Your dog is itching like crazy and shaking his head constantly. Your vet just told you it could be a food allergy. What does that mean? To find out, we talked to Susan Wynn, an internationally known expert on holistic pet care. Wynn is former president of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, a clinical resident in nutrition at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and author of four textbooks on integrative practice, focusing on dietary supplements such as nutraceuticals and herbs.
Dehydration is an imbalance of water and electrolytes (minerals) in the body, and can cause serious complications for pets and people alike. Water is essential to cats, who depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain appropriate health and replace fluids that are routinely lost through urine, feces and respiration. Water makes up 80 percent of your cat’s body, and is necessary for all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion and waste removal.
A: Ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies. Dogs also can suffer from food intolerance, which is different from a food allergy.
Q: What are the common signs of a food allergy?
A: Anything from chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and chronic diarrhea to chronic gas, licking their feet, or an itchy rear end.
Q: What are the most common things that could trigger a food allergy in my dog?
A: It’s a genetic problem, and when it’s triggered, it’s by exposure to whatever they’re allergic to. The most common allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. And, most dogs are usually allergic to more than one thing.
A: It’s a multi-factorial thing, but certainly you have to have a genetic predisposition to develop allergies. The environment can affect it, too.
There’s a lot of research going on right now to determine what, in early puppyhood or early kittenhood, makes the immune system more likely to express that trait. There’s an immune education process happening in the first few weeks of life. Young animals treated with antibiotics could potentially be predisposed to problems later in life because antibiotics change the environment inside the gut, which is the largest immune organ in the body. That could be a predisposing cause, but then the trigger would be being exposed to the allergen.