What are Beneful Allergies?
Beneful is one of a variety of dog food made by Purina Foods. An allergy to a particular type of dog food develops when the immune system of the body responds antagonistically to the proteins of one or more of the ingredients that are included in the food. Chronic disorders like ear infections, gas, and difficulty breathing often occur along with the itchy and inflamed skin. Anaphylactic shock can occasionally be triggered by food allergies. Beneful is not designed for the allergic dog, however, Purina has several other hypoallergenic options available.
There are several varieties of food manufactured by Beneful dog food. Some varieties of Beneful are more likely to trigger an allergic response in a sensitized animal than others.
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Symptoms of Beneful Allergies in Dogs
Skin reactions from allergies are often located under the front legs, around the face and groin, or between the toes. Most dogs develop food allergies after they reach 3 years old.
- Bald patches
- Chronic ear infections
- Chronic gas
- Chronically inflamed feet
- Face rubbing
- Head shaking
- Obsessive licking
- Paw biting
- Poor growth
- Skin infections
- Skin rashes
A rare, life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock can occur with any food allergy, and should be treated as an emergency if it does occur. If your pet exhibits the following symptoms, they should be taken to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic immediately.
- Cold limbs
- Difficulty breathing
- Elevated heart rate
- Excessive drooling
- Low blood pressure
- Pale gums
- Sudden diarrhea
- Sudden vomiting
Although Beneful is not specifically designed to cater to the allergic pet, Purina does have several other varieties of food that you can purchase that may be helpful for hypersensitive or allergic animals.
- Beyond - The Beyond recipes are designed to be grain free as well as free of artificial flavors or dyes.
- Smartblend and ProPlan - These varieties have easily digestible proteins as well as added omega-3 to help nourish the skin.
Purina also has a line of prescription food that includes formulas for exceptionally sensitive stomachs, probiotic formulas, and food with hydrolyzed proteins. Hydrolyzed proteins are already partially broken down, allowing for better absorption and helping prevent new allergies from forming.
Causes of Beneful Allergies in Dogs
Approximately 60-70% of the cells of the mammalian immune system resides within the digestive system. Allergies to food are triggered by an abnormally strong defensive response of the immune cells in the gastrointestinal system to a protein that the animal has ingested. Digestion is designed to break down the foods your pet eats into their smallest parts, known as amino acids. Normally, white blood cells called enterocytes absorb the amino acids, but when the proteins are not thoroughly broken down during the digestion process, the enterocytes identify them as intruders instead of nutrients and launch an attack. Repeated exposure to the trigger allergen creates a faster and more aggressive response by these white blood cells, which usually causes the symptoms to intensify with each exposure. Beneful is not designed specifically for allergy prone dogs, and Purina includes many of the most common canine allergens in its Beneful recipes, including beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, eggs, and fish.
Diagnosis of Beneful Allergies in Dogs
The dermal symptoms that your veterinarian uncovers during the physical examination will most likely prompt your pet’s doctor to collect samples in the form of skin scrapings from any of the areas with the swelling and rashes. The collected skin samples will be used to perform a microscopic examination of the skin cells, called a cutaneous cytology, in order to uncover any potential problems. The type of concerns that might be spotted during cutaneous cytology could include signs of disease, mites, or even yeast infections developing on the skin. When these conditions are not found, your veterinarian may suspect a food-related allergy. The primary diagnostic tool for deducing an allergy to food is an elimination diet. An elimination diet is implemented by changing the dog's food to either a limited ingredient or hypoallergenic commercial dog food, or a diet of unseasoned human food.
Novel ingredients are proteins and carbohydrates that are not common in the dog’s current diet and are generally preferred for an elimination diet. If an allergy is causing the symptoms, a properly implemented elimination diet will cause them to fade over time. Once the allergy signs have been extinguished, further ingredients can be added back into the diet one at a time until a particular allergen is identified by your pet's reaction.
Treatment of Beneful Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies in dogs are not curable, but symptoms usually cease if the allergen is removed from the animal’s diet. It may take several weeks for the culpable allergen, or family of allergens, to be revealed by the elimination diet. Corticosteroids and antihistamines may reduce swelling and itching during the diagnostic period, but may not be recommended until the elimination diet is completed as they also tend to make it harder to decipher which ingredient or ingredients in your dog’s food is causing the reactions by masking allergic symptoms that would normally be apparent. Secondary skin infections are common with allergic dermatitis and antibiotics may be prescribed to fight the infection. The primary treatment method is avoidance of the ingredient, once the identity of the allergen is clearly defined. Any intake of the allergen can cause your dog to relapse, so it is important to be careful about the type of treats and flavorings you give to your dog. A dog that has developed an allergy to one variety of food becomes predisposed to developing new food allergies.
Veterinarians differ in their approach to this situation, with some professionals advocating a steady rotation of three of four novel protein foods, while others maintain that canines should remain on a solitary source of food unless allergy symptoms surface. Anaphylactic shock occasionally occurs in dogs due to food allergies. If this or other severe reactions have happened in the past, an EpiPen will be prescribed for emergencies, and should be carried with the animal at all times.
Recovery of Beneful Allergies in Dogs
When determining the proper replacement food for an elimination diet, it is essential that each and every ingredient in the previous diet be replaced. In the case of Beneful, that would include the vegetable and grain sources as well as the protein source. The entire food family may be responsible for your pet's reaction, so switching from a beef diet to an avian source such as duck will likely have better results than switching to another source of red meat like venison. It is absolutely necessary to ensure your dog complies with the new diet during this testing phase and does not ingest anything except for the food chosen for the elimination diet. A single treat with the allergen can cause a reoccurrence of the allergy. Sources to avoid may include:
- Cow hooves
- Flavored medications (including heartworm preventives) or supplements
- Flavored plastic toys
- Flavored toothpastes
- Pigs Ears