Food Allergies in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Food Allergies in DogsThere are many ways in which dogs are like people. Each one has its own personality, they are susceptible to illness and diseases, and many of them, just like us, have food allergies. Unlike people, dogs cannot communicate with us when they have something wrong going on in their little bodies. We either have to watch them closely and pick up on their habits and symptoms, or take them to a vet when we know something is wrong but don’t know how to pinpoint it. It is then where we can discover different food allergies in our dogs and how we can help them lead a healthy life.

Everyone knows there’s a reason why we need food. It keeps us alive. But not many people know why it is so important to get proper nutrition. We already know eating junk food and overeating can pack pounds on your body very quickly. But that’s not all that kind of eating gets you. In order to understand what is best nutrition for your dog, you first need to understand what is the best nutrition for you. Learn how the right foods can nourish and heal your body with this course. By rethinking dietary choices and fully understanding how the right kinds of food can give us a better quality of life, you will want to put the same thing into practice for your dog, thereby reducing foods that can give them allergies and intolerances.

The Difference Between Allergies and Intolerances

Being allergic to something and being intolerant to something are two different problems. One is much more dangerous than the other. Food intolerance is the result of poor digestion. For example, people with dairy intolerances or gluten intolerances cannot break down and digest these food items as easily as someone without an intolerance. They can still eat these products, but there will be a lot of non-life-threatening discomfort after eating them. Allergies, on the other hand, deal with the immune system. What the immune system does is react and respond to the substance that was ingested. Allergies can range from mild to life-threatening.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has a Food Allergy?

Like people, dogs show symptoms when they have an allergic reaction. Symptoms can range from a number of things like itchy and rashy skin, vomiting and diarrhea, excessive scratching or licking, hot spots, bald patches, ear infections or skin infections. If these symptoms persist in your dog over the course of a few days, you will need to take your dog to the vet. At the vet, your dog will be tested to make sure the symptoms are just allergies or if there is a bigger problem at hand. If it does show that your dog has allergies, your vet will be able to give you food recommendations and prescribe medicine if needed.

Allergies could also depend on the breed as well. There are certain breeds that are more allergy prone than others. If you have one of these types of dogs, it is important that you watch them carefully and keep track of what goes in their mouths in case they do develop food allergies. Here are the breeds that are most prone to food allergies:

  • Boxer
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Springer Spaniel
  • Collie
  • Dalmatian
  • German Shepherd
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Retriever
  • Shar Pei
  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Dachshund
  • West Highland White Terrier

This doesn’t mean that these are the only dogs prone to allergies. All dogs can have food allergies, so it is important that you know what you are feeding your dog.

Common Allergies and What You Can Do to Help Your Dog

Like people, when it comes to allergies, every dog is different. Of course, there are certain breeds that are more prone to allergies, but all dogs are just as likely as human to develop allergies. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, some of the most common allergies in dogs include beef, dairy, and wheat. Check your dog’s food to see if it includes any of those ingredients. If it does, try substituting their food with a brand that does not include those ingredients. Once you can pinpoint your dog’s food allergy, you will need to pay closer attention to labels on your dog’s food and treats. You can also put your dog on a hypoallergenic diet. There are many brands out there that offer hypoallergenic foods for dogs and you can find them easily by contacting your local pet store. What these kinds of foods do for your dog is take out all the foods that have been proven to cause allergic reactions in dogs. These foods include beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, fish, corn, wheat, soy and yeast. They also contain fewer components in their recipes and proteins that are already broken down, making it easier on your dog’s immune system.

And it’s not just your dog’s food that can cause allergic reactions, either. Many common items that we give our dogs contain ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction. Make sure to double check every treat, toy, rawhide and especially people food before you give it to your dog.

Speaking of people food…

What to Never Give Your Dog

While some dogs may have certain allergic reactions to dog food, there are certain “people” foods out there that should never be fed to a dog. We all know chocolate is bad for dogs and if enough is ingested, it can lead to death. There are other types of food out there, however, that are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, as chocolate. Here are some foods that you should never give to your dog:

  • Avocado

Avocados contain persin, which is the toxic ingredient. While it can kill other types of animals, it is not necessarily as serious to dogs. That doesn’t mean you should feed your dog avocado. If ingested, it can cause an upset stomach and give your dog serious discomfort.

  • Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins are a type of food that people do not necessarily associate with toxicity to dogs. Unfortunately, these foods have been linked to kidney failure in dogs.

  • Macadamia Nuts

Like avocados, macadamia nuts are not necessarily fatal to dogs, but can give them very serious stomach discomfort when eaten.

  • Onions and Garlic

All members of the onion family contain an ingredient that can be damaging to dogs’ red blood cells. When ingested, damage does not usually appear in dogs until three to five days after the dog has eaten the food. Symptoms include weakness and being reluctant to move or orange or dark-red colored urine.

We can control what we feed our dogs, but let’s be honest, dogs are curious creatures and like to get into things. We can’t always keep a close eye on them. If and when you do experience an emergency situation with your dog, it is important to know what steps to take. We offer a course on first aid for pets, which can prepare pet owners in case they have to face an emergency situation with their pet. By knowing first aid specifically for your pet, it could mean saving their life.

Special Diets

Many dog owners swear by special diets for their dogs. This could be buying hypoallergenic food or putting their dogs on diets that can range from cutting out dairy to cutting out meat to cutting out animal products completely. Vegan and vegetarian diets for dogs can help eliminate food allergy problems. The vegetarian diet eliminates meat, while the vegan diet eliminates all animal products, including dairy, which can be a trigger for many dogs’ food allergies. If you are interested in putting your dog on these types of diet, there is a certain amount of research you must do before fully committing. You have to make sure that you understand the diet completely so you can know what is best for your dog. You should also consult your vet to make sure you are going about the diet correctly and in a healthy manner as possible. If you are choosing between a vegetarian or vegan diet, you should read up on the differences between the two. We offer a helpful blog that can explain the difference between a vegan diet and a vegetarian diet. Additionally, you can learn about transitioning to vegetarianism with this course.

Going gluten free is another diet you can put your dog on to prevent food allergies. You may have heard the phrase “gluten free” before, spoken by adults. That’s because there are many people out there who have gluten intolerances. But what is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, spelt and barley. Basically, gluten’s job is to give wheat-based foods their chewy texture. But people who have an intolerance to gluten experience painful and uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhea, muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain. Like humans, dogs can experience symptoms relating to gluten intolerances as well. If you suspect that your dog may be allergic to wheat or yeast and should be put on a gluten-free diet. Foods without these items also help aid in your dog’s digestion, making it easier to digest food and getting rid of that uncomfortable stomach pain. Like hypoallergenic foods, you can also find gluten-free dog food, treats and toys at your local pet store.

When it comes to your dog, they are a part of your family and you want the best for them. By taking time to learn about their allergies and food intolerances, you are not only making their life better, but you are helping to make your lives together happier and healthier. If you do not have a dog but are getting serious about adopting, food allergies are one of the many things you do have to be prepared for when caring for your dog. There are many others, which you can learn about through this course. A dog is a full-time commitment and in order to have that special relationship with your dog, you need to be there for it and be keen on their health and happiness, and that includes making sure they are eating food that is nutritious and not hurting them in any way. Once you can help them to figure out what kind of food they need, you will see a much healthier and happier dog.