Food allergies aren't common among dogs however, when they do occur the symptoms can be trying for both the dog and their owners. Today the White Settlement vets discuss the best foods that can help alleviate the symptoms brought on by your dog's food allergy.
Food Allergies in Dogs
If you believe your dog has a food allergy or that they are sensitive to an ingredient in their regular dog food you need to know the most common food allergy symptoms and the steps you should take once your dog is diagnosed with an allergy.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
If your dog has a food allergy the symptoms will usually appear by the time they turn one however, your pup can developed an allergy or sensitivity at any point in their lives.
The most common signs and symptoms of dog food allergies are:
- Rashes on the ears and feet
- Red irritated skin
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
Most often dog food allergies are caused by the proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients in dog food. Typically, beef, dairy, corn and wheat are the most problematic foods for dogs. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it can take a fairly long time for the symptoms of food allergies to appear. 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
An elimination diet is the only real way to diagnose your dog's food allergy.
If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has a food allergy, they will prescribe specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food. You will only feed your dog the prescribed food for a minimum of 8-10 weeks in order to see if the diet change helps relive your dog's symptoms.
It is extremely important you only give your dog the hypoallergenic food while they are on the elimination diet. Unfortunately this means you can't sneak in the odd treat. This special 10 week diet lets your dog's body get used to the food, and allows your vet to examine your pet's overall health.
If your dog's symptoms go away while on the elimination diet, your veterinarian may request that you return to feeding your dog their regular food. If your dog's symptoms return then your vet could be confident in the fact that your dog has a food allergy.
Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
Following the diagnosis, your vet will work with you to determine the best diet for your dog. A number of food options are available to help alleviate your dog's allergy symptoms.
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.