Food allergies are uncommon in dogs. However, when they do strike the symptoms can be concerning for both us and our canine companions. Today, our Boulder and Westminster veterinary dermatologist lists the best types of 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 sensitivity or a food allergy, it's crucial to be aware of the most frequent food allergy symptoms and what to do if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies in dogs often start to become an issue as the dog reaches their first birthday. That said, dogs of any age can develop sensitivities and allergies.
The most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:
Red, irritated skin
Rashes on ears and feet
Some of these symptoms may be spotted by owners or during a routine exam by your regular veterinarian. If you're concerned your dog may have an allergy, we encourage you to schedule a examination with your veterinarian.
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
Proteins in food, whether plant-based or animal-based, can cause food allergies. Wheat, dairy, beef, and corn are common causes. While it may appear paradoxical, symptoms of food allergies can take a long time to manifest. It is not uncommon for a dog to develop an allergy to a meal that they have been consuming for several 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 a hypoallergenic dog food 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 the 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.
The Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
Prescription Dog Food
If your dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your veterinarian may advise you to feed him prescription dog food. While this alternative can be costly, new protein and hydrolyzed diets accessible solely 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.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited ingredient dog diets handle the presence of allergies by containing only one protein source (such as beef, lamb, or chicken), often combined with a single carbohydrate source. When looking for limited ingredient dog foods, look for the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) stamp of approval as well as a "complete and balanced" assurance from the manufacturer.
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel ingredient dog diets substitute exotic proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison for typical dog food proteins such as beef and chicken. To assist balance the diet, several innovative ingredient dog diets include uncommon carbs such as sweet potatoes.
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.