Allergies are a common problem affecting over half of the human population at a variety of levels from mild (runny noses and itchy eyes) to severe (requiring emergency room visits). In spite of this fact we often fail to realize that our dogs are subject to the same types of allergic reactions as humans.
The most difficult dog allergies to diagnose are food related. Food related allergies can sometimes be dangerous if left untreated. Symptoms of food allergies may appear as something different such as flea bites or other environmental sensitivities. However, certain foods may also cause itchy irritated skin, congestion and breathing problems, as well as digestive problems. For example, if your dog continues to have skin problems after using topical treatments and skin soothing shampoos, diet may be the culprit. Other symptoms of food allergies are dog diarrhea, gas and bloating and vomiting. And just like humans, dogs may also have severe life threatening reactions such as respiratory distress or more rarely anaphylactic shock.
The only way to diagnose a food allergy in a dog is to eliminate all possible allergens from the dog’s diet. The most common food allergies are wheat, soy, eggs, chicken, beef, and dairy products. Anyone with food allergies will express the difficulties of grocery shopping. Many products are contaminated with allergens, and even the smallest amount may trigger a reaction. The same goes for dogs. According to WebMD, placing the dog on a hydrolyzed protein diet is the safest way to start the process of elimination. Once the dog has been on the special diet for 12 weeks, slowly introduce new foods and monitor your pet for any signs of distress. Once you determine the allergen, your veterinarian will discuss diet options with you. Often, pet owners must prepare home-cooked meals for dogs with allergies. In addition, new lines of allergen free dog food products are appearing on the market. Most importantly, consult your veterinarian prior to making any decisions that may affect the health of your dog. Your dog will thank you with many wet doggy kisses.