Your dog scratches itself sometimes. But did you know that not always is this caused by ticks or fleas, or because it rolled over in the backyard right after digging up your favorite rose plant? Dogs can itch and scratch because of food allergies too. Yes, like in humans, diet plays a critical role in the health of your pet. Learn more about the symptoms and triggers for food allergies in dogs.
Some dogs cannot tolerate certain foods. These would, in small quantities, simply cause a digestive issue that would get better quickly. Food allergy, on the other hand, refers to a serious health condition that can even be life-threatening. Food allergies cause an adverse immune system reaction in the dog, and it can affect numerous organs apart from the digestive system. The most commonly affected parts of a dog are its eyes, ears, paws, and inner thighs.
Food allergies in dogs are caused typically by plant or animal-based proteins. These are misidentified by the immune system and confused to be a potential threat, causing an allergic reaction in the body. Dairy, eggs, and meat are the primary triggers of food allergies in dogs. More precisely, beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, soy, corn, eggs, pork, fish, and sometimes, even rice can cause allergic reactions in dogs. Typically, allergies are caused in multiples, that is, dogs are allergic to more than one type of protein. Apart from the foods mentioned here, dogs can also be allergic to chemicals, preservatives, colorants, and flavorings that are added to packaged and commercially marketed pet foods.
While symptoms of food allergies may vary depending on the dog, typical symptoms include:
- Itching, combined with frequent scratching of itself, rubbing against a person’s leg, a tree, or on furniture
- Hives, or pale red bumps that appear suddenly on the skin
- Facial swelling
- Itchy, red eyes, sometimes with discharge
- Biting at the feet, the paws especially, or at the rear end, near their anal glands
- Chronic ear infections combined with frequent shaking of the head or scratching the ears continuously with a concentrated effort
- Skin rashes
- Leathery skin texture
- Yeast or bacterial infections on the skin or in the ears
- Hair loss
- Diarrhea, with mucus or blood in the stool
- Abdominal pain
- Refusal of food
- Associated weight loss
- Restlessness and withdrawal symptoms, refusing to be active and playful
- Nasal discharge
- Breathing issues, where the airways are constricted and cause the tongue to swell
- A faint and rapid pulse
Food allergies can be diagnosed best by a food elimination trial, and this could take a few weeks. Hypoallergenic dog food with a novel source of protein, something that the dog has never been exposed to earlier like venison, duck, lamb, salmon, rabbit, or kangaroo, meat can be used for more than two months to diagnose food allergies in dogs. However, all other food items, including medicines like pain relievers and antibiotics must be eliminated from the dog’s diet. These are the symptoms and triggers for food allergies in pet dogs.