What to Do if your Dog Has a Dog Food Allergy?
When it comes to the adversities one faces, we know that allergies can become a daily struggle. Some of us are allergic to peanuts while others must avoid dairy products altogether. But are we the only species that experiences these setbacks? Do our dogs have to deal with these ailments? Can you find a dog food allergy in your trusted companion?
The short answer to this last question is, yes. Canines are susceptible to food allergies just as we are. Many of our dog’s problems can be solved by understanding the difference between the types of allergies. Your dog might benefit from our special dog food allergy treats.
How Common Are Dog Allergies?
When your dog starts to develop uncomfortable rashes, what is your first guess? Most assume that fleas are the ones to blame, yet that is not always the case.
Contrary to what you might think, food allergies exist in a good amount of the population. In fact, ten percent of all allergic cases in dogs are a result of allergens found in food. It is important to keep in mind that some dogs experience a hypersensitivity referred to as “food intolerance”, which is often confused with an allergic reaction.
What Are Food Allergies?
To supply your dog with a happy and healthy life, you should familiarize yourself with the reason in which a food allergy exists in the first place.
So what exactly happens when a dog starts showing signs that it is allergic to food? Well, protein or grain found in a dog’s food eventually lead to an allergic reaction. Their ancestor, the wolf, preyed heavily upon protein-rich meals. Dogs, however, are considered to be omnivores, yet we still tend to give them diets with lots of protein. Being given the same source of protein over a length of time can cause the body to consider it a threat, thus disagreeing with the individual’s immune system.
When your dog consumes food that does not agree with your dog’s immune system, it will be absorbed into the body without being properly broken down. This is when your dog starts to show signs associated with food allergies.
But how does this differ when compared to food intolerances?
What is Food Intolerance?
Food allergies are present when your dog’s system does not react as they should to a portion of normal food. Instead, it is quickly passed on through the digestive tract, acting as if the protein is an enemy. Food intolerance can be confused with allergies, misleading owners to believe that the food isn’t high quality.
One well-known example of this condition is lactose intolerances found in humans. In these situations, the body cannot properly digest foods that would otherwise be rather simple to break down. The symptoms of food intolerance are far less severe than those seen in dogs with food allergies.
Dog Food Allergies Symptoms
Now that you are more aware of food allergies and how they occur in the first place, you can begin to identify signs in your own dog. The following symptoms indicate that your dog is allergic to something it eats on a regular basis.
- Loss of hair such as bald patches or hot spots.
- Regular ear infections.
- Consistent gas or diarrhea.
- Swollen paws.
- Coughing or wheezing.
- Discomfort shown through rubbing their face or shaking their head.
- Outbreak of hives.
- Biting of the paws or skin.
- Skin infections or visible rashes.
- Lack of growth in puppy and adolescent stages.
You may see one or more of these symptoms in your dog, perhaps eluding to a food allergy.
Are Certain Breeds More Likely to Develop Food Allergies?Just as with humans, food allergies don’t necessarily pick and choose who it attacks. Every dog is susceptible to dealing with these problems. But are there some breeds that are more prone to it than others? All dogs can develop food allergies, but that there are some breeds who struggle with these irritating situations more frequently. The following list contains breeds that are more susceptible to food allergies.
- Chinese Shar-Pei’s
- West Highland White Terriers
- Wirehaired Fox Terriers
- Boston Terriers
- Scottish Terriers
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Lasa Apso’s
- Shih Tzu’s
By understanding which breeds are more likely to have food allergies, you can take the necessary precautions for your pet. To help both you and your dog, you must learn which foods are more commonly associated with allergies.
Which Foods Are Dogs More Likely to Be Allergic to?After learning the ins and outs of allergies and which breeds are more prone to get them, now you must learn about the most common items. There are specific foods held responsible for the majority of dog food allergies. Here are the foods more commonly frequently associated with allergies.
- Beef, Chicken or Lamb: As discussed previously, proteins make up a large percentage of found allergens.
- Dairy: Just as in humans, dogs can have a problem digesting dairy. With this source of allergen, it is easy to confuse it with a food intolerance rather than an allergen.
- Wheat: Grains can be another common allergen, yet it really depends on the individual dog as this is a case by case situation.
- Eggs: When considering the proteins found in eggs, it is no wonder that our dogs can become allergic to these foods.
- Soy: This option is quite controversial in regards to its possible health issues such as reproductive problems or thyroid and liver disease.
- Fish: Although used frequently as a supplement for a dog’s skin and coat, some individuals are allergic to fish.
What Can You Do if You Don’t Know the Allergen?
If your dog starts scratching, coughing or biting their paws, you can try to find the source of the irritants. Food trials are necessary when it comes to finding which food is causing your dog discomfort. By following a number of steps, this can be achievable.
- Try out a new diet that does not contain any of the major ingredients found in the common allergens list. This may require you to search around for the best food. Packages directed towards “sensitive skin” usually are the best bet.
- Take away any additional foods. The allergy could be a result of treats, chews, or human scraps. To properly diagnose the culprit, you must eliminate all of the possible allergens. Keep in mind that there are treats designed for sensitive dogs, but be sure to read the ingredients.
- Trial the new food for an extended period of time. If you stay on track and don’t feed your dog any extra tidbits, then you should be able to have your answer after 8 weeks. If there is no difference in the comfort of your dog, then he or she does not have a food allergy. That may sound simplistic, but this is a tried method.
What Should You Do If You’ve Found the Allergen?
Treating a dog for food allergies cannot be successful without first identifying the culprit. You can do this through trial and error, or a trained veterinarian. There is a way in which to tackle symptoms caused by a food allergy so that your animal can be comfortable once again.
- Get rid of the food allergen. Once you have determined which food has been causing all those problems, you can rest assure when removed entirely. Just remember that their symptoms won’t automatically disappear. It takes a few weeks for the signs to reduce.
- Treat any skin problems. With allergies, your pet is bound to have a few infected areas where they have been constantly scratching. After you have successfully removed the allergen, you can begin relieving any symptoms through antibiotics or medicated baths. Your vet will prescribe the best solution depending on what type of irritation occurred.
- Consider giving your dog a daily antihistamine or skin supplement. It’s difficult to watch our pets deal with hot spots or dry skin. To help them out, you can give them an allergy medication such as Benadryl or Zyrtec. This will not entirely solve the allergies. Instead, they will prevent their skin from getting worse. Fish oil is also a great way to reduce inflammation if given daily. Remember to ask your vet about the proper doses before giving your dog any allergy medications.
- Take more extreme measures. Some dogs can experience more severe symptoms when it comes to food allergies. To help boost their immune system, you may want to ask your vet about immunotherapy or allergy shots. This option is used when allergy medications only temporarily reduce symptoms.
If your dog seems to have an allergic reaction to their food, it’s best to take preventative measures. This should be done alongside your veterinarian who has the proper training and education.
Allergies can be a nuisance, regardless of species. Our dogs can show signs of irritation and possible allergens through itching, wheezing, coughing or by developing skin infections. Knowing the differences between a dog food allergy compared to food intolerances can help to keep your pet healthy. There are a few ways in which you can tackle food allergies at home. When in doubt, always seek assistance from your vet. Your canine companion is there for you on the worst of days, this is when you can repay the favor.