Food Allergies in Dogs
10% of all allergy cases in dogs are a result of food allergies. It’s the third highest cause of food allergies after flea bite allergies and atopy – inhaled allergens.
Causes of food allergies
The food ingredients that tend to trigger food allergies include: beef, chicken, eggs, dairy products, soy and wheat, amazing as most of these are in the majority of dog foods!
There is a view that the allergies are due to an over-exposure to one of these ingredients.
The natural diet of a dog would have been widely varied and completely unprocessed. The diet of the modern dog shows the introduction of specific ingredients or processed items that they would not have traditionally consumed. Tolerance to a food item is built up over several generations. For some dogs – there has simply not been enough time for them to adjust to some ingredients.
Keep a look out as allergies can start at any point …
If your dog starts to show any symptoms that you’d think typical of a human food allergy, I’d recommend getting in touch with your vet straight away. Some of these symptoms can be associated with other factors such as fleas, external parasites, inhaled allergens or contact allergens. A vet will be able to pinpoint the source of the allergen and advise you of the best procedure.
Once a vet has ruled out all other possible health problems, the best way to determine which specific ingredient is the cause of an upset is the ‘elimination diet’. The purpose of the elimination diet is to slowly eliminate all suspected food ingredients from your dog’s diet then gradually re-introduce the ingredients until the culprit ingredient is found. Commonly, a dog will only be allergic to one or two of the ingredients in their diet; the most recurrent cause is a protein.
Once the allergen has been positively diagnosed, a plan for future feeding and dietary requirements of your dog should be considered. Hypoallergenic commercial diets created specifically for dogs with allergies have been created by a number of the leading dog brands. These specialised foods work for the majority of affected dogs. However, it is important to check the ingredients list of a new brand, to ensure the elimination for the potential of further allergic reactions.
These hypoallergenic dog foods usually contain an alternative source of meat, protein and essential fats to ensure that your dog still achieves their nutritional requirements. Here is to happy healthy dogs!