What is Duck Allergy?

Ducks are waterfowl that have large bills and short necks and are members of various species. Ducks, although very similar in appearance across family and species, do have minor differences in size and shape. True ducks are ducks which are in the Anatinae subfamily, or in the family of Anatidae. These ducks have a very distinctive waddle due to the formation of their legs and feet and resemble geese more so than swans.

Duck is considered a delicious entrée for the avid hunter and chef, and in many countries, such as China,  it is a common delicacy. It is an ideal source of protein, iron, zinc, and many other vitamins and minerals. It is high in fat and cholesterol.

Food allergies, including allergies to duck, affect both males and females of the species. There is no specific breed that suffers from food allergies more than others. Food allergies can occur in kittens as well as older cats; most cat food allergies are found within 2 to 6 years of age.

Although duck is considered more of a “hypoallergenic” type of meat and is used in the place of other foods which cats are allergic to, there is a very small percentage of cats that are allergic to this often considered “safe” food ingredient. The symptoms of a duck allergy are the same as the symptoms of any other food allergy. If you suspect your cat has an allergy to his food, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

A duck allergy in cats occurs when cats are showing a reaction, or allergy, to duck. Although very rare, a duck allergy can occur if the cat consumes duck rather than other types of meat in their daily diet.

Symptoms of Duck Allergy in Cats

A duck allergy in your cat will present itself with a variety of symptoms. Symptoms of this particular type of food allergy are similar to other food allergy signs, which include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Scratching at the head
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen face or mouth area
  • Hair loss 
  • Licking the skin

Types

Cats can be allergic to duck, as well as other foods and many other substances. Taking your cat to the veterinarian will reveal specifically what your cat is having a reaction to. Other types of allergies that cats can suffer from are:

  • Pollen (mold, weed, grass, tree, and mildew)
  • Dust
  • Dairy products
  • Meats
  • Grains
  • Wheat gluten
  • Medications
  • Cleaning products
  • Fabrics
  • Plastic and rubber
  • Perfume and other scents
  • Smoke
  • Pests, including fleas and mites

Causes of Duck Allergy in Cats

Causes of a duck allergy in cats are similar to the causes of many food allergies. Causes may include:

  • The gastrointestinal system has difficulties breaking down substances in the particular food
  • A very sensitive immune system
  • The immune system targets specific proteins or chemical makeup of food and attacks them, causing a reaction

Diagnosis of Duck Allergy in Cats

If you see that your cat is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will take a closer look at your feline’s symptoms. He will want to know as much information as he can gather, such as the type of environment your cat is living in, if he has been exposed to anything new (including foods), when you first noticed the symptoms, and if the symptoms are mild or severe. 

Your medical professional will then do some laboratory testing. He will take blood samples, a urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. Once these results come back he will have more information about your cat’s condition. If he suspects your cat has an allergy, the next step will be to figure out specifically what is causing the allergy.

If your cat is suffering from itchy and reddened skin, the veterinarian will want to do a skin test to see if he can discover what is causing the reaction. An intradermal skin test will give the veterinarian even more information on the causes of the allergen. Your medical professional may also perform other tests if necessary to get to the root of the problem.

You may then discover that your cat does indeed have a food allergy. Finding the specific food your cat is allergic to will take time. The veterinarian will explain to you what you need to do at home in order to help him make a definitive diagnosis.

To begin, your veterinarian may suggest what is known as an elimination diet. This will begin with a prescription cat food recommended by the medical professional. You will need to feed your cat this specific food for 12 weeks. Your veterinarian will ask that you give your cat nothing else to eat besides this food, and only water to drink. The elimination diet will contain ingredients in which your cat has never been exposed to in the past.

In order to uncover the specific allergy, after the 12 week period of time is over, the vet will tell you which food ingredient to introduce back into your cat’s diet. This is a slow process, and only one ingredient will be given to your cat at a time. Once your cat shows an allergic reaction, the veterinarian will be able to come to a diagnosis of a specific food allergy, in this case, a duck allergy.

Treatment of Duck Allergy in Cats

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed your cat with an allergy to duck meat, he will explain to you that the only mode of treatment is to completely eliminate this type of meat from his diet. This alone will be the method of treatment for this type of allergy. If skin irritation is evident before or during the trial, medication will be given to clear it up. The veterinarian may ask you to continue it until all signs of redness or itching are gone.

Recovery of Duck Allergy in Cats

Your cat may need to adjust to the new prescription diet, and may balk at it for a little while, but it is important not to give in and continue leaving the prescription food out for him to eat. Even if he refuses to eat it for the first few days, he will eventually begin to eat. 

Once your cat is no longer eating duck meat, you will see a significant improvement in his overall health and well-being. Your veterinarian will give you suggestions for a new diet that your cat can eat in which he will not have any reaction to. Once you are able to reintroduce these other foods, such as beef or fish, he may enjoy eating that type of food, and over time he will adjust.

If he shows any allergies to other introduced foods, be sure to communicate this with your veterinarian. Once he is on a diet that does not give his system any difficulty, he will need to remain on that diet for his long and healthy life.