Food Allergies Can Affect All Breeds and Ages of Dogs

Nutrition, as it relates to dogs, also includes making sure that your pet is not
suffering from any food allergies.

In fact, food allergies are one of the main causes, after flea bites, of itching or
scratching in dogs.

Food allergies indeed make the rounds among the canine population as they affect
both females and males and can cause discomfort for pets from the early age of six
months all the way to old age. Dogs that are allergic to foods can also be allergic to
dusts and pollens too.

The Difference between a Food Allergy and a Food Intolerance

Sometimes pet owners confuse a food allergy with a food intolerance. However, the two are not the same. Food allergies generally are truly allergic in nature and cause itching or scratching in pets. On the other hand, a food intolerance may result in the pet getting a stomach ache or diarrhea. Happily, canines can be treated for either of these two conditions. The veterinarian just has to figure out what agents are causing the problem.

Allergic Ingredients in Dog Foods

Controlled studies have determined that certain ingredients are more likely to cause allergies than others. Unfortunately, some of the most frequent offenders are also commonly added to commercial dog food brands. These offenders can include beef, chicken, fish, lamb, eggs, soy, corn, and wheat.

Itching is a Major Symptom

Itching generally occurs in the areas of the ears, feet, face, and front legs. Ear infections can result as well as dermatological infections and hair loss from continual scratching. Dogs that have food allergies also have bowel movements twice as often as dogs that do not have allergies and must go from three to four times a day. Food allergies can only be determined once other causes, such as flea bites, intestinal parasites, or infections, have been ruled out as being the underlying causes for an animal's symptomology.

How a Food Allergy is Treated through Diet

Once the veterinarian determines a dog does indeed have a food allergy, he will put the animal on a food trial and elimination diet. Diets are available that provide carbohydrates and proteins in such small amounts that an allergic response is avoided. These hydrolyzed protein meals are given to the animal in a trial diet that last three months.

During a Food Trial, Allergic Dogs can Only Eat the Foods the Veterinarian Recommends

Once a dog is on a trial diet or a food trial, he cannot consume any other type of food. That means no table scraps or outside treats. Also, the dog can't freely roam in the yard when he is on the menu. He must be kept on a leash and supervised. You don't want him to consume anything but what the veterinarian has prescribed. Children's faces and hands should be washed after mealtime as well so your pet does not lick any food substances that are not part of his diet plan.

What Happens after the Three-Month Trial

The only way to determine what food is responsible for your dog's allergic symptoms is by way of a food trial. No other tests offer results along these lines. After the 3-month period, the veterinarian will see if your dog has a notable reduction in symptoms. If so, then your dog will be given his original menu. If the symptoms come back, the diagnosis will be confirmed. Otherwise, the dog will go through another food trial to see if another suspected food source is the reason for his allergy. Once the offending foods have been determined by a food trial, they'll be eliminated from your dog's regular menu plan.