Food For Dogs With Allergies

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Are your dogs suffering from unexplained allergies? Chances are it could be food related. Did you know that 60% of dogs with skin and ear problems are allergic to ingredients in their food?

Food For Dogs With Allergies

Allergies and disease are common in dogs with a genetic predisposition. Luckily, proper diet can help alleviate these problems. In this blog we will explain how food can affect your dog’s allergies and health, as well as how to choose foods that are hypoallergenic.

If your dog suffers from allergies it can make them (and you) miserable! Just like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to a myriad of things, from environmental allergens like dust, pollen, mold, or grass to food allergens. It can be difficult at first to figure out which allergens your pup is reacting to. Your vet can offer you suggestions on how to rule out common allergens to get to the bottom of your dog’s allergies.

If you and your vet come to the conclusion it is a food-based allergy that is causing your dog to suffer, the best route of treatment is to eliminate the ingredients causing the allergy from your pup’s diet.

Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from allergies they may be exhibiting some of the following symptoms:

  • Scabs or rashes on the skin
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Itching
  • Sneezing
  • Gastrointestinal issues (vomiting, diarrhea, excess gas)

Food Solutions for Dogs with Allergies

When it comes to food for your dog with allergies, you have two options: limited ingredient food or hypoallergenic food.

Limited Ingredient Food

Diets with fewer components can make it easier to tell which specific ingredient your pup is allergic to. Once you figure it out, you can feed your dog a diet with limited ingredients to ensure they are avoiding the allergen. Limited ingredient foods come in a wide range of flavors and styles and you can find one tailored to your pup’s specific needs.

Hypoallergenic Food

Hypoallergenic dog food diets use unique protein sources that are generally not recognized by your dog’s antibodies as being antigens, meaning they won’t cause a reaction. Many hypoallergenic foods use proteins that have been “split” (hydrolyzed) into their basic amino acid building blocks, rendering the original allergen virtually “invisible” to your pet’s immune system. Hydrolyzed soy protein is a good example of a protein that could be found in hypoallergenic food.

In some cases, your vet may need to write you a prescription for hypoallergenic food.

Many are made using proteins that have been chemically “split” (hydrolyzed) into their basic amino acid building blocks… which can make the original allergen virtually “invisible” to your pet’s immune system.

Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies

Here is a list of some of the foods we recommend if your pup suffers from food allergies. There are lots of options available and it may take some trial and error before you find a food that works for you and your dog. It is always best to check in with your vet before you make any major changes to your dog’s diet.

1. Nom Nom Fresh (Limited Ingredient Food)

Nom Nom sells made-to-order, pre-portioned fresh dog food through a subscription service. Their food contains no chemicals, preservatives, or artificial flavors. You can choose from a range of flavors that suit your dog’s needs. They use simple, quality ingredients that are suitable for many dogs with food allergies.

2. Wellness Simple (Limited Ingredient Food)

The Wellness Simple line of dry dog food keeps things simple with a single protein source and carbohydrates that are easy to digest. They have a variety of flavor options and their food contains no fillers or additives.

3. Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Hydrolyzed Protein (Hypoallergenic Food)

Royal Canin Veterinary Diets Hydrolyzed Protein kibble draws the bulk of its protein from hydrolyzed soy protein which may make it suitable for dogs who suffer allergic reactions related to certain meats. They have a few different options based on the size and dietary needs of your dog. This food requires a prescription from your vet.

4. Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet (Limited Ingredient Food)

Merrick Limited Ingredient diets come in a range of flavors. They also offer a wet canned food option for dogs that prefer (or need) to eat softer foods. Merrick food contains just the essential proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins your dog needs to thrive without any fillers or additives.

5. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets (Hypoallergic Food)

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet is another vet-prescribed hypoallergenic food that may be suitable for your dog. It uses hydrolyzed protein and comes in a few different styles based on your pup’s size and needs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

 Foods for Dogs with Allergies

If you believe that your dog is suffering from food allergies, or a sensitivity to an ingredient in their usual food it’s important to find out what the problematic ingredient is in order to remove it from their diet, but still maintain optimum nutrition.

Here at our Cordova animal hospital, our vets help care for and manage dermatological (skin) and allergy issues in cats and dogs.

Signs & Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs

Food allergies and sensitivities often don’t appear until the dog reaches their first birthday, although they can develop in dogs of any age.

