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Dog Allergies, from Will Draper, DVM

02/18/2011

  • Joe Callahan:

    On the subject of allergies, I have a friend whose dog is always licking and scratching, especially its paw area. And he was told that it could be an allergy to pollen. Is that possible on a dog?

  • Will Draper, DVM:

    Yeah, yeah. That's that atopic dermatitis. It'll happen a lot when they walk through the grass, or when they're outside. And it makes their pads itch, and they’ll lick and chew and bite at those, and again, sometimes show respiratory signs. So it's very common.

  • Renee Genthner:

    I think that one of my dogs has -- I call it sensitive stomach. But I'm wondering if it could possibly be a food allergy.

  • Will:

    Well, what are the signs you're seeing that makes you feel like that?

  • Renee:

    Well, you know, a lot of times he'll eat and then immediately regurgitate his food.

  • Will:

    Most animals that have a food allergy express it in a few different ways: vomiting, diarrhea, gas, burping, things of that nature. Dogs can even express it on their skin with hair loss, and redness, and blotchiness, hives, things like that. So if you're seeing anything like that it could very well be a food allergy. If it's more of just regurgitation, it may be that your pet is just eating too fast.

  • Renee:

    Well, sometimes I see they'll kind of be gnawing at a certain spot, almost seems like a hot spot. Could that possibly be a food allergy?

  • Will:

    When you see that, is it kind of a redness and it kind of starts to look like a little knot?

  • Renee:

    Yeah, just red and sore.

  • Will:

    Yeah, yeah. A lot of dogs will get what are called lick granulomas, and it's similar to a child or somebody biting their nails. They do it out of boredom. And what happens is that they start licking at it, and they lick at it, and lick at it, and it heals over a little bit. And they lick at it again. And after a while, they just form this big wound, which we call a granuloma. And they normally are on their front paws or their back feet, because they'll do that -- those are the areas they can reach. It might be something like that. With a food allergy, it's more generalized. You'll see it over the body, the trunk. They'll lose hair in their trunk and on their back area. So I would probably think for a food allergy you'd see something more like that.

  • Steven Belew:

    In your experience, are there any type of proteins or grains that you see animals are most likely to be allergic to, or are generally the ones that their most allergic to?

  • Will:

    Fish, here and there. But probably chicken and beef are the big ones, protein wise. Grain wise, rarely corn, rice, things like that. Animals will have some reaction to and need to have that eliminated from their diet.

  • Steven:

    When we first got her, we noticed that she wasn't digesting food properly. We found out that chicken was kind of the main culprit. But in order to find that out we had to change her diet for a while to where it was just rice and boiled meat, rendering the fat off and, you know, just to get her system clean and then kind of figure out what foods she could handle.

    Are there any recommendations on what foods -- or the best way to go about figuring out if your animal has a food allergy, and when she does, what diet to put her on?

  • Will:

    Well, you've already done it. You've explained that perfectly. It's by process of elimination. And it can be tedious, it can take a while, it can be a bit frustrating, because an owner will go through a lot of different diets, and many times, have to deal with the side effects of that in order to find out what's the proper diet to do. And it can be so frustrating to the point that somebody is ready to find a new home for this pet that keeps vomiting and having loose stool all over their house. So, just patience, elimination, and there's so many wonderful diets that you guys are all familiar with. You know, there are diets with venison and pea, and fish and potato, and rabbit even that are really good bland diets for animals who have some sort of food hypersensitivity.

Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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