Author- Chele, freelance writer and guest blogger
Description: Discover critical information about food allergies in dogs: why it happens, what you can do about it, and when there is a need to address a specialist? Learn everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide for pet owners.
Often, dog owners see their pets come down with a particular illness of unknown origin. Once you are sure your dog receives proper healthcare treatment, then the sickness could likely be a symptom of a food allergy. So, you need to know how to handle it. Sometimes, we see our pets scratching or itching, showing that they are in great discomfort, and we are usually confused about what to do.
When this discomfort goes on for a long time, it is evident that something is wrong, and the owner must swing into action. The truth is, you might be a great contributor to the problem which your dog is facing without knowing it. This usually occurs when you give your pet food which it is allergic to. Let’s find out more about dogs and food allergies.
The Basic Concept of Food Allergies in Dogs
People usually mistake food allergies in dogs for intolerance; they are two different conditions. Food intolerance occurs when there is poor digestion, and a common type is lactose intolerance. Dogs with lactose intolerance either have low lactase levels or none at all.
Whereas food allergies occur when the immune system over-responds to an invading protein. Most times, protein is contained in pet food because it is what they commonly eat. Besides meat, protein can be found in vegetables and grains, and dogs are known to eat any of those.
The Process of Food Allergy Development in a Dog
The gastrointestinal system of the dog which comprises the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestine is equipped to protect the animal against allergens every day. Around 70% of the whole immune system of a dog is contained in the gastrointestinal tract.
The food gets digested first in the stomach. The acid in the stomach disintegrates the bigger pieces into smaller bits. Then, alongside with the enzymes, the complex protein structures are broken down into smaller parts.
The food which is not fully digested goes into the small intestine. There, it is digested until it gets into the tiniest fragments possible, known as amino acids, and they are absorbed into the body via some cells —enterocytes.
These enterocytes can be likened to both receptionists and door guards; they accept some amino acids, and they reject some. When protein skips the process of being disintegrated and is absorbed first in the intestine, there is a reaction in the immune system of the dog, and the pet shows signs of food allergy.
The Role of a Veterinarian in Treating Food Allergies in Dogs
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One of the important steps to eliminating common food allergies in dogs is to separate the problem. Dog owners are advised to work closely with a veterinarian. You cannot be so sure about a particular problem until the veterinarian has verified it. He or she will confirm the symptoms, and see if they are indeed allergies. He or she would also give effective treats for dogs with food allergies.
Typical questions such as “can dog develop food allergies later in life?” and the like, would best be answered by the veterinarian or proficient websites such as Pets expert.
Most likely, the veterinarian would advise that you work with an elimination diet. This means that you will give your dog a dissimilar protein and carbohydrate source, which is different from what the animal is used to.
Veterinarians know what causes food allergies in dogs, and they are in the best position to dictate what to feed dogs with food allergies. In most cases, your veterinarian might also advise that you give a hypoallergenic diet.
This diet comprises foods that contain hydrolyzed proteins. These proteins have been disintegrated into tiny pieces, which would disallow IgA to bind to them so that they would not cause an immune response.
Rice and lamb are hypoallergenic, and they are among the best dog food for dogs with allergies. A good number of commercial dog foods were either made with wheat, beef, chicken, or corn. Because most dogs have not taken rice or lamb before, it is a suitable option for pets who have food allergies when they eat regular food.
However, it has been reported that some dogs are already showing allergies to diets containing lamb and rice. This is predictable because an animal can develop an allergy to any menu.
When you place your pet on a special diet, it is advised that you do not give other foods such as rawhides, cookies, and the like. As you have no idea about the exact thing the pet is allergic too, it is safe to prevent the food allergies in dogs from increasing.
Once you have managed to establish the safety of a diet, you can slowly reintegrate other foods. And when there is an allergy reaction, you will know the particular food causing that.
Regular Food Allergy Signs in Dogs
- Hot spots
- Scaly skin (Common symptom of food allergies in dogs skin)
- Oily skin (Common symptom of food allergies in dogs skin)
- Discharge from the eyes
- Loss of hair
- Infections in the ear
- Pain in the abdomen
- Difficulty in breathing
- Discharge from the nose
- Loss in weight
Prevention of Gastroenteritis
Some theories have developed concerning chronic or early gastroenteritis, which is common in puppies and young dogs, and they grow into adult pets which are likely to come down with allergies.
It is very easy to prevent gastroenteritis when it comes to food allergies in dogs. All you need to do is preventing your dog from eating anything apart from dog food. It might be difficult to achieve this because such animals are known to eat all sorts of things, some which are harmful, and some that are not.
If you think that your pet has eaten garbage or something which could induce stomach upset, then the best solution is a low-protein diet, until it dies down. You can also consult the veterinarian to be on the safer side.
Preventing Food Allergies in Dogs
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One of the best ways of preventing food allergies in dogs is to opt for products that have restricted protein sources. Food which comes with either one or two protein sources will come in handy if your pet is down with an allergy.
For instance, if there is a food with four protein sources, and the dog has an allergy, you would have to avoid it, so that you would not aggravate the situation. However, if you only feed your animal turkey, for example, and your dog develops an allergy, it would be easy getting a diet devoid of turkey.
The prevention of allergies might be difficult in dogs that are susceptible to food allergies development. Some breeds are being observed and pinpointed as having natural allergies to specific items.
Food Allergies in Dogs? Here’s Our Conclusion
It is a challenging task to handle a dog that has food allergies. When you have a good understanding of the signs of food allergies in dogs, it would be easier for you to know the cause and prevent future ones from occurring. The best thing is to read critical information on a trusted website or visit a vet.
If you are a dog owner and have experienced this problem, share with us your story and how you managed to sort it out!
Author’s Bio: Chele is a huge animal lover that was raised in New York City. As a journalist and pet owner, Chele has come across multiple topics that don’t have a definitive answer. Part of her job is to debunk animal-related myths and bring value to other pet owners.