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Allergy Dog: The most common food allergens for dogs

Allergy Dog: The most common food allergens for dogs

Allergies are a common problem not only in humans but also in dogs. There are different types of allergies, but food allergies are one of the most common types. A food allergy can cause a variety of symptoms in dogs, ranging from skin rashes and itching to digestive problems and even difficulty breathing. Dogs can have allergic reactions to certain ingredients, even in high-quality food. It's getting easier to find pet food that's made with high-quality ingredients and few fillers. Nevertheless, our dogs may be allergic or intolerant to some of these ingredients.

First of all, it is important to know that there is a big difference between food intolerance and a true food allergy in dogs. A food intolerance occurs when a dog has difficulty digesting a certain ingredient, such as: B. Dairy products. In contrast, a food allergy triggers an immune reaction that can cause serious health problems.

Read on to learn what this means and how to tell if your dog's food is causing an allergic reaction.

Dog food allergies vs. dog food intolerances

Pets, Dogs, Different Breeds of Dogs

Dog Allergy: What most people refer to as a dog food allergy is actually a cutaneous adverse food reaction. This means that there is a connection between a food and a specific group of symptoms - usually skin problems or gastrointestinal problems.

In a true food allergy, the culprit is often a dietary protein that triggers an unwanted immune reaction, which in turn causes cells in the body to release histamines, or compounds that lead to itching and many other allergy symptoms.

With food intolerance, on the other hand, there is no immune reaction, but the signs of food intolerance can be similar to the symptoms of a food allergy. One example is lactose intolerance, in which the dog's body cannot process the lactose in dairy products well, leading to gastrointestinal problems (often diarrhea).

Both allergies and intolerances fall under the category of adverse food reactions. Of all dogs that go to the vet for a diagnosis, 1 to 2 percent have food intolerances or allergies; For dogs with skin diseases, the number rises to around 6 percent. For dogs with itching and allergies, even more - around one in five - show signs of adverse reactions to food.

Nevertheless, real allergies, in which the immune system attacks a food protein, are significantly rarer than food intolerances. A food allergy is unlikely if your dog is otherwise normal, even if he scratches. Still, diet can undoubtedly play a role in treating skin conditions, whether or not your dog has a food allergy.

The 7 most common causes of food allergies in dogs

beef

Proteins are common food allergens. Feeding your dog the same food for years increases the likelihood that he will develop an intolerance or allergy to one or more ingredients. Beef is one of the most common ingredients in many pet foods, which may be why it is the most common food allergen. I feed our three dogs raw and change the types of meat weekly. One reason I do this is to reduce the risk of food allergies.

Dairy products

Some dogs have trouble digesting lactose. This is more of an intolerance than a true allergy. Lactose intolerance causes bloating, diarrhea or vomiting. The tricky thing is that even a true milk allergy can cause these symptoms, making it difficult to determine whether a dog is suffering from an allergy or intolerance. An important difference: A milk allergy can manifest itself through itchy skin or similar symptoms, while lactose intolerance is always about digestion.

Wheat

There are many misconceptions about carbohydrate foods for dogs, especially grains. Dogs are much more likely to be allergic to meat than to grains. However, some dogs also react allergically to wheat. Ask your veterinarian or nutritionist about grains, as each animal should be treated individually.

Eggs

An egg allergy means your dog's immune system is overreacting to the proteins in the egg yolk. Luckily, it's relatively easy to avoid eggs. Just be sure to check the labels on the food. If you feed fresh eggs, please make sure to cook the eggs beforehand. When raw, the egg white contains the components avidin and a trypsin inhibitor. These can impair digestion, cause diarrhea and thus lead to deficiency symptoms.

Chicken

The same rules apply here as for beef and lamb! Just because it's plain chicken doesn't mean your dog can't be allergic to this common protein.

lamb

Since many commercial dog foods are made with chicken or beef, lamb was considered a good option for dogs that have allergies even with "normal" food. But it is also a possible cause of an allergy. If your dog is allergic to lamb and rice, you can try venison and sweet potatoes.

soy

Some studies have shown that consuming soy can cause not only allergies but also various health problems, including reproductive and growth problems as well as thyroid and liver diseases. The health risks associated with soy products far outweigh any potential benefits.

