Food allergy can be a common cause of distress in pets. It may range from internal and external allergies which causes infection. Anything from ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, chronic gas, itchy feet, and an itchy rear end accounts for the allergy.
Most pet owners confuse food allergies with food intolerance. Food intolerance is basically the result of poor digestion, such as lactose intolerance. 10% of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies.
Food Allergy in Dogs
Food allergy is basically an overreaction or an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. In the case of food allergy, the invading protein may counteract with the immune system causing allergic reactions. Protein is present in most of the dog food. The common meat item is one of the major sources of protein, however, some vegetables and grains also contain a high amount of protein.
The intestinal tract’s ability to prevent the absorption of the whole protein is dependent on the health and integrity of the mucosal barrier.
Beef, dairy, wheat, and chicken are the common causes of food allergies in dogs.
HOW IS A FOOD ALLERGY DIAGNOSED IN DOGS?
Vets mostly use a food trial using a hypoallergenic dog food which is the only reliable way to diagnose food allergies in dogs. There are two ways to do this – using a novel protein source or hydrolyzed protein.
- A “novel” protein source is a new way of diagnosing food allergy in pets, thereby reducing the chance of an immune response. Hypoallergenic dog food options include venison and potato, duck and pea, salmon and potato or even kangaroo, as long as the dog hasn’t been exposed to these ingredients in the past. Lamb used to be considered hypoallergenic but is now in so many commercial dog foods that it is no longer novel.
- Hydrolyzed diets are made when intact animal proteins are broken down into very small molecules that the immune system should not be able to recognize as allergens, virtually eliminating the possibility of an adverse food reaction.
How to prevent food allergy in dogs?
Promote a healthy mucosal barrier – This can be done by ensuring that our dogs, and especially puppies, have adequate nutrition and health care.
Watch out for gastroenteritis – Gastroenteritis is basically the inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by bacterial toxins or viral infection. Some theories suggest that early gastroenteritis or severe gastroenteritis in young dogs can result in food allergies later in their life. The best way to prevent gastroenteritis is to prevent dogs from eating anything but dog food, which can be difficult. Dogs may eat a variety of things, some of which can be harmful. Prevent your dog from scavenging outside the house and also ensure to keep the garbage enclosed and out of their reach. It may also cause severe diarrhea.
Promote effective protein digestion –It is important to promote effective protein digestion by properly grinding or blending protein source in their food.