What are Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies?
Skin disease due to food allergies in dogs is not as common as other triggers of allergies, but it definitely can be the cause of allergic reactions on the skin. Ten percent of allergies that trigger flair-ups on the skin are due to foods that the dog is allergic to. When dogs develop skin irritations that cause discomfort, or allergic dermatitis, due to food allergies, their mast cells that release certain histamines are higher numbered than normal. Dogs that have allergies due to food usually show signs of this at a young age, anywhere between one and three years old. Studies have shown that dogs with allergies to foods are allergic to proteins from the plant or animal-based ingredients within their food. With a protein allergy, when the proteins are broken down into tiny molecules, the dog’s immune system mistakes them and treats these molecules as invaders. When the immune system fights this “invader” they have symptoms, such as the dermatitis. This allergy may take some time to actually “show” the signs, as the body doesn’t exhibit the negative signs on the skin until later.
Skin disease due to food allergies in dogs is caused by allergic reactions to foods, oftentimes protein, which flares up in the form of rashes, irritations, bumps, and other skin ailments.
Symptoms of Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies in Dogs
Symptoms of an allergic reaction from foods that occur on the skin can be irritating and painful to the dog. Symptoms can include:
- Licking the skin
- Loss of hair and bald spots
- Hot spots on the skin
- The dog rolling around on the ground, as if trying to scratch the body
- Pacing, as if being irritated or uncomfortable
- Oozing sores (rare)
- Crusty and scaly skin
Skin allergies due to foods are considered to be genetic, and there are allergens that have a negative effect more so than others. Many dogs that have food allergies are allergic to more than one specific food. Common types of food allergens are:
Causes of Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies in Dogs
The ingestion of the allergen causes the symptoms on the skin, and also may cause other inhalant or contact symptoms. Causes of skin allergies due to foods are usually due to two factors. The two main causes are:
- Environmental factors
Diagnosis of Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies develop over time, and with skin reactions the allergy to food is one that is not usually suspected at first. The veterinarian may want to test for other allergies in the beginning, depending on the symptoms.
It is important to take your dog to the veterinarian if you see any of the symptoms. Once your dog is at the veterinarian’s office, he will begin asking questions about the onset, his diet, and other environmental and lifestyle factors.
The most reliable tool to diagnose skin conditions due to food allergies is by allergy testing. There are different methods of testing for allergies, and one of them , usually used only as an initial test, being complete blood work that looks for any antibodies that are induced by antigens.
The veterinarian may also do a skin test that tests specifically what the dog may be allergic to. A part of the dog’s hair is shaved to expose the skin’s surface, and different antigens are placed in different parts of the skin to see if a reaction occurs. There is a specific order in which this is done, so the veterinarian may identify the antigen that is causing alarm.
The most accurate way to diagnose food allergies is by eliminating foods from the diet and then putting him on food he hasn’t had. This is difficult to do, but slowly introducing new foods one at a time and then, by process of elimination seeing what ingredient may be giving the dog the reaction, will be the most reliable method. This does take time, though, and much patience. Dog foods contain so many different ingredients that pinpointing the precise antigen is a challenge, but it can be done.
Treatment of Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies in Dogs
There are several treatments available for your dog if he has a food allergy. Treatments include:
In order to treat specific food allergies, the only thing that needs to be done is to eliminate the culprit from the dog’s diet. You will have to study the ingredients in the dog’s food. Premium food does not contain many of the filler ingredients that are in other foods, and there are foods on the market that are tailor-made for dogs that have specific food allergies.
Improving the health of the skin can be accomplished by giving your companion fatty acid supplements with Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fatty acids can help with inflammation and contain anti-oxidant agents.
Your veterinarian may suggest cortisone ointments to help clear the skin and alleviate any itching or pain associated with your dog’s food allergy. Such medications are prednisone, dexamethasone, and prednisolone. Be sure to watch for any side effects and contact your veterinarian if your dog’s behavior changes with these medications.
Some dog owners opt for allergy shots to treat the dog’s allergies, but these can be quite pricey and do take some time to have an impact on the dog’s allergies. The injections are given for a regular period of time until the dog can build up immunity. Usually, allergy shots are given for other environmental factors besides food allergies, since many environmental factors cannot be avoided, unlike food ingredients.
Recovery of Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies in Dogs
Once the food allergy and the specific antigen are both identified, the prognosis is very good. Over time, you will find what your dog can eat, and eventually you will be able to give your loved one a diet that has much variety, without the allergic ingredient. You may wish to try probiotics as well to keep your dog’s digestive system strong and healthy. Also, some dog owners seek the advice of alternative and holistic veterinarians for suggestions on foods for the canine.
Skin Disease Due to Food Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have recently notices a tiny lump under the skin on my bichonpoo's side. Since then I found 2 more on the neck area. They don't bother her and are not irritated. I recently switched her to a freeze dried food. Can this be causing a skin issue. If not, what could they be from?
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My cairn terrier of 17 lbs will be a year this month, has developed a skin or blood or internal medicine issue. She is losing all her hair on her paws, swells up red, crusted and now she has black small mold spots and losing some skin like ozing sores. She still loves to run a 100 miles an hour out side. she is on shots, pills and special shampoos for the past 3 months and it is getting worse. We went to new DR and after 3 weeks still worse. They are a conference and see them on Tuesday. I am thinking it is internal reaction to something. on Purina all white starch and just carrots, bananas, apples and pears.
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Suddenly after years on Blue Buffalo dry food, (fish and sweet potato), with our own cooked chicken, our Lhasa has developed itching, licking and dandruff-like shedding. I did not want to leave him on vanectyl because of potential adrenal problems with the steroid. The apoquel makes him sluggish, is not as effective and the vanectyl worked well.
Thank you so much for allaying my concerns about medication. We will suggest putting Buddy back on the Vanectal-P to our Vet. It certainly was the most effective. It is so worth it not to see him scratching and licking with a worried look on his face!...( and mine too ) You are great.
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