Dogs with food allergies account for about 15% of all canine allergies. In most cases, it is only one ingredient or, at most, a few ingredients to which your dog may be allergic.
The main symptoms of food allergies in dogs are similar to other types of allergies and, in addition to the most common itching, we can cite
– Itchy paws
– Skin rashes
– Scaly or oily skin
– Pigmented skin
– Leather skin texture
– Eye flow
– Red eyes
– Hair loss
– Ear infections
When your dog has chronic stomach aches, you may think he has a food allergy, but it may actually be a food intolerance like lactose intolerance. If a dog does not have a hypersensitive immune response (it is not itchy and you do not see a rash or hives on its skin), in most cases it is not a food allergy.
Whatever type of symptoms you notice, you will need to consult your veterinarian for appropriate diagnosis and treatment, which may also involve medication or creams.
How do I check which dog is allergic to?
Although dogs may become allergic to a particular food at any stage of their life, they are not usually born with allergies. Their hypersensitive immune responses develop over time and most often appear before the age of three. Allergic symptoms can also become visible later in life, especially if the dog has followed exactly the same diet for years.
Parents of pets often use skin or blood tests to determine what a dog is allergic to. Many types of tests can be performed to detect allergies. However, in addition to the fact that they are expensive, they have low accuracy, in the order of only 75%. In other words, it’s not worth spending hundreds of dollars on a test and later finding out that your beloved dog suffers from a food allergy or not. A much better and more accurate solution is the food disposal diet.
Food elimination plan for dogs with food allergies
Many people decide to switch to a food elimination diet for dogs with a food allergy. At the slightest hint of allergy, a elimination diet is the most recommended treatment. It involves checking all protein sources one by one and eliminating those that cause the problem. Following the elimination, you will have created two product lists:
– Safe products to eat by a dog
– Products that are prohibited and should not be used, even in small quantities
To properly apply the elimination diet, you need to have complete control over what your dog eats. What is this food control? You are not able to know what the part of the animal you are holding eats, but you are 100% sure that by putting meat, offal and beef fat in the bowl, you will find nothing from the chicken. In addition, you know if the product you are going to buy and give to your dog is fresh or if it has been frozen.
With more experience, you can also find out if the meat comes from a young or an old animal. It is only when you prepare meals on your own that you can be sure that your dog’s bowl has received nothing you do not want to find there. You can then attribute allergy symptoms to specific products.
If you have more than one animal, you’ll need to schedule mealtime to make sure your dog doesn’t even lick someone else’s bowl, and you’ll have to watch everything he eats. You can also put all the dogs in the house on the same diet during the trial period.
How to Start Elimination Diet
If you want to change your dog’s diet, the first step is to analyze all the animals your dog has eaten so far. It would be best if you excluded all animal proteins from your diet for a period of time, even those that are known to be non-allergenic such as lamb, fish or rabbit.
If you think beef or sheep has caused your dog an allergy, you should stop eating veal or lamb. In addition, not all products from “suspicious animals” are allowed. For example, if you suspect that the chicken caused the allergy, you should remove the hen’s eggs from your diet.
After determining all the proteins you can’t add to meals, look for animals your dog has never tried before. There may be a problem if, for example, one of the foods used was chicken liver. In this case, you do not know which bird to avoid.
Poultry doesn’t just come from chickens and turkeys. They can also be guinea fowl, ducks, geese or even ostriches, and in this case you can only assume that no one uses ostrich liver or duck to produce pet food. In terms of allergy risk, however, this hypothesis may not be certain.
Can an allergic dog be fed commercial food?
It is impossible to implement disposal and at the same time use typical multi-ingredient commercial foods. These foods are made up of various ingredients, and most of them contain proteins that can cause an allergy, so be sure not to use them. It is not only animal products, but also vegetables, fruits or cereals that can be risky.
In addition, herbs added to food can become allergens for your dog. The manufacturing process of most commercial dry foods requires additives such as antioxidants and preservatives. These are chemical compounds that can cause allergies when combined with proteins.
When considering the quality of food, pay attention to the ingredients needed to store food. Keep in mind that the producer is required to include only an approximate description of the composition of the food, so that the word “animal fat” on the label does not give any detailed information.
How to choose a good protein for an elimination diet?
It is important to remember to choose lean meat for dog feeding as too much fat can increase the risk of diarrhea. The right choice can be on deer, deer and deer. For pork, thin pieces (ham or pork loin), while for sheep and goat, only the thighs are to choose. In birds, only ostrich and guinea fowl are lean. Turkey meat is risky because of the ability to feed turkeys industrially with poor quality food. This can increase the risk of the dog reacting allergicly not to the turkey, but to everything it has eaten.
If you notice signs of stomach problems such as vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, or if your dog refuses to eat the new food, you will need to try different ingredients.
When to add another type of food to the elimination diet?
