Your dog itches like a madman, and constantly shakes his head. Your vet told you that it could be a food allergy. What does it mean? In order to clarify this issue, we talked with Susan Wynne, who is a world-wide recognized pet care specialist.
Q: How often do food allergies occur in dogs?
Answer: Ten percent of all cases of allergy in dogs are food allergies. Dogs can also suffer from food intolerance, which is different from food allergies.
Question: What are the signs of food allergy?
The answer: any - from chronic ear inflammation, problems with the gastrointestinal tract and chronic diarrhea to chronic flatulence, licking paws or itching of the back. More rarely there may be symptoms such as seizures, bronchial asthma and chronic sinusitis / rhinitis.
Question: what most often causes food allergy in my dog?
Answer: This is a genetic problem, and the allergic reaction develops under the influence of triggers, to which the dog is sensitive. The most common allergens are beef, dairy products, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. Most dogs are usually allergic to more than one product.
Question: what leads to the development of this type of allergy?
Answer: this is a multifactorial state, but usually a genetic predisposition is required to develop an allergy. In addition, the environment can also influence this process.
Currently, many studies are underway to identify what can make the immune system of small puppies and kittens express this particular feature. In the immune system of animals, during the first few weeks of life, the developmental process passes. Small animals that have been treated with antibiotics may have a potential predisposition to develop problems in the future, because antibiotics change the internal environment in the intestine, which is the largest organ of the immune system in the body. This may be a predisposing cause, but in order to trigger allergies, the effect of the allergen is necessary.
Question: Do certain breeds of dogs have a greater propensity to develop a food allergy?
The answer is: it largely depends on who you are talking about. There are also variations depending on the country or part of the country. You can talk to the breeders in your area. If the breeder of your dog breed is well versed in allergic reactions from your pets, you can assume that this breed often suffers from food allergies. According to statistics, the most common allergy occurs in retrievers, German shepherds, dachshunds, cocker spaniels and Cornish rex.
Question: How can I determine if my dog is suffering from a food allergy, or is something else causing the problem?
Answer: There is only one way to accurately diagnose food allergy: it is an elimination diet and an allergen provocation. Therefore, all that needs to be done is to take everything that the dog eats and give him or her the food that was never given before. Given all the exotic rations available in our time, this can be problematic. Sometimes people have to look for alligator and yak meat. As soon as the dog gets better, they start to gradually introduce old products, first those that were thought to cause problems. If the dog has a reaction, which usually takes from several days to several weeks, we can say that the dog has a food allergy.
To identify other problems, there are special tests. For example, you can take a sample of ear extracts to determine if there is a problem, or to conduct skin tests to identify allergies to environmental factors. A blood test can not be a reliable test to detect any allergy.
Question: Will my dog's diet change cause food allergy?
Answer: if the dog has an increased sensitivity to anything in this diet, an allergic reaction may develop. However, there is no way to know if your dog is sensitized to any food ingredient.
Question: Can my dog develop a food allergy to something that she had eaten before then without any problems? And will this continue to happen?
Answer: in dogs with food allergies, this happens quite often. They must be sensitized; they must be exposed to the allergen for a certain time. Therefore, usually during the initial period of eating this product the dogs do not react strongly enough, but a dog that has been eating this product for years can suddenly give it an allergic reaction.
If the elimination diet improves the clinical symptoms of the dog, and the owner can choose two or three diets that the dog normally tolerates, then it is recommended to alternate them every 2-3 months. The point is to maintain a stable condition of the dog for months or years, so that you can conduct provocative tests with the allergen and determine what your dog really is allergic to. If you are lucky, in time you will be able to return to a more normal diet and give up expensive exotic diets.
If a food allergy occurs at a fairly young age, then sometimes it passes by itself.
Question: how can I treat my dog that suffers from food allergy?
Answer: You can try to treat the symptoms, but if you have a disease caused by what you put in your mouth, the best treatment is to stop eating this product. In addition, you can use herbs, which, of course, help, but not as good as avoiding what causes the problem.
Question: Is it possible to cook better for my dog than to buy? How about raw food, will it help?
Answer: The positive aspect of cooking for a dog is that you can know exactly what is contained in the cooked food, and you can control it. The disadvantage is that this process is quite laborious, and most people do not know how to do it correctly. They do not add nutritional supplements to food, do not follow instructions and, after all, feed their dog or cat on an unbalanced diet.
There is nothing magical in raw food (eating raw food). Some dogs, eating on such a diet, feel very good, and some do not. The structure of the protein may differ from that which is present in cooked or processed food, and for some dogs this can make a difference. But it's not so common to recommend that everyone try to apply raw food for the dog.
Question: is there anything I can do to prevent the development of my puppy's food allergy?
Answer: no one will tell you that you can prevent the development of food allergies if your puppy has a predisposition. If you provide the puppy with a variety in the diet so that a natural alternation of food takes place, you will be able to maintain a healthy bowel condition.
In nutrition of small puppies and kittens, people can add probiotics. But the need to use antibiotics in growing animals is very doubtful. This can disrupt the balance in the intestines and increase the likelihood of developing a future allergy. Therefore, when caring for pups, it is recommended to add probiotics to food up to six months of age or up to a year, maintain a varied diet and do not give them antibiotics.