Treatment: The Importance Of Nutrition
Food allergies or food intolerance may last a lifetime. The main goal in managing allergies or adverse reactions to food is to find and avoid the food ingredient responsible for causing the skin and/or gastrointestinal signs. If your dog suffers from food allergies, its even more important to feed the right dog food.
Dietary elimination trials – removing the ingredient from the food your dog eats is the most practical and accurate methods of diagnosing food allergies in dogs. The food your dog eats should be balanced and contain as few ingredients and additives as possible. Be mindful to remove access to all other dog food, table food, treats, snacks and chew toys while you are isolating the allergen.
If your dog has an allergic reaction to a certain meat, you may want to try a food with a new protein source that is new to your dog such as egg, duck, salmon, lamb, venison or whitefish. If none of this helps, your dog may be allergic to all of these proteins and will need a food with specially broken-down proteins. For accurate diagnosis and treatment options, always consult your veterinarian and ask them to recommend the best food for your dogs food allergies
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What Is The Dog Elimination Diet
Currently, the only way to truly diagnose and treat a food allergy in dogs is to do a food trial. The most popular method is whats called an elimination diet.
If your dogs symptoms do not dissipate during the course of the elimination diet, check with your vet to see if they still suspect a food-related allergy. You can then change out the protein and carbohydrate source, beginning the food trial all over again until you find the right combination. Its important to keep a journal of what you have tried so you will have a better idea of what to steer clear of.
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A Quick Word About Food Allergies Versus Food Intolerance
A food allergy isnt the exact same thing as a food intolerance. Food allergies are characterized by a genuine allergic reaction, which happens because your dogs immune system is hypersensitive to a protein contained in a particular food. The bodys immune cells produce immunoglobulin E antibodies when they encounter that protein, even though its actually harmless. These IgE antibodies bind to a receptor on the proteins surface, essentially treating it as if it were a virus or a parasitic microbe.
This sets off a series of immune system events that involve the release of histamine and other inflammatory compounds, causing itchiness, rashes, runny noses, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing and even anaphylaxis.
A food intolerance is a separate condition, and like food allergies, it can occur in dogs as well as in humans. Unlike allergies, food intolerances are not an immune reaction. They are usually caused by malabsorption of certain nutrients, or by the lack of certain enzymes needed to break down certain chemicals in food.
Food intolerances are far less acute and obvious than food allergies, and theyre also less dangerous. They can cause hives, respiratory symptoms, or gastrointestinal problems. Usually, the onset of the symptoms will be around half an hour to an hour after your dog eats the food, but in some cases, the onset can be delayed by as much as 48 hours.
Dogs Can Get Seasonal Allergies Too
Dogs can be bothered by seasonal allergies too. If youre noticing your four-legged friend scratching more than normal or catching them with a runny nose, its possible seasonal allergies are to blame.Check out this really helpful, in-depth guide by the experts at BetterPet.com, explaining what you need to know about identifying and treating seasonal allergies in dogs.
Lets look at some of the dog food allergy symptoms, and how it differs from dog food sensitivity.
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See A Vet For Allergic Reactions In Dogs
Now that you know a little bit more about what to expect from your dogs allergic reactions, you can determine whether or not to schedule a vet appointment right away or wait until the next scheduled checkup.
Either way, its important to talk to your vet about your dogs allergies and find out the best course of action for treatment. If theres ever a doubt on how you think you should proceed, its always best to call a veterinarian right away so you can get your dog the help he needs for his allergic reactions.
The veterinarians at VEG are here and ready to answer and questions and help with any allergic reaction in a dogs situation. There are expert and compassionate emergency vets at every one of our VEG locations, so you never have to wait until your next appointment to seek immediate veterinary advice and care.
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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Are Some Dog Breeds More Likely To Develop Food Allergies
This question is more difficult to answer. Rather than some breeds of dogs being more likely to exhibit food allergies, more often there are certain genetic lines that are predisposed to the condition. That being said, breeds that seem to manifest food allergies more often than others include:
- German Shepherds
If your dog is suffering from one or more of the symptoms listed above, they may be exhibiting a food allergy. Learning your dog has a food allergy may seem overwhelming, but with the help of your veterinarian and a customized nutrition plan you can help your pup live a happy and healthy life.
Other Things That Cause Digestive Troubles
Is there some kind of food that just doesnt agree with you? The same thing can happen with your dog or cat. Maybe its eating something that has too much fat, for instance.
Vets call this food intolerance. The difference between this and a food allergy is that food intolerance doesnt involve the immune system.
To figure out if this is whats wrong with your pet, youll have to follow the same trial-and-error process as you would for a food allergy, described above.
Diarrhea and vomiting can also come from:
- A virus
- An infection
- A parasite
- A condition in your pets digestive system. One example is pancreatitis, which is inflammation in the pancreas, the organ that makes chemicals that digest food.
- An obstruction. This is when something is stuck in the stomach or intestines.
To figure out whats wrong with your dog or cat, your vet may need to:
- Consider your pet’s age, past illnesses, other animals it has been around, and other information about its health
- Do a physical exam
- Do lab tests on its blood or stool samples
- Do X-rays or an ultrasound
- Do a biopsy or other tests on samples of its fluids or tissues
After your vet figures out whats wrong, your dog or cat may need:
- Medicine that kills germs or parasites
- Drugs to help with diarrhea or vomiting
- Fluids to replace what it has lost because of diarrhea
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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.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Lamb
Yes! Cooking lamb for dogs is an excellent choice because lamb is often a protein source that a lot of dogs may not have encountered before. That makes this simple homemade dog food for allergies recipe a great option for pet parents who are looking for a healthy dog food recipe with very few ingredients.
