It’s true. Food allergies and our dogs may not be talked about often, but they can suffer from a myriad of food-related irritations. Allergies can be the result of their environment or the season, but ten percent of allergies in our dogs are the result of the foods they eat. And while many symptoms are what we would expect (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, gas), they can also cause itching, ear infections, and other discomforts.
What Are Food Allergies?
Good question. There are two types of reactions, and they are both the result of food. They are food allergies and food intolerances.
Food Allergies are an immune system response to a protein the body has a reaction to because of genetics. Proteins are in most of our canine companion’s foods including meats, grains, and even vegetables. Any protein has the potential to cause a food allergy. The reaction can be minor or life-threatening.
Food Intolerances are very different. They result from poor digestion, such as a lack of healthy enzyme activity or bad gut bacteria that leads to the chronic condition. Common symptoms of food allergies tend to be more extreme and can even be life-threatening, but intolerances, while just as uncomfortable, are not as serious.
What Causes Food Allergies?
There must be a genetic predisposition to allergies in order for them to develop. It’s a type of immune response and is increasing in prevalence at an alarming rate. There’s a great deal of research going into how tolerance and immunity develop in humans and animals.
There are some breeds that have a higher likelihood of developing food allergies, and if any of us are planning on going to a breeder, it’s important that we ask about the line and whether any others in the canine family have food allergies, or allergies of any kind. Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Retrievers are the most common breeds to be genetically predisposed to food allergies.
The most common allergens are beef, chicken, corn, dairy, eggs, fish, lamb, soy, and wheat. And yes, these are all common ingredients in commercial dog foods. Part of the reason can be that allergies sometimes develop over time because of ongoing exposure. And because these are common ingredients in most commercial dog foods, it also means that sussing out the culprit can be challenging. Dogs can also be allergic to the preservatives and additives in commercial dog food.
For more about commercial dog food, check out these articles:
Common Food Allergy Symptoms
Food allergies and our dogs are similar to food allergies and humans. There can be a strong reaction or a mild irritation. Either way, for those of us with dogs who are suffering from food allergies, we should watch for these symptoms. They aren’t normal symptoms for a pup to experience.
- Hair Loss
- Skin Infection
A tell-tale sign can be symptoms that reoccur even after being treated with antibiotics or other solutions. For example, recurrent ear infections, hair loss, and hot spots can be the result of food allergies. Food allergies and our dogs can be difficult to diagnose because they can look like other causes of these symptoms, such as yeast infections, mange, flea bites, seasonal or environmental allergies, intestinal parasites, bacterial infections, and more.
Diagnosing And Treating Food Allergies And Our Dogs
There is no cure for food allergies. The only way to help our pups find relief from symptoms is to figure out which allergen is causing the problem and eliminate it from our fur-baby’s diet.
Some guardians will try food trials. Eating a diet free from a potential allergen and watching for symptoms to clear up. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try a new diet that is free from a different allergen to test for symptom relief.
Unfortunately, changing our dog’s diet over and over can be harmful to them. It can be better to try gradually switch our four-legged friend to a completely hypoallergenic diet. If we really need to know for sure which allergen is the problem, we can introduce them one at a time back into their diet and watch for symptoms to reoccur. But there’s really no need to put our pup through the discomfort if we give them a fully hypoallergenic diet.
EcoEats is an all natural, hypoallergenic, dehydrated dog food that’s as close as we can get to a whole foods diet. It’s grain-free, preservative-free, gluten-free, free of by-products, vet-approved, and great for all life stages!