Dog Food Allergies
Dog food allergies are very common. They account for between 10 to 30% of all allergies seen by veterinarians. They are likely third behind atopy and flea allergies. All breeds and both sexes are affected by food allergies. Most dogs are between 2 to 7 years when they experience food allergies.
The most common sign of food allergies are manifested as skin problems. Recurrent ear infections, hot spots, or scratching. If your dog has reoccurring skin problems, it may have a food allergy. Diarrhea or other GI symptoms can also occur but are not as common as skin problems in dogs with food allergies.
There is no easy quick test to determine if your dog has a food allergy. The only way to definitively diagnosis a food allergy is with a 12 week feeding trial.
The feeding trial consists of feeding a novel protein and a novel carbohydrate. This could anything from duck and potato to venison and rice. The main word being ‘novel’. If your dog has been on venison and rice, then you need to try a diet that does not have venison and rice in it. It has to be something your dog has never eaten before, either in the food, or treats.
There are lots of homemade dog food diets available you could make as well. Ask your vet if they know of some of these if you don’t want to go with other commercial diets available.
Your vet cannot tell what your dog is allergic to just by a physical exam. It is possible the dog is allergic to beef, rice, wheat, or chicken, etc. Almost anything in the diet, the dog could be allergic too. Preservatives and food coloring has not been shown to be a source of allergies though, contrary to what some people say on the internet these days.
A 12 week feeding trial will test your patience, but hang in there because once dog food allergies are correctly diagnosed and treated, the difference you see in your dog will be amazing.