It's uncommon for dogs to develop a food allergy. But, when they do occur your pooch can develop some concerning symptoms. In this blog, our Hoquiam vets list some of the best kinds of foods to help manage your dog's food allergy.
Dog Food Allergies
Because dogs aren't able to tell us if they have an allergy or sensitivity to an ingredient in their food, it's essential for dog owners to be familiar with the most common food allergy symptoms and the steps to take if your pup is diagnosed with a food allergy.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies in dogs generally start becoming a problem when a dog turns one year old. But, dogs can develop allergies and sensitivities at any age
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs:
- Rashes on ears and feet
- Red, irritated skin
Several of the symptoms listed above can be detected by a dog's owner or a veterinarian during a routine exam.
The Causes of Dog Food Allergies
Plant-based or animal ingredients in dog food contain proteins that could lead to food allergies in our canine companions. Common culprits are wheat, dairy, beef, and corn. While it might appear counterintuitive, it could take a relatively long time for food allergy symptoms to become noticeable. It's not unusual for a dog to have an allergic reaction to a food that they have been consuming for months.
How Dogs are Diagnosed with Food Allergies
The most reliable way to diagnose a dog with a food allergy is by implementing an elimination diet.
If your vet thinks your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, he or she will 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 imperative for your dog to only eat the prescribed hypoallergenic food during this elimination diet. (Unfortunately, this means you can't sneak them the odd treat). 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 are alleviated or disappear while they're on the elimination diet, your veterinarian might ask you to start feeding your pup their original diet. If the original symptoms resurface, then your vet can be confident in diagnosing your dog with a food allergy.
Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
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.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by only including a single source of protein (such as chicken, lamb, or beef), often combined with just one carbohydrate source. When purchasing limited ingredient dog foods it's essential 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.
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.