Our Backstory: Common Food Allergies For Dogs
After Rascal turned a year old or so, he started developing really strange eating habits. He wasnt finishing his food, had loud intense stomachaches and frequently threw up. We went through a number of blood tests. He had been diagnosed with things like pancreatitis, anxiety and one vet even thought he had parvo. We were stressed and at a loss at how to move forward. That is until we did an allergy test.
We uncovered that Rascal was allergic to a dozen different food items, one being beef, the main ingredient in his traditional dry dog food. Our vet introduced us to an all-natural human-grade dog food company called Just Food for Dogs. The company sells premade food and teaches people how to make a homemade dog food recipe at home. Once we started this all-natural diet, the stomach aches subsided and he was the happiest we had ever seen him.
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.
Talk With Your Veterinarian
As always, talk to your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may have allergies. They may perform tests to rule out more common or more serious diseases that can cause similar symptoms.
To decide whether allergies are likely the culprit, your veterinarian will also take into account:
The age of onset
Your dogs breed
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Most Common Dog Food Allergens
“Meat, dairy, and eggs are often thought to be the most common dog food allergens,” says Shmalberg. “Yet generally, it’s the protein part of those foods that tend to be problematic, rather than, say, the meat itself.” Keep in mind, veggies can contain protein, so they’re not automatically safe.
That same review BMC Veterinary Research identified some of the most frequently reported dog food allergens involved in adverse food reactions. Here’s a look, from most-reported to least-reported.
Top Dog Food Allergens
|Dog Food Allergen
Shmalberg calls out two important caveats to keep in mind here.
More facts about dog food allergens that are helpful to know:
What Is Inhalant Allergy And How Is It Treated
The term inhalant allergy in the dog is often used as a synonym for atopy. The main inhalant allergens are tree pollens , grass pollens, weed pollens , molds, mildew, and house dust mites. Many of these allergies occur seasonally, such as ragweed, cedar, and grass pollens. However, others such as molds, mildew, and house dust mites occur year-round. When humans inhale these allergens, the resulting allergy primarily manifests with upper respiratory signs: runny eyes, runny nose, and sneezing . Although sometimes the symptoms of allergies include allergic rhinitis or bronchitis, in most dogs, inhalant allergy manifests with itchy skin . Due to these clinical signs, the condition is also called inhalant allergic dermatitis. The dog may rub its face, lick its feet and scratch the axillae .
“Symptoms of atopy can be controlled but a permanent cure is not usually possible.”
Most dogs that have inhalant allergy start showing signs between one and three years of age. Affected dogs will often react to several allergens and often experience concurrent flea or food allergies. If the offending allergens can be identified by intradermal skin tests or blood tests, the dog should be protected from exposure to them as much as possible. Because most of these allergens are environmental, this is difficult and recurrent bouts are likely. Symptoms of atopy can be controlled but a permanent cure is not usually possible.
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Allergy Symptoms In Dogs
If your dog is experiencing symptoms like itchy ears and skin or stomach issues, theres a good chance your dog may have a food allergy.
Allergies in dogs are usually genetic. When this issue is triggered, its because the dog came into contact with whatever it is he or she is allergic to. Environment can affect your dogs allergies but a genetic predisposition is almost always the root cause.
According to pets webmd, 10% of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies. Studies are still being conducted to determine just what causes some dogs to express the trait of food allergies.
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.
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The Hows Of Figuring Out Food Allergies In Dogs
A food allergy has the least number of occurrences among other allergies, easily gets mixed up with further air-borne allergies and so, takes time to diagnose. According to most veterinarians, food allergies are either gastrointestinal or skin related.
As a dog owner, you should know the root causes and be able to gauge the following symptoms to battle it all out.
The Best Diy Dog Food With Turkey And Veggies
Ever since we published our first Easy Homemade Dog Food Recipe we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have told us that they have already made the leap and are preparing fresh meals for their pups at home! Ditching processed kibble once and for all is one of the best things you can do for your dog. We learned this ourselves this last year after our 11-year old dog had an incredibly positive change to his health once we moved to a healthy dog food! Recently, I developed a new 100% human grade homemade dog food recipe that utilizes some of the best fall produce for your dog like sweet potatoes, cranberries, rosemary, and sage! Our dogs love it so much I decided to share it here too so you and your pup can celebrate the best the season has to offer.
***Please note, I am not a veterinarian, just a very passionate dog owner! The information in this blog post documents our own personal experiences, research, and the recipes that we feed our dogs under our veterinarians careful supervision. Please, consult with your vet and use your own personal judgment when considering transitioning to a 100% human grade food diet for your pup.*** Updated with video 9/4/2021
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How Are Dog Food Allergies Diagnosed
Diagnosing food allergies in dogs isnt always a straightforward process. Its not like theres a simple test that can instantly tell what your dog is allergic to or, if indeed, he has food allergies at all.
You have to start at the beginning, with the help of your veterinarian, to know for sure whether your dogs skin or ear issues are caused by food allergies.
