Just as many people are allergic to peanuts, dairy products, shellfish or other food items, dogs can also suffer from food allergies. In most cases, a dog is relatively unaffected by a food allergy and may not exhibit any symptoms. However, some dogs will experience discomfort from an allergic reaction, and it can even cause serious health problems in certain instances.
Certain dogs are more genetically predisposed to allergies than others, although it takes an external source to trigger the actual allergic reaction. The onset of a food allergy can occur at any age. Just because your dog doesn’t have allergies as a puppy doesn’t mean he won’t develop them as he ages.
Symptoms of Canine Food Allergies
Food allergies are often difficult to pinpoint because the symptoms often mimic those of other afflictions. The most typical reaction is itchy, red, moist or scabbed skin that may cause your dog to scratch constantly. Other symptoms include diarrhea and frequent vomiting. Some dogs may continuously lick their feet or experience chronic ear inflammation. You’ll need to rely on your vet to make an appropriate food allergy diagnosis.
What Types of Foods Trigger Dog Allergies?
While dogs can be allergic to many types of foods, the most common culprits are dog dietary staples such as beef, chicken, lamb, rabbit, eggs and fish. Many dogs with allergies are allergic to more than one food item. If you only feed your dog one type of dog food, it can be relatively easy to target the cause of his allergies.
However, if you routinely feed him table scraps or a wide variety of dog food products, determining the exact cause of his allergies can be a challenging task. It may take a bit of dietary trial and error to nail down the source.
Food Allergy Remedies
In addition to determining and eliminating the foods that are triggering your dog’s allergies, there are a number of other available treatment options. Your vet may recommend a diet consisting of hydrolyzed protein. There are many different hypoallergenic dog foods on the market containing non-traditional ingredients such as buffalo, kangaroo and pheasant that may be effective for your dog.
You can also try switching your dog to a diet of raw or home-cooked food in an effort to steer him away from processed foods. These types of diets tend to work well for some dogs, but not so well for others. They can also result in additional time and expense, which makes it difficult to create a balanced diet that provides proper nutrition for your dog.
What About Medications for Treating Allergies?
Certain medications may help to relieve your dog’s allergy symptoms. Your vet may recommend fatty acid supplements to relieve his itchy skin condition. An immune modulating drug may also be beneficial for some dogs. In cases of severe allergies, your vet may administer a cortisone injection, although this strong drug could cause your dog to have an adverse reaction and should be given with extreme caution.
No matter what, monitor your dog’s eating patterns and other symptoms he may be experiencing. Consult with your vet for the best course of action.