My second service dog, Morgan, really suffered from allergies. How common are food allergies in the canine population? Experts think that from 10 to 20 percent of all dogs are affected at some point during their life.
Signs of food allergies can be itching, gastrointestinal problems, or both. Occasionally dogs can have seizures and arthritis. These symptoms do not appear suddenly, but can start gradually and become more intense.
Constant itching can then lead to hair loss, skin wounds, and then infection. Gastrointestinal problems can include vomiting, soft feces, and weight loss. That’s why it’s important to seek help before the symptoms progress too far.
Even if you have been feeding the same food for a long time, an allergy can develop, although a new type of treat can also be the cause.
Take your dog in for an exam with your vet. Even if a food allergy is strongly suspected, other causes of skin problems or digestive problems must be ruled out to make a correct diagnosis. Your dog could be affected by pollen, flea bites or some other reason for dermatitis.
Next an elimination diet may be recommended. This should be supervised by your veterinarian. The new diet must be fed with no treats or other types of food being introduced. If your dog is allergic to the usual food that was being fed before, then as the weeks go by on the new diet, the symptoms of allergy should diminish
When all the signs of allergy have been completely eliminated, the vet will then decide how to one by one introduce suspected allergens from the original diet. These are often the protein sources from the original diet since most canine allergies are traceable to the proteins in the food such as beef, pork, lamb, and chicken.
I am always interested in new studies that can support my assistance dog’s overall health and well-being. The Morris Animal Foundation has started a huge new project which will study dogs over the course of their lives in an effort to learn how to prevent and treat diseases facing dogs.
Just as the Framingham Heart study observed people through their lives, beginning in 1946, and led to increased knowledge of heart disease, the new Morris project is hoped to improve knowledge about dogs’ health. It is expected to provide information which will lead to new tests, diets and therapies for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of health conditions in dogs.
The first study will be for Golden Retrievers. This breed was chosen for study because more than half of them die of cancer. Although the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is restricted to Golden Retrievers, results from this study will benefit all dogs.
To be eligible, dogs should be under 2 years old at time of enrollment and have a three-generation pedigree. The study is expected to run from 10 to 14 years and enroll up to 3,000 dogs.
“This is truly the biggest scientific effort that Morris Animal Foundation has ever undertaken,” says Dr. David Haworth, Foundation president and CEO. “And the benefits for advancing animal health will be huge.”
You can participate with your dog. Just go to www.CanineLifetimeHealth.org to learn more and sign up. You can sign up for the Golden Retriever study or other upcoming studies.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine had a great article recently on “going green” with your dog. If you are trying to reduce your own carbon footprint and go green, think about how a few simple steps can help you reduce your assistance dog’s impact on the earth as well. Hope you enjoy this synopsis of their points.
Feed your assistance dog organic pet food
Organic food is wholesome and the process used to create it will be one where the protein sources (such as chicken) will have been raised in a more humane and healthy way.
Pick up after your assistance dog
This is nice for the planet and for your fellow citizens. Dog waste can pollute waterways and oceans when it is not picked up. Even if you put it in a plastic bag, once the poop is in a landfill, it won’t biodegrade if you don’t use an earth-friendly biodegradable bag.
Consider a dog waste septic system
A septic system allows dog waste in your yard to biodegrade with the help of special enzymes. You can build your own or use a product like a Doggie Dooley. But check into local regulations to make sure it’s allowed if you have a well.
Consider a dog waste compost bin
Compost is an excellent source of organic matter to add to your garden or potted plants. Although it shouldn’t be used for human consumption such as crops, it can be used as a soil additive for revegetation, law establishment and planting beds. Check into Composting Dog Waste published by the United States Department of Agriculture ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/AK/Publications/dogwastecomposting2.pdf.
Use dog products without chemicals
Shampoos and pest control products can contain petrochemicals, which can irritate your dog’s skin and be ingested when he or she licks. You can use herbal products and chemical-free shampoos. Consult with your vet about prescription flea and tick control products.
Go Natural around your home and garden
Think about products you use to clean your home and control pests in the garden. Remember, your assistance dog will be exposed to anything you use. Try to keep cleaning products out of reach of your dog, but also shop for eco-friendly products.
Don’t contribute to extra waste in the landfill. Recycle those food cans.
Natural toys and beds
Look for toys made from recycled or organic materials. Beds made from natural and organic materials are also available.
Walk or Roll instead of drive
Taking your dog to the park? Try walking or rolling instead of driving. Or carpool with a friend. If you walk you can get some exercise and spend some quality time with your dog. If you need to use your accessible vehicle, invite a friend to ride along with you.