Dog food allergies are becoming increasingly common. Following flea bites and inhalant allergies, they are the third most common cause of allergies, responsible for 10% of all dog allergies.
Unlike other dog allergies, the symptoms of dog food allergies will not differentiate between males, females or different breeds. Most cases of dog allergies due to food, occur between the ages of 2 and 6, however, they may occur from as young as 5 months and as old as 12 years.
There is a distinction between a dog with food allergies and a dog with a food intolerance. There are characteristic symptoms of a pet food allergy such as skin problems and itching.
When food is eaten and processed, it is sometimes changed into something which is not recognized by the immune system and is attacked. This can lead to inflammation of the digestive organs, or more often than not, the skin is affected.
A food intolerance on the other hand, will cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In both cases, they can be eliminated with a good choice of diet, resulting in allergy free dog food and allergy free dog treats.
A pet food allergy is not normally the result of a recent change in your dogs diet, but rather, it takes some time to develop. This means that you Chihuahua will have been eating the food that disagrees with him for some time.
Below is a list of foods which have been found to cause the most common dog food allergies. The high incidence of allergic reactions can be attributed to the high amount of food containing these ingredients:
Symptoms of a pet food allergy may include itchy skin affecting the face, feet, ears, and area around the anus. Your dog may also suffer from hair loss, skin infections, excessive scratching and an increase in bowel movements.
Food allergies are distinguished from other allergies, by recurrent ear problems. Other indications are if your dog has very itchy skin, but treatment with steroids is unresponsive. Additionally, unlike seasonal dog allergies, the symptoms of dog food allergies will present themselves all year round.
The best method of diagnosing whether your Chihuahua has a food allergy, is to perform a food trial. A food trial will involve feeding your dog food which it has not eaten before, for anything between 8 to 10 weeks. “Limited antigen” and hydrolyzed protein” diets are commercially available foods which have the carbohydrates and proteins broken down in such a way so as not to cause an allergic reaction.
Throughout this time, your dog is not to eat any other food other than this. No unnecessary medication, or edible chew toys should be given. Treats, if any, should be based on the same food source as the test diet.
If after these 10 weeks your dog shows an improvement in the symptoms, the next step would be to feed it the original dog food once more. Doing so is essential to confirming the diagnosis, since if the symptoms return, the diagnosis of a dog food allergy would be confirmed. Dog food allergy symptoms can be expected to resume within 14 days if there was an allergy present.
Once you have established the food allergy, the only long term solution to the problem is elimination of the product from the dog’s diet. This may be done through either home made dog food or using specially prepared dog food for allergies and anti allergy dog food.
If you choose to use a home made diet, you must ensure that this is balanced, and contains the correct amount of vitamins, protein and carbohydrates. The benefits of using a home made diet are that a process of elimination could be used to establish exactly what ingredients your dog is allergic to.
It is important to note however, that a dog food allergy may be developed in time even when you believe to be using allergy free dog food and allergy free dog treats.
See Dog-Care-Knowledge.com for more information on dog allergies and other dog care information.
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