Sniffles, sneezes, watery eyes, itchy skin — these are just a few signs of an allergy in humans. Of course, things are a little different for your dog, who can’t exactly ask for a tissue if they’re struggling through allergy symptoms. Your dog isn’t necessarily allergic to the same things that irritate your own senses. In truth, some dog allergies are caused by what lands in their dinner bowl — and that’s one thing you have control over. Here’s what to know about dog food allergies and how to create a diet that will make your furry friend more comfortable!
What Do Dog Food Allergies Look Like?
Before we identify what allergies look like in dogs, let’s take a step back and review what allergies are.
To do that, we first need to talk about what they aren’t.
Although food allergies are similar to their cousin, food intolerance (or food sensitivity), these two conditions aren’t the same thing — although your dog can experience both. According to the Mayo Clinic, food intolerance symptoms are generally less severe and tend to be gastrointestinal, while food allergy symptoms can include all kinds of negative reactions. The key difference is that the immune system is involved in the latter.
Just like you, your dog’s immune system produces antibodies to protect against infection. When those antibodies aren’t wired just right, they can sometimes identify perfectly innocent things — like pollen or peanuts — as harmful. These things are called allergens, and they can quickly become everyone’s worst enemy.
- Swelling of the throat, lips, eyelids or other facial areas.
- Itchy skin.
- Weight loss.
Food allergies are rare in puppies, according to VCA Animal Hospitals; generally, an allergic dog will start showing signs after six months of age, while most don’t experience symptoms until they’re one or two years old. To test your dog for food allergies, you’ll usually work with your vet to implement an elimination diet, where you feed your dog hypoallergenic food and introduce one new ingredient at a time to see what causes allergy symptoms.
Common Dog Food Allergies
So, now that you know what a dog food allergy is and what it looks like, let’s take a look at the most common culprits. Here’s what could be causing an allergic reaction every time your dog has dinner:
Because many dog foods contain some form of meat, including lamb, chicken, beef or fish, this is likely among the most common dog food allergies.
If your dog tends to sneak bites of human food like cheese or ice cream, dairy may be the offending allergen.
Although kibble is rarely the source of eggs in a dog’s diet, some dogs are still exposed to this particular allergen. For example, if they have a bite of your omelet or if you crack a raw egg over their dinner to make it more palatable, your pooch’s food allergies could be linked back to those eggs.
Many dog food brands contain wheat products, which, in turn, contain gluten. This particular protein mixture has a bad reputation in certain discussions of human health, and as it turns out, your dog’s immune system might not be a big fan either.
Other Food Ingredients
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the unfortunate truth is that almost any food ingredient can cause allergy symptoms or an allergic reaction in your dog. That’s why it’s especially important to keep an eye on your furry friend whenever you switch foods or introduce a new snack or treat.
Treating Your Dog’s Food Allergies
The good news is that, even if your dog is allergic to a certain ingredient (or several), there are plenty of ways to build a healthy diet and treat each allergy symptom. All you need is the right pet care supplies — and a little help, of course.
Here’s what you can do:
- Talk to your vet: Your vet will be able to help you tell the difference between a true dog food allergy and food intolerance to help you decide which steps to take. Often, this includes switching pet food brands.
- Research hypoallergenic foods: Hypoallergenic foods are readily available; all you have to do is research your options. Luckily, since these foods have limited contents, you shouldn’t need to dig through long ingredient lists.
- Keep your pup hydrated: If your dog is suffering from allergy symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to make sure they stay hydrated. This can keep simple allergy symptoms from becoming more severe while you look for the cause.
- Cut out the human food: Your dog may beg for snacks off your plate, but if everyone in your house is sneaking them treats, it’s far more difficult to control your pooch’s diet. Plus, the more human food you offer, the more potential allergens you introduce.
Keep Your Pooch Happy and Healthy
Allergies can be overwhelming for us humans, so imagine how a dog feels. They have no way to tell us what’s wrong or what might be bothering them after eating a certain food.
The good news is that they have interpreters.
Here at Pet Supermarket, We Speak Pet™ — so we can help you find out what might be triggering your furry friend’s immune system and how you can make a difference. We’re always ready to find the best dog food for your pup’s specific needs or select health and wellness products that will make allergy symptoms a little less irritating.
Visit your nearest Pet Supermarket for help stopping that dog food allergy once and for all!