Just Like Us Our Dogs Can Suffer From Certain Allergies Discover What The Most Common Dog Allergies Are And How Theyre Diagnosed With Purina
Dog allergies are a reaction to foreign substances in your dogs immune system which is the same cause of allergic reactions in humans! Unfortunately, where its relatively simple to diagnose allergies in humans, its usually quite difficult for dogs as there are many different types of allergies and the symptoms often overlap. This makes it hard to understand which allergies theyre actually suffering from.
If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from allergies, you may be wondering about the potential dog allergy symptoms and when to seek help from your vet. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
Symptoms Of Allergies In Dogs
The symptoms of allergies in dogs may vary depending on the cause. A dog that goes into anaphylactic shock, for instance, will have a drop in blood pressure followed by shock, which is very different from a skin condition.
In general, however, the following symptoms could be a sign of an allergic reaction.
- Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
- Red, inflamed skin
Diagnosing Environmental And Food Allergies
Just like in people, diagnosing food and environmental allergies in dogs can be a challenge.
When it comes to diagnosing food allergies, the best and most accurate method is to use an elimination trial. An elimination trial is when you feed your dog a hypoallergenic diet for eight to twelve weeks to test whether their symptoms improve. The diet must not contain any ingredients that the pet has eaten in the past including treats, foods, or supplements.
In addition to elimination diets, your veterinarian may be able to perform a blood test to help determine whether your dog is allergic to specific foods. These are known as serum IgE tests.
Diagnosing environmental allergies in dogs can be performed using two techniques: RAST testing or intradermal skin testing.
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Allergies Caused By Fleas And Parasites
Almost every dog will get fleas, ticks, mites, or other parasites at some point in its life. Usually, these parasites are easily removed, and the dog will not have an adverse reaction. However, some pets will develop allergies, mainly relating to biting parasites. It is typically the parasites saliva that causes the allergic reaction in dogs.
Flea bite hypersensitivity in dogs will cause extreme itching and discomfort to your pet, this is known as flea bite dermatitis or pruritus. Symptoms and signs include:
- excessive scratching
- hair loss
- formation of scabs or lesions on the skin.
Symptoms are episodic and tend to worsen in summer months, as well as when the pet ages.
Diagnosis of a parasite or flea allergy is relatively straightforward, as you or your veterinarian will be able to identify the parasites on the dogs skin.
Treating the allergic reaction usually involves removing the parasite, either with a topical medicine or by grooming. This should stop the reaction.
For excessive itching, vets may prescribe steroids , antihistamines or antibiotics for a secondary infection.
How To Tell If Your Dog Has A Food Allergy
Food allergies are a common source of misery to humans and canines alike.
Dog food allergy symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea to incessant scratching and ear infections. Allergy testing should be considered for any pet that is suffering from symptoms for more than four months out of the year. Animal Care Center of Castle Pines offers the highest quality allergy testing for dogs. With proper diagnosis and treatment, your dog can live a happy life free from allergy symptoms.
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How Is The Condition Diagnosed
The best and most accurate method of diagnosing food allergy is to feed a hypoallergenic diet for eight to twelve weeks as a food trial called an elimination trial.
“The elimination diet must not contain any ingredients that the pet has eaten in the past.”
To be a true elimination trial for your pet, this special diet must not contain any ingredients that the pet has eaten in the past. This also requires that no other foods, treats, or supplements be fed during the trial period, including flavored vitamins and heartworm preventives.
There are blood tests that may give an indication of whether the dog is allergic to specific foods. These are called serum IgE tests and your veterinarian will discuss whether they would be of benefit in diagnosing your pet’s condition.
How To Identify What Food Your Dog Is Reacting To
Luckily, diagnosing food allergies and sensitivities is a straightforward process involving feeding your pup a limited-ingredient dietwhich includes no treats or table scraps. By reintroducing ingredients, one at a time, you can watch for a reaction and pinpoint the allergen. The process usually takes 6-8 weeks but could take as long as 12 weeks for the symptoms to resolve.
Two common approaches to the elimination trial:
1. Hydrolyzed protein diet provides a non-allergenic as possible nutrition
2. Novel ingredient diet uses proteins like venison, rabbit, or duck instead of beef or chicken
Before beginning an elimination trial , its important that all other potential problems have been ruled out. Atopy, flea bite allergies, intestinal parasite hypersensitivities, sarcoptic mange, and yeast or bacterial infections can all cause symptoms similar to food allergies and food sensitivity.
Its important to note: if your dogs reaction coincided with switching their food, they might be reacting to a sudden change as opposed to an ingredient. Whether youre feeding puppies, adult dogs, or senior, always introduce your dog to a new diet slowly to allow their gastrointestinal system the time it needs to adjust.
