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Dog Food Allergies – Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Food allergies are one of the most common types of allergies in dogs. While dog food allergies are most usual to animals that already suffer from another type of allergies, there is no proven relation between breed, gender and age and the proneness to food allergy occurrence.

A food allergy occurs when one or a combination of dog food ingredients causes antibody reaction. The reaction can be manifested by a variety of symptoms such as itchy skin and excessive scratching, hair loss, skin eczemas, ear infections, digestive problems.

It is important to mention that food allergies are usually caused by the most common food ingredients such as beef, chicken, lamb, corn, wheat and soy. Artificial sweeteners, aromas and colorants contained in dog treats, tooth paste and even toys often cause allergies as well.

Food related allergies may be caused not only by the type of the ingredients contained in the dog’s diet but by the duration of the dog’s exposure to these ingredients.

In other words, dogs that have been eating the same type of food for a long period of time are more likely to develop allergies toward specific ingredients compared to dogs with diverse diets.

The diagnosis of dog food allergies typically includes two steps. The first thing to do is ruling out any non-allergy causes of the above mentioned symptoms. Food allergy symptoms coincide with the symptoms of other health problems.

For example digestive problems can be an indication of simple food intolerance. The best way to rule them out is to make an appointment with a vet who can perform a full health examination

A number of environmental factors can cause symptoms similar to dog food allergy symptoms. For instance, itchy skin, excessive scratching, hair loss and eczemas are often caused by chemicals contained in perfumes, housecleaning agents, gardening supplies and even potted flowers and plants.

The second step is performing a food elimination test. This test is based on trial and error method: the animal is fed a single food type for a specific period of time and the severity of its allergy symptoms is monitored.

The test starts by gradually switching the dog’s diet to something he or she has never eaten before. For example, if your dog has never eaten food containing fish, you may start introducing this ingredient into the diet.

If no allergic reaction is detected, a new ingredient can be introduced. It is important to point out that the dog must not be fed anything except the special food during the time of the test.

Usually the dog must stay on the same diet for about 3 months before it is introduced to another type of food however in many cases results can be seen as soon as several days on the same diet.

The outcome of the test should clearly indicate which dog food ingredients cause allergic reactions and which are safe. Once a hypoallergenic dog food combination has been found, the test can be terminated.

A food elimination test can be performed with both commercially manufactured foods and homemade foods.

Many dog owners prefer to feed their dogs with home cooked dog food during the test because this way they would have better control of the ingredients used and would be able to detect those causing allergy much faster.

Treatment of dog food allergies is simple. The best way to avoid food related allergies is to avoid the ingredients causing it. Whatever the new diet is, it must provide adequate nutrition and contain enough vitamins and minerals.

Food related allergies are definitely among the most unpleasant health conditions. Although a universal hypoallergenic dog food formula doesn’t exist, the path to a happy allergy-free life for your dog lies in early recognition of the problem and minor diet adjustment.

For more information and everything you need to know about dog foods, check out the highly recommended Dog Food eBook and audio package today!