What Are The Most Common Dog Food Allergies?
Itchy paws, red ears, loss of fur – could your dog be suffering from common dog food allergies? Here are some of the most frequent causes and what to do about it.
Food allergies and intolerances in humans seem to be on the rise, but did you know that dogs can be affected by food allergies as well? The same foods that cause allergies in humans can also cause allergic reactions in dogs and they can be severe in some cases. Let’s talk about common dog food allergies well as the signs of food allergies and treatment options.
Common Dog Food Allergies
Food allergies account for about 20 percent of all allergies affecting dogs and they affect all breeds, ages, and sexes similarly. In dogs, food allergies can develop as early as five months of age or as late as 12 years. In many cases, dog with food allergies also have contact allergies for things like dust, perfumes, or certain chemicals. Some of the most common food allergens affecting dogs include:
As is true for humans, there is a difference between food allergies and food intolerance in dogs. Food intolerance typically produces gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea while food allergies produce allergic reactions like itching and skin problems. The treatment for food allergies and food intolerances is the same – avoidance of the offending food.
Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies
The symptoms of food allergies in dogs are similar regardless what type of food is causing the reaction. The most common symptom is intense itching, especially on the face, feet, ears, and forelegs. Some dogs experience chronic or recurring ear infections as well as hair loss, hot spots, and recurring skin infections that do not respond to treatment. Excessive scratching is a common sign of food allergies, as is increased frequency of bowel movements. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between food allergies and atopic (contact) allergies. A common sign of food allergies is that the symptoms persist all year round and if skin problems do not respond to medical treatment.
Treatment for Food Allergies
The best way to identify your dog’s food allergen is to conduct a food trial. During a food trial you would feed your dog a diet that consists of a novel protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks until all signs of the allergy have disappeared. Novel protein sources might include rabbit, venison, or even kangaroo while novel carbohydrates include things like sweet potato or brown rice. After the 12 weeks you would then introduce common food allergens back into the diet one at a time and watch for a reaction. Once you have identified the culprit, you then simply need to keep your dog on a diet that does not contain that food allergen.
Food allergies in dogs are becoming an increasing concern with pet parents, and there are more formulas on the market that eliminate the offending ingredient while providing all the nutrients your dog needs. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from a food allergy you should consult with your veterinarian and take steps to identify the allergen and then eliminate it from your dog’s diet.