What are food allergies in dogs

It may take months or years before your dog develops an allergic response to a specific food.

What are food allergies in dogs

However, once he’s allergic, he will almost always own a negative reaction to that food. Allergic reactions are most commonly associated with protein sources — generally the meat in your dog’s food.

Food: The most common causes of food allergies / intolerance in dogs are beef, milk products and wheat.

Damage: Inflammation, infection, surgery and some medications can damage the digestive system and may lead to food allergies / intolerance.

Age: Food allergies / intolerance can happen at any age.

Breed: Some dog breeds appear more likely to develop food allergies / intolerance, including West Highland White terriers, cocker spaniels and Irish setters.


Is it an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?

Sensitivity

The exaggeration of the normal effects of a substance.

What are food allergies in dogs

For example, the caffeine in a cup of coffee may cause extreme symptoms, such as palpitations and trembling.

Allergy

A reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance.

Intolerance

Where a substance causes unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhoea, but does not involve the immune system.

People with an intolerance to certain foods can typically eat a little quantity without having any problems.

Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021

Allergies aren’t enjoyment for anyone, but especially not for your dog who can’t tell you what’s making him so ill.

What are food allergies in dogs

Food allergies or food intolerance are caused by a reaction to a specific ingredient. Sometimes referred to as an ‘adverse reaction to food,’ it is defined as an abnormal response to a food or food additive.

What are food allergies in dogs

There are two classes of adverse reactions: those in which the immune system is involved (generally called food allergies); and those that happen without an immune component (generally called food intolerances).


What causes allergies?

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific substance as though it’s harmful.

It’s not clear why this happens, but most people affected own a family history of allergies or own closely related conditions, such as asthma or eczema.

The number of people with allergies is increasing every year.

The reasons for this are not understood, but 1 of the main theories is it’s the result of living in a cleaner, germ-free environment, which reduces the number of germs our immune system has to deal with.

It’s thought this may cause it to overreact when it comes into contact with harmless substances.


How to manage an allergy

In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.

For example, if you own a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it.

There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:

  1. decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
  2. lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
  3. antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
  4. steroid medicines – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can assist reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction

For some people with extremely severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.

What are food allergies in dogs

This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.


Symptoms of an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions generally happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.

They can cause:

  1. wheezing and coughing
  2. red, itchy, watery eyes
  3. a red, itchy rash
  4. sneezing
  5. a runny or blocked nose
  6. worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms

Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can happen.

This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.


Common allergies

Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.

The more common allergens include:

  1. medicines – including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
  2. insect bites and stings
  3. mould – these can release little particles into the air that you can breathe in
  4. dust mites
  5. grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  6. animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
  7. food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows’ milk
  8. latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
  9. household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes

Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them.


Getting assist for allergies

See a GP if you ponder you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.

A GP can assist determine whether it’s likely you own an allergy.

If they ponder you might own a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to assist manage the condition.

If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.

Find out more about allergy testing


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What are food allergies in dogs