Food allergies and your dog

July 18, 2012 · Posted in Service Dogs 

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.

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