Do you think your dog has food allergies?
Before you go down the long road to find the right dog food for dogs with allergies, think about your dog’s symptoms. Are they seasonal? Do they coincide with pollen or flea outbreaks? Dog itchy skin is an allergy symptom of more than just food. If your dog’s allergy symptoms include vomiting or diarrhea, then a food allergy is way up on the list.
What Are Dog Food Allergy Symptoms?
The most common dog food allergy symptoms are:
- constant itching and scratching of the skin
- pawing at the mouth area
- swollen mouth
- licking at paws constantly
- hot spots
But some of these are also common symptoms for other types of allergies also – such as seasonal allergies from pollens and grasses (just like humans), chemical allergies from insecticides and household cleaners, and even flea allergies.
The most common food allergens are listed below. But remember, your dog can develop an allergy or intolerance to any type of food – especially if it is the same food fed over a long period of time.
If your dog is only dealing with itchy skin and constant scratching, and it is not flea or mange related, you may want to try adding a coat supplement to his food. Many times your dog’s itchy skin and scratching is because the current dog food is not nutritionally sufficient for him. An added supplement for healthy skin and coat can do wonders to ease and eliminate that aggravating scratching.
The healthiest dog food in the world won’t help your dog if it has something in it that your dog is allergic to. Finding the right dog food for dogs with allergies is very difficult because finding the allergic ingredient can be a very long and tedious process.
It is best to start with the most common ingredients that tend to cause allergic food reactions in dogs – grains (wheat, barley, corn, soy and rye), dairy (milk, cheese, whey, casein, etc), and artificial preservatives and colors. Corn, wheat, and soy tend to be the biggest offenders, as well as dairy, and on the protein side, beef.
Cut out your current dog food ingredient label so you know what he has been eating and keep it handy. Then go to the store (or you may have more choices looking online) and find a brand labeled to help with allergies – these tend to show that they are made with rice, or oats. Look at the ingredient label and make sure that it is different from your current brand and that it contains no corn, wheat, or soy. It is best if you can find a dog food that has the fewest ingredients. Also make sure all preservatives are natural (vitamin E/tocopherols or vitamin C/ascorbic acid).
Buy a small bag of this new dog food and feed it to your dog. NOTE: If your dog has a sensitive stomach, sometimes changing a dog food can cause diarrhea or constipation for a few days. If you do not want to chance this, you could gradually mix in the new dog food with the old, but realize that this will prolong the allergy and the elimination diet. Take notes if you see any improvements, especially focusing on the skin and ear issues for your dog’s food allergy. If no improvements are seen after two weeks on only the new food, add these ingredients to your list of possible problems. You need to just keep trying different foods with different ingredients until you see an improvement.
If your dog is in really bad shape and just miserable – or you just don’t want to go through different types of commercial dog food, you might want to try making your own healthy dog food. You’ll need to find out a bit about what quantities of proteins/carbs/fat/vitamins/minerals you need to feed (canine nutrition) your dog. After you figure that out, you can control the ingredients that he eats. It would be best to start with meat (with fat) and serve with cooked brown rice or oatmeal, and any supplemental vitamins needed. Serve this for two weeks and take daily notes as to whether this helps his condition or not. If his condition improves, you can add or change one ingredient and serve for a week, again noting whether his condition gets better or worse.
After a couple of months you should have a list of foods he is or isn’t allergic to. If you want to go back to commercial dog food, use this list and compare it with the ingredient list on different dog foods.
Is My Dog Itching Because of Allergies?
Listening to and watching your dog itching and scratching and licking all the time is most unpleasant. First, you know your pet is miserable. Second, it seems like it just never stops. And leaving your dog’s itching untreated can lead to a host of problems from topical damage to the skin to secondary bacterial infections. But are allergies behind all the itching? Following are top reasons for dog itching.
Nutrition – one of the leading reasons for your dog’s itchy skin is a poor quality diet. Luckily, this is also the easiest to fix. When a dog is not eating healthy dog food, they are not getting the nourishment their body is craving, and their immune system cannot function properly. This makes it virtually impossible to fight off the simplest irritant.
Don’t rely on what anyone tells you about your dog food. Only the dog food ingredients listed on your dog food can tell you if you are feeding your dog the healthiest dog food. A natural dog food is best for your pet. Other ways to boost the nutritional value are specially formulated dog multi-vitamins.
Inhalant Allergies – dog itching from inhalant allergies, or atopy, occur from allergens that are breathed in. Dogs can be allergic to the same airborne allergens that affect humans, such as pollen, grasses, and dust. Other allergens that we don’t usually think about are pesticides (especially those used in yards and gardens) and household cleaners. Remember, your dog is all over your floor and yard and can develop an allergy to these types of chemical irritants. Unfortunately, inhalant allergies are difficult to diagnose. If your dog has an airborne allergy the best you can do is to try to control them, as they usually cannot be eliminated.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis – contact dermatitis occurs when an irritant comes in contact with the skin. Common irritants are shampoo residue, flea collars, flea treatments applied to the skin, and household cleaners (usually through the pads on their feet). If you believe this could be the problem, look into all-natural products for your dog.
Insect Bites – bites from fleas, mites, ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects are common reasons for dog itching. Some dogs even develop an allergy to flea bites – so much so that even one flea bite could leave you believing your dog is infested with fleas! You will need to control the problem, preferably using natural products. Keep in mind that your house might also be infested and need to be treated as well. And remember, most chemical products will only irritate your dogs already sensitive skin – use natural products whenever possible. If you believe your dog has mites (most of which are invisible to the naked eye), you should take them to the vet for treatment.
Food Allergies – lots of people think their dog has food allergies when their dogs have endless itching and scratching. As stated above, it is more likely an overall nutrition problem that causes a sensitivity to a particular food or allergen. Determining which food is causing the problem for a food allergy requires the elimination diet – where you must eliminate all common allergens and slowly reintroduce ingredients individually to determine which food is the culprit.
While this is by no means a complete list of reasons for dog itching, it does give you a starting point. Learn how to stop dog itching now before it leads to other problems.
Remember, a healthy pet stands a better chance.