Thursday, 1 September 2011

Dog Food Allergies

Dog food allergies are more common than most people realize, and true allergies (as opposed to sensitivities/intolerances) generally produce skin irritations and problems rather than digestive upsets.

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs can appear within a short time of eating a particular food, or take weeks, months or even years to develop. Contrary to popular belief, most dog food allergies occur as a reaction to a familiar food that your pooch has been eating quite happily for years, rather than to a new food that you've just introduced him to. In fact around 70% of dog food allergies are caused by a food that's been well tolerated for more than two years.

An allergic reaction to a food almost never happens on first exposure, but on second or subsequent ones.

Symptoms of dog food allergies

Food allergies in dogs produce a range of symptoms, the majority of the time they involve skin irritations of some kind, including -
  • Excessive itching, licking or scratching - particularly at the feet, legs, tummy or tail areaHot spots

  • Rashes

  • Red, scaly patches

  • Rubbing or pawing at the face or ears

  • Frequent shaking of the head

Canine food allergies can cause other symptoms, unassociated with skin irritation. These may include -

* Stomach or digestive problems
* Breathing difficulties (similar to allergies/asthma in humans)
* Chronic ear infections
* Eye irritation, inflammation or infections
* Behavior problems such as aggression or hyper-activity

Recognizing allergy triggers

It's not always easy to tell what is causing your dog's allergy symptoms. It could be fleas, seasonal things such as pollen, weeds, dust etc., or even contact allergies. A few clues that point towards dog food allergies are when the symptoms are present all year round (not just seasonally), antihistamine treatment doesn't seem to help and if your dog is still young and has recurrent, chronic ear or skin problems.

A dog can react badly to almost any ingredient, but the ones that tend to cause the most food allergies in dogs include -
  • Beef

  • Dairy Products

  • Chicken

  • Wheat

  • Yeast

  • Preservatives and colorings

This is not a comprehensive list though, and foods that tend to cause problems in humans also tend to cause allergy symptoms in dogs. Things such as egg whites, tomatoes, fermented cheese and so on should be avoided!

For a definitive diagnosis, take your dog to the veterinarian who can do blood tests and other procedures to identify his individual 'triggers'. If a dog food allergy is suspected, an ELIMINATION DIET is recommended. This involves eliminating any food ingredient your dog has eaten, and replacing his food with an entirely new diet. Then reintroducing ingredients one at a time to look for reactions.

Natural dog foods and those specifically designed for dogs with sensitivities and allergies are the best bet for dogs with these kinds of problems. It's important to realize that you need to wait at least a month, probably more, before you can accurately determine whether or not a food is suitable. It takes that long for any remaining allergens from previous foods to leave your dogs system.

Breeds more likely to suffer from allergies

Any dog can suffer from canine allergies, of any type. But some breeds just seem to be genetically pre-disposed to being 'allergic', especially to food ingredients. A few of these breeds are -

  • Terriers

  • Bulldogs

  • Schnauzers

  • Labrador Retrievers

  • Golden Retrievers

Indoor Dog Fence

Dogs are funny animals, they can make your life joyous but at the same time create mass chaos in your home. Consider indoor dog fences as a solution for creating pet free areas in your home.

Links of Interest:
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