Food allergies in dogs occur in about ten percent of dog allergy cases. Because they can sometimes mimic the symptoms of environmental or seasonal allergies, they’re more difficult to diagnose, but most of the time, are easy to fix. Food allergy symptoms in dogs include itching, hives, gastrointestinal issues, and chronic ear or paw infections. When looking for symptoms of an allergy, the top four places to check are the ears, paws, inner belly/thigh area, and the eyes or front leg area, which is where most of the reactions will occur.
The first thing a veterinarian will most likely prescribe to figure out a long-term plan is an elimination diet to determine what exactly it is that the dog is allergic to – most of the time, it’s one of the proteins that’s in their current food. With new light regarding the dangers to grain free or gluten free dog food, it is true that some dogs are allergic to wheat or gluten and will require a grain free diet, but veterinarians will rule out all proteins before suggesting an allergy to grains. Below is a list of the ten most common dog allergies:
Techniques for managing dog allergies may include the following:
1. Limit allergen exposure
Like humans, dogs can develop allergies to foods they’ve eaten their whole lives, especially if their main diet consists of one type of protein for years. Their bodies have to have a predisposition to developing these allergies, but they can develop from exposure, so the best way to prevent them is making sure dogs have a varied diet, and swapping between a few different protein types when they are young.
2. Elimination diet
An elimination diet does just that: takes the dog off the food they’re eating completely and replaces it with something they’ve never eaten before, called a “novel” protein. Most hypoallergenic dog foods include venison and potato, duck and pea, or salmon and potato, as long as the proteins are new to the dog’s immune system. This will give their body a clean slate for a reaction, and sometimes it can take multiple food swaps to find something that works for each individual dog. Once a protein (or multiple proteins) are found for the dog that works, a chronic food allergy can be managed easily with a change to the diet.
3. Hypoallergenic diet
It can take up to eight to ten weeks to see the way a dog’s body will respond to the new diet. If the dog doesn’t have any reaction to the new protein, and the old food is introduced and the symptoms come back within two weeks, the allergy is confirmed and the hypoallergenic food must be the only thing the dog can eat. This includes avoiding flavored treats and even flavored medications. There are hypoallergenic treats available for dogs with allergies, so they can still enjoy one now and then.