Does Your Newly Adopted Dog Have A Food Allergy?
A food allergy can be inconvenient and sometimes, even dangerous for humans, but what happens if your newly adopted dog has a food allergy? The most common foods that can cause dog food allergies are beef, dairy, chicken, and wheat; everyday ingredients in many commercial dog foods. Consequently, some dogs develop chronic conditions and can end up in shelters or rescue centers if their owner cannot cope. Dogs that wind up in shelters can often become quite stressed, and this can manifest as licking and chewing feet, or tummy upsets. Unfortunately, these are some of the same symptoms as a food allergy, distressing conditions for both you and your newly adopted pet.
What is a food allergy?
The term ‘food allergy’ describes a medical condition caused by eating a particular type of food, resulting in skin disease, gastrointestinal upset, or both. Dog food allergies are an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a perfectly harmless substance, usually a protein found in the diet. Many different foods can trigger this, but some of the main culprits are animal proteins like beef and chicken.
What to do if you suspect your dog has an allergy?
The first thing to do is visit your veterinarian. Many other far more common conditions can cause itchy skin or tummy upsets. Once you have ruled out other causes, your vet may suggest a food trial using an elimination or hypoallergenic diet. This means giving your dog a diet consisting of novel protein sources, in other words, foods that he has never eaten before. This can be bought from your vet or pet store, or you can home cook it. Your pooch needs to remain on this new diet for a minimum of six to eight weeks. During the trial, you shouldn’t feed your dog anything else, not even his favorite treats, and check that any medications he is on are not flavored with beef. A food allergy diagnosis is confirmed if his itchy skin or upset tummy improves whilst on the food trial but returns if the allergic food is fed again, known as a food-challenge.
Food allergies in our pets are often frustrating and lengthy to diagnose and exclusion diets are difficult to stick to, especially if your pup devours every dropped snack on the sidewalk. But if a food allergy is confirmed, your dog needs to avoid all foods that provoke his itchy skin or gut problems for the rest of his life. It can be hard work and disheartening at times, but persevere and you will ultimately have a far happier and healthier dog.
Article by: Jane Anderson, a freelance writer, editor and dog owner.