What are Human Food Allergies?
Itchy skin is usually the most common sign of an allergy in your dog. However, with human food allergies, vomiting and diarrhea may precede the itchiness. Itchy skin is often mistaken for dry skin during the winter and fleas during the summer, but allergies are actually much more common than you may think. Not recognizing the symptoms at first can make diagnosing an allergy to human food complicated because it may be several hours or days later that you realize that it is not fleas or dry skin. By then, you may not even remember what you have fed your pet that could have caused it. Relying on high-quality commercial dog food is the safest way to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Food allergies can be aggravating, to say the least, for you and for your dog. It is sometimes almost impossible to determine what is causing the allergy because there are many factors leading to allergies. This is why it is recommended to not feed your dog any kind of human food, because just one food from your plate could have more than a dozen ingredients. A bland diet of chicken, lamb, or rice for example can be healthy for your pet, but most of the time the human meal is more varied than bland. If your canine friend has been eating human food for some time and suddenly starts having digestive problems after every feeding, a food allergy may be the cause. Some things to watch for are diarrhea, vomiting, itching, and hives. A fatal condition called anaphylaxis is rare, but possible, with any allergy. If your dog starts wheezing or having trouble breathing during or after eating, you need to go to a veterinary professional right away.
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Symptoms of Human Food Allergies in Dogs
Although the most common symptom of an allergy is dermatitis (skin itching, inflammation, and rash), with food allergies the first signs of discomfort that you may notice in your pet are diarrhea and vomiting. Sometimes, your dog may have watery eyes and a runny nose as well. Some of the common human food allergy symptoms are:
- Blue tint to mucous membranes
- Cold feet
- Extreme tiredness
- Respiratory failure
- Slow pulse
- Struggling to breathe
- Appetite loss
- Ear inflammation and itching
- Excessive drooling
- Facial swelling
- Itchy red rash
- Licking and biting skin excessively
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
The most common types of human foods that cause allergic reactions in dogs are:
Causes of Human Food Allergies in Dogs
Any sex, age, or breed of dogs can have an allergy to certain human foods, although some are more susceptible than others:
- Dogs over six months of age
- Cocker Spaniels
- German Shepherds
- Miniature Schnauzers
Diagnosis of Human Food Allergies in Dogs
Diagnosing a dog with a human food allergy can be difficult because your dog usually eats more than just one type of food and many meals contain multiple ingredients. To rule out underlying illness or disease, your veterinarian will do a complete physical, checking your dog’s skin condition, including the nose, ears, and mouth. An eye examination may be done as well. Additionally, the team will record your dog’s pulse, respirations, reflexes, body temperature, blood pressure, weight, and coat condition.
Blood tests, such as a complete blood count and chemistry panel will be performed. In addition, the veterinarian will often want urine and stool samples for microscopic examination to check for infections. In some cases, x-rays may be taken to check for intestinal inflammation.
Treatment of Human Food Allergies in Dogs
The easiest way to treat human food allergies is by eliminating all of the human food you feed your dog. As long as you are confident that the usual commercial dog food you have been using is not causing an allergic reaction, you can continue to use it being sure not to feed your dog any other kind of food. If your dog is now showing signs of being allergic to the dog food, you will have to try limited ingredient dog food or a food with hydrolyzed proteins at the discretion of your veterinarian. These proteins typically do not cause an allergic reaction because they are ground into tiny pieces so your dog can absorb them easier.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the allergic reaction to the food. Intravenous fluids and electrolytes will be given, if needed, as well as supportive therapies in cases of respiratory distress or discomfort. The veterinarian will administer a cortisone shot and antihistamine to relieve symptoms like shock, and antiemetic medication for cases that involve vomiting. For dermatitis, the veterinarian may also prescribe an ointment or cream for you to apply as needed.
Recovery of Human Food Allergies in Dogs
Feeding your pet a veterinarian recommended hypoallergenic food is the best suggestion in cases where pets have a sensitivity to variety. Having a dog with allergies is a lifelong commitment to managing their health, though this is easily done with the help of your veterinarian. Feed your pet the prescribed dog food only, and do not give in to the temptation to hand out treats or leftovers from the dinner table.