Dogs with Food Allergies
If you believe your dog is experiencing a food allergy or has a sensitivity to an ingredient in their normal food, it's important to be able to recognize the common signs of an allergy and know what to do if your dog does have one.
Food Allergy Signs & Symptoms in Dogs
If your dog does develop an allergy they will most likely start developing symptoms by the time they are one year old, however, dogs can become allergic or sensitive to food or ingredients at any age.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of dog food allergies are:
- Rashes on the ears and feet
- Red irritated skin
Common Reasons for Food Allergies in Dogs
The most common cause of food allergies in dogs is the proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients. Often, beef, dairy, corn, and wheat are the most problematic foods for dogs. While it might appear counterintuitive, it could take a fairly long time for the food allergy symptoms to arise. It is not unusual for a dog to be allergic to a food that they have been eating for many months.
Diagnosing Your Dogs Food Allergies
The only real way to diagnose food allergies in dogs is through an elimination diet.
If your veterinarian believes your dog has a food allergy, they will prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food for your pooch. For at least 8-10 weeks, you will only be able to feed your dog the prescribed food in order to gauge whether the diet change helps relieve your pup's symptoms.
It's critical that you only feed your dog hypoallergenic food while they are on their elimination diet. (Unfortunately, this means no sneaking them an odd treat). This special 10-week diet will allow your dog's body to adjust to the food and give your vet the opportunity to assess your canine companion's overall health.
If your dog's symptoms go away while they are on the elimination diet, your vet might request returning your dog to their original diet. If the original symptoms come back then your vet will be confident that your pooch has a food allergy.
Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
Following the diagnosis, your vet will work with you to determine the best diet for your dog. A number of food options are available to help alleviate your dog's allergy symptoms.
Prescription Dog Food
If your pup's food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet might recommend feeding your dog prescription dog food. While this option can be costly, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available by prescription only are typically higher quality than the ones that can be purchased over the counter.
Grain-Free Dog Food
If your pooch has a sensitivity to corn, wheat, and other grains a grain-free dog food could be ideal. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just one protein source, (such as beef, lamb or chicken), often combined with just a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited ingredient dog foods it's important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer.
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel ingredient dog foods replace traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison. Many novel ingredient dog foods also use unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet.