Food Allergies in Dogs
If you think your dog may be suffering from food allergies or a sensitivity to an ingredient in their regular food, it’s important to know the most common symptoms of food allergies, and which actions you should take if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy. Our vets at Miller Clark Animal Hospital can help you find the best food for dogs with allergies and offer advice on nutrition and diet.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
While food allergies in dogs can develop at any age, allergies and sensitivities often start to appear around the dog’s first birthday.
The most common symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:
- Red, irritated skin
- Rashes on ears and feet
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
Most often, proteins from plant or animal-based ingredients in a dog’s diet will be the cause of food allergies. Dairy, corn, beef and wheat are usually the most problematic foods for dogs. While it may seem counterintuitive, symptoms of food allergies can take a fairly long time to appear. It is not unusual for a dog to be allergic to a food that they have been eating for many months.
Diagnosing Your Dog’s Food Allergies
An elimination diet is the single most reliable method of diagnosing food allergies in dogs. If your vet suspects that your dog suffers from a food allergy, he or she can examine your dog, assess symptoms and prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food.
For at least 8 to 10 weeks, you should only feed your dog the prescribed food so we can assess whether the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog’s symptoms.
While your dog is on the elimination diet, it’s critical to only give him hypoallergenic food. Unfortunately, this means no sneaking in the odd treat. The special 10-week diet will help your dog’s body to adapt to the food, and give your vet a chance to evaluate your dog’s overall health.
If your dog’s symptoms clear up while he’s on the elimination diet, your vet may request that you return to your dog’s original diet. If original symptoms return, your vet can be confident in diagnosing your dog with 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 dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend that you feed your dog prescription dog food. While this option can be pricey, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available by prescription only are typically superior to those that can be purchased 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 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. If you believe your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, contact our vets at Miller Clark Animal Hospital to book an appointment for your dog.
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.