What can you give a dog for food allergies
You can only reliably establish whether your dog has a food allergy with the assist of a vet and an exclusion diet.
It is significant to watch for symptoms that point to an allergy in your dog. Whereas itching caused by a food allergy causes problems every year circular, symptoms caused by grass and pollen allergies die below after the summer months. The most frequent symptoms of a food allergy are not diarrhoea and vomiting, but itching!
Skin irritations can happen in various areas including the face, ears, paws, stomach, inner thighs and armpits. However, remember that: These symptoms can also relate to other illnesses, which is why a visit to the vet is urgently recommended.
The Telegraph vet Pete Wedderburn answers some frequently asked questions.
When might I need to change my pet’s diet?
Dogs that suffer from food allergy or food intolerance need to be fed a extremely specific type of diet that avoids every ingredients that may provoke a reaction2. True food allergies are hard to diagnose as often they involve exclusive “clean feeding” of only one diet for at least six weeks, which is understandably a challenge for pets receiving treats or training rewards.
While it may not be clear whether a pet is experiencing an intolerance or a genuine food allergy, it is always excellent to remind yourself that the appropriate food is the answer; it is just a matter of being patient and methodical in finding the correct one – that is, conducting a food trial.
What is the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance?
The term “food allergy” is used to describe a medically diagnosed condition where symptoms of skin disease, gastrointestinal upset or both are triggered by eating a specific type of food.
Another term, “food intolerance”, is sometimes confused with food allergy: this describes any reaction to food (for example, a food containing a high level of fat) and doesn’t necessarily include an allergy.
Most often, an intolerance causes only gastrointestinal signs.
How will I know if my dog is allergic?
When a dog has a food allergy, they may vomit or own diarrhoea, or will own an inflamed skin surface, causing itchiness with a visible rash1. The life-threatening anaphylactic allergic emergency seen when some humans eat specific foods (such as peanuts or seafood) is almost never seen in pets.
Managing itchy skin can be particularly frustrating.
The condition can develop at any age, from puppyhood through to ancient age, with itchiness and red skin most often developing around the face, ears, underside armpits, groin and feet.
Fleas and other environmental factors can complicate matters and the skin will take longer than the gut to reply to diet changes. However, the effort is worth it and your veterinary practice is there to assist you return your dog to health.
How does a food trial work?
The dog is fed a diet of “novel ingredients”: this means food that the animal has never eaten before, so they cannot be allergic to them.
There are some commercially produced diets designed to include only extremely rare and specific ingredients. For example, there are numerous new and exciting protein sources available with exotic carbohydrate sources such as tapioca.
Alternatively, a diet containing hydrolysed proteins can be used for the food trial. The ingredients own been “pre-digested” so that, when eaten, their structure is too little to trigger an immune reaction in the dog (which is what happens when an allergy is present).
The food trial diet must be fed for six to eight weeks with no other foods and access only to clean water to drink.
The diagnosis is confirmed if the itchy skin gets better while on the food trial and then recurs when the allergic food item is reintroduced (a so-called “food challenge”). If the itchy skin does not get better on the special diet, allergy is highly unlikely.
If a food allergy is confirmed, the solution is simple: the pet must avoid every foods that provoke itchy skin. In practice, this generally means sticking to one well-made food for the relax of the pet’s life. This may seem boring to us, but commercial products do a lot of work to ensure they remain palatable and that your dog consistently gets the nutrition they deserve, with itch-free skin.
Are specific breeds susceptible to food allergies?
There is a genetic, inherited element to dietary allergy, with certain breeds of dog being more prone.
The issue seems to involve an impairment of the way that the skin and/or gut forms an effective barrier against the environment, but researchers are still working on the details of how this type of defect is inherited2.
The best approach is to research your breed thoroughly and be prepared to enquire the breeder about any problems they own seen in the past. It always pays to be proactive in these cases.
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£1 will be donated to Guide Dogs for the first 10, promotional bags of kg, kg or 12kg purchased from the ROYAL CANIN® Breed Health Nutrition range between 9 October and 29 December Available in participating pet shops across the UK. While stocks final. ROYAL CANIN® has the correct to withdraw this promotion at any time. The customer will not be charged for this promotion. Supporting Guide Dogs, a charity registered in England and Wales () and Scotland (SC).
