Dog Food Elimination Diet
The most reliable way to determine if your dog is allergic to a food item is to conduct an elimination diet. During an elimination diet, feed your dog a new protein and new carbohydrate for 8 weeks. This means the foods have to be something your dog has never eaten before, such as venison and potato, rabbit and pea, fish and potato. Another option is alligator and coconut.
During the 8 weeks of the elimination diet, you cannot give your dog any other foods. No table scraps, no treats, no supplements of any kind. Once youve completed the 8 week elimination diet, you will reintroduce the foods your dog was eating before. If your dog has a reaction or breakout, its a pretty good indication your dog was allergic to that food.
Food Allergy Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian:
What Is Food Allergy
Most people know someone who is allergic to certain foods, such as strawberries or nuts.
“Food allergy is one of the five most common allergies or hypersensitivities known to affect dogs.”
Food allergy is one of the most common allergies or hypersensitivities known to affect dogs. In a pet with an allergy, the immune system overreacts and produces antibodies to substances that it would normally tolerate. In an allergic reaction to a food, antibodies are produced against some part of the food, usually a protein or complex carbohydrate. Since antibody production is required for an allergy to develop, food allergies usually manifest after prolonged exposure to one brand, type, or form of food.
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Common Causes Of Food Allergies In Dogs
Often in dogs with food sensitivities, proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients in the diet are the cause. Beef, corn, dairy, and wheat are some of the most problematic ingredients.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it can take a long time for symptoms of food allergies to become apparent. Often dog’s appear to ‘suddenly’ become allergic to a food that they have been eating for months.
When To Contact Your Vet
Make an appointment with your vet if you notice any of the symptoms above or you think your dog may have a food allergy. There are many other conditions that can cause these symptoms as well as a food allergy.
You know your dog best. If they dont have the symptoms listed above but you are still concerned its always best to contact your vet.
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How Do I Know What My Dog Is Allergic To
A radioallergosorbent immunoantigen test can differentiate between a dog that is allergic to certain antigens on its skin and a pet with no allergy to these strains of proteins or viral proteins. Typically, these tests are performed in dogs with atopy, a condition of an inhalant allergy on their skin.
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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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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How To Tell If Your Dog Is Allergic To Food
Ever wondered why is your dog acting strange? It seems allergic. It seems disturbed. Does not feel hungry. It is mostly scratching and very aloof. Also throws up and has a bad stomach too? You then decide to take your dog to a vet who writes off all major diseases and instead, tells you that your dog is allergic to food and has a food reaction.
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How Do You Diagnose A True Food Allergy
The only way to definitely diagnose a true food allergy is to do a diet trial, Dr. Heinze says. Even then, if food is the culprit of a dogs symptoms and the dog is having GI upset rather than itching, its hard to distinguish sometimes whether its a food allergy or a food intolerance. But at least youre getting at the source of the problem.
Before the diet trial begins, its critical to get a complete diet history a list of every single ingredient in the foods a dog ever eats, particularly when he is doing poorly, either with itching, GI problems, or both.
Once a veterinary nutritionist reviews the diet history, she will choose for the dog a diet to which the pet has never been exposed. Maybe a dog has been on a chicken, rice, and fish diet, Dr. Heinze says, so well put him on a therapeutic diet made with kangaroo and oats things the dog has never had. Or well put him on what is known as a hydrolyzed protein diet. Its generally the proteins in foods to which dogs are allergic, but if you take a protein-rich food like soy or chicken and use enzymes to break up the proteins into smaller pieces, the dogs immune system may not recognize the proteins for what they are and therefore not go into overdrive and cause an allergic reaction.
Then you put the dog back on the old diet, Dr. Heinze explains. If the symptoms start up again immediately, you know it was the food.
Treatment For Flea Allergies
Treatment for flea allergy dermatitis is aimed at reducing the symptoms of itchy skin and irritation until the fleas are eliminated. To eliminate allergy symptoms in a flea-allergic dog, strict flea control is required.