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How Is A Food Allergy Treated
Once the offending food substance has been identified, a diet that does not contain it is chosen. Today, there are several hypoallergenic diets available from your veterinarian that can be fed for the rest of your dog’s life. There are three types of hypoallergenic diets:
Veterinary hydrolyzed protein diet, in which the protein molecules are broken down to a size too small to be recognized by your dogs immune system .
Veterinary novel protein diet that does not contain any products that were present in your dogs previous foods
home-prepared novel protein diet that does not contain any ingredients that were present in your dogs previous diets .
“…unlike veterinary diets, retail pet foods are not manufactured with the extreme health and safety protocols to prevent cross-contamination.”
Some dog foods available in retail stores may tout that they are limited-ingredient or do not contain the ingredient that your dog is allergic to, but it is important to note that, unlike veterinary diets, retail pet foods are not manufactured with the extreme health and safety protocols to prevent cross-contamination.
Your veterinarian will prescribe the best option specific to your dogs needs.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Dog Is Suffering From Food Allergies
First and foremost, make an appointment to take your dog to your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has a food allergy. Food allergies symptoms can mimic other diseases, so its vitally important that you have your dog checked out by a professional.
Treatment of food allergies in dogs may include medication, topical creams, dietary changes or a combination of any of these three remedies.
In rare cases, a life-threatening allergic reaction may occur and your dog may not be able to breathe. If this happens, call an emergency animal hospital right away.
Home Remedies For Dog Allergies Start With Change
If your dog suffers from allergies, your first port of call should always be to eliminate the allergens as much as possible. This could mean keeping an extra clean house to avoid house dust mites or switching to a hypoallergenic dog food diet.
Sometimes relatively small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to you and your dog.
How To Spot A Food Allergy
Reactions to a food allergen typically occur immediately or shortly after the ingredient/food is eaten, and the symptoms are often severe.
The primary dog food allergy symptom is itchy skin. In fact, food-related skin irritation is the cause of about 20% of the itching and scratching in dogs. Their scratching and chewing may be limited to a single hot-spot or a full body irritation.
You may notice your pup chewing or scratching excessively, rubbing their face with their paws or against furniture, or excessive licking and chewing their paws till theyre swollen.
However, there are a few additional signs that could point to dog food allergies.
One is that your dog has recurrent ear problems, particularly yeast infections. Another tip-off is if their itchy skin doesnt respond to steroid treatment, or they have skin infections that respond to antibiotics but reoccur after antibiotics are discontinued.
Other dog food allergy symptoms include:
Red, itchy, inflamed ears, frequent head shaking Hair loss Hives, skin rash, or inflamed skin Open sores or hot spots Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath Runny, red, or itchy eyes Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing Odor from feet or ears Stomach upset, gas, vomiting, diarrhea
Some pups may have an increase in bowel movementsup to 3 or more times per day, though this is a less common symptom.
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Chances Are Its Not A Food Allergy For Your Dog
Getting at the real reason your dog is having all those symptoms.
Your dogs skin is itching, perhaps to the point that he may even be licking his paws or chewing on his feet. Or he keeps vomiting or having diarrhea. It must be a food allergy, you think to yourself, so you put him on a special diet. But it doesnt work. Frustrated, you try other food combinations, finally bringing him to the veterinarian for help in figuring out which ingredient is causing the allergic reaction.
Suspected food allergy is a common reason people come to the nutrition clinic at Tufts, says Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at the Cummings School. By the time they get here, theyve often tried five, six, seven different diets. But if they all have different ingredients and the dog is not any better, its probably not a food allergy. Of those dogs whose owners think they may have a food allergy, perhaps only 10 percent or less actually do.
Why do so many people believe their dogs are suffering from food allergies, besides the fact that the Internet is rife with articles and postings erroneously suggesting that food allergies in pets are quite common?
People want to help their dog, and if the problem is food, thats easy to fix, Dr. Heinze says. You just remove the food from the diet. So to some extent its wishful thinking. Add to that the fact that they keep reading online that food allergies are common, and it really snowballs.
Food Allergy Vs Food Intolerance
Unlike in people, dogs that have an allergy to a certain food will not express a reaction as soon as they eat it for the first time. For example, if a human is allergic to peanut butter, they might exhibit an intense reaction as soon as they ingest it. Dogs, on the other hand, can eat a type of food for several days, weeks, or months before you begin to see signs that they might be developing a food allergy.
When a dog has an immediate reaction to a new food, we call this a food intolerance. Food intolerance is not genetic, as food allergies are, and do not involve the immune system. Both food allergies and food intolerance can sometimes express the same symptoms and may be difficult to tell apart without the guidance of a veterinarian.
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Chippin Pet Dog Treats
Getting your dog onto good clean food is one of the best things you can do to help them overcome allergies.
Chippin Pets has a range of helpful products, like the variety pack pictured above, that may help to get your dog back on track.
- Superfood peanut butter cricket, and pumpkin
- Smokehouse BBQ pumpkin and cricket
- Spirulina Dailies kale, flaxseeds, and carrot
They also have a range of other quality, human-grade food for dogs that you can learn about in our Chippin review or in .
