We do everything that we can to ensure that our dogs have the best diets, and it seems that our dogs eat better than we do. The amount of attention and care put into our dog’s food bowl is reciprocated by a happy, healthy dog who is full of energy. But what happens when your dog’s gastrointestinal system goes bonkers?
Food allergies present in a myriad of ways from skin reactions, diarrhea, and even losing weight. Food ingredients that seem beneficial can be the cause of most allergens in dogs.
How to treat?
A veterinarian will tell you that the best way to treat food allergies is through a hypoallergenic diet. This food contains homogenized (or broken down) protein. The protein has been broken down and pulverized so much that it is unrecognizable to the body; thus, decreasing the risk of an allergic response. This allows the body’s immune system to stop overreacting and promotes healing.
It is worth reading the ingredient label of hypoallergenic foods, which most contain chicken and corn starch. These are two very common food allergens for dogs yet they are ingredients in what is deemed as hypoallergenic foods. It does not make sense to give your dog the ingredients that he could potentially be allergic to.
Please note that it can take a few months for a food allergen to clear from your dog’s system because their diets are not as varied as a human’s diet. That means your dog may be on a hypoallergenic diet for a few months before relief is seen.
Once your dog’s allergies have cleared, then you can slowly reintroduce ingredients into your dog’s diet to determine what your dog is allergic to. This is an extremely slow process. Sometimes, an allergic reaction happens quickly when exposed to an allergen, such as with vomiting, or it could take several months for your dog to show other allergy symptoms like hair loss. How much patience do you have when your dog’s health is at risk?
Is there another way to diagnose food allergies?
Rather than a food trial, you can also make things easier on yourself by performing a saliva test on your dog. A saliva test analyzes for food allergies and takes about 2 weeks for results. Once results are received, you can ensure that your dog only gets the food that they can tolerate.
Blood tests for food allergies are not as effective as saliva tests since food digestion starts when chewing your food. Chewing causes enzymes to be released, which mixes with saliva to start the first step in food digestion. Saliva testing may not be 100% accurate but will give you a clear idea of where to start on ingredient elimination from your dog’s diet.
Hemopet Nutriscan tests your dog’s saliva for food allergies. This test is not cheap at $298 (at the time this was written) but it analyses for 24 common food ingredients that your pup could be allergic to. It only takes 2 weeks to get your sample analyzed, which compared to months of food trials, saves a lot of time. Some pet insurances pay for allergy testing so it is worth submitting a claim to determine if your insurance will reimburse.
Food allergies can create havoc on your dog’s digestion, especially when you are unsure what is the culprit. If you have a vet that is knowledgeable in allergies, working together to formulate a health plan can be effective. Hypoallergenic foods can help the digestive tract to heal so that food trials can aid in determining food allergies. However, if you have already tried that route without much resolution, sending out a saliva test for analysis may be best. It is easy, quick, and very reliable in helping you determine what food ingredients to avoid in your dog’s diet.