Food allergies in dogs are uncommon but when they do occur the symptoms can be unpleasant for both you and your dog. Today, our Memphis vets share the best foods to serve your dog, if they are diagnosed with food allergies.
Food Allergies in Dogs
If you believe that your dog is suffering from food allergies, or a sensitivity to an ingredient in their usual food it's important to find out what the troublesome ingredient is in order to remove it from their diet, but still maintain optimum nutrition. Here at Memphis Veterinary Specialists our dermatology services include testing for and treating allergies in dogs.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
In dogs, signs of food allergies often begin to appear as the dog reaches their first birthday, although allergies and sensitivities can develop at any age.
The most common signs and symptoms of food allergies in dogs include:
- Red irritated skin
- Rashes on the ears and feet
Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs
In many cases, proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients in the diet are the cause dog allergy symptoms. Corn, dairy, beef, and wheat are some of the most problematic foods for dogs., and while it may seem counterintuitive, it can take a long time for the symptoms of food allergies to appear. It is not unusual for a dog to 'suddenly' become allergic to a food that they have been eating for many months.
Diagnosing Your Dogs Food Allergies
Our specialist vets can test your dog for a range of food allergies to help pinpoint the most problematic dog food ingredients and recommend treatment options and appropriate food. That said, an elimination diet will also recommended for many dogs suspected of having food allergies.
If your vet believes that your dog is suffering from a food allergy, a specially formulated hypoallergenic dog food will be prescribed for your pet. For 8-10 weeks you will only feed your dog the prescribed food. This elimination of the regular dog food from your pet's diet should help to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
For the elimination diet to work it is important to also stop giving your dog treats during this period. Only the hypoallergenic food should be fed to your dog while they are on the elimination diet.
This special 10 week diet will allow your dog's body to adjust to the new prescription food, and give your vet the opportunity to assess your dog's overall health.
If symptoms clear up while your dog is on the elimination diet, your vet may request that you return to feeding your dog their original diet. If original symptoms return then your vet can be confident that your dog has a food allergy.
Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies
Following the diagnosis, your vet will work with you to determine the best diet for your dog. A number of food options are available to help alleviate your dog's allergy symptoms.
Prescription Dog Food
For dog's with severe food allergy symptoms, your vet may recommend that you feed your dog a 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. Sticking to a prescribed diet can help your dog to stay healthy and comfortably free of allergy symptoms. Some high quality prescription foods for dogs with allergies include: Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Small Dog Dry Dog Food, Hill's Prescription Diet® d/d Canine Potato & Venison Formula, and Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula.
Grain-Free Dog Food
For dogs that have a sensitivity to corn, wheat or other grains, a grain-free dog food may be recommended. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free. Grain-free foods that your vet may recommend include: Hill's Science Diet® Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain Free dog food.
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. Your vet may recommend that your dog be fed a food such as: Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
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. Your vet may recommend a food such as Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula.