Canine food allergies are common in dogs, however, are sometimes confused with canine food intolerance.
Food allergies are when the body’s immune system mistakenly goes into attack mode against a certain type of food.
Food intolerance comes from digestion problems, for example, lactose intolerance. This is when a dog is unable to digest a particular food.
Dogs can be lactose intolerant to dairy but can also be allergic to dairy which would cause a rash or itchy skin instead of gas and bloating discomfort from food intolerance.
* Dogs may develop food allergies at any age.
* Food allergies can develop after your dog has eaten the same dog food for a lengthy period of time.
* Itchy skin around the face, feet & pads, ears, armpits, and rear end which cause obsessive scratching
* Incessant licking
* Biting at the paws
* Rash on the skin
* Recurring ear infections
Any breed can develop an allergy but the following breeds have been said to be more prone to allergies, however, this is not a proven fact.
* Cocker Spaniels
* German Shepherds
(1) If your dog is showing signs of an allergy, it is not necessarily a canine food allergy as dogs are allergic to many other things and food allergies are third on the list of most common canine allergies.
(2) Check with your vet if you suspect your dog has a food allergy or food intolerance as it is very important to rule out a number of other health issues that could be the problem instead of an allergy or food intolerance. You can then work with your vet to figure out what specific food your dog has an allergy or intolerance towards.
(3) Your vet will most likely recommend a food trial diet for your dog in order to confirm that your dog indeed has a food allergy and what specific food he is allergic to.
* This food trial diet will need to be strictly followed for a minimum of 12 weeks and involves feeding your dog a specific and generally uncommon protein and carbohydrate . These two foods need to be something your dog has never eaten before such as rabbit and potatoes.
* Studies show 12 weeks is needed to accurately assess if your dog is going to have an allergic reaction as any shorter period of time will often not be long enough for a large percentage of dogs.
* During this food trial, your dog must not eat any treats, people food, flavoured medications, garbage or anything else in order for this to be accurate. Keep your dog on leash when outside to keep them from eating something they find outdoors. Also, keep them away when you are eating meals as they can quickly eat any food that drops on the floor.
* If by chance your dog accidentally eats something other than their specific diet foods then write it down to keep track or start the food trial diet from the beginning again.
Blood testing for canine food allergies has not been proven accurate so the best way to find out what food your dog is allergic to is the Food Trial Diet.
The foods that dogs are generally allergic to are the ones most commonly found in dog food.
This is due to the fact that they can become allergic after eating the same food for a long time and generally two or three of the items from the below list is what your dog’s food contains.
* Antihistamines, steroids, and fatty acids will help your dog with his allergy symptoms as a short term solution.
* The most effective treatment as a long term solution of your dog’s food allergy is to simply remove the specific food from their diet and replace it with an alternative food item.
You will have two options to choose from if you remove the specific food from your dog’s diet:
1. You can purchase a dog food made up of specific ingredients that do not include the particular food that your dog is allergic to from your local pet supplies store. (For example, a dog food with the ingredients of rice and rabbit as opposed to beef and wheat.)
2. You can also choose to make your dog homemade dog food with specific ingredients that your dog is not allergic to.
If you choose to prepare your own homemade dog food then you need to make sure that your dog’s food has the right amount of vitamins and minerals. You should contact your veterinarian in regards to this important balance.
Keep in mind that your dog could also develop an allergy to this food eventually if fed the same food for a long period of time.
Canine food allergies are common in dogs but can be dealt with so that your dog can still lead a happy, comfortable and healthy life. However, it is important to diagnose whether it is a food allergy or food intolerance and to find out what food specifically is the allergen. If allergies or intolerances are left untreated, they can cause serious health issues for your dog.