Dogs With Food Allergies
Because our canine friends aren't able to tell us if they are sensitive or allergic to an ingredient in their food, it's essential to know the most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs and the steps to take when they are diagnosed with a food allergy
Common Signs & Symptoms of Dog Food Allergies
Food allergies in dogs often start to become an issue as the dog reaches their first birthday. That said, dogs of any age can develop sensitivities and allergies.
The most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:
- Red, irritated skin
- Rashes on ears and feet
A handful of these symptoms might be detected by dog owners or by a vet during a routine exam.
The Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
Plant-based or animal ingredients in food have proteins that can cause food allergies. Common culprits are wheat, dairy, beef, and corn. While it may seem counterintuitive, it can take a fairly long time for symptoms of food allergies to become apparent. It's not unusual for a dog to become allergic to a food that they have been eating for many months.
Diagnosing Dogs With Food Allergies
The only reliable way to diagnose food allergies in dogs is to put them on an elimination diet.
If your vet thinks your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, they will prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food for your pet. For a minimum of 8 to 10 weeks, you'll only feed your dog the prescribed food to discern whether the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
It's imperative that you only feed your dog the prescribed hypoallergenic food when they are on their elimination diet. (Sadly, this means you aren't allowed to sneak them the odd treat). This special 10-week diet is designed to help your dog's body get accustomed to the food and provide your vet the chance to evaluate the overall health of your pooch.
If your dog's symptoms are relieved or go away during their elimination diet, your vet might ask you to start giving your dog their original food, and if the symptoms resurface your vet will be able to diagnose your canine companion with a food allergy.
Best Foods to Feed a Dog With Allergies
Prescription Dog Food
Are your dog's allergy symptoms severe? Your vet might suggest feeding your dog prescription food. While this option may be a bit more costly, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets that you can only get with a prescription are generally superior to the options that can be bought over the counter.
Grain-Free Dog Food
If your pet has a sensitivity to corn, wheat, and other grains a grain-free dog food may be ideal. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited-ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just one protein source, (such as beef, lamb, or chicken), often combined with just a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited-ingredient dog foods it's important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer.
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel ingredient dog foods swap the traditional dog food proteins like chicken and beef with more unique proteins like venison, duck, or salmon. Lots of novel ingredients in dog foods also consist of unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes that can help make the diet more balanced.
Once your dog has been diagnosed with a food allergy, your veterinarian will work with you to determine the best diet possible for your pooch. There are lots of food options available that could help relieve your pup's food allergy symptoms.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.