What Pet Owners Should Know About Food Allergies in Dogs
Feeding our dogs can be tricky and challenging. Figuring out what food to give them takes so much effort and involves a lot of thinking. More so when you have a pup with a sensitive stomach or skin allergies, as this could be a risk to their health and sometimes fatal to their lives.
Allergy, in general, is a condition from which the body reacts to a foreign substance. It triggers the immune system, leading to some discomfort and feeling ill and apparently, both humans and animals experience allergic reactions to different types of allergens.
The most common types of allergies are skin allergies, food allergies, environmental allergies, and acute allergic reactions.
Allergies in Dogs
Our dogs are prone to allergies just like we are so it's important to be mindful if you suspect your dog of having allergies, as they can occur from many different stimuli. We have suggested some of the common causes of allergies in dogs below.
Contact Dermatitis/Skin Allergies
Contact Dermatitis happens in dogs after getting some of their body parts exposed to the allergen. Depending on which part touched the ground, they're usually found in their abdomen, tail, external genitalia, chin, neck, and chest. However, Contact Dermatitis is considered as an inherited predisposition, which means there could only be particular pups who are likely to develop allergic symptoms in the presence of regular contact with the allergens (or sometimes called environmental allergens). They are usually pollen, dust, and mold that are primarily seasonal, which also means the dog itching may only be noticeable during certain times of the year.
Flea or Insect Bite Allergy
When dogs have fleas, you may see a series of red bites on their skin, and because some dogs are allergic to flea saliva, Flea Dermatitis may occur. An affected dog may show too much scratching by shaking his head and biting himself.
Food Allergy or Food Hypersensitivity
It is when the body treats the protein from a particular food as an invader and does not recognise it as food. Although some dogs were born with sensitivity to some substances, chemicals, and food ingredients, there are chances that food allergies may be associated with other problems. This makes it hard to define what exactly is the reason a dog would get a food allergy.
Food Allergies in Dogs
Among the other types of allergies, food allergies may worry you so much as this has something to do with your pup's diet or food intake. So, let's talk about why our dogs get food allergies, how do we find them out, and what we can do to cure or prevent them.
Common Food Allergens
An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction, and although common in dogs, they are not usually born allergic to specific foods. Food Allergies typically take time to develop — it could be months or even years. They often develop as a result of frequent and regular intake of foods with the same ingredients. And once it has come out, symptoms may continue to persist with some adverse effects.
This case is often seen as related to protein-based products. To give you an idea, protein-based foods are the most common food allergens in dogs. Because proteins are giant molecules that are too large to pass through the gut wall, they must first be broken down into amino acids. This is now where the process of protein synthesis takes place. The amino acids will then gather again depending on the amount of protein the body requires. When your dog is fed protein daily, its body may become less equipped to break down those proteins and mistakenly identify that protein food as a harmful ingredient. This will lead to defensive antibodies that will fight against food.
Beef, chicken, and eggs are examples of protein-based foods, while dairy products, soy, and foods containing gluten (from wheat) can also trigger an allergic reaction.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Can Food Allergies Cause Diarrhea in Dogs?
Diarrhea in dogs is when the stool moves faster through their intestine with less amount of water, nutrients, and electrolytes absorption. This happens in the presence of mild intestinal distress, such as eating an item that doesn't agree with their body (ex. table scraps) or a sudden/recent change of diet.
Dogs' mouths and jaws are made for tearing, crushing, and wolfing food down. Their salivary enzymes are primarily designed to kill bacteria, which is why they can tolerate items that would send their human companions to the hospital.
Food travels rapidly down the canine esophagus and enters the stomach in chunks, where most digestion takes place. Canine stomach acids are about three times stronger than those of humans, so they can digest food that is pretty much intact. Under normal circumstances, transit time from the mouth through the small and large intestines should be under 10 hours, producing a firm, well-formed stool at the end.
If the main sign of illness in your dog is diarrhea, a relatively simple problem such as an intestinal infection from bacteria, viruses, coccidia, or intestinal worms may be the cause.
Ways to Prevent Food Allergies
According to experts, there's really no such cure for allergies, but to prevent the symptoms and lessen the effects, it will be necessary to rule out the cause of the allergy. It will be best to consult your veterinarian to get recommendations if a series of tests are needed, as they may also be associated with other underlying diseases.
Although medicine cannot stop allergies, some medications may help ease the symptoms and give your dog some relief. It could also help in preventing further issues that may arise due to allergic reactions, just like skin infections due to itching.
Change in Diet
Novel Protein Products
Protein remains essential to our dog's health, but since it is more likely that they will get allergic to the common meat sources of protein, it would help to switch them to novel protein products. The word novel means “new” therefore novel protein emphasizes new kind of protein that your dog has not tried before or has not been used to. Good examples would be the duck, salmon, and kangaroo, flavours you can find in Bell & Bone’s Dental Stick range
These are products which are specially processed by breaking down the intact animal protein into very small molecules. This helps to avoid the dog’s immune system from recognising such food as a threat or an allergen.
These foods are usually labeled as grain and gluten-free and with limited and natural ingredients.
We know fur parents like you, struggle in finding dog food and treats that are stomach-friendly. Bell & Bone’s Allergic Dog Bundle pack of 5 comes with 5 bags of different treats with ingredients tailored for sensitive tummies.
Duck is high in protein and contains essential vitamins like vitamin B, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids benefiting immunity and promoting healthy skin and coat.
Salmon is full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to help skin smooth and coat shiny.
Kangaroo is a great source of iron and zinc for energy and a lean protein, full of vitamins and nutrients.
Carob is rich in antioxidants that protect against free radicals. It contains less sugar and fat and insoluble fiber that helps in digestion and prevents constipation.
Ginger is known to help dogs with nausea.
Flaxseed is rich in fiber that is good for digestion and anti-inflammatory properties that can help lower the risks of arthritis and improve the skin and coat.
Go to Your Trusted Vet
Battling food allergies along with your dogs is not easy and may take a long journey. Knowing when it would or if it would even end is very uncertain, and the least that we can do is minimize the effects and avoid further risks. With that being said, it is best to consult the experts — stick to the recommended diet and follow the prescription they may give. It could save you time, money, and your dog's life too.
Being a dedicated dog owner often involves asking the right questions, seeking the right advice, and, most importantly, checking in with your pup to make sure that it is healthy and happy. We are in line with you on this, so if you have questions, you may head to our FAQs page for more answers to dog treat-related queries or send us a message, and I would love to chat with you. More than anything, it is my priority to keep you informed and empowered.