Food allergies in dogs are relatively uncommon. However, when symptoms do appear, they can be concerning for both our dogs and us. Our Liberty Lake veterinarians discuss the best foods to help alleviate your dog's food allergy symptoms.
Food Allergies in Dogs
Because dogs can't tell us if they have a food allergy or a sensitivity to an ingredient in their food, watching for the most common food allergy symptoms is crucial to know when to act and what to do if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies in dogs will often appear around the time a pup reaches its first birthday. However, dogs of any age can develop allergies or sensitivities.
The most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:
- Rashes on ears and feet
- Red, irritated skin
Owners may notice some of these symptoms, or your vet may identify them during a routine exam.
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
Dog food may contain plant-based or animal ingredients that contain proteins that can trigger food allergies. The most common culprits are dairy, beef, corn, and wheat. While it may seem counterintuitive, food allergy symptoms can take a long time to manifest. It's not uncommon for a dog to develop an allergy to food after eating it for months.
How Dogs are Diagnosed with Food Allergies
An elimination diet is the only reliable method of diagnosing food allergies in dogs.
If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has a food allergy, he or she will recommend hypoallergenic dog food that has been specially formulated for your pet. You'll only feed your dog the prescribed food for at least 8 to 10 weeks to see if the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
It's essential that your dog eats only hypoallergenic food while they are on this elimination diet. (Unfortunately, this means no sneaking them the odd treat). This special 10-week diet will help your dog's body to adapt to the food and give your vet the opportunity to assess your dog's overall health.
If your dog's symptoms are alleviated or disappear while they're on the elimination diet, your vet may ask you to return to feeding your dog their original diet. If original symptoms return, then your vet can be confident in diagnosing your dog with a food allergy.
Best Dog Foods for Dogs with Allergies
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
The presence of allergens is addressed in limited ingredient dog foods by using only one protein source (such as beef, lamb, or chicken) and a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited ingredient dog foods, look for the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) seal of approval as well as the manufacturer's claim of "complete and balanced."
Prescription Dog Food
If your dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your veterinarian may advise you to feed prescription dog food to him. While this is a more expensive option, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available only by prescription are usually superior to those available over the counter.
Grain-Free Dog Food
If your pet has a sensitivity to corn, wheat, and other grains a grain-free dog food may be ideal. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free.
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel Ingredient dog food replaces traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison. Many Novel Ingredient dog food also uses unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet.
After your dog is diagnosed, your vet will work with you to find the best diet for your dog. Many food options are available to help alleviate your dog's food allergy symptoms.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.