What are Dry Dog Food Allergies?
There are many types of dry dog food on the market today, and these foods contain the typical ingredients of rice, barley, soy, corn, and wheat. They also contain meat by-products, chicken, liver, beef, and lamb. These ingredients are distributed in different ways within different dog foods. Dry dog food also contains a specific amount of vitamins and minerals, fats, and carbohydrates.
When deciding on the dry dog food that is best for your pet, it is very important to read the labels and be proactive in your dog’s nutrition. Your veterinarian can also help with this decision. Although there are many quality dry dog foods on the market today, dogs may show allergic symptoms to one or more of the ingredients.
Dry dog food allergies occur over time rather than immediately. In the beginning, it may be hard to decipher an allergy from an upset stomach or skin reaction due to another agent. However, dry dog food allergies are common in many different breeds and are very treatable. If you are currently feeding your dog a specific type of dry dog food and he develops the following symptoms, he may have a food allergy. The only way to discover this is to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Dry dog food allergies in dogs are a result of the hypersensitive immune system of the dog to a particular ingredient within the dry dog food. Dry dog food allergies may not occur immediately; they usually develop over time after being fed the same ingredients on a regular basis.
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Symptoms of Dry Dog Food Allergies in Dogs
Symptoms of dog food allergies, primarily commercially made dry dog food allergies, may vary depending on the specific ingredient he is allergic to and the severity of the reaction. Symptoms include:
- Dry, flaky skin
- Gastrointestinal pain
- Digestive issues
- Itchy, red skin
- Bald spots
There are several types of ingredients that can cause food allergies in dogs. The most common types of ingredients are:
- Dairy items
Causes of Dry Dog Food Allergies in Dogs
Causes of dry dog food allergies in dogs begin with your dog ingesting dry dog food that contains ingredients they are allergic to. Causes also are:
- Hypersensitive or over-reactive immune system that fights otherwise harmless agents
- A chemical imbalance within the gut or and environmental change
- Problems with the digestion of specific food ingredients
- Ingesting the specific triggering ingredients over time
Diagnosis of Dry Dog Food Allergies in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your veterinarian. To begin, your veterinarian will ask a variety of questions pertaining to his environment, his eating habits, when the symptoms first began, and how long they have lasted.
Your veterinarian will then perform a variety of tests to rule out any other conditions. He may choose to do bloodwork, a biochemistry profile, and urinalysis to start with, and any other tests that he feels are necessary for him to come to a diagnosis. He will also take a closer look at the skin if it is irritated, and will examine your pet’s abdominal area if he is suffering from gastrointestinal distress.
Once your veterinarian has determined that your dog is not suffering from a condition other than possible allergies, he will ask you questions about his diet and will want to know the ingredients in his dog food. Taking the dog food container or bag into the veterinarian’s office with you will help him acquire more information about what is a possible allergen.
Food allergies can be challenging to diagnose, but before your veterinarian chooses to do any skin testing, he may want to try an elimination diet to see if the specific allergen can be discovered. This elimination diet usually lasts approximately 21 days, but it can be very much worth the wait for your dog’s future health and happiness.
Treatment of Dry Dog Food Allergies in Dogs
If your veterinarian suspects that your dog is allergic to dry dog food, he will give you specific instructions on how to begin to perform an elimination diet. The only definitive and effective treatment for dry dog food allergies is to remove the specific ingredient from your dog’s diet. Treatment methods will comprise of the following:
Treatment of Skin Conditions
To find temporary relief of your dog’s skin discomfort (if one of his symptoms was a skin irritation), the veterinarian may choose to bathe him in a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo, followed by a thorough rinsing. A topical allergy cream may be also applied to any hotspots or itchy areas in order to relieve any scratching. This treatment of the skin condition will be only temporary so the dog can begin to heal before the discovery of the direct allergen.
In order to perform an elimination diet, your veterinarian will give you specific directions on what to do. Although this process does take some time, in the end you will know precisely what your dog is allergic to and what to avoid so he can be allergy-free. Your veterinarian will recommend a “starter food” for him, such as a prescription diet or a hypoallergenic diet. Once he is on this diet and once his body adjusts to this, you will be asked to slowly reintroduce one ingredient at a time and watch for any reaction.
Allergy medications may be given to your dog if he is suffering from severe skin allergies, and will only be given for a few days in order to help him feel better. During the elimination diet; however, the veterinarian may recommend that he stay off allergy medications in order to come to a definitive diagnosis of a specific ingredient that is causing his distress.
Recovery of Dry Dog Food Allergies in Dogs
If your dog is allergic to dry dog food, there are alternatives. Once you find the specific ingredient, such as corn, wheat, or barley, you will feel much better knowing that you are feeding your dog food that he is not allergic to.
The one method that works for dry dog food allergies is to eliminate the offending agent completely from his diet. Dog treats, specific preventative medications, or anything your dog ingests must not contain the ingredient that he is allergic to. You will need to read the labels of these items before you give them to your dog. There are many canned prescription foods and hypoallergenic foods that your dog will adjust to over time. Once he is allergy free, you will feel better knowing that your dog is no longer suffering and your dog will be much happier as well.