There are many highly effective flea control products and medications available. Some are topical and come in the form of a liquid that you squeeze onto your dogs skin, such as Advantage, Revolution, or Vectra. Others are given orally in the form of chews, such as Simparica, NexGard, or Comfortis. Consult with your veterinarian to determine your best option.
In severe cases, a dogs environment must be treated for fleas as well. Vacuum thoroughly to remove eggs, larvae, and pupae, and discard the vacuum bag. You can use insecticides inside and outside your home to treat all flea life stages.
It is important to use an insecticide containing an insect growth regulator, such as methoprene or pyriproxyfen, to halt the development of flea eggs and larvae. You can hire a professional exterminator, but you should specify that the treatment is for fleas.
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Try To Find Out What They Are Allergic To
Once your dog is settled without symptoms on a special diet, your vet may recommend adding ingredients back into their food to try and find out what they are allergic to.
If your dog doesnt show any symptoms, this is a safe food. If your dogs symptoms come back after eating a certain food, its likely they are allergic to it. This will help you select a dog food that only contains safe foods.
Food trials and exclusion diets can be tricky and take a lot of time, the alternative is to keep feeding your dog a special veterinary diet for life.
Some dogs with a food allergy will also have allergies to things in the environment, this may cause allergic skin disease . In this case, they might improve a bit on a special diet but they may need some other treatments as well to help keep their skin symptoms controlled.
Common Food Allergens In Dogs And Cats
First on our cat and dog food allergy list is beef. Not only is it the most common protein found in dog foods, but its by far the most commonly reported pet food allergen in both dogs and cats. A study from BMC Veterinary Research reveals that as many as 34% of dogs and 18% of cats experiencing food allergies are allergic to beef, making it a leading offending allergen.
Like beef, chicken is a common food allergen that youll often see at the top of the ingredient label for any pet food. Of the dogs experiencing food allergies, 15% of them are allergic to chicken. Chicken allergies also affect about 5% of cats.
The third most common protein source in pet food is lamb. Though it includes a smaller percentage of allergic dogs, its reported that 5% of dogs face a lamb allergy.
Just like people, dogs and cats can have a hard time digesting dairy products. While dairy isnt as big of an offender as proteins, it is one of the most commonly recognized food allergens in both dogs and cats. Look out for ingredients like colostrum, milk, whey, cheese, and yogurt on the nutrition label.
Tip: Dogs and cats can also experience lactose intolerance, which leads to gastrointestinal signs like gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Since the symptoms of lactose intolerance and dairy allergies are very similar, we recommend talking to your veterinarian to determine if your pet is struggling with a food sensitivity or a full blown allergy.
Wheat and Grain
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How To Identify Dog Food Allergy Symptoms
Just like people, dogs can develop allergies to foods at any time even after years of eating a certain type of food. Some of the symptoms that your dog might have developed an intolerance to a certain type of food or an allergy, and might be a candidate for a dog food for allergies or another type of special diet, include:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Bacterial, fungal or yeast infections
- Intense itching and scratching that can cause red, irritated-looking skin
In fact, reactions caused by food allergies account for approximately 10% to 15% of all allergic skin disease in dogs and cats.1
Usually allergies emerge when dogs are between one and three years of age, but this is not a strict rule. While all breeds, including mixed breed dogs, can develop allergies, certain breeds are predisposed to developing them. These include:2
- Chinese Shar-Pei
Most often, the cause of an allergy isnt some exotic dietary element. Its usually a common protein source, such as beef and dairy. But any dog food ingredient could trigger an adverse reaction.
If your dog might need a food for dogs with allergies, your veterinarian might set up a diet elimination trial, the first step in determining whether a food ingredient might be triggering the adverse reaction. These trials usually last between eight and 12 weeks and involve a recommended diet plan for your dog, which you must follow carefully, and feed exclusively.
Signs & Symptoms Of Food Allergies In Dogs
Food allergies and sensitivities often dont appear until the dog reaches their first birthday, although they can develop in dogs of any age.
