Friday, January 18

The Most Common Food Allergies in Dogs

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Food allergies affect both dogs and cats. Just like with people, food allergies in pets occur when the immune system mistakenly believes a specific food is harmful and responds with antibodies, often triggering a series of uncomfortable symptoms. It is rare for dogs to experience a life-threatening (or anaphylactic) reaction but not impossible.

Canine food allergy accounts for about 10‐15% of all allergies seen in dogs and is the third most common allergy after flea bite allergies and atopy (inhaled allergies). There appears to be no link between dog breeds and allergies, nor a difference between dogs that have been neutered and those that have not. [1] Dog allergies can also show up later in life and are more prevalent when inhalant or contact allergies already exist.

Dogs are also susceptible to food intolerances, which though different to allergies, should still be treated in the same way. Food intolerances are the result of poor digestion and are generally distinguished by symptoms relating mostly to an upset digestive system.

Because of these allergies and intolerances, it’s important for owners to take care when choosing the best kind of food for their pooch. Chef’s Best Pet Food, for example, is similar to homemade dog food and contains numerous whole, healthy ingredients.

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs

The symptoms of food allergy in dogs can vary but the most common feature is itchy skin or skin allergy. This may appear as hives, a skin rash, excessive scratching, an itchy rear end or your dog may be obsessively paw biting or licking. They may also suffer hair loss, bald patches, a high frequency of hot spots, or their coat may appear in poor quality. If skin infections respond to antibiotics but then return, this could also be the sign of a skin allergy. [2] Food allergy does not respond well to corticosteroids either.

Seemingly unrelated, a recurring ear infection or inflammation, is also a very common symptom of food allergy in dogs. If the allergy is severe, a dog may also get into respiratory distress.

There is some interesting evidence that dogs with food allergies may also have an increased number of bowel movements. One study showed that dogs with food allergies may have 3 or more bowel movements a day compared with only 1.5 in non‐allergic dogs . [3]

Common foods that cause allergic reactions in dogs

Food allergies are the overreaction of the immune system in response to the protein in some foods. As with humans, certain foods seem to be common allergens for dogs.

These foods include:

  • Beef
  • Dairy products
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Wheat gluten
  • Dairy

Unfortunately, these are also the most common ingredients in dog food.  If your dog is allergic to one ingredient, they will more than likely present as allergic to other ingredients.

How to diagnosis food allergy in dogs

If you suspect that your dog may have an allergy you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian. They will help you to correctly diagnose if this is an allergic response as many conditions can show similar symptoms, such as parasitic diseases, yeast or bacterial infections.

It had been reasoned that allergy-specific blood tests that check for antigen-induced antibodies in the dog’s blood or intradermal skin testing, where a small amount of antigen is injected into the skin, could identify food allergy in dogs, much like humans. However, recent studies claim that there is no merit to these tests in dogs with food-specific allergies. [4]

The only way that veterinary dermatologists agree that dogs can be accurately diagnosed for food allergies is through a hypoallergenic food trial, or food elimination diet.

How to correctly use a food elimination diet

A food elimination diet is exactly how it sounds. You begin by eliminating all but a few simple hypoallergenic foods from your pup’s diet. Once you’re certain that your dog does not have an allergy to these foods you can slowly start adding foods back into your dog’s diet until you see evidence of an allergic reaction. If you take your time and follow your vet’s instructions, this should clearly show which food is the culprit.

Some experts stress that it can take at least eight weeks for all other food products to be eliminated from your dog’s body so your canine should stay on this simplified special diet for at least eight weeks before adding new foods. [5]

The food elimination diet must be adhered to strictly to ensure correct results, so you’ll need to be careful to restrict all table food, treats, flavored vitamins, and even some flavored medications during the testing period. That’s why it’s important that you work with your vet to ensure that the elimination diet is performed correctly.

Sometimes, no matter what combination of foods you try your dog may continue to have a reaction. This does not mean that your dog is allergic to all of his food but that your dog is most probably allergic to something in his environment instead – such as pollens, medications or even fabrics and carpets.

Whatever your canine’s food allergy, there are so many foods on the market today that you should be able to find plenty of alternatives for designing a new dog diet. “Novel” protein sources that your dog has never been exposed are thought to be helpful here so be adventurous and try a few new proteins such as duck, fish, kangaroo, ostrich, quail, pheasant, rabbit, venison, bison, goat, elk, and alligator. It’s easy to include these new proteins when you make the food yourself, but because many of us don’t have time, Chef’s Best Pet Food does it for us–it contains wild venison and bison, among other proteins, fruits, and vegetables.

Long term care for your allergic dog

Unfortunately, food-specific allergy in dogs does not respond well to corticosteroids or other medical treatments and the only treatment that has proved effective is the hypoallergenic elimination diet. This means that your dog will need to avoid their allergen for life.

Though they don’t always understand why allergies start, experts do know that they can only develop after repeated exposure to potential allergens. So feeding your pet the same food every day, year after year, will certainly increase their chances of ultimately reacting to a component in the food.

Mixing up your dog’s diet and rotating proteins every few months will hopefully avoid the development of any further allergic reactions.

Vets often recommend raw, clean diets to help prevent food allergies as well as reducing the amount of grains and carbohydrates in your dog’s diet.

One of the most convenient ways to feed your pup a raw, clean dog diet is by choosing freeze dried food, such as Chef’s Best Pet Food. Most commercially produced pet foods are high in fat, salt and sugar and are so over-processed that most of the nutrients have been removed. Chef’s Best has no additives and retains all of the vitamins, nutrients, and flavors of the original raw food. It simply returns to it’s pre-frozen state once water is added.

[1] http://www.rmvetderm.com/Understanding%20Food%20Allergies%20and%20Diet%20Trials.pdf

[2] http://www.rmvetderm.com/Understanding%20Food%20Allergies%20and%20Diet%20Trials.pdf

[3] http://www.rmvetderm.com/Understanding%20Food%20Allergies%20and%20Diet%20Trials.pdf

[4] http://www.rmvetderm.com/Understanding%20Food%20Allergies%20and%20Diet%20Trials.pdf

[5] https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/allergy-general-in-dogs

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