Food allergy in dogs and cats: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. ; 46(3)Verlinden A, Hesta M, Millet S, Janssens GP.
2. The genetics of the skin barrier in eczema and other allergic disorders. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. October ; 15(5) Ingo Marenholz, Jorge Esparza-Gordillo,Young-Ae Lee
Before changing your dog’s diet, it is significant to consult a vet in case another issue is causing the symptoms.
Just as in humans, food allergies in pets own become widely recognised – but how do you know if your dog has one?
One of the most common medical complaints that we see in our office is dogs with skin infections, “hot spots”, or allergic dermatitis, also known as atopic (atopy) dermatitis.
Unlike people who react to allergens most commonly with nasal symptoms and/or hives, dogs react with skin and/or gastrointestinal problems. This is because there are a higher proportion of mast cells, which release histamines and other vasoactive substances in the face of an allergic challenge, in the skin of dogs. These problems may range from poor jacket texture or hair length, to itching and chewing, to boiling spots and self-mutilation, gastrointestinal pain and discomfort, diarrhea, and flatulence.
Allergies may also frolic a part in chronic ear infections. The most common causes of canine allergic dermatitis are flea allergy, food allergy, inhalant or contact allergy, and allergy to the normal bacterial flora and yeast organisms of the skin. To make matters more hard to diagnose and treat, thyroid disease may add to the problem as well.
Canine atopic dermatitis (allergic dermatitis, canine atopy) is an inherited predisposition to develop allergic symptoms following repeated exposure to some otherwise harmless substance, an “allergen”. Most dogs start to show their allergic signs between 1 and 3 years of age. Due to the hereditary nature of the disease, several breeds, including Golden Retrievers, most terriers, Irish Setters, Lhasa Apsos, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, and Ancient English Sheep dogs are more commonly atopic, but numerous dogs, including mixed breed dogs can own atopic dermatitis.
Atopic animals will generally rub, lick, chew, bite, or scratch at their feet, flanks, ears, armpits, or groin, causing patchy or inconsistent hair loss and reddening and thickening of the skin. The skin itself may be dry and crusty or oily depending upon the dog. Dogs may also rub their face on the carpet; ear flaps may become red and boiling. Because the wax-producing glands of the ear overproduce as a response to the allergy, they get bacterial and yeast (Malassezia ) infections of the ear.
In order to overcome these frustrating symptoms, your veterinarian’s approach needs to be thorough and systematic.
Shortcuts generally will not produce results and only add to owner frustration and canine discomfort.
Inhalant and Contact Allergies
Substances that can cause an allergic reaction in dogs are much the same as those that cause reactions in people including the pollens of grasses, trees and weeds, dust mites, and molds. A clue to diagnosing these allergies is to glance at the timing of the reaction. Does it happen year round? This may be mold or dust. If the reaction is seasonal, pollens may be the culprit.
Numerous people don’t suspect food allergies as the cause of their dog’s itching because their pet has been fed the same food every its life and has just recently started having symptoms.
However, animals can develop allergies to a substance over time, so this fact does not law out food allergies. Another common misconception is that dogs are only sensitive to poor quality food. If the dog is allergic to an ingredient, it doesn’t matter whether it is in premium food or the most inexpensive brand on the market. One advantage to premium foods is that some avoid common fillers that are often implicated in allergic reactions.
This type of reaction generally is not to the flea itself, but rather to proteins in its saliva.
Interestingly enough, the dogs most prone to this problem are not dogs who are constantly flea ridden, but those who are exposed only occasionally! A single bite can cause a reaction for five to seven days, so you don’t need a lot of fleas to own a miserable dog.
Bacterial hypersensitivity occurs when a dog’s immune system overreacts to the normal Staphylococcus (Staph) bacteria on its skin. It appears that bacterial hypersensitivity in the dog is more likely to happen if other conditions such as hypothyroidism, inhalant allergy, and/or flea allergy are concurrently present.
Bacterial hypersensitivity is diagnosed through bacterial culture and examination of a biopsy sample. Microscopically, there are certain unique changes in the blood vessels of the skin in bacterial hypersensitivity.
Allergy testing is the best diagnostic tool and the best road to treatment for dogs that are suffering from moderate and severe allergies. There are several diverse testing methods available. The most common is a blood test that checks for antigen induced antibodies in the dog’s blood. Intradermal skin testing may also be performed. In this method of testing, a little quantity of antigen is injected into a shaved portion of the dog’s skin. This is done in a specific pattern and order so that if the dog shows a little raised reaction, the offending antigen can be identified.
After a period of time (hours), the shaved area is examined to detect which antigens, if any, created a reaction. Allergy testing is performed to develop a specific therapy for the allergic animal.
Numerous medicated shampoos own compounds in them that are aimed at soothing injured skin and calming inflammation.
In addition, frequent bathing (weekly to every other week) of the dog can remove allergens from the hair jacket, which may contribute to skin allergy flare-ups. The medicated baths we recommend are those that actually contain antimicrobial and antifungal agents as well as ingredients that permit the skin to be bathed on a more frequent basis without drying it out. Application of a rinse afterwards also helps to prevent drying out of the skin and hair coat.
Antihistamines can be used with excellent safety in dogs.
About one third of owners report success with antihistamines. These medications tend to own a variable effect between dogs. For some allergic dogs, antihistamines work extremely well in controlling symptoms of allergic skin disease. For other dogs, extremely little effect is seen. Therefore, a minimum of three diverse types of antihistamines should be tried before owners give up on this therapy. Examples of antihistamines commonly used for dogs include Benadryl, Chlortrimeton, Atarax, Claritin, Zyrtec, and Clemastine. However, antihistamines are considered to be worth trying in most cases since the side effects associated with antihistamines is low, and they are typically inexpensive medications.
Antibiotics and Antifungal Medications
Antibiotics are frequently needed to treat secondary skin infections.
Anti-fungal medications are frequently needed to treat secondary yeast infections.
For dogs with this problem, a strict flea control regime must be maintained. The best flea control options include the use of products such as Advantage, Revolution, Frontline, Comfortis, and Sentinel.
The Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acid supplements work by improving the overall health of the skin. These fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative agents. They reportedly are helpful in 20% of allergic dogs. My own experience puts this figure a little higher.
They are certainly worth a attempt because they are not harmful and own virtually no side effects. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oils and omega-6 fatty acids are derived from plants containing gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). These supplements are diverse from those sold to produce a glossy jacket. Products that contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids include Allergen Caps and Halo.
Allergies develop through exposure, so most hypoallergenic diets incorporate proteins and carbohydrates that your dog has never had before. As mentioned previously, the quickest and best way to determine which foods your dog may or may not be allergic to is through diagnostic allergy testing.
As dairy, beef, and wheat are responsible for 80% of food allergies in dogs, these items should be avoided. Novel protein sources used in hypoallergenic diets include venison, egg, duck, kangaroo, and types of fish not generally found in pet food. Carbohydrate sources include potatoes, peas, yams, sweet potatoes, and canned pumpkin.
Hydrolyzed protein diets are diets in which the protein source has been synthetically reduced to little fragments. The theory behind feeding a hydrolyzed protein source is that the proteins in the food should be little enough that the allergic dog’s immune system will not recognize the protein fragments and will not mount an immune response resulting in an allergy.
Most pets with food allergies reply well when switched to a store-bought hypoallergenic diet, but occasionally an animal suffers from such extreme allergies that a homemade diet is the only option.
In this case, the diet should be customized with the aid of a veterinarian.
Corticosteroids and Immunosuppressive Agents
Cortisone products such as prednisone, prednisolone, and dexamethasone reduce itching by reducing inflammation. These medications are not without side effects, so they need to be used judiciously in treating skin allergies. Steroids should be considered only when the allergy season is short, the quantity of drug required is little, or to relieve a dog in extreme discomfort. Side effects can include increased thirst and appetite, increased need to urinate, and behavioral changes. Long-term use can result in diabetes and decreased resistance to infection.
In some dogs, endless term, low-dose alternate day therapy is the only management protocol that successfully controls the atopic pet. This protocol should be used only as a final resort after every other methods own been exhausted to avoid the potential long-term complications of the medication.
