Food Allergies In Dogs
If your dog is suffering from food allergies or hypersensitivities, it's important to understand what the most common signs and symptoms look like and what you should do if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy.
What are the signs that my dog may have a food allergy?
Typically, the first signs of food allergies in dogs are itching and red skin or rashes on the ears and feet. Other common symptoms of food allergies can include gassiness, vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies in dogs often begin to appear as the dog reaches their first birthday, although allergies and sensitivities can develop at any age.
How are food allergies diagnosed?
Much like diagnosing food allergies in people, dogs suspected of suffering from food allergies will be put on an elimination diet.
Your vet will provide you with a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food to feed your dog for a minimum of 8-10 weeks. It is essential that during this timeframe only the hypoallergenic food is given to your dog, not even the odd treat now and again. This will allow your dog's body time to adjust to the new diet and give your vet the opportunity to assess your dog's condition.
Many dog owners see an improvement in their pet's condition after the first 4-6 weeks, however, a number of breeds can take much longer to show signs of improvement.
If your dog's symptoms clear up while on the elimination diet, your vet may request that you return your pet to their original diet in order to confirm the diagnosis. If your dog is suffering from food allergies, the original symptoms should reappear within two weeks.
What should I feed my dog if they have food allergies?
If your dog is diagnosed with food allergies there are a number of food options available in stores, or from your veterinarian, that can help you to address the issue and alleviate your dog's allergy symptoms.
Here are a few of the most popular foods available for dogs with allergies:
- Prescription Dog Food: Your vet may recommend that you feed your dog a prescription dog food. While this option can be pricey, it may be the best way to address your dog's symptoms if they are suffering from severe allergies.
- Limited Ingredient Dog Foods: These foods address the presence of allergens by including just one protein source, such as beef, lamb or chicken. Often, these foods are also reduced to a single carbohydrate source. Be sure to look for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer when shopping for limited ingredient dog foods.
- Novel Ingredient Dog Food: Novel ingredient dog foods replace the most common dog food proteins (beef and chicken) with more unusual proteins that will be new to your dog's system such as duck or salmon. Many novel ingredient foods will also use unusual carbohydrates, leading to combinations such as potato and venison.
- Grain-Free Dog Food: Grain-free dog foods and treats are ideal if your pet has a sensitivity to corn, wheat and other grains. These pet foods are also gluten-free. That said, it's important to note that while grain-free foods are gluten-free, not all gluten-free dog foods are grain-free.
Which food is right for my dog?
Your dog's specific allergy and overall health will dictate which diet is best for your canine pal. If your dog's symptoms are indeed the result of an allergy, your veterinarian will be able to recommend the best food for improving your dog's health.
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.
If your dog is showing signs or symptoms of a food allergy, contact one of our Thomasville vets today to book an appointment.
Looking for a vet in the Thomasville area?
We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.
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