new technology, it is an affordable screening option that many are using. Whether you use your veterinarian, or an online option, as your pet's guardian, you have the power and responsibility to help your dog deal with food allergies.