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Food allergies, otherwise known as food hypersensitivity, is a common skin disorder in dogs and cats that is caused by an allergic reaction to food. Because this is an acquired disease, the animal often has been fed the food for months to years prior to the onset of the disease.
The component of the food that the animal reacts to is usually a protein source:
Other components often responsible for the reaction are minor components, such as:
What are the common signs and symptoms?
The most common sign of food allergy is an intense, non-seasonal itch. In dogs, the itch tends to be generalized, but the ears, face, feet and rear may be more severely affected. Some dogs may exhibit signs of recurrent ear disease as the only manifestation of food allergy. Recurrent skin/ear infections are common in both dogs and cats. Up to 35% of animals with food hypersensitivity have accompanying gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhea). In both species, the disease may be poorly responsive to glucocorticoids (steroids). The majority of dogs with food hypersensitivity manifest clinical signs before three years of age, however, the disease may occur at any age. Check out our guide to effectively rate your pet’s itchiness → Click Here
How are food allergies diagnosed?
The diagnosis of food allergy involves a food elimination trial. There is currently no other accurate test to determine if your pet has a food allergy. It is believed that animals may react to allergens in their food for up to six weeks or more; therefore, a restrictive diet must be given for up to 6 - 8 weeks. Because food allergy is an acquired disease (a food component becomes allergenic after being fed), only foods that the animal has never eaten before may be used. One protein source and one carbohydrate source are chosen, and all other foods are discontinued. It is important to be complete when relating your animal’s diet history so that an appropriate diet may be chosen for your pet.
More about Food Elimination Trials
During a food elimination trial, the prescribed diet is fed exclusively for the period of time recommended by your dermatologist. Treats, rawhide chews, dog biscuits, pig’s ears, chew hooves, vitamin pills, food supplements, or unapproved medications (including some heartworm and flea preventions) may not be given. Your dermatologist may change the heartworm preventative that your pet is receiving to a non-flavored liquid for the duration of the trial period. Components of the trial diet may be used to administer medications. You should not use cheese, hot dogs, bread, peanut butter etc. to disguise medication during the diet trial. Instead, consider an all-natural and diet compatible pill wrap such as Serenegy's WrapIt.
How do treats fit in?
Treats must consist of the same ingredients used in the diet trial. Serenegy offers all-natural, novel protein and carbohydrate treats that were deliberately formulated to be compatible with novel protein diets commonly used in food elimination trials. As a matter of fact, Serenegy was started after Dr. Amy Randall, Serenegy co-founder, needed to find a solution to the lack of hypoallergenic treats she could offer her clients when starting a food trial. Each Serenegy product is created with the highest degree of quality control. To prevent cross-contamination, only one flavor is baked each day. Check out our delicious and veterinary specialist approved products → Click Here
Disclaimer: Although the above information is brought to you by a Board Certified, practicing veterinarian, the information is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or specialist. If you believe your dog may be suffering from a food allergy, we recommend consulting with your dog's veterinarian about a referral to a Board-Certified Veterinary Dermatology.