Dog Food Allergy Treatment

Food allergy treatment for your dog requires a change in his diet and a willingness on your part to strictly stick to his new diet to make sure his allergies don't become worse.

What a Food-Allergic Dog Looks Like

A typical food-allergic dog is 2 years of age or older. He may be a Chinese shar-pei, a golden retriever, a miniature schnauzer or a West Highland white terrier, as these breeds are more likely to develop food allergies than other purebred or mixed-breed dogs. He will scratch constantly and may develop bald patches or hot spots on his skin from all his scratching.

Exclusion Diet for Diagnosis

If a veterinarian suspects your dog has a food allergy, he or she will recommend an exclusion diet as a diagnostic test. This diet, which will contain protein and carbohydrate sources that your dog has never eaten before, will be your dog's sole diet (accompanied by water) for about 12 weeks.

During the exclusion diet time period, your veterinarian will monitor the dog's symptoms, which will probably clear up as time passes. If your dog's symptoms go away, your veterinarian will gradually reintroduce ingredients from the previous diet to test which ones cause the allergic reaction.

When an ingredient triggers an allergic reaction, it is determined to be the cause of the food allergy. Your dog should not eat any food or treat containing these allergenic ingredients to prevent future attacks.

Continuing the Exclusion Diet

After the exclusion diet trial concludes, your vet can make recommendations as to what diet you should feed your dog. In many cases, dog owners choose to feed the food that served as the exclusion diet, because the dog is already accustomed to it and it's easy to obtain.

If feeding the exclusion diet isn't an option, your vet may recommend a hydrolyzed protein diet. This newer diet option for food-allergic pets features specially modified proteins and carbohydrates that have been reduced to such a small size that they cannot cause an allergic reaction, even in sensitive animals.

Dog owners have several commercially available diet options for their food-allergic pets. Previously, owners of such pets had to rely on home-cooked diets to treat their pets' allergies. Don't supplement your dog's new diet with any treats, table scraps or flavored toys. Rawhide chews will have to be replaced with another non-allergenic chew toy, and you may need to investigate unflavored medications and toothpastes to help keep your dog allergy-free.

Supplemental Treatments for Your Dog

Your dog may benefit from other short-term treatments that will help soothe his irritated skin and other food allergy symptoms. These can include antihistamines, steroid injections, skin creams or sprays that help reduce swelling and eliminate itchiness. If your dog has developed a secondary skin infection from his unending scratching, antibiotics may be needed to clear up the infection.

Long-Term Prognosis

Although your dog will probably not suffer a recurrence of his allergy symptoms on his new diet right away, keep in mind that there's always a chance that your pet can have a recurrence if he becomes allergic to the new diet after consuming it for a period of time.