Dog food allergies are on the rise; in fact, allergic reactions to food are now the third most common cause for visits to the veterinarian’s office. Luckily I don’t have any food allergies, but there are lots of dogs who do.
Remember, there’s a difference between food allergy and food intolerance. A food allergy is an immune response to a particular food ingredient. A food intolerance is a digestive problem, where a dog’s digestive system is unable to digest a specific ingredient.
Symptoms of food allergy: skin rash, hives, itching, ear infections, hot spots, paw biting, obsessive licking, and sometimes nausea or vomiting.
Symptoms of food intolerance: gas, nausea, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
The most common triggers of dog food allergies are: beef, chicken, fish, wheat, dairy, lamb, fish, corn, soy, yeast, rice, and potatoes.
The most common triggers of food intolerance are: emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, dyes, preservatives, hormones in the meat used for pet food, and low quality sources of protein including: hooves, feathers, beaks (which can be labeled as ‘hydrolyzed poultry by-products’ or ‘feather meal’).
Why are dog food allergies on the rise? There is a growing consensus that feeding the same diet (especially the same protein source) over a period of years contributes to dog food allergies. If you feed your dog chicken year after year, there’s a good chance the dog will develop an allergy to it. Some holistic veterinarians also point to biologically inappropriate ingredients in pet foods, including preservatives, additives, and poor-quality ingredients.
Take it from me: mix it up! I eat a variety of protein sources including: venison, beef, wild boar, salmon, trout, sardines, and bison. We aren’t allowed to have chicken because we have chickens here on the farm, and we canines are expected to treat them as friends, not food. However, we do sometimes get a raw egg with the shell, courtesy of the hen house, for added protein and calcium.
Nutritional support for food allergy dogs: I recommend a good probiotic such as BioStar’s Terra Biota and bovine colostrum such as BioStar’s Colostrum-38 because they provide some excellent nutritional support to the GI tract; the probiotics are critical to gut health, while the colostrum helps support and regulate the immune system.
Kemosabe is a three year old Australian shepherd who, when he’s not on the road with Tigger, likes to hang out at BioStar — taste-testing products and herding the FedEx delivery guys.