If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms they may be suffering from a food allergy and should be examined by your vet to determine the root cause of the symptom:

  • Itching
  • Red irritated skin
  • Rashes on the ears and feet
  • Gassiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Common Causes of Food Allergies in Dogs

Often in dogs with food sensitivities, proteins from animal or plant-based ingredients in the diet are the cause. Beef, corn, dairy, and wheat are some of the most problematic ingredients.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it can take a long time for symptoms of food allergies to become apparent. Often dog’s appear to ‘suddenly’ become allergic to a food that they have been eating for months.

Diagnosing Your Dogs Food Allergies

After a thorough examination, if your vet believes that your dog may be suffering from the effects of a food allergy or food sensitivity they will likely recommend beginning your dog on an elimination diet.

Elimination Diet for Dogs With Food Allergies

If an elimination diet is recommended for your dog, a specially formulated hypoallergenic food will be prescribed. For 8-10 weeks you will only feed your dog the prescribed food, completely eliminating all other food sources from your pet’s diet.

If one or more of the ingredients in your dog’s regular food is the source of the symptoms, the elimination of the regular dog food should help to improve your dog’s condition.

It’s important to note that, for the elimination diet to work you must stop giving your dog treats during this period as well as their regular food. Only the hypoallergenic food should be fed to your dog while they are on the elimination diet.

Being on the elimination diet for 10 weeks will allow your dog’s body to adjust to the new prescription food, and give your vet the opportunity to assess your dog’s overall health.

If the allergy symptoms clear up while your dog is on the elimination diet, your vet may request that you return to feeding your dog their original diet to see if the allergy symptoms reappear.

While an elimination diet can be helpful in determining food allergies in dogs, other tests can also be useful, and provide quick results. Here at Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital our in-house lab allows our vets to test for the root of your pet’s problem and offer a customized treatment plan to start the healing process.

Best Foods for Dogs with Allergies

Following the diagnosis of food allergies, your vet will work with you to determine the best diet and treatment plan for your dog. There are a number of dry food options available, to help alleviate food allergy symptoms in dogs.

Prescription Dog Food

If your dog’s food allergy symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend that you feed your dog a prescription dry food. While this option can be expensive, novel protein and hydrolyzed diets available by prescription are typically superior to those that can be purchased through pet supply stores.

Sticking to a prescribed diet may help your dog to stay healthy and comfortably free of allergy symptoms. Some of the prescription foods your vet may recommend for dogs with food sensitivities include:

  • Canine Hydrolyzed Protein Small Dog Dry Dog Food
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet® d/d Canine Potato & Venison Formula
  • Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet® Dog i/d® Sensitive Dry

Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

Limited ingredient dog foods address the presence of allergens by including just a single protein source, (such as beef, lamb or chicken), often combined with just a single carbohydrate.

When you are shopping for limited ingredient dog foods it’s important to check for a seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO), as well as a “complete and balanced” claim from the manufacturer.

Limited ingredient foods that your vet may recommend include:

  • Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
  • Hill’s® Prescription Diet® d/d® Canine Skin Support Potato & Salmon Formula
  • Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Adult Dog Food – Natural, Salmon & Lentils, Grain Free, Non-GMO
  • CANIDAE® PURE® Dog Food – Limited Ingredient, Natural, Grain Free, Chicken

Novel Ingredient Dog Food

Novel ingredient dry foods replace traditional dog food proteins such as beef and chicken with more unusual proteins such as venison, salmon, or duck.

Novel ingredient dog foods may also include unusual carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes to help balance out the diet. Your vet may recommend a novel ingredient dog food such as:

  • Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet® d/d Canine Potato & Venison Formula
  • CANIDAE® PURE® Dog Food – Limited Ingredient, Natural, Grain Free, Duck
  • Nutro Adult Dog Food – Natural, Limited Ingredient, Duck & Lentils, Grain Free, Non-GMO

Grain-Free Dog Food

If your dog is found to have a sensitivity to corn, wheat or other grains, a grain-free dog food may be recommended. These foods have the added benefit of also being gluten-free. Some of the grain-free foods that your vet may recommend include:

  • Hill’s Science Diet® Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Grain Free dog food.
  • Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Dog Food – Turkey & Chicken, Grain Free
  • Science Diet® Adult Grain Free Dog Food
  • Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food – Natural, Lamb & Sweet Potato, Grain Free, Non-GMO

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