Maybe you’ve heard one of your friends talking about the most common food allergies in dogs and it’s made you wonder why Fido is always scratching and itching.
Could your dog be suffering in silence from a food allergy?
We’ll walk you through this issue today so you have a solid understanding of the most common culprits among canine food. We’ll also point out how you can get food allergies in your dog diagnosed, as well as showing you how to go about fixing the issue.
I. What is a Canine Food Allergy?
A food allergy in dog’s occurs in the same way as food allergies in humans. Many people have allergies to nuts, for instances. Some are allergic to fruits like strawberries.
Food allergy is among the top five hypersensitivities known to impact dogs adversely.
If your dog develops an allergy, his immune system will overreact by producing antibodies to substances that are normally well-tolerated. When it’s a food triggering the allergic reaction, Rover’s immune system produces antibodies against some part of that food, typically either a form of protein or complex carbohydrate.
In order for a full-blown allergy to develop, your dog’s immune system needs to start producing antibodies. This means that most food allergies develop after sustained exposure to a single type of food, or food exclusively from a single brand.
Now, a food allergy is not the same as a food intolerance. If your dog has a food intolerance, he might find problems digesting some ingredients – dairy, for example – where with a food allergy, an immune response is triggered by the food.
Essentially, your dog’s immune system makes a mistake. It identifies a component of the food – usually protein or carbs – as harmful rather than beneficial. Resultantly, your furball’s system starts kicking out defensive antibodies to fight back against this ingredient based on this flawed response.
If your dog has developed a legitimate food allergy, look out for any of the following common markers:
- Skin rashes
- Itchy skin
- Scaly skin
- Oily skin
- Itchy paws
- Hot spots
- Pigmented skin
- Change in skin texture
- Red eyes
- Eye discharge
- Ear infections
- Hair loss
- Secondary bacterial infections
Read our related article, How to Help My Dog’s Immune System. Strengthen your dog’s immunity with these health tips!
II. What Are The Most Common Food Allergies in Dogs?
Now you know what a food allergy is, what are some of the foods usually responsible for triggering this faulty immune response in some canines?
Proteins in general are common food allergens.
If you have been feeding Fido the same food for years, this heightens his risk of developing a food allergy or intolerance to one of its ingredients.
Since beef is among the most common ingredients in dog food, it’s no surprise that it’s also among the most common allergens.
With so many commercial dog food formulas being heavy on chicken and beef, lamb was introduced as an alternative source of premium protein for dogs allergic or intolerant to chicken or beef.
That said, lamb itself is also a potential allergen.
If you’ve been feeding your dog a classic lamb and rice recipe, switch it up to some venison and sweet potato as a worthy substitute that hopefully won’t trigger an allergic reaction.
Even though you may imagine chicken as a bland and benign ingredient, it’s actually among the most common causes of food allergies in dogs.
While grains are often held up as a huge cause for concern in dog food, the reality is more nuanced.
It’s much more common for dogs to develop allergies to meat-based ingredients than to grains.
Having said that, it’s certainly possible for your pooch to develop an allergy to grains.
As with all aspects of allergies, you should consult with your vet if you’re in any doubt. It’s always worth getting some clinical input if you’re unsure.
If your dog has an allergic reaction to eggs, it means his immune system is reacting to the proteins found in the yolk of the eggs.
This is a simple allergen to sidestep. All that’s required is close examination of the ingredients label on any food you’re considering for Rover.
Many dogs find it tough to digest lactose. Formally, lactose intolerance is not an allergy proper.
Lactose intolerance can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and vomiting in affected dogs.
The confusion occurs because these same symptoms are also indicative of a dairy allergy. Speak with your vet if you’re running into problems in this area.
Soy has been found in various studies to trigger a range of health issues extending beyond allergy. These can include growth problems, liver disease, thyroid issues, and reproductive problems.
According to many pet nutritionists, the drawbacks of soy significantly outweigh the advantages.
- Note: Much less commonly, rabbit and fish can inflame allergies in your furball.
III. How Can You Get Food Allergy Testing for Your Furball
If you have any suspicions that your pooch is plagued by a food allergy, you should make an appointment with your vet to discuss the issue and to get to the bottom of it.
There are many commercially-available skin tests and blood allergy tests. This is a common starting point. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of evidence supporting the accuracy of these tests, so they should be considered as a rough benchmark rather than a guaranteed and precise diagnosis.
The most systematic approach is to start an elimination diet to determine which food is provoking the allergy in your furball. Here, you start by removing all the foods your dog has been eating, and you give him foods he has never tried before. Once symptoms of the allergy abate, you begin reintroducing his old foods gradually. If a reaction occurs – and this may take from a few days to a week or more to manifest – you’ll then be able to permanently eliminate that ingredient from his diet.
IV. How Can You Feed a Dog with Food Allergies
Once you’ve managed to find the culprit for the food allergy, you should go to great lengths to keep that ingredient away from your dog.
You could consider a prescription food. Speak with your vet about this.
Another option is to make some homemade dog food, but this may not give your dog the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Hypoallergenic foods are worth exploring. These harness hydrolyzed proteins. In plain English, the protein content of the food is broken down into tiny molecules to minimize the chance of an allergic reaction.
Arguably the best option, though, is to use a limited ingredient (LID) dog food.
OK, to round out today, we’ve assembled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about dog allergies so you have everything you need in one place.
1) Are food allergies in dogs common?
Roughly 10% of all cases of canine allergies are food-related. You also find that dogs develop food intolerances. This is not the same as an allergy.
2) What are the most common signs of canine food allergies?
There are many symptoms that point to food allergies in dogs. Look out for gastrointestinal problems, chronic diarrhea, chronic gas, or itchiness from the rear end.
3) What most commonly causes food allergies in dogs?
Dogs, just like humans, can sometimes be genetically predisposed to picking up allergies. Environmental factors can also impact allergies. Research in this area is robust and ongoing, specifically into the immune system during the first few weeks of life. If young dogs are treated with a course of antibiotics, this can trigger changes to the canine gut environment. This is the largest of the immune organs in your dog’s body.
4) Can food allergies in dogs be cured?
No. That said, avoidance can effectively prevent further inflammation of the allergy. Some pets could need medication during severe episodes, but the vast bulk of pet allergies can be treated using a hypoallergenic diet or a limited ingredient diet.
5) Is my dog liable to develop other allergies?
It’s certainly possible your dog could go on to develop further food-related allergies. They may also develop flea allergy or an inhalant allergy, so you just never know.
Maybe you arrived here today with no idea at all about the most common food allergies in dogs. That should have changed by now.
Here at BarkVA, we help you with more than just choosing the best dog equipment. We also bring you plenty of guides like today’s insight into allergies, and we’ll be giving you pointers on how to address the issue of food allergies with dedicated foods for dogs with a sensitive stomach.
Be sure to bookmark out blog before you head off, and be sure to pop back soon! We have plenty of fresh content coming as always so don’t miss out. We also have plenty more dog food guides coming up to help you sidestep food allergies in your pup.
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