There’s a lot of talk in the dog world about food allergies. This conversation usually goes hand in hand with the grain-free diet conversation and the raw diet conversation.
Very often, people think grain-free and raw diets are the answer to the allergy problem. But are they?
Do you wonder if your dog is suffering from a food allergy?
Allergies bring up lots of questions, but luckily the answers are pretty straightforward.
What’s the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?
If your dog has a food allergy, they will show signs of itching and skin problems, problems characteristic of any allergy.
If your dog has a food intolerance, they’ll have stomach upset like vomiting and diarrhea, just like a person would. Fortunately, food allergies and food intolerances can be treated by avoiding the offending food.
So how do you know if your dog suffers from a food allergy?
Here are 5 signs to look out for:
1) Excessive scratching
2) Chronic or recurrent ear infections
3) Hair loss
4) Hot spots
5) Skin infections
It can be difficult to differentiate between a dog suffering from a food allergy and a dog suffering from atopy, which is an allergy brought on by inhaling airborne pollens, mold spores, dust mites and other environmental allergens.
Atopy can cause atopic dermatitis, which is an inflammatory chronic allergic skin condition that looks very similar to a food allergy.
Here are a few indications that your dog’s skin problems may be a food allergy and not atopy:
– Chronic ear infections that subside and return, particularly infections caused by yeast
– Your dog is very young and is suffering from moderate to severe skin problems
– Your dog is suffering from allergies year-round, or the symptoms begin in winter
– Your dog’s itching fails to respond to steroid treatment
What are common dog food allergens?
Food allergies account for about 10% of all dog allergies, and can occur at almost any age, male or female, neutered or in tact, and there is no breed predisposition…although some breed lines may be genetically predisposed to allergies.
The most common offenders in order of prevalence are beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, fish, chicken eggs, corn, wheat and soy. If you are reading this list and thinking that the most common allergens are the ingredients most likely to be found in your dog’s food you are correct.
This is no coincidence. The likelihood of an allergic reaction goes hand in hand with the amount of exposure to the allergen. Your dog will become allergic to something they eat every day, like the chicken in their kibble, not something they’ve only consumed a few times.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from a food allergy, the trick is to figure out what it is they are allergic too.
How do you isolate the culprit?
Food allergy symptoms mimic the symptoms of many other illnesses and conditions so first and foremost, see your vet to rule out other problems.
Once you’re certain the problem’s a food allergy, you’ll need to do a food trial. For 12 weeks, you’ll feed your dog a diet with a novel food source. This would be a diet with a new source of protein and carbohydrate that your dog has never had before, like venison and potato, or lamb and rice.
Whatever the diet you choose, it must be the only thing your dog ingests, besides water. That means no treats, no chew toys that could be swallowed, no table food, and no delicious remnants of lunch licked from your child’s hands.
It will take 12 weeks on the new diet for your dog’s symptoms to completely disappear. Once all symptoms are gone, you’ll go back to feeding your dog its original food.
If symptoms reappear, a food allergy is confirmed and you will need to switch your dog to a food with a completely different protein and carbohydrate source.
The challenge in finding a new food is that many commercial foods contain multiple protein and carbohydrate sources.
The sole protein and carbohydrate in the food you choose should also be a protein and carb that your dog has never had before to ensure they’re not allergic.
Husse’s Lamm & Ris (Lamb & Rice) or Lax & Ris (Salmon & Rice) are ideal for dogs with food allergies. Rice is highly digestible and gluten-free. Gluten can be a problem for a dog with food allergies. And all Husse foods are balanced to provide your dog with the nutrition they need.
It’s not necessary to feed your dog a raw diet if they have a food allergy. Raw diets can be problematic if you aren’t careful about providing all the necessary supplements for a balanced diet.
And a grain-free diet is only beneficial if your dog is allergic to a grain. It isn’t going to provide any benefit if your dog is allergic to the protein source in their diet.
And you may remember from my post about GMOs that what appears to be a grain allergy may actually be a reaction to eating a genetically modified grain, and not actually an allergy to the grain itself. An exposure that can be easily avoided by feeding an organic food or one that doesn’t contain any GMOs.
Husse super premium dog food is one of those foods you can trust to never contain GMOs.
Do you have a dog that’s had a food allergy? How did you know and what did you do about it? Share your experience in the comment section above.