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Food Allergies In Dogs
Allergies are an immune system response to a trigger. And no matter what you seem to do to treat the symptoms, if your dog continues to be exposed to the allergen, the problems and discomfort will continue.
Actual food allergies are not very common in dogs. About 10 percent of all allergy cases in dogs are due to a food allergy. Dogs also can suffer from food intolerance, which is not the same as a food allergy.
Common Foods Causing An Allergic Or Sensitive Reaction
Often, a reaction to food results from overexposure to an ingredient. If your dog is reacting to an ingredient in their food, theres a good chance its the protein in their diet thats problematic. And its not just meat thats under scrutiny some veggies contain protein, so they’re not automatically safe.
The top offenders are commonly found in dog food:
Beef Fish Chicken Eggs
While dogs can be allergic to plant-sourced ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, and grains, theyre actually less common allergens than many people believe. So, simply switching to a grain-free dog food wont likley cure their symptoms.
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What Are The Best Food Options For A Dog With Food Allergies
In addition to novel foods, i.e. choosing new protein and carbohydrate sources for your dog in an elimination diet, you can also feed them a hydrolyzed diet. A hydrolyzed diet is one made with intact proteins that have been broken down into such small molecules that your dogs immune system cannot recognize them as allergens. Starch or rice also make great sources of carbohydrates for your dogs diet because they rarely cause allergic reactions. Prescription foods and those approved by your veterinarian are preferable to those available over-the-counter. If this all seems overwhelming, consult the experts at Hungry Bark, they can help you choose the best diet for your pup in no time and offer nutritional guidance from a Certified Pet Nutritionist
If You Want To Give Your Dog An Antihistamine Like Benadryl Here Are Some Things To Consider:
- While typically safe, every dog reacts differently to antihistamines, according to the VCA. They may cause drowsiness in some dogs and hyperactivity in others.
- If you purchase an over the counter medicine for your dog, check the label to make sure it doesnt contain any other ingredients like decongestants or pseudoephedrine, which are NOT safe for dogs.
- Its also important to note that dosage for humans and dogs will not be the same.
We recommend talking to your veterinarian before giving your dog any over-the-counter medication to ensure the dose is accurate and that there are no adverse reactions with any other medications they may be taking.
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Causes Of Fish Allergies In Dogs
If your dog has allergies, it is his bodys way of protecting itself from something it thinks will harm it. While the item in question is actually harmless, the body doesnt recognize it as such. The body finds it dangerous and mounts a protective response to the threat. Your dogs body produces an immune response to the fish ingredient. This allergic response may develop quickly or may develop over a period of years. Many food-related allergies happen after the dog suffers from an infection involving the stomach or intestines.
Since many dogs have allergies to other protein sources such as beef and chicken, fish is becoming one of the more popular protein sources in dog foods. As a result, more dogs are developing an allergy to fish which means one less protein source you can safely feed your dog. However, there are some foods that specify the species of fish they are using. By feeding your dog one of these foods, you know exactly what you are feeding him, and if he develops an allergy to one specific fish, you can potentially try him on another. Take note If sensitive to one type, it is not uncommon to be sensitive to all types. Those with food allergies tend to benefit most from a hypoallergenic diet.
Treating Food Allergies In Dogs
The only effective way to treat a food allergy in dogs is to change their diet.
While grain-free foods are often touted as good for food allergies, science tells us that protein sources are more likely to be the culprit. According to a study published in 2016, the top three most common causes of food allergies in dogs are beef, dairy, and chicken.
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Common Food Allergens For Dogs
In general, the protein sources in many dog foods are some of the most well-known offenders. Beef products can be especially triggering for dog food allergy sufferers. While this may seem counterintuitive since dogs are primarily carnivores, if the quality of meat isnt up to par its likely to cause upset.
Many pet owners also mistakenly assume that their dogs have iron stomachs and can put down almost anything. In truth, most dogs are lactose intolerant and the dairy products found in many common dog food brands can seriously disrupt their systems. Be careful if you are in need of a puppy milk replacer for nursing newborn pups.
In addition to beef and milk products, some other notable food allergens include:
Just like humans, dogs can also have a severe gluten intolerance. Wheaten Terriers and Irish Setters are notorious for developing celiac in their lifetimes. This results in internal intestinal inflammation that can prevent the digestive system from properly absorbing nutrients. Outwardly this might result in poor coat conditions, rapid weight loss or persistent diarrhea. To remedy this, dogs must be strictly fed grain-free dog food. Feed and treats must be entirely devoid of wheat-derived products like rye, oats, barley.
Lastly, allergies in dogs can be traced back to food, environment, or both.
Find The Guilty Ingredient
Once you know the dog has a food allergy, you want to switch back to the new formula of simple proteins with carbohydrates. Reintroduce some of the ingredients found in your dogs old food one by one with 5 days in between. Monitor the dogs symptoms and if you see food allergy symptoms again, the last ingredient you reintroduced is the guilty allergen.
Most dog owners and dog breeders skip this step because it takes a lot of time to figure out, but if you want to from then onwards choose the right dog food, you want to know what ingredients to completely avoid.
You can repeat the elimination diet as many times as you like until you have two to three regimes your dog is able to process symptom-free. You may be able to prevent your dog from developing any further allergies to these novel protein and carbohydrate meals by rotating them out every eight to 12 weeks.
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