What dog food is best for dogs with allergies
Dog food allergy treatment boils below to one underlying principle: identify foods your dog is allergic to and avoid feeding those.
«What most people ponder of as a dog food allergy is more appropriately called an cutaneous adverse food reaction, or CAFR,» says Dr. Justin Shmalberg, a DVM and NomNomNow’s own veterinary nutritionist. «It basically means there’s some association between a food and a certain group of symptoms—usually skin problems or gastrointestinal problems.»
In a true dog food allergy, according to Shmalberg, the culprit is often a food protein that triggers an adverse immune response, which then causes cells in the body to release histamines, or compounds that lead to itching and numerous other allergic signs.
A dog food intolerance, on the other hand, doesn’t involve an immune response—but the signs of dog food intolerance can glance beautiful similar to the signs of a food allergy.
One example is a lactose intolerance, which happens when a dog’s body just doesn’t process lactose in milk products well, leading to gastrointestinal problems (often diarrhea).
Both allergies and intolerances drop under that category of CAFRs, or, in more general terms, adverse food reactions.
So, how prevalent are adverse food reactions in dogs? One 2017 research review published in BMC Veterinary Research examined just that. The findings propose that, of dogs seeing vets for any diagnosis, 1 to 2 percent own food intolerances or allergies; among dogs with skin diseases, the number jumps up a bit, to about 6 percent. For dogs with itching and allergies, even more—about one in five—show signs of adverse food reactions.
Still, true allergies, in which the immune system is attacking a food protein, are definitely less common than food intolerances. The takeaway, says Shmalberg, is this: «If your dog is otherwise normal, even if he’s scratching a lot, a food allergy is unlikely.
That said, diet can certainly frolic a role in helping to manage skin conditions and diseases, regardless of whether or not your dog has a food allergy.» We’ll discuss more about how you can tell the difference below.
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Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerance
It’s also significant to note the difference between an allergy and an intolerance. If your dog is unable to tolerate a certain type of food, such as lactose, this means he lacks the digestive enzyme necessary to properly digest that food, and gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea, may result. An allergy, on the other hand, is an immune response.
When your dog comes into contact with something he’s allergic to, his immune system goes into overdrive attacking the allergen, resulting in skin problems, itching, or hair loss. If your dog is suffering from a food intolerance rather than a food allergy, then hypoallergenic dog food is unlikely to assist. We recommend seeing your veterinarian to get the best possible solution for your pet.
Hypoallergenic Dog Food
If food allergies are sure, your veterinarian may recommend hypoallergenic dog food and treats for your dog to eat. These types of foods take special precautions to avoid being cross-contaminated.
Hypoallergenic dog foods may also be hydrolyzed, meaning that they go through a process of breaking below proteins on a molecular level so that they are too little for the dog’s body to recognize them as allergens. This is often a prescription dog food, so you will need to talk to your veterinarian about this as an option for your dog.
While some companies sell over-the-counter foods that claim to be excellent for allergies—and some may contain supplements that can be helpful in controlling environmental allergies—these foods are not ideal for treating food allergies.
As with limited ingredient foods, there is nothing to guarantee that your dog won’t become allergic to them in the future. These dog foods are also less regulated than prescription dog food and as such, might contain other contaminants that trigger an allergic response.
It’s also best to be wary of any hypoallergenic claims made by over-the-counter grain-free dog foods. Remember, it’s animal proteins, not grains, that are most likely causing food allergies in dogs.
Dog food allergies are tricky trade. Fortunately, they’re also the type of allergy your dog is least likely to suffer from. If your dog is showing signs of allergies, talk to your vet before making any changes to his food. Even if it turns out that he does own a food allergy, changing his food without a vet’s supervision could make it more hard to diagnose.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she generally writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.
Picture this: Your dog is constantly itching, scratching, and biting fur, and you can’t figure out why.
Maybe you’ve tried everything from changing grooming routines to special shampoos, to medications.
But own you tried changing your dog’s diet?
Food is one culprit behind allergic reactions in dogs that owners often overlook. In fact, there are dog food allergies and dog food intolerances. Just love us, canines can suffer from either or both. And food allergies in dogs can cause not only digestive problems love vomiting and diarrhea, but also skin issues, and even behavioral problems. If you or your vet suspect your pup may own be having an adverse reaction to certain foods, and you’re wondering what it every means, you’re in the correct place.
We talked to Dr.
