Dog allergies, including dog food allergies are rare (dog food allergies make up one-tenth of all dog allergies), but are very serious. They could even threaten your doggo’s life! They are treatable. Let’s look at how, and what are the steps toward dog food allergy treatment that you can implement, and fix this problem ASAP.
Dog Food Allergy or Intolerance?
There tends to be some misconception on what is a dog food allergy, and what is just plain dog food intolerance. Even some vets make this type of mistake! This is because the two end up looking pretty similar.
Read here for our brief discussion on the difference between the two.
Step 1 : Learn about the allergies
We have discussed the most common dog food allergens and how to spot them in depth, prior. There’s more to the dog food allergies, though:
- Giving a doggo antibiotics early in its pupperhood canincrease its chances of catching allergies to dog food. Antibiotics kills off all bacteria, including the bacteria needed for your doggo to function properly. That includes your doggo’s gut flora.
- Mites can live within the grains of low-quality dry dog food. That’s probably why most of the dog food allergy cases reported to the FDA have involved dry dog food (beside the fact that it is so common). If you leave it out for days, or even weeks, the problem multiplies, literally!
- Dog food allergies don’t care about the breed or gender of your doggo or doggorina.
- Food allergies don’t happen overnight. They, like any other disease, have been developing silently. They can show their selves all of a sudden, though.
Step 2 : Talk to your vet
Talking to your vet is crucial to fixing any food allergies your doggo might be facing.
What this visit should look like:
- thorough discussion on your doggo’s dietary history. Tell them what all you have fed your doggo, as far back as you can provide. This will help them pinpoint what your pooch should stay away from. Be sure to especially include the dog’s diet from when the symptoms first occurred.
- a full physical exam – your doggo will have his/her overall health and skin thoroughly examined. If anything out of the ordinary, that looks like allergic reaction is found, extra tests are done just to be sure
- skin diagnostic tests – this is where the vet rules out all those other things that may be causing those skin problems on your doggo. Expect skin scrapings, other types of skin tests, and examinations of the skin cells collected at this point.
Step 3 : Elimination Diet
This is where it’s all at. At this point, you’ve talked to your vet, disclosed everything and every ingredient your fur child has ever eaten, had skin diagnoses done, confirmed for sure that it is allergy, and whatever you’re feeding your doggo is the cause. What now?
Well, elimination diet is what comes next! This is where you talk to your vet about the different ingredients in your doggo’s food and come up with a game plan on what this elimination diet is going to look like. You can also check here for the list of common causes of dog food allergies. Contary to popular belief, this is NOT one-size-fits-all.
You are in this step for 8 to 12 weeks. While you’re in it, you should expect/do the following:
- what you feed your doggo from now on should consist of the following:
- a protein source that is new to your doggo (aka a novel protein)
- a source of carbs (e.g. rice or oatmeal)
- feed the doggo the diet and only the diet. No deviations!
- no treats, hooman food, chew toys, or supplements
- home-cooked dog food is best, as you will KNOW exactly what’s going into your doggo’s food, but will obviously take time. It can also fall short in terms of nutritional guidelines. Thus, you want to look into different brands of dog food devoted to this purpose. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
- log everything your doggo is eating, as well as the state of the symptoms.
- If the symptoms just aren’t clearing up after so much time, it means that there’s something in the restricted diet that is causing the fur kid allergies still. Time to go back to your vet, see what that something is, and reconfigure the diet plan.
Your doggo will likely see their symptoms clear up before the diet has run its course. That would mean an early end to this step.
Step 4 : Dial back in the original diet
Now that you have fed the elimination diet to your doggo, after so much time, it is time to re-introduce your doggo to his/her original diet.
If allergic reaction happens here, within two weeks of having started this step, it means that there exist ingredients that are still causing the allergy, and that you should discuss this with your vet and restart the elimination diet to figure out exactly what those are. The symptoms should clear up, and now you have a list of potential allergens to rule out.
Once those symptoms clear up, you should work on filtering out the false positives by re-introducing them to your dog’s diet. For example, you may add some chicken strips back in to your doggo’s kibble, or sprinkle wheat on their food. If you see allergic reaction after adding an ingredient, it means that ingredient is causing the allergy, and you should remove it ASAP.
Dog food allergies, scary but simple to treat
It may be frightening to see your fur kid come down sick, break out in hives, or just have hair loss or stomach problems, and learn that something you fed them caused all that. But the cause of such fears is simple to remedy. We got your back!