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Allergies

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  • 20 July 2018
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  • Pet Wants

How Likely is Nutrition the Source of Your Dog’s Allergy?

Your pooch may be itching, vomiting, licking, or flopping her ears. Perhaps she has diarrhea. What do you think could be the cause? Nowadays, it’s common for pet parents to instantly conclude their pet’s discomfort is because of a food allergy. But why?

It may be in part because of dog food marketing efforts to establish their brands as “allergy-free” or “hypo-allergenic,” along with “grain free,” and “organic” or “all-natural” varieties. Ads or package slogans using these words may be leading dog parents to believe that food allergies are common, and that these products are addressing a common problem. The reality is that only about 10 to 15 percent of dog allergies are food related, so altering her diet may not be your best first reaction. Here are three reasons why.

  1. External Causes

The most common sources of allergies for dogs are not food. More often, dogs show allergic reactions because of exposure to dust mites, flea bites, grasses, pollen, and mold. Itching, ear infections, licking, and excessive shedding are a dog’s way of reacting to something on their skin. While people with allergies get watery eyes and sneeze, dogs have reactions through their skin that cause them to lick, scratch, and flop their ears. Try thoroughly vacuuming your dogs’ crate or sleeping area and washing her bedding regularly. Check the floor, walls, and windows around these areas for signs of mold. Bathing her with baking soda in the water can help, too. As well, limit exposure to outdoor areas where tall grasses or pollen-bearing plants grow.  Finally, be sure to put your dog on a monthly oral flea treatment tablet to rule out the risk of allergic reactions to flea bites.

  1. Intolerance or Sensitivity

Another misidentification of a food allergy is what is known as a food intolerance or food sensitivity. While the symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea may look like an obvious allergic reaction to their food, in reality your pet’s GI system may be reacting to something else. When dogs eat the same diet for an extended period of time, their digestive systems can develop a sensitivity or intolerance – a refusal to process – something in their food. In these cases, it’s best to simply rotate your dog’s diet, perhaps buying the same brand but a variety that features a different protein source. (salmon instead of chicken, for example). Exposure to the new protein may alleviate the problem within 6-8 weeks.

  1. Age and Dietary Needs

As dogs get older, their dietary needs also change. While puppies require more carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to support their active, growing bodies, older dogs need to eat lower fat foods that keep them from gaining weight. That’s why dog foods formulated in cycles are better suited to supply your dog’s body with what he needs. Cycled foods offer less likelihood that Fido will have an allergy-like reaction to something in his food that his body doesn’t need given his age.

As always, when you have a concern about your pet’s health, consult your veterinarian. However, with the goal of keeping your dog as healthy as possible, it’s wise to look beyond food as a possible allergy source. Rest assured that food allergies are far less common in dogs than other types of allergies, and addressing external causes, sensitivities, and age-related dietary needs may be more effective.