Is it Possible Your Furry Friend Has a Food Allergy?

dog and fleas iStock_000019001636SmallWe hear about children having nut allergies, and it seems more commonplace for people to suffer from wheat, shellfish, milk and soy allergies, but did you realize your pet can also be prone to food allergies? A food allergy occurs when a pet’s immune system mistakenly identifies a particular food ingredient as harmful, and then creates defensive antibodies to fight the invading enemy (the food). While they can be difficult to diagnose, and even harder to treat, there are a few things you should know about food allergies in pets.

Symptoms Vary

While some cats and dogs may have tummy issues, such as diarrhea and weight loss, others can experience itchy skin. They may get ear infections, have anal gland problems or simply scratch all over, with symptoms worsening over time as the reaction to the food builds up.

Pets Aren’t Born with Food Allergies

Food allergies typically don’t begin until around one year of age, and they tend to develop after your pet has been eating a certain food for a long period of time.

Do a Food Trail

Some pet parents automatically assume grain is to blame, but that isn’t always the case, as red meats, chicken and corn are the more common allergens. In an effort to find a solution to your pet’s food allergies, try a hypoallergenic food for at least eight weeks. During the food trial, avoid giving your pet treats, flavored worming supplements, bones and table scraps, and keep him away from the kitchen while you are cooking. If you drop food and your pet eats it, it can skew the food trial.

At the end of eight weeks, reintroduce your pet’s old food and see if the symptoms recur. This step is important, since many allergies will fluctuate, or you may get a partial improvement. Either of these will only be obvious once your reintroduce the old food again.

It Could Be More Than Just a Food Allergy

cat fleas iStock_000001607683SmallUnfortunately, many pets who suffer from food allergies may also be allergic to pollens, dust mites or environmental allergens. While changing your pet’s food may help, it may not solve the problem entirely.

Nutritional Balance is Important

When deciding on a new food for your pet, be sure to choose one that is perfectly balanced and healthy for your furry friend. If you’re unsure which brand is best, seek consult from your veterinarian.

If you suspect your pet does have a food allergy, start with a visit to your pet’s vet, who can assist you in working out what will best suit your pet, as well as check for any other diseases that cause similar symptoms to a food allergy.

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