Dog Food Allergy Symptoms

Dog Allergy: Dog food allergy symptoms can be varied and range from skin problems such as itching, rashes and eczema to gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. Other possible symptoms may include breathing problems, ear infections and behavioral changes. It is important to have an allergy determined as the cause of these symptoms by a veterinarian to ensure appropriate treatment.

The most common signs of food allergies in dogs

Food allergy

These are the most common signs of a food allergy, starting with the most common symptom:

  • Itching (also called pruritus)
  • Sneeze
  • Itchy paws
  • Hot spots
  • Rashes
  • Scaly and/or oily skin
  • Pigmented skin
  • Leathery skin texture
  • Eye discharge
  • Red eyes
  • Hair loss
  • Ear infections
  • Secondary yeast or bacterial infections (also known as pyoderma) of the skin or ears

Gastrointestinal symptoms of food allergy in dogs

Only 10 to 30 percent of dogs with confirmed food allergies have gastrointestinal or gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. This is a condition that is much more commonly associated with skin symptoms. Sudden and short-term gastrointestinal symptoms are rarely caused by a food allergy. On the other hand, food allergies can contribute to or cause certain chronic symptoms.

  • Diarrhea with or without blood and/or mucus in the stool
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Vomit
  • Pain in the abdomen

Less common symptoms of food allergies in dogs

These symptoms are not as common as those mentioned above, but may occur in some dogs.

  • Nasal discharge
  • Breathing problems
  • Seizures (food allergies can trigger them in predisposed dogs)
  • Secondary urinary tract infections (due to an overgrowth of skin bacteria)
  • Weight loss (combined with severe diarrhea and/or vomiting)

Behavioral problems in dogs with food allergies

The following symptoms are also less common and usually occur in conjunction with or are associated with the above symptoms.

  • Frequent scratching of furniture, owner's legs, etc.
  • restlessness
  • Frequent shaking of the ears or scratching of the ears
  • Biting paws, rump and/or tail
  • Withdrawal or decreased interest in gambling
  • Loss of appetite, lack of interest or refusal to eat

Long-term effects of dog food allergies

If dog allergies are left untreated, some more serious health problems can develop. These include secondary skin infections, development of further allergies, worsening of symptoms, behavioral changes and poor quality of life.

The last point is particularly important. "Usually a food allergy is not life-threatening, but it does affect your quality of life," says Shmalberg. "If they're constantly itching, it can feel like they have a thousand mosquito bites. This can be pretty hard on the dog from everyday life." So when a dog is unwell, they may exhibit some of the behavioral problems mentioned above. Diagnosis and treatment are crucial to preventing chronic diseases and problems. Read on to find out more.

If your dog is constantly itching, it can feel like he's constantly having a thousand mosquito bites, and that can lead to a poor quality of life.

Breeds prone to food allergies

Although there is no scientific literature on which breeds are most prone to food allergies. The following breeds are most commonly Googled using the search term “food allergies” or “dog food allergies.”

  • dachshund
  • Bulldogs
  • Golden retriever
  • German Shepherds
  • Pugs
  • Pit bulls
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Shih Tzus
  • Westies (also known as West Highland White Terriers)
  • Yorkies (also called Yorkshire Terriers)

Treating Dog Food Allergies

Treating dog food allergies comes down to one basic principle: Find out what foods your dog is allergic to and avoid feeding them. This is why the elimination diet and trial period are so important. This is the only way to find out which foods and dietary proteins a dog can tolerate and which cannot. Assuming it's a food intolerance and not an allergy (which is much more likely). In this case, a food test is still helpful, but a simple change in diet can be just as effective. A different diet composition than the current one is often enough to improve the symptoms.

