Fighting Food Allergies In Dogs

Your pet is itching, vomiting, and losing hair. When you visit your vet, you find out it isn’t what you thought… it isn’t a tummy infection, parasites, or emotional stress. Rather, it’s something that affects millions of dogs around the world: an allergy to dog food. The diagnosis can be surprising, especially for those who take great care of their dogs, keeping them physically active and monitoring their calorie expenditure with FitBark, and providing them with top quality food. As is the case with people, food allergies can arise in canines from repeated exposure to foods which are difficult to digest. The result is leaky gut syndrome and a plethora of symptoms which, fortunately, can be successfully quelled with patience and experimentation.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

This condition can occur either when we feed our pooch the same diet for many years straight, or their food is biologically inappropriate. Dog food allergy can occur after eating many different ingredients, even including chicken, beef, lamb, dairy, egg, grains – anything and everything they eat regularly. The gut is a membrane that allows fully digested nutrients to enter the bloodstream, so the body can function properly. Sometimes, however, this membrane lets partially digested nutrients through, thus triggering an immune response which results in allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, buying your dog poor quality food does not help, since the latter tends to contain inappropriate protein sources – including ingredients such as beaks and feathers… hardly the type of nutrition your dog needs to thrive.

What are the symptoms of allergies?

In addition to itching and digestive issues, dogs can sometimes have hot spots on their skin. They can also lose hair in small patches or over a large surface area. If your dog has any of these symptoms, it is important to see your vet, since there are many other possible causes, including bacterial or viral infections, food poisoning, and even pancreatitis.

Elimination does the trick

When it is suspected that dogs have a food allergy, vets normally recommend an elimination diet, in which you feed your dog just one protein and one carbohydrate source. Specialized vets often recommend using a novel protein source (i.e. any food your dog would not have tried before. This may be duck, bison, quail, ostrich, etc.). The idea behind feeding your dog a novel protein source is that it is not likely to cause an allergic reaction (because your dog has never consumed it before) and it can, therefore, give your dog’s gut a chance to rest. The idea is to keep Fido on this limited diet for around two months and to rotate it with other non-offending combinations every few months. As noted by Dr. Mercola’s veterinary specialist, “A pet that has had an allergic response to one protein source is more likely to develop sensitivity to the replacement protein over time. That's why rotation and variety is important.”

It can be tough to see your dog struggling with an allergy but with patience, you can both win the battle. If your dog is healthy and not showing signs of allergy, remember that feeding him top grade food that is biologically appropriate, is free of unhealthy fillers and additives, and made up of quality protein sources, is key. Rotation is also important; make sure your dog’s gut is not overburdened by foods that can cause the absorption of nutrients which have not been fully digested.