As a pet owner, you may be unaware that your dog can have allergies just like humans do. Their allergies can cause skin and/or digestive problems. They can develop at any stage of your dog’s life, but most of the time, they occur when your dog is young, less than a year old. Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies, but the symptoms can be dealt with. Most dogs with allergies can live an entirely normal life. Read on for more information.
An allergy occurs when an immune system overreacts to an ingredient or environmental factor. Most dogs tend to be allergic to proteins like beef, chicken or lamb, but there are other ingredients that they can develop allergies to, like wheat or soy. The symptoms of an allergy are varied, but they are often one or more of the following: itchy skin, a rash or inflamed areas of the skin, saliva staining, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive wind, restlessness or a pain response. It is not always easy to tell which leads to the next point.
How do You Know When to Call the Vet?
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above or your dog acting strangely, it is always worth getting them checked out. There are a lot of other conditions which can produce similar symptoms to that of a food allergy which is why testing is important. At the end of the day, you know your dog the best; if you are concerned about them, schedule an appointment.
The Effect of an Allergy on a Dog’s Life
As long as you work hard to manage your dog’s allergy, there is no reason why they can’t live a perfectly normal life. However, if left untreated, then a food allergy can have a serious effect on your dog’s health and its quality of life.
The Diagnosis Process
The best way to diagnose a food allergy in your dog is to undergo a food trial. First, your vet recommends a diet for you to try with your dog. The diet is designed with special ingredients that your dog shouldn’t have a reaction to. You need to stick with the diet exclusively with nothing else for a recommended time frame, usually between eight and twelve weeks. If you allow your dog to eat anything else during this trial, it negates its point. If your dogs’ symptoms get better during the trial, then it is a step towards confirming that their symptoms were the result of something in their diet.
If their symptoms persist, then your vet might need to recommend another diet or further tests to determine whether the symptoms are the result of another health issue like IBS. IBS in dogs presents similarly to that in humans, and it is the result of an inflammation rather than an allergy. You can learn more from Native Pet’s guide, which outlines symptoms, causes and treatment options. Native Pet also has a range of supplements and chews which work for dogs suffering from a range of health issues, from allergies to arthritis.
If your dog is diagnosed with an allergy, then there are a few different treatment options for you to consider. Firstly, and perhaps the simplest option, is to modify their diet and stick to it. You could choose to keep them on the vet recommended diet for the rest of their life. However, this can be costly and a little boring for your pet.
You could also try to determine what they are allergic to specifically. To do this, you need to narrow down what they are allergic to. Once your dogs’ symptoms have subsided thanks to the special diet, you might want to consider adding foods back into their diet one at a time, taking a week between each reintroduction to determine whether they are having a reaction. If they don’t show any symptoms, then you can consider this food safe. If the symptoms return, then you might have pinpointed the source of the allergy. However, food trials and exclusion diets can take up a lot of time, and they can be tricky to do properly.
Some dogs with a food allergy may also be allergic to environmental factors which affect their skin. For these dogs, a special diet may alleviate some, but not all, and they will need to consider other treatments too. For example, your vet could recommend that you take your dog to a skin specialist, a doggy dermatologist if you will. They have access to more advanced tests, and they can provide you with more information.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, there is nothing that you, as an owner, can do to prevent a food allergy. These things simply happen; they can’t be predicted or prevented. However, knowing the signs and spotting them early can help you to get your dog back to normal as soon as possible and minimize the damage.
GUEST BLOG by Jessica Sweet with MakeLifeSweeter.com