Food allergies are not exclusive to humans, but they can be difficult to diagnose in pets, especially when dog food allergies appear to manifest quickly. The biggest problem of course, is the pet’s inability to communicate the symptoms effectively, and they are many times confused with other ailments.
Symptoms of dog food allergies may include excessive scratching, hair loss, skin infections as well as ear infections. Most times antibiotics used for skin infections will clear them up briefly, but they will reoccur when the antibiotics are stopped. An animal with itchy skin that does not seem to improve with the use of antihistamines or steroids, may be suffering from food allergies.
There is also a difference between food allergies and food intolerance. An intolerance to certain foods may cause symptoms such as diarrhea or frequent bowel movements and vomiting. Fortunately, whether the animal is suffering from food Allergy or food intolerance, once the proper diagnosis has been made, they can both be treated.
Since most dog food is made from beef, chicken, wheat, eggs, soy and dairy products, it should be no surprise that most food allergies are caused by one of these ingredients. When pet food companies began producing lamb and rice formulations, many dog allergies seemed to disappear. Most veterinarians agree that it is not because of something special in the lamb and rice formula that reduced the incidences of food allergies in dog , rather it is the fact that the dog’s diet was changed and the animal has not developed an intolerance for the new food.
Dietary Change To Test For Food Allergies
Once other causes have been ruled out, such as flea bite allergies, intestinal parasites, yeast or bacterial infections a dietary change may be needed to reduce the symptoms of dog food allergies. A new food source containing protein and carbohydrate should be the only diet of the pet for at least 12 weeks to determine which of the ingredients in their old pet food was causing the allergic reaction.
The food source must be completely different from what the animal was used to and cannot be supplemented with treats or other types of food if the test is to be effective. Once it has been determined the pet is not having an adverse reaction to the new diet, different foods can be added to help develop a more diverse diet. However, any addition must go through the same test procedures and if any reaction is noted, the new addition will need to be eliminated.