Many times when we think our dog has a food allergy, it may actually be a sensitivity or intolerance to a particular ingredient in their diet. Many times, this sensitivity is to a specific protein. Food sensitivities, or intolerances, usually appear internally, in the GI tract, causing vomiting or loose stools. Actual food allergies in dogs are quite rare, but if your dog is allergic to something you will see an immune response.
If your dog has a food allergy, this means their immune system has decided that this ingredient is attacking their body, therefore they reject it. In this case, your dog's immune system will fight back like it would against a real danger.
As we know, dogs are carnivores. They are meant to eat a diet comprised of real meat! Unfortunately, protein is commonly the culprit of allergies. You might ask, how can a dog be allergic to what nature intended them to eat? It may be in hormones in the meat, antibiotics, or chemicals, rather than the actual protein itself. This brings us to low-quality meat and ingredients. Many times, pet owners find that their dog is allergic to artificial protein found in processed food, or to a low-grade protein in their diet. This is why it is very important to choose a high-quality protein diet for your dog.
If your dog has allergies, you may see symptoms such as itchy skin, hot spots, constantly licking their paws, ear infections, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Dogs will display these symptoms externally, as we see very often. Below are some common food allergies symptoms to help you determine whether your dog has a food allergy or a food intolerance.
Frequent ear infections are usually a sign of a food allergy. To determine this, you must first rule out ear mites, yeast infection, or “swimmers ear”. The signs of a chronic ear infection are ears with gunky black or brown build-up, constant scratching of the ear, or yeast build up. Frequent cleaning and treatments may not eliminate this issue if it is caused by food.
We’ve all seen dogs with runny eyes, which may cause staining and irritation. This can be the sign of a food allergy or an environmental allergy.
If your dog is constantly itching, you quickly will come to the conclusion they must have an allergy of some sort. Itchy skin is commonly an environmental allergy, especially if your dog has fleas! Also, the kind of shampoo you use and the frequency of bathing can contribute to this. Be sure to use a mild shampoo and rinse multiple times! Skin allergies may be food-related, but are usually related to their environment. Once you rule out one, this will help you determine what exactly is causing the allergy itself.
You may notice pink, inflamed areas around your dog's lips, feet, and skin. This is usually caused by a yeast-based infection but could be a food allergy as well.
If your dog's nail beds are red or brown, this is the sign of an inflammatory immune response. If your dog is constantly itching and licking their paws, it is best to do a food elimination diet or allergy test to identify what it is that your dog is allergic to.
Testing your dog for allergies will give you peace knowing what to stay away from for your little one! There are tests available for environmental allergies, food allergies, and also elimination diets. You can purchase a home kit, or have your holistic veterinarian do so for you. These tests use your dog's saliva to measure antibodies to common food allergies to help identify the culprit of your dog's allergies.
If you choose to do a food elimination diet, you can do so at home but this does take time. You can start with one specific protein for 1 to 2 weeks, then introduce a new protein, and so on, observing your dog's skin, eyes, and other symptoms.
If your dog has the symptoms listed above, they may have a food allergy. Switching to a species-appropriate raw diet is something you can do to help subside these issues and give your dog some well-deserved relief. A natural raw diet with no additives, soy, grain, carbohydrates, and artificial flavors will give you confidence and clarify knowing their allergies are not coming from those culprits. If your dog is allergic to a specific protein, stay away from that protein!
At Cali Raw Nutrition, we offer formulas in Lamb, Beef, Turkey, and Chicken. You can conduct an elimination diet to find what protein works best for your dog. If your dog stays on one protein their whole life, they may develop an allergy to it. This is why it is important to give them a variety of proteins to ensure this does not happen. Also, more choices for your dog will keep them enthused about their food, just like us!
To find out if your dog has food allergies, we recommend speaking with a holistic veterinarian. You can find a holistic veterinarian here.