Is your dog not feeling well, and you aren’t sure why? It can be a scary situation since our furry friends can’t tell us what’s wrong. As you’re brainstorming potential causes, one cause to consider may be food allergies.
Not sure if this is the problem? Keep reading to learn how to know if your dog has a food allergy through various symptoms and to learn different methods to know for sure. We’ll even offer a few solutions you can try!
Just like people, dogs can develop food allergies—when a dog’s immune system thinks a certain food is a germ or virus. When this food enters the dog’s body, the immune system goes into fight mode, causing various allergy symptoms (see below).
It’s not known why dogs develop food allergies. Allergies can appear at any age and with any type of food, even food they were previously fine with.
There is some thought that certain genes can make dogs more vulnerable to allergies, but overall it’s a relatively unknown phenomenon.
Figuring out if your dog has a food allergy (or food sensitivity) can be difficult because some of the symptoms of food allergies can also be symptoms of other health problems. Keeping a close eye on your furry friend is key.
Below are some typical symptoms of food allergies.
Chronic means your dog develops an ear infection two or three times a year. Ear infections often make a dog’s ears smell and look dirty. They can also cause your companion to constantly shake their head and scratch at their ears.
Because it’s a food allergy, digestive problems are common. Your dog can experience gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Though knowing whether this is an allergic reaction or due to something else is very difficult, so make sure to take thorough notes.
Hives are tiny bumps and red patches that can appear on your dog’s skin and cause irritation. If you have a shorter-haired dog, they may be noticeable just by looking, but for long-haired dogs, you’ll have to part the fur to check.
Constant itching and scratching is a common symptom of food allergies. But it’s so much more than just scratching. It can get so bad that your dog scratches away their fur and only has a red spot left.
Also, there seems to be no relief for the itching; it doesn’t matter if you give them a bath, any medicine, or other solutions.
Typical areas that dogs will scratch the most:
- Rear end
Other symptoms can include:
- Eye discharge
- Swelling of the face
- Red eyes
Now you might be wondering how you can help your dog with food allergies. There are a few different options.
When a human wants to figure out what they’re allergic to, they go to a doctor to get an allergy test. You can do the same with your dog, though your holistic vet may want to rule out any other conditions before performing the test.
An elimination diet is a way you can test for allergies at home, though be aware this is a long process. The elimination diet is when you switch your dog’s diet to something they’ve never had before. For example, if your dog has been consistently eating chicken and beef, you would switch to fish, lamb, or turkey.
Once the allergy symptoms have disappeared, which can take 10-12 weeks, slowly test the waters with individual ingredients. To keep with the previous example, start by slowly adding beef to these new meals and see what happens.
If the symptoms don’t appear, then it’s possible beef isn’t the problem. To know for sure, though, add chicken to see what happens.
This entire process will take months and detailed note-taking. Even when there doesn’t seem to be a difference, stay patient and trust the process.
The best thing you can do if your dog is suffering from food allergies is to change their diet completely. However, the change should be done gradually to prevent any further digestive upset.
If you aren’t sure how to change your dog’s diet without upsetting their stomach here’s a guideline to follow:
- The first day: Serve 75% of your dog’s old food and 25% of the new food
- The second day: Serve 50/50 of the old and new food
- The third day: Serve 75% percent of the new food and 25% of the old
- The fourth day: Serve 100% of the new food
Of course, because your dog is potentially dealing with food allergies, you may need to extend this guideline to help ease their digestive problems. There’s nothing wrong with adding a few extra days in between each step before increasing the new food amount.
If you choose to change your dog’s diet completely, you might wonder what dog food is recommended for dogs with allergies. The best food for dogs with food allergies is whole-food meals.
This is because a whole-food diet will cut out any chemicals or preservatives your dog may have a reaction to and give them better sources of nutrients to boost their overall health. This also allows you control over what sources of protein are added.
Now you might be panicking, thinking you have to prepare your dog’s meals from scratch, but don’t worry! There are many companies out there making whole-food meals that require little preparation and effort.
Some even use dehydrated and freeze-dried ingredients to extend their shelf life.
Hopefully, as a pet parent, this article will give you peace of mind, knowing that resolving any food issues could help your furry friend. As long as you have patience, you can help your dog with food allergies.
It will certainly take time to figure out whether or not your dog has food allergies and what might be causing them. Instead of thinking of this as a painful process for you and your dog, think of it as a way to improve their diet.
A better diet can help your furry friend live a longer and happier life.