If you find that allergic reactions have disappeared after a change of food, you can add another type of meat to the dog’s meals. Be sure to put the change and date on the list. This time it is good to use raw bird meat, such as a duck or a fat goose. Your dog will benefit, as ducks offer a much wider choice of offal. In addition, geese have an excess fat, which you can add to other lean meats. And by using all the bones, you don’t have to worry about calcium supplementation.
You should monitor each change for three to four days, unless you notice an immediate allergic reaction. It only takes a few days to assess whether meat recently added to the diet is well tolerated by your dog and does not cause an allergy. You now have two types of animal protein, so be sure to exchange them every day. Then it’s time to add a vegetable to meals. It can be a mashed carrot or pumpkin.
A few days after adding the plants, you can add the third type of animal protein to the dog’s meal. Remember not to add eggs to the food until you have tried at least four different types of animal protein.
After about two weeks, when you’ve added four types of animal protein, it’s time to start including eggs. Be sure to do so gradually and in small amounts. Add one type of egg at a time, from species that do not cause allergy symptoms.
Supplementation during the elimination Diet
In the next step, you will start adding supplements to meals. They should be added to foods in the following order: first algae, then yeast, blood products and sources of omega 3 acids. The amount of these supplements is minimal at first. The recommended dose for each meal should be reached after about a week, assuming your dog does not have allergic reactions to any of the added supplements.
Yeasts exist in many types of foods, so they may already be on your list of suspicious products. If they have an allergic reaction to beer yeast, they should be excluded from the diet immediately. After at least two weeks, try the gluten-free yeast and monitor your dog, and don’t test any other ingredients yet. Remember that the golden rule, during the elimination dit, is one test at a time.
Hemoglobin and plasma, which are present in the blood, are very high in protein, more than 90% of the total mass. However, if your dog is allergic to beef or pork, you cannot use blood products.
Herbs can only be added to dog meals if essential supplements are already present in the modified diet.
The main sources of omega 3 fatty acids are salmon oil and krill oil. Omega 3 is also found in cod liver oil, known as fish oil. So there are two different fish, salmon and cod, which means that at least one of them will be safe for your dog, and the third option is krill.
Krill oil is not only a good source of omega 3, but it also contains a high amount of very healthy astaxanthin. Unfortunately, crustacean protein is one of the most active allergens. This does not mean that you cannot try adding krill oil to your dog’s raw diet. You can, and should, but watch your dog for any allergy symptoms.
How do I do a food sensitivity test for my dog?
When all the signs of allergy are gone and the diet is complete, you can start testing the products from the list of suspicious protein sources. Any allergic reaction may occur after a few days as food allergy is a delayed reaction in most cases. You will need to add a small amount of suspicious meat to meals and then observe your dog’s results for several days.
Don’t forget to test only one product at a time. If you notice an adverse reaction to the food, immediately remove the tested product from its diet and stop using it. After withdrawal, you have to wait a few weeks before trying another type of meat. Don’t forget to save every change you make. This way, you can later return to the list and re-analyze all the products.
Caring for an allergic dog is difficult, exhausting, and total success is the result of precision and consequence in preparing meals. In case of allergies, there is no room for products of poor quality and suspicious origin.
During the elimination plan, do not give your dog ready-to-eat meals. There is no guarantee as to the type of ingredients used. Food producers are not able to guarantee absolute purity and ensure that Product X is not contaminated with Y protein. Avoid using meat packaged on absorbent trays – they can be impregnated with allergens!
Use food rotation and do not feed your dog with a type of protein for several days at a time, unless they are tested ingredients. It is essential to vary raw meals to ensure that the dog receives the right amount of all nutrients.
Most importantly, your allergic dog’s diet cannot be compromised, such as additional treats from family members. Explain that even a small amount of allergen can be very harmful to the dog and cause pain and suffering.
Another important aspect is to ensure the cleanliness of the food if you have a larger number of pets at home. In this case, you will have to feed the animals at different times or strictly separate their meals so as not to risk the allergic dog eating something it should not. A good solution is to feed all dogs with the same food during the elimination test period.
How do I feed a dog that is allergic to food?
If you follow the restricted diet, you should see a significant reduction in itching at the end of the trial period. In many cases, the itching can disappear completely, and if not, you have not eliminated the cause, and you need to do more food testing, or your dog is allergic to foods other than the ones he eats.
If the results show a significant improvement, it means that you have found the cause of the allergy, and that you will now have to feed your dog by avoiding the problematic ingredients. Most importantly, your dog has just started a new life without itching, pain and stress. If you are comfortable preparing homemade food, you can stick to a raw diet and feed your dog only with healthy ingredients, or you can try personalized foods for your dog that do not contain any suspicious elements. You’ll find an interesting menu in Goodboy.
Goodboy prepares specialty foods to order. You can sign up for the plan and receive regular food deliveries at your door.
If you want to continue to give dry food to your dog, you may need to choose a single protein-based food, such as Acana Singles, which contains several types.