Have you noticed your pet constantly itching its skin or ears, developing red patches on its skin or suffering from recurring skin or ear infections? If yes, your dog or cat might be suffering from food allergies. Food allergies in pets are estimated to account for approximately 10% of all pet allergy cases.
Food allergy symptoms in pets commonly include: irritation of the skin, face and paws; irritation of the anal area in dogs and the head and neck of cats; and recurring skin and ear infections. Food allergies are an immune-mediated, adverse reaction to certain foods in a pet’s diet.
Food allergies and food intolerances are often confused, but they are not the same thing. Food allergies involve an immune overreaction to a food ingredient while food intolerances involve an inability to digest a certain proteins or substances. The symptoms of each also differ. Food allergies often affect the skin of dogs and cats while food intolerances can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea (and typically do not include an allergic skin response).
Food allergies are notoriously hard to diagnose, and before you conclude your pet has a food allergy you should consider whether your pet’s itching might also be caused by parasites (such as fleas, mites or lice), superficial bacterial or yeast infections, environmental allergies or a combination of the foregoing. Common environmental allergens include pollen, molds, dust mites, cigarette smoke, shampoos, detergents, perfumes and flea-control products.
Common Food Allergens
In dogs, the most common food allergens are beef, chicken, dairy, corn, soy and wheat. Cats will commonly have sensitivities to fish, beef, dairy, corn, soy and wheat gluten. Pets can also have reactions to food dyes, preservatives and additives that are commonly found in pet foods.
Cause of Food Allergies
All dogs and cats can develop food allergies. Food allergies in pets often develop over time with repeated exposure to allergenic proteins in their diets. Some food allergies in dogs are genetic and certain breeds appear to be more likely to develop food allergies, including terriers, setters, retrievers and flat-faced breeds like bulldogs and pugs.
Diagnosing Food Allergies
Diagnosing food allergies can be tricky. If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, it is best to work with you veterinarian to identify the food allergen. Your vet might recommend an elimination diet that will help you pinpoint the cause of the allergic reaction. When on the elimination diet, you will need to be careful to ensure that none of the foods, treats, chews or medicines that you give your pet contain the suspected food allergen. If you suspect your pet is suffering from food allergies, we recommend that you consult with a qualified veterinarian.
Our Allergenic Treats
Boulder Dog Food Company, LLC makes a variety of treats that are perfect for dogs and cats with food allergies. Our bison line of dog and cat treats, bones and chews is especially suited for dogs and cats suffering from food allergies. Bison is generally thought to be less allergenic than most types of meat. This is partially due to the fact that most dogs and cats have not been overexposed to it in their regular diet. Boulder Dog Food Company, LLC specializes in making single-ingredient pet treats that don’t contain grains or fillers, harmful chemicals, mold inhibitors and other ingredients that are toxic to pets and might be the cause of other allergic reactions. Read more about our allergenic treats on our website at www.boulderdogfoodcompany.com.
(1) ASPCA, “Allergies” available at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/allergies
(2) ASPCA, “Allergies” available at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/allergies
(3) Banfield Pet Hospital, “Understanding Food Allergies in Your Pets” available at http://www.banfield.com/pet-health-resources/preventive-care/nutrition/understanding-food-allergies-in-your-pets
(4) Banfield Pet Hospital, “Atopy or Food Related Allergic Skin Disease” available at http://www.banfield.com/pet-health-resources/pet-health-concerns/allergies/atopy
(5) Drs. Tom & Tara Suplizio, “Environmental Allergies vs. Food Allergies” Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, November 11, 2012
(6) E. Pask and L. Scott, “Food Allergies 101” at http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/food-allergies-101/15131