It's not common for dogs to develop food allergies. Although, when they do arise the symptoms could be worrying for both the dog and their owners. Here, our Novato vets talk about some of the best foods for dogs that have food allergies.
Food Allergies in Dogs
Because dogs are unable to tell us if they have a sensitivity to an ingredient in their food or are suffering from a food allergy, it's essential to know the most common food allergy symptoms and the steps to take if your pooch is diagnosed with a food allergy.
Common Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Dog with food allergies often start to develop symptoms around the time they turn one year old, but dogs can become allergic to food or develop sensitivities at any age.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms dogs develop when they have a food allergy are:
- Rashes on ears and feet
- Red, irritated skin
Your vet might also be able to detect some of these symptoms when conducting a routine wellness examination.
Common Causes of Dog Food Allergies
Plant-based or animal ingredients in food have proteins that can cause food allergies. Common culprits are wheat, dairy, beef and corn. While it may seem counterintuitive, it can take a fairly long time for symptoms of food allergies to become apparent. It's not unusual for a dog to become allergic to a food that they have been eating for many months.
Diagnosing Dogs with Food Allergies
The only reliable way to diagnose a dog with a food allergy is to implement an elimination diet.
If your vet thinks your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, they will prescribe a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food for your pet. For a minimum of 8 to 10 weeks, you'll only feed your dog the prescribed food in order to discern whether the change in diet helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
It's imperative that you only feed your dog the prescribed hypoallergenic food when they are on their elimination diet (sadly, this means you can't sneak them the odd treat). This special 10-week diet will help your pup's body get accustomed to the food and provide your veterinarian with the chance to evaluate the overall health of your canine companion.
If your dog's symptoms are alleviated or disappear when they are on the elimination diet, your vet might ask you to start giving your pooch their original food. If the symptoms rearise, then your vet will be confident to diagnose your dog with a food allergy.
The Best Foods for Dogs That Have Allergies
Prescription Dog Food
If your dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend that you feed your dog prescription dog food. While this option can be pricey, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available by prescription only are typically superior to those that can be purchased over the counter.
Grain-Free Dog Food
If your dog is sensitive to wheat, corn, or other grains a grain-free food might be best for them. These foods are also gluten-free.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just one protein source, (such as beef, lamb, or chicken), often combined with just a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited ingredient dog foods it's important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer.
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel ingredient dog foods replace traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as salmon, duck, or venison. Many novel ingredient dog foods also use unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet.
Once your vet has diagnosed your pup with an allergy your veterinarian will work with you to determine the best diet for your dog. Lots of these food options are available to help relieve your pup's food allergy symptoms.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.