Symptomatic Differentiation Of Food Allergies:
Atopy,mange and other skin problems must be differentiated from canine foodallergysymptoms. Even though it is hard to differentiate, if symptoms arepresentyear round, and become more severe over time, these signsshould be acknowledged ascanine food allergy symptoms.
Skinscrapings should be examined for flea infestation and thepossibility of mange. The presence of allergy symptoms in specificseasons,particularly in spring or summer, maybe due to seasonal allergies as pollen.
Caninefood allergy symptoms must also be differentiated from foodintolerance this may be done by identifying additional symptoms suchas vomiting anddiarrhea which represent food intolerance, but not canine foodallergies.
Somebreeds of dogs like Labradors, Spaniels and Terriers are moresusceptible tocanine food allergies, because of their genetic make up which includesa relatively hypersensitive immune system.
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Blood Test For Dog Food Allergies
Your vet can also diagnose your dogs food allergies using serum IgE tests, which are a type of blood test.
These tests can be bought online and sent in however, as stated in the video above, these tests are pretty unreliable.
A diet trial is usually the best way to find out if your dog has food allergies.
Anaphylactic Reactions In Dogs
Have you ever heard of a person dying after eating one shrimp because he was deathly allergic to seafood? Or someone having to inject himself after being stung by a bee? These are anaphylactic reactions, the scariest and most lethal allergic reactions we see.
In dogs, we see major reactions like this if they are bitten by an insect or if they have an injection of medication theyre allergic to. Antibodies produced by the host react to the substance, dropping blood pressure and sending the body into shock. If a dog has had a past incident and survived, the owner may carry an epipen, but sometimes the first occurrence can lead to death. Fortunately these reactions are very rare in dogs.
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How Do I Know If My Dog Has Food Allergies
So, how do you know if your dog has allergies to a food theyre eating? There are many signs a dog is allergic to food, with the most common signs usually being digestive disturbances and skin issues, according to the Veterinary Centers of America.
Often, allergy symptoms in dogs will take anywhere from 6 to 24 hours to show up after your dog eats their food, especially when it comes to common skin allergy symptoms in dogs. Gastrointestinal issues may only take a few hours to show up in some cases.
Most common signs of food allergies in dogs:
- Dog allergy hives
- Digestive problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea
- Pawing at their face or eyes
- Dog swollen lymph nodes allergy
Rule Out Other Health Issues
Your veterinarian will take a full history on your pet and do a general exam.
Ruling out those conditions comes first because true food allergies are relatively uncommon.
If there is no other apparent cause for your dogs symptoms, your veterinarian may begin to suspect that food allergies are behind your dogs itchy skin or ear infections.
Even if your vet finds a reason for your dogs skin problems, they may still suspect that an adverse food reaction is at least partially responsible since, for example, yeast infections can develop as a result of food allergies.
Once a diagnosis of food allergies seems to be a reasonable possibility, your vet will recommend a food trial.
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Dog Food Allergy Treatment
Dog food allergy treatment boils down to one underlying principle: identify foods your dog is allergic to and avoid feeding him those. “That’s why the elimination diet and trial period is so essential,” says Shmalberg, “as it’s the only way to identify which foods, and food proteins, a dog can tolerate and which he can’t.” Now, if it’s a food intolerance rather than an allergy , a food trial is still helpful, but a simple change of diet can be just as effective. “A diet with a different composition from the one currently being fed is often enough to improve symptoms,” Shmalberg explains.
Unless formulated well, with the advice of a board certified or residency-trained veterinary nutritionist, many homemade diets are deficient in certain critical nutrients.
Aside from that, there are a few other tactics that come up in dealing with food allergies and intolerances. Here’s a brief overview, plus considerations, pros, and cons for each.
Antihistamines and Other Medications
Homemade Dog Food Diets
Vegan Dog Food Diets
Can I Get A Dog Food Allergy Test
Several companies have developed and marketed at home dog food allergy tests over the years. However, veterinarians have largely scrutinized these tests, and their validity is questionable, so its recommended that you skip any at home dog allergy testing kits.
Other dog food allergy testing options include intradermal skin testing, blood allergy tests, and food trials. Intradermal skin testing is performed by vets who inject small amounts of possible allergens into your dogs skin while they are sedated or anesthetized to see if they react to any of the allergens. Blood allergy tests check your dogs blood and how it reacts to specific allergens.
Food trials are the standard for the most accurate dog food allergy test. Typically, your dog will be placed on a hypoallergenic diet for 8 to 12 weeks to see if their allergy symptoms improve. Then possible allergens will be slowly reintroduced to see what may be causing your pups allergy symptoms. Food trials should always be performed with your vets help so that your vet can monitor your dog and the test can be performed appropriately. Youll need to avoid any possible allergens during this time, including their usual dog food, treats, chews, medications or vitamins, and more.
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