So, you noticed that your dog is itching like crazy and repeatedly shaking his head. You went to the vet to figure what’s wrong with your dog, and he told you it could be a food allergy. What does that mean?
Likewise for humans, a food allergy can cause a wide range of symptoms in dogs too. The most common symptoms are gastrointestinal problems like bloating, excessive flatulence, a sensitive stomach, vomiting, or even diarrhea. It can also exhibit other symptoms like itching, sneezing, obsessive licking, skin rashes, and paw biting.
In diagnosing your puppy’s condition, it can be helpful to learn that there is a difference between a food allergy and simple food sensitivity or tolerance. Your dog can experience both, but they can be hard to distinguish without a veterinarian’s insight.
Food allergies or hypersensitivity are one of the most common allergies known to affect dogs. And this means that your dog’s immune system reacts to an allergen in the food and will produce antibodies to attack it that may cause damage to your dog’s tissues.
A food tolerance or food sensitivity, however, doesn’t involve the immune system. It simply means your dog’s body is unable to digest a particular ingredient or food. If food allergies are identified, your pet’s vet may recommend hypoallergenic dog food for your puppy to eat.
What is Hypoallergenic Dog Food?
Fundamentally, hypoallergenic dog food is intended for dogs that are allergic to regular dog food. This type of dog food contains no common allergens that can upset your pooch’s stomach or its coat skin. But as the term ‘hypoallergenic’ suggests, it means ‘having a little possibility of causing an allergic response’. It means that it is used only to limit your dog’s exposure to ingredients that may trigger its allergic reaction. Therefore, a hypoallergenic diet was designed not to cure dogs’ allergies.
Hypoallergenic dog food may also be hydrolyzed, which means it goes through a process of breaking down proteins, so they will be too tiny for your pet’s body to identify as allergens.
However, with so many pet food brands and formulas in the market claiming their products are hypoallergenic, you should also be dubious about determining if they’re real or merely ploying to boost sales. There is no official list of ingredients for pet food that is classified as hypoallergenic. But a genuine hypoallergenic dog product will indeed not contain any processed chemicals, additives, preservatives, as well as artificial colors or flavors that will harm your dog’s health.
This type of dog food should also replicate the food that canines would eat in the wild such as wholesome and natural food to supply the purest nourishment your dog’s body needs. Likewise, it’s essential to consult with the canine medical professional before making any radical changes to your dog’s food choices.
What Causes Food Allergies in Dogs?
Unfortunately, while researchers mentioned that food allergies affect an immune system overreaction, there is no concrete study yet on what makes some dogs vulnerable to experiencing food allergies. Many factors consider why this phenomenon happens, such as genetic problems, environmental factors, or probably antibiotics that were administered early in the puppy’s life.
However, researchers are sure of one thing: Allergies occur in response to repeated exposure to a given allergen, and they often take some time to develop. That’s why veterinarians recommend limiting the number of proteins you feed to your pup throughout his life.
Some of the animal-based ingredients in most pet food containing protein sources are beef, chicken, dairy, eggs, pork, lamb, and fish. But others are plant-based sources, too, such as wheat and corn. It’s necessary to be familiar with these protein sources, so you drastically limit your choices for a safe food source for your pooch, such as venison dog food.
Benefits of Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Since it can be rather challenging to narrow down which particular ingredient your dog may be allergic to, it can be challenging to decide what to feed him. To relieve your puppy from these dreadful symptoms, it usually helps to offer him hypoallergenic dog food, especially when you’re traveling. If you want to be guided about the essential things to consider when traveling with your dog, you can navigate to this website to find out more.
There are plenty of benefits to be gained from making a switch to hypoallergenic dog foods. One of the obvious ones is, of course, to try and eliminate all the allergens from your dog’s food that could potentially trigger their allergic response.
Moreover, a properly hypoallergenic diet for dogs will result in a host of upsides for your dog, such as considerably reducing the risk of various health problems such as obesity, arthritis, blocked anal glands, periodontal disease, digestive issues, heart disease, and some kidney ailments.
Apart from what your dog can benefit from hypoallergenic dog foods, it will be noteworthy to know that you can gain something from it too-in terms of financial aspects. As most dogs’ illnesses are likely due to their diets, nowadays, we cannot avoid the fact that a vet’s bill can be high. Thus, by shifting to an excellent hypoallergenic diet for your dog, you could end up saving yourself a significant amount of money.
Hypoallergenic Dog Food Options
Suppose you want to know whether your dog needs a hypoallergenic diet. You can make an appointment with your dog’s vet to get an accurate diagnosis since determining allergies is often complicated. Often, you can diagnose food allergies using an elimination diet. This food trial consists of feeding your puppy a novel protein source (e.g., bison, kangaroo, and pheasant) and carbohydrate (brown rice or sweet potato)–or frequently labeled as limited ingredient diet– for 12 weeks.
Although food allergies are rare in dogs, it sometimes appears to be common to specific breeds like Lhasa Apso, West Highland White Terrier, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniel, and Boxer, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Retrievers, and Miniature Schnauzers. So, if you happen to own one of these breeds, you may want to consider purchasing hypoallergenic dog food options recommended by your vet such as Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet, Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice, Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Venison, Blue Buffalo Basics Duck & Potato, and Merrick Limited Ingredient Real Salmon & Chickpeas Recipe.
Keep in mind that when shifting to new dog food, you must mix a portion of it with your pet’s old food to gradually transition him onto the new diet. If your pup continues to have problems, it’s best to seek veterinary care.
The cure for allergies may or may not be possible. Even so, the best way to treat allergies is through avoidance of the cause and allergens. If you think your dog may have a food allergy still, the right course of action is to follow the advice from a canine medical expert who can help your four-legged friend continue to live a happy, healthy, and itch-free life.