Allergic reactions to food, while uncommon, can be frightening for both owners and their pets. Here, our Redding vets provide some information on what foods might be best to ease the symptoms of your dog's allergies.
Food Allergies in Dogs
If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from allergies or sensitivities to their food, then the first step will be to monitor its symptoms. It will be important to know what the most common symptoms of food allergies are, and what you should do if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
It is most common for food allergies to become apparent in dogs by the time they reach a year old. Although, as with people, allergies or sensitivities can arise at any point during their life.
When it comes to dogs, some of the most common signs and symptoms of allergies that develop are:
- Red irritated skin
- Rashes on the ears and feet
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
One of the most frequent causes of allergies in dogs is proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients in the diet. Typically, beef, dairy, corn, and wheat are the most problematic foods for dogs. Occasionally, symptoms of food allergies can take an extended amount of time to be noticeable. It is not unusual for a dog to be allergic to a food that they have been eating for many months.
Diagnosing Your Dogs Food Allergies
The most effective way at determining what food ingredients your dog might be allergic to are through the process of elimination.
After a thorough examination from your vet, they may prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food for your pet. For a minimum of 8-10 weeks, you will only feed your dog the prescribed food to gauge whether the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
During this time it is crucial that you only feed your dog this special food. This special diet will allow your dog's body to adjust to the food and allow your vet to assess your dog's overall health.
Once your dog has completed the duration of the special diet it may be suggested that you return to the original diet to test whether the symptoms return. If the original signs and symptoms return then your vet will be able to confirm that your dog does have a food allergy.
Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
There are many food options are available to help alleviate your dog's allergy symptoms. Following the diagnosis, your vet will work with you to determine the appropriate specialized diet for your dog.
Prescription Dog Food
Sometimes when a 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 and will be the best option for your dog.
Grain-Free Dog Food
If your pet has a sensitivity to corn, wheat, and other grains then grain-free dog food may be ideal. These specially formulated foods have the added benefit of being gluten-free.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just 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.
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel ingredients in dog foods replace traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison. Many novel ingredients in dog foods also use unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet.