Protecting Fido Against Dog Food Allergies
written by: Jane Williams
It is scary to think that our pet dog can suffer from everything from hair loss to severe itching, all because of one nasty condition: food allergies. Dogs with allergies usually bite and scratch skin, causing irritation and inflammation that can lead to the development of bacterial infections. They can also have symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, owing to the upsetting effect that foods can have on their gastrointestinal system. Although it can be alarming when your dog has these symptoms, there are simple ways that you can ensure everything is back to normal, and that your your forever friend is happy and itch-free, and that his skin glows with health.
Foods that Can Stress Your Dog’s Immune System
Protein in dog food can be an allergen for dogs, especially when it is obtained from low quality sources like feathers or beaks. High-carb fillers such as potatoes, starches and fibers (used by many manufacturers to reduce cost of production) can also be allergenic, as can soy, eggs, milk, corn, potato and other foods.
Finding the Culprit
An elimination diet is the best way to discover foods that cause allergic reactions in dogs. Your vet will normally recommend that you start out by feeding your pooch just two foods together (just one protein and one carbohydrate source will do – you might start out with just rice and small chunks of chicken). You will then need to start adding foods one by one, until you discover the culprits to be avoided.
The allergenic might be venison or beef, or perhaps a carbohydrate. Once you have your final list, you can then shop for dog food and avoid these ingredients, or commit to preparing a balanced diet (raw or cooked) for your dog at home.
Variety is the Spice of Fido’s Life
Health expert, Dr. Mercola, notes that many vets recommend staying on new foods that dogs are not allergic to, “until the dog develops allergies to the new diet, at which time the vet will begin searching for a new option.” Dr. Mercola feels that this is the wrong strategy to take, since dogs can run out of foods they can eat. Rotation and variety are the spice of life; many times, when dogs are fed non-toxic proteins (such as mercury-free fish) they can tolerate foods they previously reacted negatively to. He also recommends the use of ‘novel proteins’ – those which your pet has not consumed before, including lamb, rabbit, elk… the list is quite large and worthy of trying out on your dog.
While it can be upsetting to see your dog struggling against an allergy, you and your vet can come up with a useful strategy to reduce, then eliminate symptoms altogether. A varied diet with novel proteins may just be the solution; quality, organic meat is always an interesting option, since research indicates it contains higher levels of inflammation busting Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and it tends to be free of toxins that can trigger allergies.
Jane Williams donates her time and writing skills to the Halifax Humane Society.