What are Food Sensitivity and Allergies in Jack Russell Terriers?
While Jack Russell Terriers may be small, they're full of energy and intelligence. Like all dogs, these pint-sized pups can develop food sensitivities and allergies. Food allergies may only affect a very small percentage of dogs, but they're becoming more common — reports of environmental allergies increased significantly between 2008 and 2018.
Food allergies occur when a dog ingests an allergen. Their immune system overreacts, releasing chemicals to attack proteins found in food that it sees as a threat. These chemicals are what cause allergic reactions. Allergies usually show up by the time a dog is 6 months old, but can occur at any stage in a dog's life.
Symptoms of Food Sensitivity and Allergies in Jack Russell Terriers
Common symptoms of food sensitivities and allergies in Jack Russell Terriers include:
- Itchy/irritated skin
- Excessive licking
- Weight loss
- Excessive gas
Causes of Food Sensitivity and Allergies in Jack Russell Terriers
Dogs inherit food allergies and sensitivities, meaning any dog could be allergic to any food. Generally, protein sources are the leading cause of food allergies. If your dog has a rash or diarrhea all year round, they probably have a food allergy rather than a seasonal or environmental one.
Common foods that cause sensitivities and allergies in dogs include:
Diagnosis of Food Sensitivity and Allergies in Jack Russell Terriers
If you notice symptoms of food allergies in your Jack Russell, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet will begin with a general examination and may ask you questions about your dog's lifestyle and diet.
Blood tests aren't accurate methods of diagnosing food allergies in Jack Russells. To identify and diagnose the food allergy, your vet will put your dog on an elimination diet trial.
These trials involve your dog eating a prescription diet for several weeks. The diet consists typically of foods your dog wouldn't normally eat, like rabbit or bison, to eliminate possible allergens from their diet. You must strictly adhere to the diet and not give your dog any treats or table scraps.
An elimination diet generally lasts 8 to 12 weeks, but may be shorter depending on the severity of the allergy and your vet's findings. When the trial is over, your vet will start gradually reintroducing elements of the dog's original diet to pinpoint the exact allergen.
Treatment of Food Sensitivity and Allergies in Jack Russell Terriers
As Jack Russells commonly suffer from atopic dermatitis, your vet may prescribe corticosteroids and topical medication to ease inflammation and soreness. Your vet may also prescribe antihistamines to relieve any itchiness.
If your Jack Russell has a skin or ear infection from the allergy, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. If your Jack Russell won't stop scratching or biting at sore spots, your vet may recommend they wear an Elizabethan collar.
The best treatment for food sensitivities and allergies in Jack Russells is a change in diet. After completing an elimination trial diet, your vet will be able to recommend a new diet that shouldn't cause any allergic reactions.
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Recovery of Food Sensitivity and Allergies in Jack Russell Terriers
If left untreated, food allergies can cause many health problems in Jack Russells. Your dog could suffer from serious gastrointestinal issues later in life.
Allergies can also cause bacterial infections. Bacterial infections can spread and cause secondary infections, which can be challenging to eliminate.
If allergies are addressed quickly, your Jack Russell should recover fully with no side effects. If your dog begins to show symptoms of an allergy again after changing their diet, contact your vet as soon as possible.