Friday, January 15, 2010

Dog Food Allergies

Small, brindle-marked dog posed on table in studioImage by George Eastman House via Flickr
Dog food allergies are one of the top causes of allergy symptoms in dogs. If your dog is licking and biting and scratching and gnawing on his paws or the base of his tail the culprit could be dog food allergies. This is the third most common reason for allergy symptoms in pets. With flea allergies being first and environmental allergies second. Other symptoms of dog food allergies include gastrointestinal disorders. Does your dog vomit frequently, or is he gassy? Again, a dog food allergy could be the problem. Unbeknownst to many pet owners, chronic ear infections are sometimes caused by this type of allergy too.

Some dog owners will discount the notion that their pet is allergic to his food simply because they've fed the same brand for years, but consistency is no guarantee. It's entirely possible for your dog to develop an allergy to the same food he's eaten all his life. In fact it's common for dog's to develop symptoms seemingly overnight, even if it's his favorite dog food.

Your vet can do skin tests to find out what allergens are causing Fido's problems, but in all likelihood your vet will ask if you've done an elimination diet when you show up for the appointment. An elimination diet is easy to do. You simply change your pet's diet to eliminate the ingredients that he's accustomed to eating. It sounds harder than it is. There are a number of hypoallergenic or organic dog foods that are specifically formulated to include only proteins and starches that are not commonly found in your average off the shelf dog food.

The most common dog food allergens are beef, chicken and dairy or wheat, corn, and soy. Look for hypoallergenic dog foods that don't include those ingredients.

Acana dog food is completely grain free.  Lamb, fish and eggs are the proteins in this product, and instead of corn, wheat or rice Acana uses sweet potato, peas, and other fresh vegetables to give you dog some healthy carbs.

Blue Buffalo also makes a hypoallergenic dog food from fish and sweet potato.  My dog loves this food, it's got no fillers, and Blue Buffalo adds vitimins and omega 3 acids.

Nature's Variety has a dog food formulated with duck, turkey, salmon, and herring. 

  If your dog's allergy symptoms clear up on this diet then you know that his food was indeed the problem.  You can begin to add other ingredients back into the dog's diet.  Add one item at a time, and include that item in your dog's diet for a few weeks before you determine that it's a safe ingredient.  If at any time your dog's allergy symptoms come back you will know which food is the allergen  It requires a little bit of planning and dedication to feed your dog an elimination diet, but a quality hypoallergenic food like one of those listed above makes the task somewhat easier..

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