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Of the allergies experienced by cats and dogs, 10% are to food. Allergies affect both males and females equally and can make an appearance in your cat as early as five months of age or at any time in his adulthood.
A food allergy occurs when your cat’s immune system has a strong reaction to particular glycoproteins in the food. Should your cat experience an allergy to lamb, his immune system will go into overdrive upon its ingestion, leading to symptoms like excessive itching and skin redness. Ongoing scratching of his skin can lead to secondary skin wounds and leave your cat vulnerable to a bacterial infection. Your veterinarian can help you in determining the cause of your cat’s symptoms.
Occurring when a cat’s immune system overreacts to a certain glycoprotein in food that he has consumed, an allergy to lamb can lead to excessive itching, redness of his skin and other symptoms.
Should your cat be experiencing an allergy to lamb, you may not initially notice a problem or while you may notice symptoms, they will be similar to those of many other allergies or illnesses. The main symptom that may be displayed is itchy skin. You may also notice that your cat is losing hair and scratching and/or licking himself excessively. Skin infections and ear infections are also signs of an allergy. Should symptoms be present year-round or if they begin to appear during the winter, it can point to a food allergy.
Your cat may experience a food allergy or a food intolerance. In the case of an allergy to lamb or another food, your cat will demonstrate the typical signs of an allergy like itching and skin problems. Should your cat be experiencing a food intolerance to lamb, you are more likely to see diarrhea and vomiting rather than the usual allergy response.
Should your cat experience an allergy, it is the result of an over-reaction of his immune system to a protein in what he is consuming. It is his immune system’s response that leads to the extensive itching and other symptoms of an allergy.
Your veterinarian will examine your cat, and ask you for information regarding your cat’s diet, the symptoms you have seen, when you first noticed them and what changes you have observed. You will likely also be asked whether you have observed any changes in your cat’s behavior.
Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination and if he thinks that a food allergy may be a cause of his symptoms, he will ask you about the food that your cat consumes, as well as how much he eats per day and for how long he has been eating that particular food. Your veterinarian may recommend a complete blood count, serum chemistry analysis, urinalysis and evaluation of a stool sample to determine if there is an underlying illness that is causing the symptoms your cat is experiencing. He may take a sample of your cat’s skin cells in order to view them under a microscope for mites, fungus or bacteria; should none of those be present, it can help narrow down the reason for your cat’s symptoms. Ear infections and gastrointestinal issues are often present when cats are experiencing allergies, therefore, your veterinarian will look to see if these are issues in your cat.
Should your veterinarian determine that your cat may be experiencing a food allergy, he will work with you on developing an elimination diet for your cat. An elimination diet is one that is simple; often it will be home-cooked so that there will not be any hidden ingredients that you are not aware of. In the elimination diet, typically only one protein will be given. If the main protein in your cat’s usual diet is lamb, your veterinarian will recommend avoiding that in the elimination diet.
Within 3-4 weeks (on average) you should see some improvement in your cat’s symptoms. As you are reintroducing foods, should the food be one that your cat is experiencing an allergy to, you will notice a reaction pretty quickly (within a few hours to ten days). If your cat no longer has symptoms when on the new diet, but when his old food is reintroduced he again experiences symptoms, the food allergy is confirmed.
Treatment in the case of an allergy to lamb is to avoid the offending food. Once you have determined that lamb is the cause of your cat’s symptoms, you will want to eliminate it from his diet. Going forward, you can choose to feed your cat homemade food or commercially prepared food that does not include lamb.
Should you choose to feed your cat a homemade diet, it is important to work with your veterinarian on developing a balanced diet that includes the proper number of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for your cat’s health.
Upon determining an allergy to lamb, once it is eliminated from your cat’s diet, he should recover well. As animals that have food allergies can develop new allergies to foods when they eat those foods over the course of time, you will want to communicate with your veterinarian about varying the foods in your cat’s diet, as well as letting him know should symptoms again present themselves.
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