Hey pet parents! Boo the dog here, and I’ve been feeling a little “ruff” lately. Turns out I have food allergies! It took my mom a little while to figure out what was wrong with me since allergy symptoms in dogs can really just look like itchy skin. So I wanted to share with you how to recognize food allergies in your pets and how to treat them so your fur baby can stay healthy and happy.
Q: Are food allergies in pets common?
A: Dogs can have allergic reactions to all sorts of things from seasonal changes to medications, but food allergies account for over ten percent of all pet allergies.
Q: What causes food allergies in pets?
A: Just like humans, some dogs have sensitivities to certain ingredients in their food. Dyes, fillers, processed meats, grains and some proteins can cause symptoms to flare. Ingredients like beef, dairy, chicken or egg products, wheat and soy remain the most common allergens. Knowing which ingredients are in your pet’s food will help you try an elimination diet, in which you eliminate certain types of foods completely and then slowly introduce them back into your pet’s diet to know which is causing the reaction. Many of these ingredients may not necessarily cause an allergic reaction, but several pets can be intolerant of them, meaning it can cause them gastrointestinal issues. Either way, getting rid of food allergies starts with knowing what ingredients are causing a bad reaction.
Q: Are some breeds more prone to food allergies?
A: While there is not much concrete evidence, some veterinarians report seeing some breeds more than others for allergies. But, this could also depend on breed popularity in your area. For example, if there were a higher percentage of a certain breed in your area, it would seem like there are more of that breed with allergies. However, many vets report retriever breeds, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels and Rex cats as the most affected breeds.
Q: How do you know if your pet has a food allergy?
A: Symptoms of a food allergy can vary, but the most common sign that your pet has a food allergy is increased intense itching around the head, belly and tail. Ear inflammation and infection, gastrointestinal issues, chronic diarrhea, and licking their paws can also indicate the presence of an allergy. Frequently vomiting after eating could also be a symptom, but this could also be the sign of something more serious, so be sure to check with your veterinarian.
Q: How do you treat a food allergy problem?
A: While you can try to treat the symptoms of an allergy with treatments for itchy skin, the best course of action is to fix what is causing the allergy in the first place. You will need to determine what additive or ingredient in your dog’s current food is causing the reaction. You can do this by blood or skin test or a dietary trial to test for allergens. Once you have the suspected ingredient, you’ll want to switch your dog’s food gradually. Look for specialty foods that are hypoallergenic, grain or dairy free, depending on which ingredient you are trying to eliminate. Start by mixing the new food without the culprit ingredient with his old food over a course of four to five days, lessening his old food amount a little each day. Once he is eating nothing but the new food, keep him on it for up to twelve weeks. This will help you know for sure which ingredient was causing the allergy.
Food allergies can be a nuisance, and sometimes, a little scary for pet parents when they’re not sure what’s wrong. But, hang in there, pet parents! With a little research and trial and error, you’ll figure out what is causing those pesky flare ups and your pet will be good as new in no time. Keep regularly checking back here for more advice from me, Boo. Until next time… have a pawsitively purrrfect day with your pets!