While food allergies are uncommon in dogs when they do strike the symptoms can be stressful for owners and their canine companions. Here, our Poway vets share the best foods to help to alleviate your dog's food allergy symptoms.
Food Allergies in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has food allergies or sensitivity to an ingredient in their regular food, it's critical to understand the most common food allergy symptoms and what to do if your dog is diagnosed with a food allergy.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies in dogs 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
Proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients in the diet are the most common cause of dog allergies. The most problematic foods for dogs are typically beef, dairy, corn, and wheat. Food allergies can take a long time to manifest, which may seem counterintuitive. It is not uncommon for a dog to be allergic to food that they have been eating for several months.
Diagnosing Your Dogs Food Allergies
The only real way to diagnose food allergies in dogs is through an elimination diet.
If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has a food allergy, he or she will prescribe hypoallergenic dog food. You will only feed your dog the prescribed food for at least 8-10 weeks to see if the diet change helps to alleviate your dog's symptoms.
It is essential that only hypoallergenic food is given to your dog while they are on the elimination diet. (Unfortunately, that means no sneaking in the odd treat). This special 10-week diet will allow your dog's body to adjust to the food and give your vet the opportunity to assess your dog's overall health.
If your dog's symptoms clear up while 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
If your dog's food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet may advise you to feed him prescription dog food. While this option can be costly, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available only by prescription are typically superior to those available over the counter.
Grain-Free Dog Food
If your pet has a sensitivity to corn, wheat, and other grains then grain-free dog food may be ideal. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
Limited-ingredient dog foods address allergens by containing only one protein source (such as beef, lamb, or chicken), often combined with a single carbohydrate source. When shopping for limited-ingredient dog foods, look for an AAFCO seal of approval as well as a manufacturer claim of "complete and balanced."
Novel Ingredient Dog Food
Novel ingredients in dog foods replace traditional dog food proteins like beef and chicken with more unusual proteins like salmon, duck, or venison. Many novel ingredients in dog foods use unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance the diet.