Aside from that, there are a few other ways to deal with food allergies and intolerances. Here you will find a brief overview as well as considerations, advantages and disadvantages of the individual measures.

Antihistamines and other medications

Antihistamines like Benadryl can relieve itching. They are relatively safe and vet-approved for use at home. Topical anti-itch shampoos and ointments can also help. Be sure to get your veterinarian's approval before giving your dog any over-the-counter medication or medication. Antibiotics and antifungals such as cephalexin and ketoconazole, for example, may help in the short term to treat secondary infections that occur when the skin becomes inflamed, but symptoms usually return when they are stopped. What about anti-inflammatory drugs like steroids? They typically do not help with many food allergy symptoms.

Homemade Dog Food Diets

Homemade diets are sometimes used for elimination diets and for dogs with food intolerances or allergies. It's easy to see why they are so effective - the owner has full control over the ingredients. But there's a problem with homemade dog food. Unless formulated with the advice of a veterinarian, many of them do not contain enough essential nutrients. This deficiency can cause problems in the long term. In addition, the preparation is very labor-intensive for the owner.

Vegan dog food diets

Vegan diets are also used by some owners and veterinarians during and after food testing. However, there is no evidence that they are more beneficial than a carefully selected single protein diet. (In fact, vegan diets often contain many different plant-based proteins.) But if a dog is allergic to multiple types of meat, a vegan diet is certainly one way to avoid them. Like home-cooked diets, vegan diets also need to be carefully formulated. Some store-bought vegan diets have been found to be deficient in key nutrients. They are actually only mentioned by veterinarians because they are becoming increasingly popular with owners. They are definitely not our first choice for treating food allergies.

Best food for dog allergies

Allergy Dog: There is no single best dog food for allergies. This depends very much on the individual dog. But it's important to know what's in your dog's food and trust that it's made without contamination from ingredients not listed on the label. For this reason, canned food and kibble can be difficult when looking for dog food without allergens. With food made fresh and in smaller batches, you can see what's in it and are less likely to introduce traces of allergenic ingredients during processing. This is exactly why many owners consider making their own dog food. It all comes down to the cooking process and the quality of the ingredients, and many conventional foods have had problems with cross-contamination.

By choosing a food that is freshly prepared and contains few human-grade ingredients and no artificial fillers, you can see exactly what your four-legged friend is getting.

Here are his tips for choosing a food for a dog with food allergies or intolerances:

  • Variety is called for. Let's say you or your vet think your dog has a food intolerance. In this case, it is worth switching to a food with a different protein source, varied ingredients and perhaps even a different fat content. "These diets don't have to be as simple as elimination diets," says Shmalberg.
  • Commercial food labels are not always accurate. A 2018 study found that about 45 percent of commercially available pet foods contained unlabeled ingredients, including products with "limited ingredients" claims. The investigation found that feeds containing hydrolyzed or chemically digested ingredients did not contain nearly as many unlabeled ingredients (probably because hydrolysis is a very technical process).
  • The purity of dog food products is not controlled. Cooking in large quantities in a large facility requires a lot of heavy machinery with lots of nooks and crannies where contamination can easily occur. Companies that produce "hypoallergenic" dog food or "low ingredient dog food" should follow best practices to avoid this. But there is no oversight or regulation for the production of these types of products.
  • Fresh food may be a safer choice. With food made fresh in small batches, with few human-grade ingredients and no artificial fillers, you can see exactly what your four-legged friend is getting. Homemade dog food is one option. If you don't want to spend time preparing your dog food, you can also use a freshly prepared dog food delivery service that values ​​quality and purity.

Conclusion

Dog allergy: Overall, it can be said that dogs, like people, can suffer from allergies and that food allergies are a common cause of allergic reactions in dogs. It is important to recognize the symptoms of dog allergy and see a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. An elimination diet and allergy test can help identify the allergy-causing food. It is also important to keep an eye on environmental allergens such as dust mites and grasses and to ensure that the dog does not come into contact with these allergens. With proper treatment and feeding, the quality of life of dogs with allergies can be significantly improved.