What are Kibble Allergies?
More and more dogs are being diagnosed with food related allergies. The most common protein sources in dog kibble are chicken and beef. Coincidentally, these two ingredients also happen to be the main sources of kibble allergies in dogs. Many dogs arrive at their veterinarians due to itchy skin without an obvious source, chronic ear infections, obsessive licking of feet and more. While there are very few ways to confirm what your dog is allergic to, it is worth the effort. Once you discover the source of the allergy and remove it from your dog’s life, he will no longer have any symptoms and will return to his healthy self.
If your dog is constantly itching, scratching, or licking, the cause may be his dog food. Many dogs are allergic to ingredients in food without owners realizing it. If you believe your dog has food allergies, discuss it with your veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Kibble Allergies in Dogs
Symptoms of kibble allergies can manifest in a variety of ways in each dog. The most common kibble allergy symptoms include
- Itchy skin
- Skin infection
- Ear infection
- Obsessive licking/chewing of feet
- Loss of hair
- Poor coat condition
- Weight loss
Symptoms may develop in a relatively short period of time or it can develop over several years. Each potential allergen affects each dog differently.
Kibble allergies can affect any age of any breed at any time. It can be difficult to differentiate between food allergies and airborne allergies. The only obvious difference is a change in itching intensity with a change of the season. If your dog is constantly itching throughout the year no matter the season, it is not an airborne allergen.
With kibble allergies, it isn’t necessarily the food as a whole that he is allergic to, but a specific ingredient within the food. In regards to protein sources, chicken and beef are the two most common to cause an allergic reaction. Other common allergy causing ingredients include grains, corn, wheat, soy, and milk.
Causes of Kibble Allergies in Dogs
If your dog has allergies, it is his body’s way of protecting itself from something it thinks will harm it. While the item in question is actually harmless, the body doesn’t recognize it as such. The body finds it dangerous and mounts a protective response to the threat. True kibble allergies are also known as Adverse Food Reaction (AFR). Your dog’s body produces an immune response to a main ingredient or an ingredient he ingests frequently.
Diagnosis of Kibble Allergies in Dogs
When it comes to diagnosis of kibble allergies in dogs there are very few diagnostic tests you can run. A dietary trial is the most frequently used method. Dietary trial diagnosis and treatment go hand in hand. In a dietary trial, you have to feed your dog a novel diet. If you are just testing the protein source, it is a little easier to switch foods. For example, if you think your dog is allergic to beef, you switch him to a food that does not contain any beef ingredients. Instead, you feed him a protein source that is new to him, such as duck or lamb. However, if you are testing everything, it means the new food cannot contain any previously fed ingredient the dog has received in the past. In some cases, this means you have to feed a prescription diet or cook for your dog. During this trial, you cannot give any type of treats or flavored medications as it can affect the results. You have to feed your dog the novel diet for at least 90 days before you can get a reliable diagnostic. After the 90 days, if resolution of the allergic signs occurs, you then must reintroduce the believed source of allergen. If a relapse in allergy symptoms occurs, then you know the source; if symptoms do not return, then it was a source other than the beef.
Intradermal skin testing for food allergies is not meant for every dog. This test can give false positive and false negative results. In a false positive situation, despite the fact the dog is not allergic to the food when ingested it results in a positive allergic skin response. As for a false negative, some food allergies produce a delayed result of a positive allergic reaction. This causes the veterinarian to believe your dog is not allergic to the allergen since she didn’t see a skin response, but in reality, he is allergic to it. Another way the test can result in a false negative would be when the allergic response is localized. For example, if your dog is allergic to an allergen but the symptom only manifests as a runny nose, this means the antibodies to the allergen are located only in the nose. Since the allergens antibodies are localized in the nose and not the entire body, there are no antibodies in the bloodstream to cause a reaction throughout the rest of the body, including the skin.
Bicom testing is another method of determining a kibble allergy in your dog. Bicom testing is also known as bioresonance. This method believes every being and substance in the world emits its own electromagnetic wave. The veterinarian takes a blood sample from your dog and tests different foods and substances to see if it has a ‘good’, ‘neutral’ or ‘bad’ response. If the response is ‘bad’, the item being tested causes your dog’s blood wavelength to become stressed. Stressed blood leads to a stressed body and therefore an allergic reaction. If the response is ‘good’, then the item puts out a wavelength that is compatible with your dog’s blood which means no adverse reactions should occur. If it is ‘neutral’, the item being tested does not put out a wavelength that alters that of your dog. Bicom testing is not commonly seen in veterinary practices because it is considered an ‘alternative’ medicine. Many holistic veterinarians use the Bicom testing with an extremely high success rate, but other veterinarians believe this method does not work. If you look up Bicom testing, some methods are potentially used to ‘retrain’ the body’s electromagnetic waves to relearn the allergen does not actually pose a threat and should therefore, stop producing an allergic response. Other veterinary practitioners typically use it to find out if your dog is compatible with the food or not. If it is not good for your dog, then you simply remove that food from his diet and the allergic symptoms should stop.
Treatment of Kibble Allergies in Dogs
Strict control of the diet is the best treatment of kibble allergies. It can be a long, discouraging process, but once you discover the source, you and your dog will both be better off.
Some veterinarians will prescribe a medication to help with the itching. This medication will help for a while, but in reality it is only masking the symptom, not curing it. If you do not remove the source of the itching, you will have to continue to give the prescription and possibly continuously increase the dose as time goes on.
Bathing your dog can help with the skin itching. Be sure to bathe him with a mild shampoo or one your veterinarian recommends to not irritate your dog’s skin further. Be sure to rinse him completely and brush him out after bathing to ensure all the soap was removed. Without removing the allergen source, your dog will continue to suffer from the allergen.
Recovery of Kibble Allergies in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from allergies, the sooner you get him to the veterinarian the better. Suffering from allergies can weaken your dog’s immune system. The longer you wait to seek veterinary care, the higher the chance of a secondary infection to develop.
Once you discover the source of the kibble allergy and are able to remove it from your dog’s diet, all his symptoms should stop once the source has made it out of his system. The recovery process can take several months and can be very discouraging, but do not give up. You and your dog will both be happier once the constant itching and scratching stop for good.