Determining if your dog has a food allergy or environmental allergy is the first step to treating your pet’s allergy problem. Dog food allergies are easy to diagnose, but treatment can be a bit tricky. This week Dr. Coffin will walk you through everything you need to know about dog food allergies.
When to suspect dog food allergies:
- If your dog is experiencing abnormal intestinal signs (vomiting or diarrhea) along with itchy skin.
- If your dog is showing symptoms all year around
- If your dog is less than a year of age or older than seven years old
- If allergy medication is not controlling symptoms
Diagnosis of dog food allergies is made by placing your dog on an elimination food trial. Dr. Anna Coffin and the staff at Guthrie Pet Hospital recommend using a prescription diet for this elimination food trial. Selecting the right diet means finding a diet with the right protein.
Novel-protein diets are diets that contain a protein source that your dog has had no previous exposure. Examples of novel protein diets include venison, duck, and bison. Unfortunately, these novel proteins are now commonly available through commercial diets and treats and many dogs have had previous exposure to the protein source.
Hydrolyzed-protein diets do not require a novel protein source. The protein source in the food is hydrolyzed and broken down into smaller peptides which are small enough to avoid stimulating your dog’s immune system.
Tips to succeed with dog food allergies:
- Dogs must eat the diet for eight weeks. Dogs with gastrointestinal signs may show improvement after two weeks, but it can take up to eight weeks to resolve skin problems.
- Do not feed your dog any people food, treats, rawhides, bones, supplements, probiotics, vitamins or anything that contains flavoring.
- Bananas and vegan marshmallows are the only acceptable treats during this time.
- Use a new storage food container, a new food bowl, and a new measuring cup
It is important to remember that 30% of dogs with food allergies also have environmental allergies. Dogs with both food and environmental allergies are more difficult to diagnose.
Successful treatment of dog food allergies requires a life-long commitment.