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Dog food allergies: What you need to know

Does your dog sporadically shake their head and constantly itch? This could be signs of possible dog food allergies.

dog food allergiesBut do you know what that means? Do you know what can be done about the problem? Most people would like to think they do but in actuality they do not. A recent interview with globally recognized specialist on holistic pet care – Susan Wynn has recently been conducted to answer some of your questions.

About Susan Wynn:

  • Former President of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
  • Clinical resident in nutrition at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Author of four textbooks on integrative practice, focusing on dietary supplements such as nutraceuticals and herbs.

Q: Are dog food allergies common and if so, Just how common are they?
A: “Ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies. Dogs also can suffer from food intolerance, which is different from a food allergy.”

Q:  Can you explain what the typical food allergy symptoms are & to look out for?
A: “Anything from chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic diarrhea to chronic gas, licking their feet, or an itchy rear end.”

 Q: Are there any specific or even common things that might trigger food allergies in my dog?
A: “It’s a genetic problem, and when it’s triggered, it’s by exposure to whatever they’re allergic to. The most common allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. And, most dogs are usually allergic to more than one thing.”

 Q: Does anything specific cause dog food allergies?
A: “It’s a multi-factorial thing, but certainly you have to have a genetic predisposition to develop allergies. The environment can affect it, too.

There’s a lot of research going on right now to determine what, in early puppy-hood or early kitten-hood, makes the immune system more likely to express that trait. There’s an immune education process happening in the first few weeks of life. Young animals treated with antibiotics could potentially be predisposed to problems later in life because antibiotics change the environment inside the gut, which is the largest immune organ in the body. That could be a predisposing cause, but then the trigger would be being exposed to the allergen.”

Q: Are there ways to find out if my dog has these allergies or if something else is the cause of the symptoms?
A: “There’s only one way to diagnose food allergies accurately, and that is an elimination diet and challenge. So what we do is take the dog off all the foods it’s eating and we put him on a food that he’s never had before. With all the exotic diets out there now, this can be pretty difficult. I’ve sent people out for alligator and yak. Once the dog has improved, we start reintroducing the old foods that we think caused the problems in the first place. If he has a reaction, which usually takes a few days to a few weeks, then we know he has a food allergy.

There’s specific testing to rule out other problems as well. For instance, you might take a sample of discharge from the ears to see if there’s a problem there, or do skin testing for environmental allergies. Blood testing is not an accurate test for any allergy.”

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