Watching your furry baby going crazy because of a stubborn itch can be quite troubling. More often than now, this could be a sign of food allergy. Although, verifying if it’s a food allergy or not is tricky as there is no particular test designed for it. Before attempting to treat a possible allergic reaction, it is advisable to rule out any other causes.
As a dog parent, there are some important things that you should know about food allergies. In this article, we will be discussing food allergy signs, causes, diagnosis, common foods causing it, and the best diet for your dog.
So what’s a food allergy in dogs?
Just like in humans, a food allergy in dogs causes its immune system to react adversely to a protein in the food, triggering a defensive response. As a result, your dog might develop chronic skin and ear infections. In some dogs, there might be additional signs such as excessive gassiness, vomiting, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, these signs mimic other conditions, making it is difficult to tell right away what’s the actual issue.
The other causes of gastrointestinal woes in dogs could involve:
- Bacterial infections
- Ingestion of foreign objects
- Food intolerance (too much fat or too much or too little fiber in the diet)
The other causes of itching in the ear and ear infections can be flea infestation, allergy to fleas, dust mites, grasses and pollen.
Now let’s come to diagnosis, the most frustrating part of all. As mentioned earlier there is no test that can definitively confirm the presence of a food allergy. You should be beware of tests advertised online claiming that they can diagnose food allergies or sensitivities as these can be scams.
If you suspect a food allergy, your best bet is dietary elimination which is time consuming but effective. It involves feeding your pet food based on recommendations by the vet. You can feed your dog a diet which they haven’t been exposed to before. This food will either contain a few ingredients or will have been purified to remove the ingredients that might cause allergies. Typically, this diet has to be followed for at least a month.
If your dog’s health improves significantly during this period, then the vet will ask you to go back to the previous diet. An immediate relapse will indicate that something in their original diet has been causing the problem. You have to go back to the test diet again, and then switch back to the old diet containing one of the suspected ingredients to identify what’s causing the problem. However, most owners prefer switching to different diets rather than putting their dog on the old diet.
Even if your dog has not suffered from food allergies before, it always pays to know what ingredients could trigger them. Here are some of the common allergens you should be wary of.
- Dairy products
Surprisingly, most pets are allergic to animals proteins. In some cases, you will also find pets that are severely allergic to grains, or even to carrots and potatoes.
There are many dog food companies that have products designed for dog allergies. However, it is safer to stick to your veterinary-specified diet for your dietary elimination trial or home cooked meals approved by your pet’s doctor as there is always a chance that these products contain allergens.