Allergies are never fun. If there’s anything worse than not being able to talk to your dog, it’s definitely not being able to fix his constant itching and gnawing at his paws. But allergies are also hard to identify, so here is a list of common symptoms put together for easy allergy recognition!
Food allergy vs. Food intolerance
Both food allergies and food intolerances involve your dog displaying an adverse reaction to food ingested, which could be confusing when trying to discern between the two. It doesn’t help that they share similar symptoms too!
The difference is that food allergies are triggered as a response by the immune system - the body releases histamines, leading to allergic symptoms like itching. Food intolerance, on the other hand, does not involve the immune system. Any effects of intolerances could be caused by a myriad of factors such as eatingabnormal foodor the body not being able to digest a particular food well (e.g. lactose intolerance).
The symptoms of food allergies/intolerances are pretty much present in a lot of other health problems. Given that only about 10% of all allergy cases are confirmed food allergies, it’d be better to rule out potential ailments before identifying food as a cause.
Alas! The most common sign of a potential allergy. If your dog doesn’t go one second without scratching (possibly even pulling out some hair) despite the use of an anti-itch shampoo (Washbar’s amazing!), and all possible environmental factors (such as ticks or seasonal allergies) are ruled out - then it could be an outcome of food sensitivity.
Chronic ear infection
An ear infection takes the shape of dark brownish build-up in your dog’s ears and gives off an unpleasant smell. It should dissipate with appropriate treatments such as regular cleaning withTropiClean’s Ear Wash to soothe the irritation. However, if it presents itself as a persistent problem (reoccuring 2-3 times a year), then it could be a case of food sensitivities!
Very often, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of an upset stomach. It could be food that went bad or your dog might have eaten something behind your back. In general, if gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea or vomiting) are short-lived, it’s unlikely to be food allergies. The vet should be called in to check for food allergies if there are no signs of your dog getting better (diarrhea persists for more than 72 hours, or vomit frequently).
Brownish nail beds
Have you ever looked at your dog’s nails and wondered why they’re brownish in colour? This is actually an indication of an inflammation from within. Your dog’s nails should be white, with a pink quick. A food allergy might be behind this inflammation if you’ve already eliminated other causes such as bacteria and fungal infections.
Teary eyes can cause tear stains and lead to possible yeast infections around the eye if not dealt with properly. Keep the eye area clean with regular wipe downs withEarthbath Eye Wipes to prevent those infections from settling in. If this continues to hold up or if your dog is experiencing a sudden onset of excessive tearing, try looking into their food.
How to deal with food allergies
The most reliable and non-invasive way of confirming a food allergy is through a food elimination process. Simply put, feed your dog something entirely new, ideally single protein and limited ingredient meals. This process should last six to eight weeks to completely and thoroughly eradicate any allergen that he could have been ingesting.
Feeding hypoallergenic dog food or even something entirely new and limited ingredient - this means food that your dog has never eaten before, in very simple combinations. This could include novel proteins such asRaw Rawr’s kangaroo,Stella and Chewy’s rabbit, orPet Cubes crocodile. The treats that you’re feeding should also follow suit to ensure consistency in the elimination process. Check out Wholesome Paws for single ingredient treat options!
After you’re sure that your dog has fully recovered from his allergies, slowly introduce the proteins that he was eating previously back into his diet. If he experiences similar reactions as before, then you’ve pretty much caught the culprit! It’s a very tedious process but one that you and your pup have to go through to truly save your pup from the tiresome consequences! Hang in there!
Alternatively, you could ask your vet to conduct a blood test or a patch test to check for food allergies. However, it’s important to understand that no allergy test is perfect and the accuracy level is only up to about 75%. Rather than relying solely on the tests, use the results as a starting point for the elimination process if you do not wish to cut out everything in your dog’s diet completely!
Kim is an avid dog lover, serial guac and chips eater, and thrill seeker - all in one body. Currently chillin’ with her dogs.