Like people, dogs can develop all kinds of allergies. Dog food allergies account for 10% of all dog allergies and are seen among all breeds. Furthermore, dogs can also suffer from food intolerances that will negatively impact their digestion. So it is important to screen your dog for food allergies and make sure you are feeding them the best dog food for their condition.
Common Dog Food Allergens
Dog foods are made with a wide variety of ingredients. Many dog foods have complex recipes that include meats, vegetables, fruit, grains, oils, nuts, legumes, starches, dairy, and eggs. So there is a broad variety of things that could be triggering an allergy or intolerance. However the most common dog allergies and intolerances are to the following ingredients:
- Meats like chicken, beef, pork, fish, rabbit, and lamb
How To Know If Your Dog Has A Food Allergy
The best way to know if your dog has a food allergy is to know the signs and symptoms that of dog allergies. If your dog has any of the following symptoms, you will want to contact your veterinarian immediately to set up an allergy screening:
- Chronic ear inflammation
- Poor coat quality
- Itchy running eyes
- Inflammation of the throat
- Paw biting
- Obsessive licking
- Skin rash
- Itchy rear end
- Chronic gas
How To Know If Your Dog Has A Food Intolerance
Besides allergies, dogs can also have food intolerances. The difference between an allergy and a food intolerance is that an allergy will trigger an immune system response while a food intolerance means that certain foods will simply disrupt their healthy digestion processes. The following are symptoms of food intolerances:
- Gas and bloating
- Painful stomach
- Irritability or nervousness
- Itchy Rear End
- Weight loss
- Quick, excessive weight gain
The Long Term Health Effects Of Allergies And Food Intolerances
If left untreated allergies and food intolerances can cause a myriad of chronic illnesses including:
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Cushing’s disease
- Addison’s disease
- Underactive or overactive thyroid
So it is crucial that if you suspect a food allergy or intolerance you see your veterinarian immediately.
Food Allergy And Intolerance Screening
When you take your dog to the veterinarian, they will conduct a series of tests to see if your dog has allergies or intolerances and what is triggering these problems. There are two basic types of allergy testing for dogs. The first is blood screenings that look for antigens. A blood sample is taken from a dog and sent to a laboratory. At the laboratory, they will introduce a series of allergens and look for any reactions. Blood screenings take weeks to get the results back and may require several visits to your veterinarian, but it is a very thorough testing process so you will ultimately know what is triggering your dog’s allergies.
Another type of allergen test a veterinarian will conduct is an intradermal skin test. Your veterinarian will inject small amounts of suspected allergens into your dog’s skin and check for a reaction. An intradermal test is usually conducted as a trial and error test, and is administered when there are clear suspected culprits.
If the allergy tests come back negative, your veterinarian will begin investigating food intolerances. They will ask you questions about your dog’s diet and recommend you make some slow, simple changes and watch for progress. Finding a food intolerance can take awhile so it is important that you stay patient and keep track of everything your dog is eating.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Diagnosed With Food Allergies Or Intolerances
Once your dog has been diagnosed with food allergies or intolerances, your veterinarian will make several recommendations for changing their diets. If the direct allergen has been diagnosed, you will need to transition your dog off their current food to a food that does not trigger illness. There are several types of food that are great for this transition period including limited ingredient and hypoallergenic. Limited ingredient foods have just a few ingredients so you can better narrow down what is triggering your dog’s allergies or intolerances. However, the best plan is to implement a specifically hypoallergenic food, especially while going through the allergy and intolerance screening process.
The Top Three Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
There are several dog foods specially formulated to help dogs with allergies. Here is a list of the three best hypoallergenic dog foods on the market:
- Wysong Anergen: Wysong Anergen is a lamb and brown rice formula formulated specifically for dogs with allergies. Wysong Anergen uses a holistic recipe that contains none of the typical ingredients like by products, dairy, or wheat that can trigger allergies. It is nutritionally dense and good for all life stages.
- Go! Sensitivity and Shine: Go! Sensitivity and Shine is formulated with natural, human grade ingredients to reduce allergen exposure. Its simple formula contains a single protein, a single carbohydrate, and a single oil source. Go! Sensitivity and Shine comes in duck and salmon and is an all life stages food.
- Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach: Purina Pro Plan was designed specifically for dogs with food allergies and intolerances. It is a fortified dog food formulated with salmon and rice. Purina Pro Plan is an adult formula and widely available.
If your dog is showing the signs and symptoms of a food allergy or intolerance, it is crucial that you take action before they trigger larger health problems. First speak with your veterinarian to diagnose the problem. Then begin transitioning your dog to a new food. There are some great foods on the market that are designed specifically to help dogs. With a little research, you can find the best dog food for your dog’s health.