While food allergies in dogs are relatively uncommon, when they do occur, the symptoms can be very uncomfortable for your canine companion. Our Stockton vets are here to talk about the best food to give your dog with food allergies.
Food Allergies in Dogs
If you believe that your dog is suffering from food allergies or sensitivity to any of the ingredients in their regular food it's important to find out what the problematic ingredient is to remove it from their diet, but still maintain optimum nutrition.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
food allergies aren't typically seen in dogs until after they've reached one year of age, although they can develop at any age.
If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms they may be suffering from a food allergy and should be examined by your vet to determine the root cause of the symptom:
- Red irritated skin
- Rashes on the ears and feet
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
Often in dogs with food sensitivities, proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients in the diet are the cause. Beef, corn, dairy, and wheat are some of the most problematic ingredients.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it can take a long time for symptoms of food allergies to become apparent. Often dogs appear to 'suddenly' become allergic to a food that they have been eating for months.
Diagnosing Your Dog's Food Allergies
After a thorough examination, if your vet believes that your dog may be suffering from the effects of a food allergy or food sensitivity they will likely recommend beginning your dog on an elimination diet.
Elimination Diet for Dogs With Food Allergies
If an elimination diet is recommended for your dog, specially formulated hypoallergenic food will be prescribed. For 8-10 weeks you will only feed your dog the prescribed food, eliminating all other food sources from your pet's diet.
If one or more of the ingredients in your dog's regular food is the source of the symptoms, the elimination of the regular dog food should help to improve your dog's condition.
It's important to note that, for the elimination diet to work you must stop giving your dog treats during this period as well as their regular food. Only hypoallergenic food should be fed to your dog while they are on the elimination diet.
Being on the elimination diet for 10 weeks will allow your dog's body to adjust to the new prescription food, and allow your vet to assess your dog's overall health.
If the allergy symptoms clear up while your dog is on the elimination diet, your vet may request that you return to feeding your dog their original diet to see if the allergy symptoms reappear.
While an elimination diet can help determine food allergies in dogs, other tests can also be useful, and provide quick results. Here at Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital our in-house lab allows our vets to test for the root of your pet’s problem and offer a customized treatment plan to start the healing process.
Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
After your pup has been diagnosed with food allergies, your vet will help you determine the best diet and treatment plan for your dog. Several dry dog food options can help eliminate food allergy symptoms in dogs such as:
Prescription Dog Food
If your dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend that you feed your dog a 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 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 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.