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Caring for a Dog with Food Allergies

WebMD reveals the signs, symptoms, and triggers for food allergies in dogs.
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A: There are some, but I think it depends on whom you talk to. It also can vary by country or part of the country. It may be as simple as what breeders, with their line-bred family of animals, are in your area. So if you have a very prominent breeder who is breeding a line known for their allergies, you’re going to think that breed commonly has food allergies. In my experience, retrievers, German shepherds. Dachshunds, cocker spaniels, and rex cats are the most commonly affected breeds.

Q: How do I determine if my dog has food allergies, or something else is causing the problem?

A: There’s only one way to diagnose food allergies accurately, and that is an elimination diet and challenge. So what we do is take the dog off all the foods it's eating and we put him on a food that he's never had before. With all the exotic diets out there now, this can be pretty difficult. I've sent people out for alligator and yak. Once the dog has improved, we start reintroducing the old foods that we think caused the problems in the first place. If he has a reaction, which usually takes a few days to a few weeks, then we know he has a food allergy.

There’s specific testing to rule out other problems as well. For instance, you might take a sample of discharge from the ears to see if there's a problem there, or do skin testing for environmental allergies. Blood testing is not an accurate test for any allergy.

Q: Will changing my dog’s diet trigger a food allergy?

A: If the dog has been sensitized to something in that diet it could. There’s no way of knowing if your dog has been sensitized to an ingredient, though.

Q: Can my dog suddenly develop a food allergy to something that he’s eaten for years with no problems? Will this keep happening?

A: That’s common in food-allergic dogs. They have to be sensitized; they have to have been exposed for some period of time. So, in general, they’re not going to react really dramatically the first time they eat it but a dog that has eaten a food for years could suddenly become allergic to that food.

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