Just like humans, dogs can develop allergies – to fleas, environmental triggers or food. While the flea and environmental allergies are the most common, food allergies and intolerances can and do occur in our canine companions.
If your four-legged friend is extra itchy, has skin or ear problems, tummy troubles, or seems low, he could be suffering from a food allergy or intolerance. This can even happen if he or she has been chowing down on the same food they have enjoyed for years. So, what is a food allergy, what are the common symptoms?
Here’s how to identify a food allergy or sensitivity in your dog, and what to do about it.
What Is A Food Allergy?
The process of an allergic reaction is rather complex, but it boils down to the body having an abnormal response to something that should be harmless. The immune system responds to the offending item as if it’s dangerous, causing a variety of symptoms.
In dogs, this can often be triggered by a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of A Food Allergy In Dogs?
Food intolerance and allergies have similar symptoms to other allergic responses in canines and most commonly include:
- Scaly, dry, itchy skin
- Excess scratching or licking
- Recurring ear infections
- Bald spots
- “Hot spots” (inflamed, red, raw patches of skin)
- Red, runny eyes
- You may also see:
- Chronic diarrhea
In around 80 percent of allergic reactions, the ears are involved. Commonly, the paws are a problem area, as are the inner thighs and tummy.
If the problem continues, your dog may develop secondary skin infections and behavioural problems due to the discomfort.
What Are The Most Common Food Allergies In Dogs?
In most cases, the culprit is going to be an animal protein or grain of some kind. The most well-known allergens for dogs are beef, dairy, and wheat – but chicken, lamb, eggs and soy can also be responsible.
However, there is nothing "wrong" with these food types. They simply have been the ingredients of choice in dog food for many decades – a dog could feasibly become allergic to anything over time.
How To Identify A Food Allergy
If your dog is having any health issue, it's crucial to take him for a vet check before doing anything else. Once they rule out any other problems, they may suspect food allergies or intolerances (which have very similar signs and symptoms).
The only way to be sure of a food allergy or wheat/gluten intolerance – and pinpoint precisely what component is responsible – is to put your dog on an elimination diet.
This involves choosing food with ingredients that your dog has never eaten before and feeding him only that for four to six weeks. That means no human food and no snacks or treats that aren't related to the few key ingredients in your chosen diet.
Standard elimination diets might be based on fish and potato, rabbit and oats, or even kangaroo.
If your dog’s symptoms clear up on this diet, you must then introduce the old foods one by one to be certain of an allergy. If the symptoms flare up, you can identify the troublesome ingredient/s.
How To Manage Food Allergies
Once you have confirmed the allergen affecting your dog, simply avoiding it is the best way forward. Choose a diet that doesn't contain any of the offending ingredients, but make sure you take your vet's advice before making any changes.
Antihistamines and steroids are often useless against the symptoms of food allergies, but if your pup has secondary infections as a result of all the itching, you may need your vet to help clear those up.
If you and your vet suspect your dog is suffering from a food allergy, choosing the right diet is essential. Real Dog Food has developed a specially formulated grain-free recipe to ensure your pet gets the best food without the allergens. The formulation is based around low-allergen fish and potatoes to help return your best four-legged friend to optimal health.
The bags come in a range of sizes and we offer a 100% money back guarantee if you or your furry friend are not completely satisfied.
Check out our 1.5kg trial bag now