In the previous instalment, we looked at allergies that could be inhaled by your dog. Here, we’ll look at food allergies.
According to ‘Skin and Haircoat Problems in the Dog’ by Lowell Ackerman DVM, food allergies account for 10 percent of all allergic reactions in dogs. However, they are easily treatable, so it’s worthwhile testing for them if your vet thinks that an allergic reaction is to blame for any skin problems experienced by your dog.
Pretty much like inhalant allergies, food allergies cause itchy skin. They can also be the culprit for inflamed ears, sneezing, excess wind, seizures, your dog shaking his head and a host of other symptoms. You may not suspect the dog food you use to be the cause of such symptoms – after all, you may have been giving the same food and dog treats to your pet since he was a puppy – but, like with humans, allergies can develop over time.
Another common myth is that a dog’s digestive system is overly sensitive to poor quality food. If your pet is sensitive to a particular ingredient, it doesn’t matter if it is in a premium food or a less expensive one. However, better quality dog food is less likely to contain filler ingredients that are sometimes implicated in allergies. If your dog is diagnosed as having an allergy, you may want to switch his food to see if this alleviates them.
Several therapies used in inhalant allergies are also effective for food allergies. Antihistamines can be used safely with your pet and roughly a third of dog owners report a measure of success with them. Surprisingly, Omega-3 oil can do much to reduce the symptoms. Found in fish oils, these fatty acids are a natural anti-inflammatory agent. They are worth investigating, as there are harmless with no side effects, but be sure to get the type that is different from those intended to give your dog a glossy coat.
Whilst there is much to be done to treat dog allergies, prevention is better than cure. This includes not breeding from dogs that have allergies. Many dog breeders will avoid stud dogs that have allergies, as there is clinical evidence that they may be inherited by puppies.