What is Duck Allergies ?
The most commonly reported symptom of allergies in dogs is dermatitis, which is a skin disorder that varies from dog to dog, but almost always includes itching and redness of the skin. Just like humans, the skin of dogs is the largest organ in their body and is 15% to 25% of the body weight. There are seven layers of skin, which are called the subcutaneous muscles and fat, appendageal system, dermis, basement membrane zone, and epidermis. The skin protects your dog’s body from outside contaminants and allergens, which is why it is usually the first sign of any kind of allergy in your dog. In the case of duck allergies in dogs, the first sign may be vomiting rather than itching. Always observe your dog the first few times you feed them a new food. Your dog may be fond of the food, but the body could see the addition to the diet as an allergen which can quickly lead to anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening emergency. If your dog seems to be having trouble breathing (coughing, gagging, vomiting), you need to get your dog to an animal hospital immediately.
In the past several years, many dog food companies have been including duck in their dry and canned food. Duck allergies in dogs may occur from feeding your dog a new food, treats, chews, or table scraps. In some cases, you may not even realize what the allergen is. An allergy can be a serious condition in some dogs, with inflammation that can lead to anaphylactic shock, triggering contraction of the smooth muscles of the throat, leading to asphyxiation and death. However, in the majority of cases, the reaction is not as serious and includes itching, redness of skin, hives, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea.
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Symptoms of Duck Allergies in Dogs
Symptoms of duck allergy may vary, but the most common are:
- Abdominal pain
- Bald spots (alopecia)
- Breathing trouble
- Excessive licking
- Facial swelling
- Itching sometimes severe, in areas like the muzzle and tail
- Lesions on the skin (usually the face, feet, and groin area)
- Paw biting
- Runny nose
- Skin rash
- Watery eyes
There are many dog foods that include duck in their ingredients; it is best to look at the ingredients list of any food you are purchasing to see if any of these are listed:
- Animal fats and oils
- Animal proteins
- Bone meal
- Fresh meat
- Meat and animal derivatives
- Meat meal
- Poultry fats
Causes of Duck Allergies in Dogs
There are two ways to describe a dog’s abnormal reaction to food. One is allergy, which affects the immune system, and the other is intolerance, which affects the digestive system.
- Duck allergy is usually triggered after your dog has eaten food with duck ingredients before, because it is the previous exposure that produces the allergic reaction
- Duck intolerance happens the first time (and every time) your dog eats the food with duck ingredients because the body cannot tolerate any product including duck
Diagnosis of Duck Allergies in Dogs
Allergies in dogs can be difficult to diagnose.The best way for the veterinarian to determine the diagnosis is to identify or eliminate potential illnesses or injuries that are being overlooked. A physical examination will be done right away, checking your dog’s overall condition and demeanor. The veterinarian will check body weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration rate, breath sounds, reflexes, skin condition, and a thorough examination of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Laboratory tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry profile, electrolyte panel, glucose levels, urinalysis, and fecal examination will be done to rule out any underlying disease or illness. The veterinarian may also take a skin scraping to sample in order to determine if there is bacterial or fungal infection.
To test for allergies, the most effective way is to use the elimination diet. The veterinarian will instruct you on what to do in detail, but it is usually done by taking away all foods and then starting over again with one food at a time to determine the culprit. Each food should be tried for several weeks to see if any of the symptoms return. Your veterinarian will be able to instruct you on which foods to try.
Treatment of Duck Allergies in Dogs
Treatment will depend on your dog’s symptoms and the results of the food trial. A priority of the veterinary team will be to alleviate the itching and inflammation in your dog’s skin. In order to do a food trial or elimination diet, your dog’s skin has to be treated first.
Treating the Skin
Your dog’s skin is the best way to determine allergies, so it is important to get the epidermis back to normal as soon as possible. A hypoallergenic shampoo and cortisone cream for the rash and inflammation will help relieve the itching within a few days.It should be noted, however, that a severe skin condition may take weeks to months to clear up entirely.
Food Trial/Elimination Diet
It may take several months to find the right food for your pet. Most dog food brands now have limited ingredient food for sensitive dogs that only have a few ingredients to minimize the chance of allergic reaction. There are also dog foods with novel meats, meaning the protein in the food is uncommon so your dog will not have had any exposure to that protein. It is the previous exposure that causes the allergic reaction. Some of the novel protein foods on the market have venison, bison, rabbit, and even kangaroo meat. They are usually paired with a novel carbohydrate as well, such as peas, carrots, or potatoes.
Recovery of Duck Allergies in Dogs
After you determine the allergen and eliminate it from your dog’s diet, the prognosis for recovery is excellent. However, you will need to be vigilant in sticking to the diet all the time and make sure your family and any other caretakers know about your dog’s allergy. Read all ingredients on food and treats before purchase to make sure there is no duck added to the mix. Manufacturers have a tendency to change ingredients without advertising it, making the need to check ingredients crucial.
It is important to maintain this diet for a lifetime because if you feed your dog an allergen just once, it can be fatal if anaphylaxis occurs. Be sure to follow up with your veterinarian if there is a problem and take your dog for a checkup at least once per year.