What Signs Should I Watch Out For
Unlike a human’s reaction to, say, a shellfish allergy, a dog’s food allergies are generally expressed as out-of-season itching. Common symptoms include red skin or rashes, particularly on the ears and feet. In some cases, allergies may cause a dog to develop gassiness, vomiting and diarrhea.
Most commonly, these signs will appear before the dog’s first birthday, but a food allergy can develop at any point in an animal’s life.
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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.
Dog Breeders State That Some Kinds Of Dog Food Really Contain Less Protein Making Them More Suitable For Smaller Dogs Than Big Dogs It Is Also Possible To Find Some Pet Foods Which Are Particularly Created For Smaller Dogs
Another element which needs to be taken into account when you are choosing your pet food is the amount of fat material. Dog foods that contain low to moderate levels of fat are perfect. However, dog owners are able to choose between low and high quality dog foods too. Dog owners who are not familiar with this matter should consult a vet. The vet will advise you if the pet food you are considering buying is okay for the dog or not.
Whenever you are picking dog food, remember to look at the ingredients. Be sure to read the label carefully so you will know precisely what you are feeding your dog.Finally, you need to think about the frequency of feeding on your dogs food. If your dog wants a lot of meals at the same time, you could think about purchasing dehydrated food.
So now that youre aware of the fundamentals of dog food, its time for you to decide on the right type of dog food. But if you would like to take the next step and start your own household, remember that it is not the food that you feed your pet, but the way you care for your dog that counts. It truly is up to you.
Dog food can be a very stressful thing to consider. But, when youre ready to buy pet food, be sure you do your research first.
If youve just brought home a new puppy, you may feel concerned about the idea of feeding it. But, if youre patient and persistent, you then are going to see how simple it is for you to nourish your puppy food. Just follow these tips.
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You Notice Recurring Hot Spots
Like ear infections, hot spots can arise on their own, or they can be secondary to underlying allergies. If you feel like youre always treating a new hot spot on your dog, talk to your veterinarian about allergies.
Seasonal And Environmental Allergies In Dogs
Environmental allergens for dogs include pollen, molds, grass, trees, and dust mites. Another common allergen is flea saliva, which causes a disease called flea allergy dermatitis.
If you notice that your dog suffers from itching and scratching during a particular time of year, or in response to being in a specific place, keep notes. Diagnosing allergies tends to involve a lot of trial and error, so having as much information as possible will be helpful for your veterinarian.
To help manage your dogs environmental allergies, you can also try giving them regular baths, to help wash away external allergens from the skin and coat.
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How To Tell If Your Dog Has Food Allergies And What To Do About It
Like humans, dogs can be allergic to several different foods. This can result in a variety of symptoms that affect different parts of the body.
Roughly 1 in 10 dogs with allergies experience food allergies. If you believe your dog is among them, consult your regular veterinarian. He/she will be able to diagnose the issue and find the appropriate treatment method. Till then, heres what you should know about food allergies in dogs:
What Symptoms Should I Look Out For?
Note that some of the symptoms of food allergies in dogs can also be a result of other conditions. With that being said, the most common symptoms include:
- Rashes or skin infections
- Excessive head shaking and toe licking
What Causes Food Allergies?
Food allergies in dogs are widely believed to be genetic. In other words, affected dogs inherited an altered gene from one or both birth parents which caused them to develop this condition. As a result, the dogs immune system will go into offense mode when a particular protein is introduced to his/her body. Some of these proteins include dairy, beef, chicken, wheat, and eggs.
How Are Food Allergies Treated?
How has your dog responded to treatment for food allergies? Was the process tedious? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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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Can Dogs Suddenly Become Allergic To Their Food
A: Thats common in food-allergic dogs. They have to be sensitized they have to have been exposed for some period of time. So, in general, theyre not going to react really dramatically the first time they eat it but a dog that has eaten a food for years could suddenly become allergic to that food.
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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.
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How To Help Dog Allergies And Allergy Medicine For Dogs
Obviously, figuring out the exact cause of your dogs allergies and helping them avoid whatever that is is the best way to treat them. But even then, you should probably keep up with preventative measures to stop your pups itchiness for good. Finding the source of your dogs allergy and discussing a specific treatment plan with your veterinarian is recommended, Klein says.
Here are the ways in which dog allergies are most often treated:
Antihistamines: Yeah, like Benadryl vets often use it for dogs with mild allergies. This treatment is generally inexpensive and safe with little side effects, but different types can have variable effects and dont work on all dogs, Klein says. Just make sure to contact your veterinarian before giving your dog any form of medication, so they can guide you on the right dosage and whatnot.
Flea Prevention: Flea prevention is obvious, relatively easy and will help dogs who suffer from allergies to fleas, Klein says. Seriously, flea prevention is super easy to keep up with even if only for the sake of keeping your home free of fleas and there are tons of great products out there.
Environmental and External Aids: Air purifiers can help reduce certain molds that may trigger allergies in dogs, Klein notes. Dusts and pollens are best controlled by using an air cleaner with a HEPA filter. An added bonus of having an air purifier: You get to breathe fresh air, too!
Anything for our pups, right?