If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms they may be suffering from a food allergy and should be examined by your vet to determine the root cause of the symptom:
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Genetic Predisposition To Dog Food Allergies
Wondering whether your dog might be predisposed to food allergies or intolerances? Certainly there’s some evidence that if a parent has an allergy, their offspring is more likely to inherit it. So in that way, genes do play a role. But what doesn’t seem to be a factor is a dog’s breed. In fact, science has never confirmed that any one breed is more at risk for food allergies than another. “It can happen in any breed and in any dog,” says Shmalberg.He also notes that some breeders and owners may have the view that deviating from the ancestral diet of certain breeds might predispose to allergies. For example, Huskies are accustomed to fish diets in their natural habitatso could feeding them poultry lead to an allergic reaction?
In short, no. “There is no evidence to support that theory. Most dogs seem pretty adaptable to a range of foods,” says Shmalberg. The age or sex of the dog also appears to have no relevance to food allergies or intolerances. Some vets do report that food allergies have been found in dogs less than 1 year old. So even young puppies can be affected .
Here are the top 10 breeds most frequently Googled along with the term “food allergies” or “dog food allergies”:
Keep in mind, food allergies can happen in any breed, and, of course, some breeds may be searched more frequently just because they’re more popular in general.
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
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Itchy Skin Red Underbelly And Dull Coat
Together, these signs can indicate an allergy. Your dog itches constantly without relief, possibly causing hair loss in the affected patches.
What It Looks Like: Skin underneath the hair is red or pink, dry, and inflamed. No relief with baths, conditioners, or over-the-counter allergy medications. Excessive, near-constant scratching.
What It Means: Environmental allergies or food allergies.
But First! Rule Out
Shampoo residue on your dogs skin is a leading cause of contact dermatitis, and often resolves by switching to a milder shampoo and rinsing thoroughly. Try this trick: Shampoo your dog, and rinse him until you think you are done. Then, rinse two more times to be safe!
Shampoos containing artificial colors , sodium laurates, phthalates, mineral oil, and fragrances can all cause irritation. Try switching to a species-appropriate, all natural rinse for your dog, such as ones that contain apple cider vinegar or coconut oils.
Pollen Allergy: Your dog may also have a pollen allergy: try wiping him down with a cool, damp cloth every time he comes inside to eliminate exposure to pollen.
Fleas: Make sure your dog does not have fleas, as flea allergy dermatitis will also cause irritated skin.
What Is A Food Allergy
A food allergy is when a dogs immune system overreacts to one or more of the ingredients in their diet. Symptoms usually include skin problems and/or tummy problems .
Dogs tend to be allergic to proteins . They can be allergic to any protein they have ever eaten, most commonly to ingredients used regularly in dog food such as beef, chicken or lamb. Some dogs will be allergic to other ingredients, such as wheat.
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Nailbeds That Are Brown Bronze Or Red
If you suspect that your dog may have food allergies, then take a look at his nail beds.
If you notice they are red, brown, or even bronze, then allergies may be the culprit. Nailbeds in these colors indicate an inflammatory immune response.
Just keep in mind that this could also happen because of trauma to the foot or thyroid issues.
This particular symptom is also hard to see on some breeds. It tends to be easiest to spot on breeds with white nails.
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Allergic Or Food Sensitive
By Dr. Laura Duclos, Head of the Research and Development team at Puppo.
Just like humans, dogs can experience allergic reactions signaling their immune system to release histamines. Environmental factors like pollen, grasses, mold, and fleas are all potential culprits.
But so is the food your pup eats.
Reactions to food account for about 10% of all allergies seen in dogs and include a wide range of symptoms. But dog food allergies arent the most common culprit behind your dogs symptomsfood intolerance is more likely at the root of their discomfort.
In fact, true dog food allergies are rare, and in most cases, a diagnosed dog food allergy is actually a food sensitivity .
Even though youre feeding your pup a healthy dog food, something in their diet is causing a reaction, and it may be a reaction that has developed over time. What may have been perfectly fine to eat a year ago may now cause a problem.
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