This guest post is brought to you by Dog Fence DIY’s staff veterinarian Dr. Susan Wright.
Just like people, dogs can be allergic to what they eat, and can develop itchy red skin from these allergies. Before you throw out that new kibble you’re feeding your dog, there are a few things you should know about food allergies in dogs.
Although food allergies can develop at any age, they usually occur in middle aged animals. Dogs don’t become allergic to new foods, they develop an allergy to a food they’ve been eating for a few years. They are often allergic to dairy products, wheat, beef, lamb and corn but can, in fact, be allergic to anything.
Although dogs with food allergies can have upset stomachs and diarrhea, the most common indicator of these allergies in dogs is itchy skin. These poor dogs scratch their face, ears, feet and legs. They can often scratch so much that they traumatize the skin and cause an infection. It can be hard to tell a food allergy apart from a condition known as atopy, which is an allergy to dusts and pollens. The symptoms are very similar.
While skin allergy testing may identify what foods your dog is allergic to, the best way to get a diagnosis of food allergy is with a feeding trial. This isn’t hard, but it takes a lot of commitment from an owner. You will basically need to choose a protein and a carbohydrate that your dog has never eaten before, so he can’t possibly be allergic to them. Turkey or venison can be good options for a protein source, and you can feed him an unusual carbohydrate such as cous cous.
Now comes the hard part. Your dog must eat this, and only this, for eight weeks. No snacks, no training treats, no leftovers from your dinner plate. The idea is that if your dog isn’t allergic to his food, then his skin itch will resolve.
After that eight week period, if your dog’s skin is better, then you can start a food challenge. This is more labor intensive than the food trial. It involves adding one ingredient to your dog’s dinner, for example beef, for two weeks to see if he starts itching again. If he does, then beef is a no-no for him. If he’s okay then you can add beef to his list of “safe foods”. Do this with each individual part of his previous diet. When you’re finished, you’ll have a list of foods your dog can safely eat, and those he must never have again. It is a lot of work, and can be frustrating, but the good thing is that when you’re finished, you’ll be able to manage your dog’s food allergy without using drugs.
While you’re going through this process, you can help ease your dog’s itch by washing him in Comfy Dog Shampoo. It contains colloidal oatmeal which has been proven to soothe itchy skin. Wash him in it weekly, and if you feel he needs extra help, condition his coat with Fur Butter, which also contains oatmeal. If he has developed a particularly itchy area, a quick spray with Itchin’ for Relief will make him more comfortable.
Food allergies are a nuisance, but if you are prepared for a bit of hard work, you can manage them long term without steroids and other harmful drugs. It’s worth the effort.
This guest post was brought to you by Dog Fence DIY’s staff veterinarian Dr. Susan Wright. Dog Fence DIY will help you choose the right system for you and your pet. They will also train you on using your new system. Dog Fence DIY has a variety of underground fence systems at the best available prices.