Diagnosing Dog Food Allergies

Dog food allergies are common. Dogs can be allergic to any number of ingredients in their food, and some of these are developed when owners feed the same food for many years. However, diagnosing dog food allergies can be difficult since there are no effective allergy tests available.

Symptoms of Dog Food Allergies

Diagnosing dog food allergies from other types of allergies is relatively impossible. A dog with food allergies will usually lick their feet excessively and chew on the sides of their body, or the base of their tale. They also usually develop more ear and skin infections than dogs without allergies. They may have excessive gas. These symptoms will not appear just around mealtime, but all the time, which makes them difficult to distinguish from other illnesses.

Diagnosing Dog Food Allergies

Dog food allergy tests do exist, but most dermatologists consider them relatively ineffective in properly diagnosing food allergies. The most common way to diagnose a food allergy is through a food trial.

Dogs can be allergic to anything in their food, such as grains, protein, vegetables or other preservatives. Thus, when choosing a food for the food trial, a high-quality food that doesn't contain preservatives or grains should be selected. The food will also have only one protein source and one vegetable source, usually a novel source to which your dog is not often exposed, such as duck, venison, rabbit and potato.

During this time, owners are instructed not to give their dogs treats or people food, which also may be causing the allergy. Kibble can be used as treats if necessary.

Once the food is selected, your dog will be on that food for several weeks to remove all the toxins from his body. This should dramatically reduce or even eliminate the allergic symptoms. At this time, foods can be added back in one at a time to determine to which ones your dog is allergic to.

The next step may be to put your dog on a high quality turkey and potato food, for example. Gradually, different proteins and vegetables will be added back into the diet. Those that cause the symptoms to return will be eliminated. If the symptoms never reappear, your dog may have been allergic to a grain or preservative that isn't found in high quality foods.

Preventing Future Allergies

Once the allergy symptoms are reduced or eliminated, it will be easier to determine if a certain food causes an allergic reaction. If you go back to feeding your dog a food with grains or certain people food and the symptoms reappear, you must eliminate that food or treat from your dog's diet permanently.

To prevent future allergies from developing, rotate your dog's food occasionally. Some dogs develop food allergies after years of eating the same food, so pick a few different protein sources and rotate those.

Dog allergies are difficult to diagnose, but providing your dog with a healthy food to which he isn't allergic can greatly increase his health and comfort.