Does Your Dog Have An Itch? Food Allergies In Dogs
Those of us that love our pets hate to see them uncomfortable. When dogs are itching and scratching excessively, don’t assume it has to be from fleas. Sometimes it can be from a food allergy that has developed over time. The following information from the experts at Blue Seal Feeds may be helpful to you:
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is the result of the immune system mistakenly perceiving a harmless substance, typically a food protein, as something dangerous to the body. The immune system then fights this protein, known as an allergen, by over-producing antibodies to attack it. The next time the animal consumes this protein, the immune system is ready, and it reacts by releasing histamine and other chemicals which trigger the symptoms of an allergic reaction. The degree to which the immune system reacts during exposure to the allergen can vary from very subtle signs to life-threatening situations. It may also take years of repeated exposure to a specific food allergen before the immune system responds with an allergic reaction.
Signs of a food allergy:
Symptoms of a food allergy in dogs are similar to some medical disorders as well as other allergies (such as environmental allergies). Thus it is important to work with your veterinarian to rule out other medical conditions when you suspect a food allergy. Symptoms of a food allergy in dogs may include excessive scratching or licking due to itchy skin (especially around the face, muzzle, paws, ears, armpits and hind area), hot spots, skin rash, hives, chronic ear infections or inflammation and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Food allergies should not be confused with food intolerances. An intolerance is a digestive problem in which the digestive system does not digest a specific ingredient properly. Symptoms of food intolerance include gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Suspect ingredients in dog food:
Some of the more common ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction in dogs include, but are not limited to, beef, chicken, dairy products, eggs, corn, wheat and soybeans. Note that these ingredients are typically the most common in dog foods, yet only a small percentage of dogs actually develop a true food allergy. The list of ingredients in descending order by pre-cooked weight can be found on any dog food product packaging, most often on the back or side panel of the bag.
Diagnosis and treatment of allergies:
An accurate diagnosis of a specific food allergen can be very difficult and time consuming as it involves performing numerous food trials, each lasting 8 -12 weeks. Treatment of a food allergy is to simply avoid products that contain the offending ingredients causing the allergic reaction. Often times, switching to a product containing novel meat and grain protein sources that your dog’s immune system has never been exposed to may alleviate the allergy symptoms.
Blue Seal Life Stages Pork and Barley dog foods from Koopman Lumber contain Pork Meal as the only meat protein source and a combination of Barley, Rice and Oats as the grain sources. These alternative protein sources may be suitable for dogs with food allergies to the more common meat and grain ingredients. Life Stages Pork and Barley dry dog food, available at Koopman Lumber, is nutritionally balanced to meet the nutritional requirements of all life stages and comes in 20-lb and 40-lb bags. Life Stages Pork and Barley Harvest Supper wet dog food is available in 13 oz. cans.
Reference: Jeanne van der Veen, MS, PAS, KNG Equine & Specialty Nutritionist