Dogs get allergies just like us - from grass, pollen and eggs to fabrics and fleas.
Unsurprisingly though, the culprit is often their food, and not monitoring what your dog eats means their unwanted allergy symptoms may cause them (and you!) hassle.
In a lot of cases, food allergies in dogs present as itchy or irritated skin - in fact, excessive itching is one of the most common reasons their owners take them to the vets! If you’re somewhat in the dark over skin allergies in dogs, what causes them and what symptoms to look out for, we’ve gone into more detail here.
For this article however, we’ll be discussing the best food to give a dog with food allergies; pooches who suffer from symptoms such as skin irritation, digestive issues, ear infections and sickness due to something they eat.
In theory, dogs can be allergic to any food - but the six most common food allergies in dogs are beef, chicken, eggs, dairy, soy and grains. You might be thinking “but chicken and beef are favourites for dogs”. This is often why they’re listed as common allergens - there are simply more cases of these food allergies due to the frequent usage of these meats in commercial dog foods. Interestingly, the more dogs eat something every day, the more likely they are to develop an allergic reaction to it.
You can read more here about the various types of food allergies in dogs and common symptoms associated with them.
If you’ve noticed your dog develops allergy symptoms to something they’ve eaten, you’ll want to track that food down! Identifying your dog’s potential food allergy can be a long-winded process that takes many months; however the results are 100% worth it. By nipping those nasty symptoms at the source, you’ll learn more about your dog’s digestive needs and have more power to increase their comfort and wellbeing.
As we said, this can seem long-winded - and even feel cruel to change your dog’s diet so drastically. Remember it’s for their own good, so don’t give up on the stripped-back diet after only a couple of weeks. It can take as long as three months for all proteins to leave a dog’s body, and it’s only then that you’ll have a good basis to ‘test’ which food could be the trigger of your dog’s allergy troubles.
Once you’ve identified your dog’s food allergy, congratulate yourself on a job well done! Now it’s time to adjust your dog’s diet so that they’re rarely exposed to the triggering food and can eat freely and hungrily without the addition of any pain, bloating or irritation.
Sometimes, a vet might recommend a novel protein food for your dog with allergies - it could also be called ‘single source dog food’ or ‘limited ingredient dog food’. It can be given to a dog after their food allergy is already identified, or during their elimination diet.
A novel protein dog food is a specialist food formulated for dogs with food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. As a dog’s food allergy is usually to a protein such as beef, chicken or eggs, a novel protein food includes a niche protein product instead. The aim is to use a tasty, nutritious protein that the dog is unlikely to have eaten before.
Here’s the clever part. Allergies develop after a dog has eaten something so frequently over the years, such as beef or chicken, that their immune system has become desensitised to its presence. As a novel protein food includes meat that the dog has supposedly never eaten before, their immune system will detect the new food, fight off any negative effects that lead to undesirable allergy symptoms, and digest the protein with no issues.
Novel protein foods are a great option for pooches with a beef or chicken allergy, for instance - and a good ‘detox’ food when you’re carrying out an elimination diet for your pooch. Our Pooch & Mutt Vet Food for Sensitivity contains Hydrolysed Salmon Protein, which is a novel protein source.
If your pooch has food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances, it’s likely you’ll be recommended to try a hypoallergenic dog food. A lot of specialist dog foods can be called ‘hypoallergenic’ - it’s a descriptor rather than an exclusive type of food - so there is overlap with lots of other dog foods such as grain-free food and food for stomach sensitivity.
Hypoallergenic food for dogs is made to be safer on a dog’s digestion - it’s been formulated with ingredients that are less likely to trigger an adverse reaction in your dog’s body, so it’s especially good for dogs with food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances.
There are common food allergies in dogs; usually beef, chicken, eggs, dairy, soy and grains. Hypoallergenic food is made without any of these ingredients so it’s safer for dogs with sensitive stomachs or who suffer adverse reactions to a standard diet. Hypoallergenic food is often (but not always) grain-free, and is made with nutritious, high-quality ingredients to boost a dog’s health and digestion.
Dogs with food allergies will thrive on a diet that’s made with their dietary restrictions in mind. It will usually have the following:
Our Pooch & Mutt Vet Food for Sensitivity has been made with the above criteria in mind, and is a premium-quality, vet-recommended food for dogs with food allergies, sensitive stomachs or intolerances.
As well as being grain-free (our specialty) it’s also packed with hydrolysed salmon, peas and buckwheat, a delicious combo which can be gently digested by a pooch’s sensitive tum without bother. There’s also coconut oil as a source of good fats, apple pulp for improved poop consistency, and prebiotics and probiotics to promote a harmonious environment in your dog’s gut.
If you’ve put your dog on an elimination diet to allow for allergy symptoms to clear up, this could take anything from six weeks to three months. But food allergies in general are usually long-term for a dog, and should be considered a health condition to be handled with care throughout the dog’s life; using specialist food and thoughtful dietary choices.
Though a food allergy is usually life-long for a dog, it doesn’t mean they have to go without delicious, nutritious food that promotes a happy, energised life and healthy growth. As well as choosing the right dog food, be sure to avoid all other triggering foods such as human scraps or fatty treats.
If your pooch is fed a long-term diet that doesn’t trigger their allergies, the symptoms of their allergy may be greatly diminished and they’ll feel a lot happier and calmer within themselves.
If your dog needs a tasty, grain-free specialist food for sensitive stomachs and food allergies, try our Vet Food for Sensitivity. Our grain-free Vet range has been developed for dogs with all kinds of specialist health issues, take a look at the full collection here.
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