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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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If an elimination diet improves the pet’s clinical signs and the owner is able to find two to three diets the dog can tolerate, I recommend rotating through them every two to three months. The whole point is to keep them stable for a period of months to years so you can eventually do their challenge testing to identify what the dog is really allergic to. If you’re really lucky, then you can go back to a more normal diet and not these expensive, exotic diets.

And if they’re young enough, food allergies sometimes do resolve themselves.

Q: How do I treat a dog with food allergies?

A: You can try to cover up the signs, but if you’ve got a disease that’s caused by what you put in your mouth every day, the best treatment is to stop putting that in your mouth every day. I use herbs all the time, and I do think they can help, but not as much as avoiding what’s causing the problem.

Q: Should I cook for my dog, rather than buy her food? What about a raw diet, will that help?

A: The upside of a cooked diet is you know exactly what’s going in it and you can control that. The disadvantage is it’s more trouble and, unfortunately, most people won’t do it right. They will leave off supplements, they won’t follow instructions, and they’ll end up giving their dog or cat an unbalanced diet.

There’s nothing magical about raw diets. Some dogs do very well on them and some dogs do not do very well on them. The protein structure might be different from that in a cooked or processed diet and that does make a difference for some dogs. But it’s not common enough that we need to tell everybody they should try a raw diet.

Q: Is there anything I can do to keep my puppy from developing food allergies?

A: I don’t think anyone is going to tell you that you can prevent food allergies if your puppy is predisposed. My opinion is that if you provide a diet that has some variety in it, so they’re getting a natural rotation, you’re maintaining gut health by doing that.

I do recommend for young puppies and kittens that people put them on probiotics. I’m very concerned about the use of antibiotics in growing animals. I think it messes up their gut balance and I think it may make them more likely to become allergic over time. So for puppies, I try to avoid antibiotics and use probiotics up to six months to one year of age and give them a diet that’s fairly high in variety.

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Reviewed on April 27, 2012
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