While not common, allergies in dogs can be unpleasant for both you and your pup. Luckily, there are ways you can help. Our vets here in Montecito offer suggestions on what the best types of food are to ease your dog's food allergies.
Food Allergies in Dogs
It can be a frustrating process trying to figure out of your dog has a food allergy or a sensitivity to an ingredient in their food, watching for the most common symptoms of food allergies is key to understanding when you should act and what to do if your dog happens to develop food allergies.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies will typically become apparent by the time your pup reaches its first birthday. However, allergies or sensitivities can develop in dogs of any age.
The most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs can include:
- Rashes on ears and feet
- Red, irritated skin
Owners may notice some of these symptoms, or your vet may identify them during a routine exam.
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
There are dog foods on the market which can contain plant-based or animal ingredients with proteins that may cause food allergies. Dairy, beef, corn, and wheat are among the most common allergy-causing ingredients. Sometimes it can take a fairly long stretch of time for symptoms of food allergies to appear. It's not unheard of for a dog to react to a food that they have already been eating for some period of time.
How Dogs are Diagnosed with Food Allergies
The most reliable method of diagnosing food allergies in dogs is usually by putting them on an elimination diet.
If your dog develops symptoms and your vet is worried that they might be suffering from symptoms from allergies, he or she might prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food for your pet. For a minimum of 8 to 10 weeks, you'll only feed your dog the prescribed food in order to discern whether the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
It's essential that your dog eats only hypoallergenic food while they are on this elimination diet and absolutely nothing extra. This special 10-week diet will help your dog's body to adapt to the food and give your vet the opportunity to assess your dog's overall health.
If your dog's symptoms ease or disappear while they're on the elimination diet, your vet may consider asking you to return to feeding your dog their original diet. If your dog's signs and symptoms return, then your vet may be confident in diagnosing your dog with a food allergy.
Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by limiting food to having only one protein source, (such as beef, lamb, or chicken), often combined with just a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited ingredient dog foods it's important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer.
Prescription Dog Food
If your dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend that you feed your dog prescription dog food. While this option can be pricey, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available by prescription only are typically superior to those that can be purchased over the counter.
Grain-Free Dog Food
If your pet has a sensitivity to corn, wheat, and other grains a grain-free dog food may be ideal. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free.
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel ingredient dog foods replace traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison. Many novel ingredient dog foods also use unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet.
After your dog is diagnosed, your vet will work with you to find the best diet for your dog. Many food options are available to help alleviate your dog's food allergy symptoms.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.