But What Exactly Is A Food Allergy
Food allergies are different from food intolerance. Food intolerance is the result of poor digestion, such as lactose intolerance. People and dogs with lactose intolerance are either missing or have low levels of the milk digesting enzyme lactase.
Food allergies are the over-response of your dogs immune system to an invading protein. In the case of a food allergy, this protein is contained in your dogs food. Proteins are present in most of the foods your dog eats. While most people recognize that meats are a source of proteins, there are also proteins present in grains and vegetables. Any one of these proteins has the potential to cause a food allergy.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Has A Food Allergy Or A Food Intolerance
Common signs of adverse food reactions include frequent vomiting, itchy and inflamed skin, poor coat condition or hair loss, poor stool quality and gas, and sometimes even limping. The best advice is to go to your vet if you notice anything off with your dog, especially because its so difficult to tell if your dogs responses are food intolerance symptoms or dog allergy symptoms.
Although food intolerances do not have an immune component like food allergies do, they can have very similar clinical signs, especially those associated with the gastrointestinal tract, says Dr. Leslie. She adds that poorly digested food can also exhibit gas, gurgling and nauseaso it can be difficult to determine if the response is immune driven or not.
Once a dog shows these dog allergy symptoms or food intolerance symptoms, it can take weeks to figure out what the responses are due to, and even longer to find the source of the response. It often takes at least 8-12 weeks of feeding to identify an effective diet if your dog develops an adverse reaction to food, and in the minority of dogs it may take up to 36 weeks. This includes visits to the vet, special diets, and of course waiting for the unpleasant food intolerance or dog allergy symptoms to subside.
What Are The Symptoms Of Allergies In Dogs
In the dog, the most common symptom associated with allergies is itching of the skin, either localized or generalized . In some cases, the symptoms involve the respiratory system, with coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from the eyes or nose. In other cases, the allergic symptoms affect the digestive system resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
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Food And Skin Allergies In Dogs
- Common allergies include food, flea and skin allergies
- Allergies are caused by various types of environmental factors
- Treatments vary depending on which allergy your dog suffers with
- Speak to your vet if you think your dog may have an allergy
Humans are not the only ones to suffer with allergies. Unfortunately our four-legged friends do too.
Allergies can be caused by many different environmental factors and, depending on the cause and your dogs reaction, can be managed in various ways.
Diagnosing Dog Food Allergies
Unfortunately, there are no reliable ways to test your dog for food allergies. The only way to determine which foods your dog is allergic to is through the process of elimination. Typically, your vet will prescribe a special, limited-ingredient dog food containing types of meat and carbohydrates that aren’t in your dog’s usual meals and seeing how he does on it. If your dog’s symptoms clear up on this special meal plan, after a period of time your vet may have you switch your dog back to his old food to see if the allergy symptoms reappear. If they do, that will confirm that you’re dealing with a food allergy.
The next step is to identify the specific ingredient causing the allergic reaction in your dog. This requires changing back to the limited ingredient food. Once your dog’s symptoms clear up, your vet may then have you add ingredients from his old food back to his meals one at a time and monitor the results in order to identify which ingredients trigger an allergic reaction.
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How Do You Know If Your Pet Might Have A Food Allergy
Some pets may present symptoms of an allergic reaction such as itchy skin, ear infections, vomiting, or diarrhea. These could also be signs of intolerance, virus, parasitic infection, or other illness.
Common food allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy skin or paws
- Red eyes or eye discharge
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Food Trials And Elimination Diets For Dogs
The purpose of a food trial for canine food allergies is to eliminate as many potential allergens as possible from the diet. It generally involves feeding a novel protein or a diet made with hydrolyzed protein.
Your vet can help you choose a high-quality diet made with specific limited ingredients. The protein in the diet should come from one source and be either hydrolyzed or novel .
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Treatments For Food Allergies In Dogs
If your veterinarian suspects that your dog may be suffering from food allergies, theyll first examine the dog and look over their medical history to rule out any other causes of the symptoms. This might involve testing skin scrapings or looking for the presence of lice.
To determine the cause of a food allergy in dogs, a diet-based process of elimination must be carried out. This usually involves putting the dog on a new food theyve not had before, and then slowly reintroducing certain ingredients that are often found to prompt an allergic reaction.
Going through an elimination diet can last for a number of weeks, so remember to stay very patient with your dog during the process! Follow your vets guidance.
Once you and your vet determine the cause of the allergic reactions, your vet will advise removing the allergen from your dogs diet.
Does your dog have any food allergies? How did your vet help you find the allergen and remove it from your dogs diet? Let us know in the comments section below!
How To Identify A Food Allergy
Given that the symptoms of food allergies are similar regardless of the trigger, determining what your dog is reacting to can be a challenge.
Usually, your veterinarian will recommend an elimination diet. This means you will have to switch your dog to an entirely new food with ingredients theyve never had before. Once your dog has stopped experiencing allergy symptoms, you begin adding ingredients from their standard diet back in, one by one. If the allergy symptoms re-occur, you will have your culprit!
This process usually takes 2 or 3 months to complete.
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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.
Chronic Ear Or Paw Infection
Ear infection in dogs could be due to several reasons, including diet involved. Dogs already suffering from food and environmental allergies are more susceptible to ear infections. These allergies lead to microscopic inflammation that promotes bacterial overgrowth or yeast organisms on your dogs skin. However, yeast in your dogs diet doesnt cause a yeast infection. Consider having your dogs hypoallergenic diet tested by a vet to see its effects on the dogs symptoms.