Justin Shmalberg, a DVM and NomNomNow’s own veterinary nutritionist, to collect what you need to know. We’ll cover the following:
Common Allergens in Dog Food
The most common foods to trigger an allergic response in dogs are animal proteins including chicken, beef, dairy, and eggs, says Tufts. Lamb, pork, and fish are less likely to cause allergies, although it is possible. While some dogs own proven to be allergic to wheat and corn, this is actually much more rare than common wisdom would own you believe.
Instances of other grains, such as oats or rice, causing allergies are rare to nonexistent.
What Causes Food Allergies?
According to Tuft University, «Food allergies happen when an animal’s immune system misidentifies a protein from a food as an invader rather than a food item and mounts an immune response. The finish result of this response can be itchy skin or ear and skin infections in some pets, while it may cause vomiting or diarrhea in others.» Once an immune response is triggered, it grows stronger every time that type of protein enters the body, which means your dog’s allergy may worsen every time he eats that specific food.
Diagnosing Dog Food Allergies
Unfortunately, there are no dependable ways to test your dog for food allergies.
The only way to determine which foods your dog is allergic to is through the process of elimination. Typically, your vet will prescribe a special, limited-ingredient dog food containing types of meat and carbohydrates that aren’t in your dog’s usual meals and seeing how he does on it. If your dog’s symptoms clear up on this special meal plan, after a period of time your vet may own you switch your dog back to his ancient food to see if the allergy symptoms reappear. If they do, that will confirm that you’re dealing with a food allergy.
The next step is to identify the specific ingredient causing the allergic reaction in your dog.
This requires changing back to the limited ingredient food. Once your dog’s symptoms clear up, your vet may then own you add ingredients from his ancient food back to his meals one at a time and monitor the results in order to identify which ingredients trigger an allergic reaction.
During this elimination trial, it’s extremely significant to only feed your dog the prescribed food. The most frequently mentioned reason for failure in determining allergies in elimination tests is household sabotage.
This consists of giving your dog food that was not directly recommended by your veterinarian including dog treats, table scraps, diverse dog foods, etc. During these trials, dogs can’t own even one of these in order for the test to be effective at diagnosing the allergy. To put it in perspective, a human that is allergic to nuts cannot own even a single peanut. The same is true of your dog. To fully determine the cause of dog food allergies (if any does exist), you must be as strict as possible, and that includes everyone else in your household too. It’s hard when your pup sits there with his large begging eyes, but it is worth it if you can determine if an allergy exists.
These elimination tests typically take about 12-weeks after which your veterinarian will verify that your dog isn’t experiencing any of the previous allergy signs.
It is significant that if you believe your dog is experiencing allergies of any sort, food or environmental, that you check with your veterinarian to assist you best diagnose your pup. Self-diagnosis can be unhelpful or even dangerous in certain cases. Because food allergies and environmental issues present some of the same signs, it is hard to know which is the cause without proper testing.
Unlike in humans, dog allergy tests are much less dependable, which is why your veterinarian will likely give you specific instructions on what to expose your dog to and how to monitor his health over time to determine the specific cause for his health issues.
You may be tempted to do a limited-ingredient diet (LID) on your own as well. This is also not recommended for a couple of reasons. The first being the difference between intolerance and allergies. Without proper testing, it is hard to know the genuine cause.
The second reason why LIDs aren’t always grand in self diagnosing your dog’s condition is that even limited-ingredient foods can be subject to allergen contamination. For instance, if you suspect that your dog is allergic to chicken, and you switch him over to something love lamb or venison, he might start feeling better, but because numerous food companies will use the same machinery to make their chicken product dog foods and their lamb-filled food there is a chance that some of the chicken allergens make it into your dog’s lamb food. Love mentioned before, any introduction of an allergen, even a little quantity, can affect your dog overall.
This is why it is best to follow your veterinarian’s strict instructions when asking about allergies.
Are Dog Food Allergies to Blame?
While people are often quick to blame a dog’s skin problems on what he eats, the truth, says Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Middle, is that food allergies in dogs are not every that common. The most common causes of allergies in pets are environmental including fleas, dust mites, grass, pollen, and other environmental causes. If your pup’s allergies tend to clear up during the winter or become worse at the height of flea season, then it’s likely his allergies are environmental. But because actual food allergies can cause skin and ear problems similar to those caused by environmental allergies, it’s up to your veterinarian to assist you law out other types of allergies for certain before determining whether your dog’s food is to blame.