Humans are not alone in the battle against allergens. Like us, the immune system of a dog can go haywire when in the presence of certain substances. The body’s immune system tries to eliminate the allergy trigger which can cause myriad symptoms. Before we talk about the steps you can take to ensure you are buying the proper hypoallergenic dog food, let’s cover the symptoms your dog might be expressing:
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Increased snoring
- Itchy skin rashes
- Scabbed skin
- Itchy eyes and increased eye discharge
- Itchy ears
- Increased licking
- Swollen paws
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms there is a good chance he or she has an allergy. As owners we try to think of what is different in their daily life or diet to find the allergy culprit. More often than not, the allergy develops gradually over time, meaning whatever is triggering the reaction has been part of your dog’s life for a while.
So, is it a food allergy? Food allergies typically express themselves through digestive problems such as diarrhea and vomiting and itchy skin and paws. Other environment-based allergies such as trees, mold, and dust, will manifest more through breathing difficulties and sneezing.
Before undergoing expensive allergy tests done by a veterinarian, you should try to alter your pooch’s diet to eliminate the most common food allergy triggers. A likely culprit is corn, soy, and wheat. Some dogs are even allergic to a specific protein source such as chicken. You want to start with a process of elimination, so look for hypoallergenic dog food brands which have no grains first. With any food you buy, make sure there are no animal by-products, and make sure they are artificial flavor and chemical free. Also, whenever you change your friend’s food, make the transition as gradual as possible. Blue Buffalo (a favorite brand of mine) offers a Wilderness line, which is grain free.
If you aren’t having luck with a typical off the shelf hypoallergenic puppy food or dog food, you can try your hand at feeding your dog natural foods. Sojos is an all-natural diet additive. All you have to do at home is add meat and water, and your dog will have a completely balanced diet. You can start with any raw meat you want and switch the protein source until your dog’s allergies are gone. You don’t have to splurge on the meat. Organ meat that you don’t eat, chicken necks, and trim meat is all high-quality (to a dog anyway) and easier on your wallet.
If you want to get really creative, do a search for hypoallergenic dog food recipes and make them your own blend of vegetables and protein. This is probably the best, sure-fire approach for a dog with severe food allergies. The best thing to do would be to get a complete allergy workup at the veterinarian, and then feed them a variety of vegetables and proteins that they are not allergic to. The variety is very important to make sure they don’t build up a new allergy over time.
One last note! Sometimes after following all of this good advice, getting allergy testing, and even preparing homemade dog dinners, you might still be noticing some lingering effects. An oft overlooked item is actually dog treats. They seem like such a small, innocuous part of their daily intake that it can be easy to forget to check the ingredients. Again, make sure your treats do not use any artificial or by-product ingredients. Look for hypoallergenic dog treats in the same brand your dog is eating, or better yet, boil up a bit of chicken for a healthy treat your dog will go gaga over.
If you are looking to buy a food but are not sure of its nutritional value, feel free to shoot me a line!