If your dog struggles with itchy hot spots or seems to lick and scratch its coat constantly, the problem may not be just a skin allergy. Surprisingly, your pet may sometimes experience skin issues as an allergic reaction to certain foods. Apart from visible skin issues, food allergies can also make the animal prone to digestive problems such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Even as canine food allergies are common, most dog owners fail to recognize the signs and continue feeding them foods that trigger adverse reactions. Overlooking the problem will make it only worse, and your pet suffers every time you feed it something wrong. It makes sense to understand the triggers and work on resolving the allergies with the right measures. Let us share some helpful canine care advice in this context.
Look out for symptoms
In most cases, the situation goes from bad to worse because owners are not aware of the symptoms of food allergies. The condition can be tricky to recognize because the signs are often subtle and unrelated, so they can easily go unnoticed for a long time. You are most likely to see skin issues such as itchiness, redness, hot spots, and dry flaky skin when your pet is allergic to some foods. The animal may lick or scratch itself raw to cause further skin damage. It is crucial to get a diagnosis from a vet before the problem reaches this point. Some lesser-known signs you should watch out for are hives, chronic skin or ear infections, sneezing, coughing, and runny eyes. Pay attention to digestive reactions such as loose or inconsistent stool.
Know the triggers
Even before considering the treatment options for your dog’s allergy, you need to identify the triggers first. It can get you into a preventive mode as you can steer clear of the culprits in the first place. Chicken allergies are common in canines, while your pet could be allergic to other foods like beef, corn, wheat, dairy, and soy. It may take a long time to identify the culprit, and there may be more than one of them. Further, there are chances that your canine companion may develop sensitivities to other food ingredients. You have to keep track of bouts of symptoms and the foods that may be related to them.
Try elimination diet
Identifying food allergy triggers is the biggest challenge you can expect to face while dealing with the problem. Most vets recommend putting your pet on a trial elimination diet for determining the exact cause of the allergic reaction. The elimination diet comprises carbohydrates or proteins your pet has never eaten before. It will take a lot of effort, but you have enough data to pinpoint the exact culprit with the elimination method. Ensure that you follow the vet’s instructions carefully and feed the animal only according to their recommendations. Avoid tossing even a few scraps from the table because it could skew the outcomes, and you may end up wasting all the effort.
Make the right food choices
Once you know what you are dealing with, you must make the right food choices to make sure that the animal does not have allergic reactions. For example, you can easily switch to grain-free working dog food if your pet suffers from wheat or corn allergy. Allergic reactions affecting digestion can be resolved with a lower-carb diet. While carbs are nutritious, even high-quality grains can increase sugar intake if fed in excess. Too much sugar can disrupt the canine gut flora by feeding the bad bacteria in the gut. Pick a dog food made of multiple high-quality meat sources but without grains to cut down the allergic issues. It is important to read food labels to find the apt diet for your pet.
Watch your treats
You may take the elimination route and realign the diet of your pet. But it isn’t enough to do away with allergies for good. You must make conscious efforts to eliminate all other dicey food sources from the dog’s diet, at least till you pick the culprits. Watch the treats and chews and steer clear of them as much as possible. If they are still necessary, choose them wisely and ensure that they do not contain any known or suspected triggers that may aggravate allergic reactions for the pet. You must be watchful during the elimination stage and judicious about the choice of treats once you know what does not work for your pet.
Stick to the diet
Establishing an anti-allergy diet for your pet through elimination can be a massive challenge. It takes a great deal of patience to stick with the lengthy, trial and error method. But you must avoid jumping between foods if results do not seem to come quickly. Stick to one food option for at least 4-6 weeks before you try another alternative. Quick switches can cause digestive upsets and skin reactions. You must be very sure that the pet has no access to prohibited foods and treats during the trial period. Document the changes and signs that you notice with each ingredient and change so that you can discuss them with your vet and find a pattern.
Take one step at a time
As a pet parent, you will want your dog to be happy and healthy. But remember that there are no shortcuts when it comes to treating food allergies. Finding triggers alone may take months, so you have to take things slow. Besides changing the diet, you will want to try skin products, prescription drugs, or dietary supplements for quick relief. But trying too many things together can cause more harm than good. A dietary change is a viable long-term treatment, so stick to it and steer clear of quick fixes.
Food allergies in animals are tricky to handle, and it is best to seek guidance from an expert veterinarian who has the right experience. Follow their recommendations and handle the situation patiently. Your pet will be healthy and happy with some effort and a lot of patience.