Food allergies in pets - is this a thing ?

What are food allergies in pets?

Food allergies occur when an animal’s immune system misidentifies a protein from a food as an invader rather than a food item and mounts an immune response. The end result of this response can be itchy skin or ear and skin infections in some pets, while it may cause vomiting or diarrhea in others. Some unlucky pets will have both skin and gastrointestinal symptoms. However, food allergies have to be distinguished from numerous other more common causes of these issues.

What are the signs ?

Signs and symptoms of allergies vary from pet to pet and also depends on the type of allergy. Symptoms can range can include itchy skin or ear and skin infections in some pets, while it may cause vomiting or diarrhea in others. Some unlucky pets will have both skin and gastrointestinal symptoms. 

What are other causes of gastrointestinal signs in dogs and cats?

There are dozens of causes of gastrointestinal issues in dogs and cats – parasites, viruses, bacterial infections, pancreatitis, eating something they shouldn’t, and many others. For pets that have symptoms only on certain diets, it could be due to a food allergy, but it could also be due to an intolerance – the food may have too much fat, too much or too little fiber, or have other properties or ingredients that don’t agree with that particular pet, but aren’t due to an allergy. Your vet can help you figure it out.

What are other causes of itching, and skin and ear infections?

The most common cause of itching, skin infections, and ear infections in both dogs and cats are fleas, allergies to fleas, and environmental allergies – dust mites, pollen, grasses. Both flea allergies and environmental allergies are MUCH more common in pets than food allergies but flea, environmental, and food allergies can all have similar symptoms.

My dog has been diagnosed with allergies, what's next?

Many vets will offer to do an allergy test for your, however there is still very little known about how effective they are. Most vets would recommend going on an elimination diet to pin point what exactly is irritating your pet and then you can adjust your pets diet to best suit their needs. This could be in the form of a hypoallergenic kibble or just avoiding certain proteins which your pet might be sensitive to.