Today we’re going to look at dog food for dogs with allergies, its important to note that there is a difference between allergies and intolerance, and we’ll be looking at the differences in symptoms between the two. Many people prefer to provide a home cooked diet for allergic dogs, and we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of that too. Of all dog allergies around 10% are food related and most food allergic dogs will be allergic to more than one food.
Common food allergens for dogs
How do I know if my dog is allergic to a food substance?
Symptoms vary, but generally allergic reactions will include itchy skin, recurrent ear infections and licking the feet, whereas food intolerance is more likely to result in gastrointestinal symptoms, eg vomiting, diarrhea and excessive gas. It is important that you check with your vet before you rush into diagnosing a food allergy, firstly to rule out any other causes for the symptoms that your dog is experiencing, but also to see if the vet thinks that they could prescribe something to help with the symptoms as you begin to try to identify the source of the allergic reaction.
The only way to be sure what allergen(s) has an impact on your dogs symptoms is to implement an elimination diet. Basically you strip out all but the most basic of ingredients, and certainly all of those listed above, wait for a few days until your dog is symptom free, then gradually begin to add in other ingredients one at a time and see which foods reinstate the symptoms. You need to be patient though, symptoms may not be triggered immediately, it can take a few days of the new food before you will see any result. Once you have an idea of the food(s) that are causing the reaction you can eliminate them from the diet going forward.
Home cooked v commercial foods?
There are a range of commercial dog foods that are branded as hypoallergenic, so you might want to try those, however there are an immense number of ingredients in commercial kibble, so working out exactly which one(s) trigger a reaction can be tricky. Many owners opt for providing a home cooked alternative. This has the benefit that you will know exactly what is in it and you can keep it simple, the downside is that it is time-consuming, can be pricey and you may not provide a fully balanced diet. There are, of course, plenty of resources on line to keep you on track and help you make sure that all of the essential nutrients are being included.
The list below is a list of all of the elements that need to be included in a home cooked diet:
- protein (from meat, seafood, dairy and eggs)
- fat (from meat or oil)
- carbs (from grain or veg)
- calcium (from dairy or supplements)
- fatty acids (from plant oils, eggs, oats)
Its also important to note that some human foods are toxic to dogs, these include chocolate, onions, avocado, some nuts, grapes and raisins, so extreme caution is required there.
Is it possible to prevent food allergies in dogs?
Food allergies are most common in the following breeds:
Boxer | Spaniel (Cocker and Springer) | Collie | Dalmatian | German Shepherd
Lhasa Apso | Schnauzer | Retriever | Shar-Pei | Dachshund | West Highland White Terrier
The key to providing the best start in digestive terms for our pups is to include probiotics in the first six months and to provide a varied diet, thus encouraging good gut health.
This is the first of what I intend to be several posts looking at diet and health in dogs, please let me know what you think, any ideas or questions by using the comment box below.