Food allergies in dogs are a type of food sensitivity which cause reactions of the immune system to a certain protein or carbohydrate in the pet's food like wheat, beef or dairy.
What are dog food allergy symptoms?
Common signs of food allergies in dogs include itchy skin especially around the face, muzzle, feet, pads, ears, armpits and behind, hot spots, vomiting and diarrhea.
Food allergies are the third most common cause of sensitive skin disorders after fleas or other external parasites and environmental triggers like pollen or grass," according to Dr. Simon Starkey, PetSmart veterinary expert.
They are also difficult to detect because the symptoms mimic those of other disorders. Dog food allergies are often confused with pet food intolerance or when the food simply doesn't agree with the pet.
How are dog food allergies treated?
First consult your vet to determine if your dog has a food allergy or intolerance," says Dr. Starkey. They will likely recommend you try a premium dog food with a limited number of protein and carbohydrate sources.
Grain free and limited ingredient diets are recommended. Grain free dog foods do not contain wheat, corn or soy, which are commonly linked to food allergies. And limited ingredient dog foods often contain novel meat proteins such as salmon, whitefish or turkey, further reducing the likelihood of food allergies.
Your vet may also suggest a prescription food. To transition your dog to the new food, mix a small amount of the new food with the current food and increase the new food over the course of 10 days. Avoid foods with common allergens for dogs including wheat, beef, dairy and chicken.
Avoid treats and people food.
It may take several weeks to see benefits. Vets typically recommend feeding your dog the new diet for six to 12 weeks and suggest that you document the type and amount of food your pet eats and any reactions they have. Review your notes with your vet, noting any changes in your dog's symptoms.
Would an allergy test tell me what my dog is allergic to?
While allergy tests for dogs and cats are available, the accuracy of these tests is still undetermined. Simple elimination and trial and error with your pet's diet is the best way to determine what is causing your pet's reaction.
I've been feeding my dog the same food for years – can he still develop a dog food allergy?
According to studies conducted by veterinary dermatologists, dogs and cats can develop food allergies after eating one type or brand of food for a long period of time.
Can my dog be allergic or intolerant to certain additives in their food?
While food additives are often blamed for causing food allergies or food intolerance, there are no published cases of reactions caused by pet food additives.
The information used in this report is approved by PetSmart nutritionists and vet experts.
Information from "Small Animal Clinical Nutrition," 5th Edition, Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, Roudebush, Novotny, Copyright 2010 by Mark Morris Institute was used in this report.
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