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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.
Food Allergies In Puppies: Symptoms And Treatment Options
Food Allergies in Puppies, by Kristen Youngs |Last Updated January 29, 2020
Discovering if your dog has food allergies is both a stressful and worrisome experience.
- How do you know what your dog is allergic to?
- What should you do to treat their symptoms?
- Does your dog even have food allergies, or is it something else altogether?
The moment your new puppy comes home for the first time is always amazing and memorable. Finding out they have sensitivities, allergies, or just general discomfort is a hard pill to swallow, though.
Rest assured, there are specific signs to watch out for that will help you indicate whether or not your dog is suffering from food allergies. Likewise, you will be able to monitor and handle the situation, helping them live a symptom free and healthy life.
Dogs are susceptible to food allergies and sensitivities just like you are. That being said, your puppy certainly wont be able to tell you when its not feeling well.
Take it upon yourself to always monitor your puppy look for symptoms of discomfort, itching, or general pain, and prepare yourself for what comes next if you notice them.
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What Is Food Allergy And How Is It Treated
Food allergy or food hypersensitivity can develop to almost any protein or carbohydrate component of food. It most commonly develops in response to protein of the food dairy products, beef, wheat gluten, chicken, chicken eggs, lamb, and soy are commonly associated with food allergies in dogs. Food allergy can develop at almost any age. Food allergy may produce any of the clinical signs previously discussed including itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress. A dog may have multiple types of allergy, such as both food allergy and atopy making the exact diagnosis of a dogâs itching quite challenging.
“Food allergy typically does not respond well to corticosteroids or other medical treatments.”
Food allergy typically does not respond well to corticosteroids or other medical treatments. Treatment requires identifying the offending component of the diet and eliminating them. The most accurate way of testing for food allergies is with an elimination diet trial using a hypoallergenic diet. Because it takes at least eight weeks for all other food products to be eliminated from the body, the dog must eat the special diet exclusively for eight to twelve weeks. If a positive response and improvement of your pet’s clinical signs occurs, your veterinarian will advise you on how to proceed.
“If the diet is not fed exclusively, it will not be a valid test.”
Food Allergy Questions To Ask Your Veterinarian:
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Common Food Allergies In Dogs
Just like humans, dogs can experience food allergies. While almost anything can be an allergen, certain ingredients are more common triggers than others.
Allergic reactions are an immune response a dogs body takes when it detects a foreign substance. While the substance in question may be harmless, the dogs immune system somehow decides otherwise and employs defenses against it to fight it off. These defenses manifest in the form of an allergic reaction.
In this piece, weve broken down some of the most common food allergies dogs experience, along with the symptoms to watch for and how to determine the source of your dogs allergic reaction.
Lets dig in!
Understanding The Difference Between A Food Allergy And Food Intolerance
The term food allergies should be reserved only for adverse reactions that have a true immune component. Food intolerances refer to all other non-immunologic adverse responses to food.
One way to think of the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance is that a food allergy is the immune system responding to an allergen that the body has previously been exposed to. Dr. Leslie notes, A true food allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction, which means the animal has been exposed to the allergen previously, which provides the immune system time to intercept the protein and develop antibodies to the protein, which then may trigger the immunologic reaction.
A true food allergy isnt very common, notes Dr. Leslie. A food intolerance or food sensitivity is much more common, she says.
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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.
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.
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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.
Red Brown Or Bronze Nail Beds
This is easiest to observe in dogs with white nails, such as white bully breeds, Dalmatians, Boxers, Bulldogs and Spaniels.
What It Looks Like: You may notice that the base of your dogs nails are red, even bloody-looking. This is the sign of an inflammatory immune response. Your dogs white nails should be white, with a pink quick. A red, brown, or red-brown nail bed base indicates that something is up. Nails may be sensitive and your dog appears to itch or lick them often.
What It Means: Food allergy.
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Because this is systemic, youll want to conduct a food-elimination diet to identify the trigger food. Keep the space between your dogs toes clean and by using a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel.
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Food Allergy Symptoms In Dogs
So, how can you tell whether your pet is suffering from food intolerance or a food allergy?
Remember a food intolerance simply means your pet is unable to digest the food item, whereas a food allergy causes the bodys immune system to go into overdrive and release a chemical called histamine in an effort to fight off the allergen.
How A Novel Protein Can Help
A novel protein is just a protein source thats new to your dog, one your dog has never eaten before and therefore hasnt developed a sensitivity to. Whether the cause of your dogs symptoms is a food sensitivity or a true food allergy, the best solution is to avoid the foods that trigger those reactions. Your veterinarian can help you plan an elimination diet, which involves removing all the foods your dog has been exposed to and transitioning to a novel protein source.
But considering how much the variety of commercial dog foods has expanded in the last couple of decades, finding a protein source your dog has never encountered before can be difficult. Venison? Kangaroo? Alligator? Insect protein has attracted increasing attention as a sustainable food source , and crickets can be an especially useful novel protein for dogs with food issues.
Crickets are just as digestible as more traditional sources of protein for dogs . They provide complete amino acids and beneficial fiber. Theyre also a more sustainable food source: cricket farming uses much less water and other resources than raising cattle or other animals, and it produces virtually no methane or other environmentally damaging byproducts.
While no food is inherently hypoallergenic or completely allergy-proof, research published in the Journal of Animal Science found no allergic reactions or other adverse effects in adult dogs who were fed cricket meal in a long-term trial.
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