I think my dog has allergies?

One of our most frequently asked questions is “ I think my dog has a food allergy, what can I do?” When people discuss food allergies, they are most likely meaning their dog has a food sensitivity or food intolerance. Food sensitivities, unlike true allergies, do not involve an immune response and are instead a gradual reaction to an offending ingredient in your dog’s food, for example to beef, chicken, eggs, corn, wheat, or soy.

Dogs with food sensitivities can present themselves with several symptoms, often including gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea, or dermatologic signs like itchiness, poor skin and coat, and chronic ear or foot infections.

If the symptoms are concerning, please consult your vet. They may recommend an allergy test to sort out what the offending allergen is. Other options can also be an elimination diet or improving your dog’s gut health.

Switching Foods and elimination diets

The elimination diet can be a long process as it involves avoiding the suspected offending food. We have seen a good success if you stay on the same brand of food but simply change the protein. Often a protein that is not as common such as lamb or pork will do the trick as chicken and beef are common allergens to dogs. The key to the elimination diet is only changing one thing at a time and making sure you eliminate it in all that your dogs eats (including treat) .

Unfortunately, it can take up to 4 to 6 weeks for food allergies to clear up so one cannot expect immediate results. Patience is needed here. Keep you dog comfortable an apply hot spot spray or other topical treatments to areas that may be itchy or that fido has been chewing on while you are waiting to see if there is a change.

We recommend only changing on thing at a time rather than moving to completely different food if you want to try to determine what the allergen is. So, if you have been on the new protein for 4-6 weeks and still no change in symptoms then something else is the culprit. A good next step is moving to a limited ingredient diet. These foods are exactly that. Less ingredients so instead of oats, rice, and potato it may just have rice.

Can a raw diet help with allergies?

Switching to a raw diet is also an effective way to eliminate allergies. As they are limited ingredients diets and are easy to get with just one pure protein. It is a great option to control exactly what your dog is eating. Raw meals do not have grains so this can also help clear up any allergies to grain.

Something else to consider is your dog’s gut health. Human studies are starting to reveal that properly and fully digesting food may play an important in allergy response. Probiotics added to a dog’s diet will not only improve and restore balance to bacteria levels in the gut. Improving gut health will also improve their immune system. Because of this it is said that probiotics can help with dog allergies.

Figuring out allergies with so many different brands to choose from can be daunting. If you need help navigating all that is out there we encourage you to come by O’Brien Pets and we will be more than happy to help you through this.