Food allergies in dogs are uncommon. When they do strike, however, the symptoms can be frightening for both us and our canine companions. Today, our veterinarians in Brighton have compiled a list of the best foods to help alleviate your dog's food allergy symptoms.
Food Allergies in Dogs
Because dogs cannot tell us whether they have a sensitivity to a food ingredient or a food allergy, it is critical to be aware of the most common symptoms of food allergies and what to do if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies in dogs often start to become an issue as the dog reaches their first birthday. That said, dogs of any age can develop sensitivities and allergies.
The most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:
- Red, irritated skin
- Rashes on ears and feet
Some of these symptoms may be spotted by owners or during a routine exam by your veterinarian.
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
Proteins in food, whether plant-based or animal-based, can cause food allergies. Wheat, dairy, beef, and corn are common culprits. While it may appear counterintuitive, symptoms of food allergies can take a long time to manifest. It is not uncommon for a dog to develop an allergy to a food that they have been eating for several months.
How Dogs are Diagnosed with Food Allergies
An elimination diet is the only reliable method of diagnosing food allergies in dogs.
If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has a food allergy, he or she will recommend hypoallergenic dog food for your pet. You'll only feed your dog the prescribed food for at least 8 to 10 weeks to see if the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
Your dog must eat only hypoallergenic food while on this elimination diet. (Unfortunately, this means no sneaking them an occasional treat.) This special 10-week diet will assist your dog's body in adapting to the food and will allow your vet to assess your dog's overall health.
If your dog's symptoms improve or disappear while on the elimination diet, your vet may instruct you to resume feeding your dog their regular diet. If your dog's original symptoms reappear, your veterinarian can confidently diagnose him with a food allergy.
Best Dog Food for Dogs with Allergies
Prescription Dog Food
If your dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your veterinarian may advise you to feed him prescription dog food. While this option can be costly, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available only by prescription are usually superior to those available 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 allergens by containing only one protein source (such as beef, lamb, or chicken), which is often combined with a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited ingredient dog foods, look for the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) seal of approval as well as the manufacturer's claim of "complete and balanced."
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken are replaced with more unusual proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison in novel ingredient dog foods. To help balance the diet, many novel ingredient dog foods include unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes.
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.