How to Diagnose and Handle Dog Food Allergies
The most common canine allergies vets see are reactions to the saliva in flea bites or ones that develop exposure to household items like scented candles or cleaning chemicals. Unlike human food allergies or intolerances, dog-food allergies are not as common. When a dog does develop an allergy, it does not manifest as a human allergy would with sneezing or watery eyes. Instead, allergies in dogs are almost always written on the dog’s body.
Symptoms of allergies in dogs take external forms: ear infections, skin irritations, itching or rashes. As far as allergy relief for dog goes, a dog’s only real options are to scratch, bite, chew or rub the affected areas.
Proteins are the usual suspects of dog-food allergies
The most common dog food allergies are usually reactions to proteins in the foods they eat. Dog food allergies begin when a dog’s digestive system fails to fully break down or process proteins in the foods they eat and absorb needed nutrients from them. With time, their bodies begin interrupting these indigestible proteins as diseases. Items that can cause food allergies in dogs include:
- Dairy Products
- Flax seed
Interestingly, meat is the culprit most of the time. Meat is more protein-rich than dairy, with any grain or vegetable a distant third. The staple grains in our list could be problematic if your dog’s diet consists solely of store-bought kibble. Grains like corn and rice tend to be major ingredients in most of the non-premium brands, whether for kibble integrity and cohesion or for nutritional value.
Difference between dog food allergies and dog food intolerances
There’s a distinct difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. Something like lactose intolerance does not mean that your dog cannot digest or process milk or dairy products at all; rather, it means he can, but only to very limited extent. Constipation or loose stools are more typical digestive reactions to food intolerances than to food allergies in dogs.
Diagnoses and treatment of dog-food allergies
Unless you’re personally preparing each of your dog’s meals and treats, a dog’s food allergy can be difficult to isolate on your own. If you believe your dog is experiencing the beginnings of a food allergy, your vet has a range of approaches at their disposal. Blood tests, skin culture, and elimination trials can be tried individually or in concert to pinpoint the allergen that is affecting your dog.
Seeing these tests through to a definitive conclusion is not something that can be resolved in an afternoon, with a single visit to the vet or even over the course of a week. Often, whittling down the list of suspects to a definitive source can be a process lasting anywhere from one to three months.