Food Allergies Are A Common Occurrence
It's important NOT to panic and remember that food allergies in dogs are quite common. About 10% of allergies are triggered by certain food items. It's basically a genetic problem; which means their allergy will be triggered the moment they are exposed to that particular matter.
Anything can be an allergen. However, vets usually pinpoint beef, dairy, eggs, grains, chicken, soy, and fish as frequent offenders. Most canines can be allergic to more than one type of food too.
What are the symptoms?
Most reactions would be obvious on the skin. About 15% of dogs show signs such as skin inflammation during a food allergy. Other obvious symptoms would be incessant scratching, rubbing, diarrhea, discomfort, and gastrointestinal problems (like chronic gas). Some pups lick their feet excessively; while others suffer from itchy rear ends.
Are there breeds that are more susceptible to food allergies?
Not exactly. Any type of dog may be affected. However, this will also depend on the locality, and if you got your dog from a specific breeder. Some vets would say that Retrievers, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, and Cocker Spaniels seem more susceptible to food allergies than most breeds. Remember that there are always exceptions.
For now, the only way to test for food allergies is to see a vet. He would then do a food elimination test, which removes one or two items from the dog's diet. This takes a while until conclusive results are obtained. Usually, your canine would need to spend 8 to 10 weeks on a special 'hypoallergenic' diet created by your vet.
If his symptoms improve, he would be subjected back to his old diet to prove that those were the true culprits. In the event that his clinical signs worsen, further testing would be done to determine exactly which ingredients he might be allergic to.
How to treat food allergy in dogs?
Your best bet is to stop feeding him that particular allergen. Again, only your vet can fully help you with this issue. For skin problems, he may be prescribed topical creams or an antibiotic to stop the irritation. Herbal medicines could also provide relief.
How about home-cooked meals?
Homemade dog food might be advised by your vet. The upside to cooking your canine's meals is that you know what's in them. However, exercise caution still. Dogs with food allergies are known to develop new ones – even for foods they have been eating for a long time. The downside to home-cooking is that it can lack proper vitamins and minerals. To solve this issue, your vet may recommend dietary supplements.