Cyclosporine (Atopica) is a medication, which seems to be fairly effective at reducing the inflammation associated with skin allergies and calming the immune system of the affected dog. However, the pricing of cyclosporine may be prohibitive for larger breed dogs.
Allergy shots are extremely safe, and numerous people own grand success with them; however, they are extremely slow to work.
It may be six to twelve months before improvement is seen. Once the allergens for the dog are identified, an appropriate immunotherapy is manufactured for that specific dog, and treatment can start.
After the offending antigens are identified, then a mixture of these antigens can be formulated into a hyposensitizing injection. Depending on the type of agents used, these injections will be given over a period of weeks to months until the dog or cat develops immunity to the agents. After initial protection, an occasional booster may own to be given.
If you know which substances your dog is allergic to, avoidance is the best method of control.
Even if you are desensitizing the dog with allergy shots, it is best to avoid the allergen altogether. Molds can be reduced by using a dehumidifier or placing activated charcoal on top of the exposed dirt in your home plants. Dusts and pollens are best controlled by using an air cleaner with a HEPA filter. Air conditioning can also reduce circulating amounts of airborne allergens because windows are then kept closed.
Healthy skin and a normal hair jacket are the results of numerous factors, both external and internal.
There are several glands in the body responsible for the production of hormones that are vital for the regulation of other body functions as well as a normal skin surface and hair jacket. Hypothyroidism may result in poor skin and hair jacket, including hair loss or abnormal hair turnover, dull or brittle hair, altered pigmentation, and oily or dry skin. A blood test is a simplest and most direct way to tell if your dog is hypothyroid.
Thyroid testing may include every or part of the following:
Baseline T4 Test or Entire T4 (TT4): This is the most common test. Dogs with a failure of the thyroid gland will own a lowered level of the T4 hormone. However, there are other conditions that can cause the T4 to decrease, so if this test comes back positive for hypothyroidism your vet should recommend an additional blood test, either the T3 Test or the Baseline TSH test.
Baseline TSH Test: Measures the level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.
In combination with the T4 or T3 test, it provides a more finish picture of the hormonal activity of your dog’s thyroid gland.
Free T4 by RIA (radio immunoassay): The Free T4 test using RIA techniques does not appear to be more or less precise than the above TT4 test.
Free T4 by ED (equilibrium dialysis): This test may provide more precise data on the level of T4 hormone in your dog’s bloodstream.
Baseline T3 Test: In combination with the T4 or TSH test, these two blood tests can give a clearer picture of the hormone levels found in the bloodstream.
This test is not dependable when used alone. The T3 Test should always be given in combination with one of the other blood tests.
TSH Response Test: In this test, the veterinarian takes an initial measurement of the thyroid hormones in your dog’s bloodstream and then injects Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) into the vein. After 6 hours, a blood sample is drawn and the level of T4 is checked. If your dog has hypothyroidism, the level of T4 will not increase even after the TSH is injected.
This is an expensive test and is being used less often due to decreased production by the manufacturers.
Hypothyroidism is treated with a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone called thyroxine (levothyroxine). Blood samples will need to be drawn periodically to assess the effectiveness of the dosage and make any adjustments necessary.
Successful management of the atopic, allergic dog is sometimes complicated and frustrating because multi-modal management is necessary in the majority of cases to control the allergic flare-ups.
Proper diagnosis by a veterinarian and owner compliance and follow up care is essential to maximize the chances of curing or at least controlling the severely affected allergy patient.
Problems with proteins
A food allergy in a dog is most commonly triggered by specific food proteins that are contained in the dog food. Studies own shown that these are generally proteins from cows, soya, eggs, dairy products or grain. Fish and rice, however, seldom trigger allergies. If a food allergy is suspected, it helps if you avoid giving your dog a large number of diverse types of food or snacks to eat every at once, as this will make it impossible to check which protein is the actual trigger.
If your pet has a food allergy, Meradog offers its special pure dog food recipes, which are ideally tailored to the needs of sensitive dogs with intolerances or allergies.
The Meradog pure dog food is based on just one animal protein source and one carbohydrate source respectively, therefore giving you a dependable way to avoid allergy-triggering components.