Last week I talked about food allergies in dogs. After reading that post, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do to prevent your dog from developing a food allergy.
Well, the answer to that is mostly no, unfortunately.
There does seem to be a genetic component to allergies. So, if you are planning to buy a purebred dog, you can ask the breeders you interview if their lines tend to have food allergies. A responsible breeder won’t breed a dog that has allergies.
But if a dog is already a member of your family, or if you rescue a dog, your dog’s genetic makeup is water under the bridge.
Can the occurrence of food allergies be minimized and/or simplified?
Some veterinarians recommend probiotics to dogs older than 6 months. They keep the gut flora healthy.
If you’re not currently giving your dog a probiotic, talk to your vet about adding one to their diet.
Some veterinarians believe that gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach caused by bacterial toxins or a viral infection) in a young dog can predispose them to food allergies.
I’ve been unable to find any hard research that that is the case. But I can’t imagine that avoiding gastroenteritis, to the extent that’s possible, would be detrimental.
The problem is that gastroenteritis in a dog is usually caused by them eating something they’re not supposed to. Like a dead animal or rotten food from the garbage.
I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most loving dog owners do what they can to prevent their beloved pet from getting into something dangerous like that. In spite of all of our efforts though, dogs still get into trouble some times and eat things they’re not supposed to.
If you think your dog has eaten something dangerous, get them to the vet immediately. If you’re a responsible dog owner, I think that’s probably the best you can do to prevent or minimize gastroenteritis.
There are some veterinarians that recommend you feed your dog a food with only one protein and one carbohydrate source so that it’s easier to find a food for them if they do become allergic.
This seems like a reasonable approach to simplifying the difficulties associated with a food allergy.
If your dog eats a food that consists of chicken as its sole protein and potato as its sole carb, it will be pretty simple to find a food with a different protein and a different carb should they develop a food allergy.
Can a rotating diet prevent allergies?
This is a question that doesn’t seem to have a definitive answer. Ask 6 different people you’ll get 6 different answers.
In order to understand the answers, you need to understand what a rotating diet is.
Changing the protein and carbohydrate sources in your dog’s diet regularly is rotating the diet. Some people feel this is beneficial, particularly in minimizing food allergies.
My research has uncovered absolutely no hard and fast proof of this.
Here are the arguments FOR and AGAINST a rotating diet:
“Dogs get bored of eating the same thing every day. Wouldn’t you?”
Dogs aren’t humans even though we treat them like they are. They don’t have the same sense of taste we do and don’t crave diverse foods like we do.
“Some commercial dog foods have small amounts of toxic ingredients that will cause harm to your dog if they eat it everyday for their entire life.”
Don’t feed your dog any food that you think may have toxic ingredients, no matter how small the amount. Feeding a super premium food like Husse will assure the ingredients are wholesome.
“It’s the only way to be sure your dog’s diet is nutritionally balanced. Your dog’s wild ancestors had a varied diet that gave them everything they needed and your domestic dog needs that variety too.”
Commercially sold dog food must be nutritionally balanced. Even if you’re feeding a home cooked raw diet, every meal should be nutritionally balanced.
And our domestic dogs are not direct descendants of their wild ancestors. Hundreds if not thousands of years of domestication have created adaptations in our dogs’ biology to account for the fact they don’t hunt for their food anymore.
“Changing the protein and carbohydrate source regularly doesn’t allow the body time to become allergic.”
In some dogs, exposure to an allergen can result in a reaction after only a few months. After rotating through all the protein and carb sources available, you’ll have to start repeating them. After a number of years, your dog will have eaten each protein and carb source long enough to become allergic. And then what?
There will be no protein and carb they haven’t had that you’ll be able to feed them with certainty that they won’t become allergic to it.
In addition, changing your dog’s diet frequently can cause an upset stomach, even if you introduce the new food gradually.
If you are thinking about feeding your dog a rotating diet, talk to your vet first. A rotating diet may be beneficial for some dogs, and your vet who knows your dog’s health situation, is the best person to decide along with you if it’s right for them.
More often than not, what’s most important is feeding your dog a balanced diet that matches your dog’s age, level of activity, and health issues.
Do you have a dog that’s developed a food allergy despite your best efforts to prevent it? We’d love to hear about it. Share your experience in the comment section above.