A food allergy is an adverse reaction to a particular food or ingredient. In dogs, the most common allergies are to proteins, such as wheat, dairy items, chicken, eggs, beef, and lamb. Some common manifestations include excessive licking, itching, and gastrointestinal troubles such as vomiting and diarrhea. On the other hand, food intolerance may refer to a condition when a dog’s body cannot adequately digest and absorb certain ingredients in its food. Due to this, your pet dog can exhibit many symptoms, such as gastrointestinal pain, skin issues, and allergies. If you think your furry friend has food intolerance or allergy, talk to the vet to identify the main problem and choose a safe food for your dog to eat. You may want to chalk out a complete treatment plan.
Everything about a dog’s food allergy
While food intolerance also affects your pet’s health, you don’t have to worry as much about it as the allergic reaction that has to do with its immunity—the immune system ward off germs and other disease-causing agents. However, their immunity may confuse a specific food with toxic or dangerous elements and attack them. As a result, they get allergic to it. As hinted above, dog food allergy symptoms can appear in various forms.
Allergic dermatitis or itchy skin is common in dogs. They can get skin allergies anywhere on their body, such as the tummy, ears, paws, etc. You can also find skin problems like hives or urticaria affecting them after about 6-24 hours of eating the offending food.
Hives are bumpy, itchy rashes appearing anywhere on the body due to allergic reactions. Still, they can also affect physical stimuli, such as heat or cold or emotional stress. Hives can make your pet extremely uncomfortable, leading to excessive scratching and biting. It can further irritate the skin and be a source of secondary infections. They can also lose hair. If the coat of your pet’s body is not too long, the red marks or rashes will be easy to detect. You may touch the dog’s body to feel them.
Other than skin problems, they suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal disturbance. Swollen ear flaps, eyelids, and lips can also be the sign. However, if you notice your dog faces recurring paw or ear infections, you may realize that it’s due to food sensitivity.
Source of food allergies in dogs
As mentioned earlier, the leading cause of food allergy can be beef, chicken, eggs, and dairy items. Some vegetarian products, such as wheat, corn, barley, rice, and oats, can also be responsible for them, but these are not such common factors.
Preparation to meet the vet
Talking to the vet as soon as you notice anything unusual with your dog’s health or behavior can be good. They can ask you many questions to understand the reason behind their distress, ease it, and prevent future risks. Share extensive details with the vet because every dog tends to have unique signs and symptoms. If you cannot remember everything or tend to miss a few points, it will be better to note down critical data. For example, jot down what changes you have noticed in your dog’s overall health and behavior. It will be great if you can recall the date when the effect of food allergy befell them.
Since their immunity can react to a food or ingredient even if they have been consuming it for two years, you can mention everything you feed them, such as snacks, dinner table scraps, pet store products, etc. Things like toothpaste and flavored toys also need a mention. Don’t forget to add medicines if your dog is taking them. It can be OTC products or herbal supplements. The doctor would want to know the name of the drugs, the duration of use, and the doses. You may also include trigger points for allergies, such as grass, pollen, fleas, and dust mites.
Canine food allergy diagnosis and treatment
Your vet may need some time to determine the root cause of your pet’s allergic reactions. They can recommend some tests. One of them can be an elimination diet. The vet can suggest any particular food to your dog during the examination period to identify the actual reason behind their health issues. Please follow their instructions thoroughly. They can recommend something that your pet has never had before. You may get these at the vet’s clinic or prepare yourself at home. The doc may recommend not adding anything else to your pet’s diet for 10-12 weeks, such as chews, scraps, food, medicines, etc. Restrictions can be mainly for flavored products.
If the symptoms alleviate, it can signal that your pet has a food allergy, but that still needs more evidence. Hence, you may have to feed one thing to your dog from a previous diet. If itchiness and other things reappear, it can solidify the food allergy thing more. After this, you may again have to give your pet a special diet to check if those symptoms have died. It will likewise include giving your pet one of the older food items that it ate. You will need to keep patience to watch the results. Not having any health issues will mean that the old item is safe for the dog. Like this, you may have to experiment with everything in his diet one by one. Anything that returns the allergy is the culprit.
The primary treatment for food allergy is avoiding anything that triggers the symptoms. The vet can also prescribe medications and long-term solutions. Some food allergies can be risky for them. If your pet cannot breathe, you must not delay contacting the emergency service.
Anyway, it’s essential to know that food allergy and food intolerance are two different things. The latter doesn’t involve immunity. Still, one must investigate their problem to determine the reason for any discomfort they face. Sometimes, the same symptoms can occur due to infection, exposure to parasites or viruses, and others. Only a proper checkup can lead to ensuring safe health for them.