Even Man's Best Friend Has Food Allergies

Believe it or not, but even man’s best friend can suffer from food allergies or food intolerances. In fact, ten percent of allergy cases in dogs seem to be related to actual food allergies. While the symptoms may vary, from itches to pain, the culprit may actually be in what you are feeding them. So the next time you see your dog itching like crazy, or constantly shaking his/her head, you might want to investigate further.

Managing Your Dog's Food Allergies

Here are some tips on managing your pooches food allergies:

  • Signs: Common symptoms of a food allergy include itchy spots (quite often on their rear end), ear pain, chronic gas, diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems and excess licking of their paws. Keep in mind the allergies and symptoms can show up anywhere from the time the dog is 5 months up until 12 years of age. Food intolerances are different as they often only result in vomiting and diarrhea, similar to when a human experiences a stomach bug. The food allergies in dogs show more consistent and intense reactions, as listed above, similar to human food allergies.
  • Causes: Research points to a predisposition to develop allergies. Puppies who are treated with antibiotics early in life are more likely to develop allergies, as the medication changes the environment inside the gut, and that is the largest immune center of the dogs body. Much more research is going on to try to provide more information on this growing issue.
  • Common Allergies: Those dogs who suffer with a food allergy are more likely to have multiple allergies. The common allergens are wheat, beef, egg, dairy, chicken, soy, pork, and fish.
  • Diagnosis: Unlike humans, blood tests are not used on dogs to rule out food allergies. Instead, a great diagnostic tool would be to put your pet on an elimination diet and to do a food challenge as well. An elimination diet would be to put your dog on a diet that consists of a food that the dog has never eaten before. As the dog’s questionable allergy symptoms subside, and his gastrointestinal system is functioning well, you can reintroduce one food at a time. Within a few days to a few weeks, if there is an allergy the symptoms will return. If there are no symptoms, new foods can be added slowly to rule out any food allergies. After your dog seems to be symptom free, you can try a food challenge to see if they can tolerate other foods. It would be important to add these back very slowly to ensure no further allergic reaction.
  • Treatment: It is important to get to the bottom of the food allergies but at the same time to provide your dog with a balanced diet. There are many supplements and nutrients that are specific to animal diets, and important for their overall health and growth. Thinking that by cooking fresh foods for your pet is the answer is not totally true. There are also many specialty dog foods on the market that are formulated so that the protein and/or carbohydrate is already broken down, so it is easier to digest and will not trigger an allergic reaction. It is important that your pet’s nutrient need is met, and much of that is contained in these specialty store bought foods.

Bottom Line

Be sure to consult with your veterinarian if in fact your dog appears to have symptoms of food allergies to be sure to learn how to best meet their nutritional needs. With the right diet, your pooch, man’s best-four-legged-friend, will be back to his/her playful and loving self in no time at all.

Continue Reading