Food allergies are very common in dogs. About 15% of them are diagnosed with some type of the condition, which is accompanied by symptoms such as itching, skin inflammation, and sneezing. Genes are the most likely cause of such allergies, although environmental factors could play a part as well. Specific proteins found in certain foods such as chicken, lamb, and fish trigger an allergic reaction, with most dogs being allergic to more than one food.
Diagnosing such a condition is the first step to help prevent an allergic flare-up. Veterinarians usually recommend an elimination diet to accurately determine the real cause of the problem. This is followed by particular dietary changes that help reduce the possibility of allergic reactions.
An elimination diet involves feeding the dog proteins and carbohydrates that he/she hasn’t eaten for a long time. The dog’s reaction to such foods provides insight into the ones that are safe for his/her consumption, and those that aren’t. Over weeks and months, the data will help pin down the exact foods that might be causing an allergic reaction.
Once the specific food allergen has been established and confirmed by the veterinarian, it’s time to focus on the dog’s diet. A gradual transition is the right approach as the dog’s body needs time to adapt to new foods. A sudden switch can upset his/her digestive system, and lead to a host of other problems. Adding the new food substances in small amounts initially, and then increasing it over weeks and months is the ideal approach.
Avoiding the allergens
The surest way to prevent an allergic reaction in a dog is to remove the specific food allergen from his/her bowl. The elimination diet helps identify the exact protein that might be causing trouble. Compounds food in beef, dairy, and wheat are the most common food allergens, leading to dry itchy skin, skin infections, and vomiting. Healthy and customized alternatives are available and should be slowly introduced in the dog’s diet.
Most dog treats carry a list of ingredients that include common food allergens. Hence, customizing meals according to the dog’s constitution is important to prevent an allergic reaction. Cooking at home is a good option as it allows the owner greater control over what goes inside his/her dog’s body. The owner is, additionally, more aware of the exact foods that could harm the dog’s body and trigger a reaction. A few companies, meanwhile, offer customized diets for allergic dogs as well.
Promote proper protein digestion
Proteins are the real culprits of a food allergy. These molecules upset the dog’s tummy and immune system, triggering a range of symptoms that can be mild or severe. Hence, promoting protein digestion is crucial, and grinding down the sources of this nutrient ensures that the dog’s stomach doesn’t have trouble digesting it. A low-protein diet can also be administered from time to time, thus relieving stress on the dog’s digestive system.