How to Identify a Pet Food Allergy

pet healthcareOur pets’ stomachs are far different than our own. And while you may think that your generic cat or dog food is healthy and a-ok for your furry friend, you may be wrong. Caring for your pet isn’t so simple. Food allergies and intolerances account for 10% of allergies in dogs, but can affect cats as well.

While we aren’t very familiar with what exactly causes food allergies in cats and dogs, we do know how to identify and treat them.

If your pet is having any of the following symptoms, they may have a severe food allergy:

  • Itching around the face, feet, ears, forelegs, armpits, and anus
  • Chronic or recurring ear infection
  • Hair loss
  • Skin infections
  • Hot spots
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Vomiting

Ear and skin infections may respond well to an antibiotic, but may later recur once the medication has been stopped.

Many of these symptoms can be traced back to other more common health conditions in animals, like atopy, flea bite allergies, intestinal parasite hypersensitivities, sarcoptic mange, and yeast or bacterial infections. After a cat or dog vet clinic has evaluated your pet and ruled out other potential causes of illness, they can proceed with a trial leading to a food allergy diagnosis.

Many veterinarians have recommended blood testing in the past for allergy diagnosis, but veterinary dermatologists have discovered that these tests are inaccurate and carry no definitive reasoning. Instead, it is recommended that owners give their pets a strict 12-week diet made up of a source of protein and a carbohydrate that the pet has never had before. Avoidance of more common dog foods is very important. About two-thirds of all dog allergies are caused by beef, dairy, and wheat. Some examples of alternatives may be venison and potatoes or rabbit and rice.

During the trial period, the owner must not give their animal any of the following items:

  • Treats
  • Rawhides
  • Pigs Ears
  • Cow hooves
  • Flavored medications or supplements, including heartworm preventatives
  • Flavored toothpastes or other cat or dog dental care products
  • Flavored plastic toys

Afterward, the animal can return to their original diet. If the symptoms return, then an allergy may be diagnosed.

Remember, of course, only to perform an allergy trial under the recommendation and supervision of a pet healthcare professional. If you have questions regarding your pet’s health or think your pet may be allergic to its medication or diet, visit the pet healthcare pros at your local vet clinic.

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