What are the signs and symptoms of pet food allergies?
A food allergy in Dogs and Cats are similar to food allergies in Humans, and therefore, cause similar symptoms. Symptoms often begin in animals under one year of age, however, can develop at any life stage. Some of the most common symptoms of pet food allergies are listed below, it isn’t an exhaustive list, and your pet doesn’t have to have ALL symptoms, they may have just one or two
- Excessive Itching or scratching
- Itchy ears and running eyes
- Sore looking skin – possibly scabs on the skin
- Biting Paws
- Obsessive licking
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Increased bowel movements
The above symptoms of course can represent many other things, and it is always best to check with your Vet if you are at all worried, or see your pet doing things that is out of the ordinary for them.
What’s the difference between pet food allergies and food intolerance?
Food intolerances in Cats and Dogs don’t cause the usual typically recognised symptoms of an allergy (e.g Skin problems, Itching). However, an intolerance is likely to cause diarrhea. A good comparative example would be when we humans have a meal, and then develop an upset stomach and possibly diarrhea – maybe the food was too spicy or we simply ate something that didn’t agree with us.
Food Allergies on the other hand cause true allergy symptoms which are more problematic than an intolerance – as described above in signs and symptoms.
What causes an Allergy in Cats and Dogs?
Dogs and Cats with food allergies are usually allergic to Proteins, which can come from either animal or plant based ingredients in their diet. When these proteins are broken down during the digestion process, the immune system wrongly identifies them as an actual threat rather than an essential part of their diet. However, this doesn’t happen overnight, in fact your Cat or Dog may have been eating these foods for quite some time before they develop any symptoms at all. The body tries to eliminate the threat itself, and then manifests in the previously discussed symptoms
Some of the most common foods to cause allergies in pets are:
If you think your dog or cat has pet food allergies , then you could start a food trial. Use a hypoallergenic dog food, such as Deano’s Super Premium or Deano’s Grain Free. We find that switching to these foods makes a great difference in dogs and cats with allergies and/or intolerances.
Two basic ways of doing this are to use either a “Novel” protein Source or hydrolysed protein Source
A “Novel” protein source is simply a food that is completely unknown to your pet. So, you could try perhaps Venison, Turley, Duck or Pork etc (all available in Deano’s Grain Free Range)
You should also ensure there is also a “Novel” single Carbohydrate source too – for example, at Deano’s we use Sweet Potato – which is a complex carbohydrate that releases energy slowly, and therefore keeps your pet fuller and more active for longer.
Lamb used to be a great Novel protein source, but is considered less so these days as it is contained in so many commercial pet foods now. However, if your pet has never been exposed to Lamb, then this is also an excellent protein.
A Hydrolysed diet is one that contains animal proteins that are broken down into such tiny molecules, that the immune system cannot usually recognise them as allergens. Almost eliminating the possibility of an adverse food reaction. ( In our case, this would be Deano’s Super Premium Range). For the carbohydrate source, then Starch or Rice is excellent.
You should feed your pet with this “New” food for between 10-12 weeks, in order to fully evaluate their response. Typically, you should start to notice some improvement in their allergy symptoms within the first 4-6 weeks, but some breeds tale longer than others.
It is crucial to feed only your choice of Hypo-Allergenic food for this period, cutting out all other food sources.
Once you have seen a substantial improvement, you can be pretty sure that whatever you were previousely feeding your dog was the culprit of their symptoms. You can of course, if you want to be more certain challenge this, by feeding them some of their original diet ( slices of chicken or a sprinkling of wheat etc can be mixed with their hypoallergenic diet if that’s what they were eating before ). If you do this, then their symptoms should start to return in a couple of weeks. Doing this allows you to completely narrow down the exact ingredients that were causing the problems in the first place, and then avoid their use in the future.
**** Please note: The information contained in this article is my own, from my personal research and trying things out. I am not a Vet and would never advocate not taking your pet to one, should you have any health concerns.
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