Dealing with pets’ food allergies
Food allergies can affect cats and dogs of any age.
Previously, I wrote about allergies caused by changes in seasons, when pets have reactions to allergens they touch or inhale.
Never having suffered from any inhaled allergies, I was surprised to hear Coloradans say, “If you have never experienced allergies then come to Colorado and you will.” Same goes for our pets.
The body’s hypersensitive reaction, whether immediate or delayed, to allergens is not completely understood. About 5 percent of all skin diseases and 10 to 15 percent of all allergic skin diseases in dogs and cats are the result of food hypersensitivity.
Another fact is that food hypersensitivity is the third most common, itchy skin disease in dogs and the second most common in the cats, though these numbers may vary depending wherein the country the animals lives.
The allergic reaction can be restricted to small part of the body or more widespread. Lesions, scaling, flaking, pustules, crusts, redness and thickening of the skin, among other reactions can occur.
Because the ear lining and canals are a continuation of the skin, many dogs with food allergies will also have affected ears. Secondary bacterial and yeast infections in the skin are common. And some animals have stomach problems that include frequent bowel movements, vomiting, diarrhea or flatulence.
Once food hypersensitivity is diagnosed, which can be challenging, then an elimination diet is started. This new food must be restricted to one protein and one carbohydrate to which the animal has had very limited or no previous exposure.
The pet should eat this food for at least four weeks and sometimes longer if the clinical signs are clearing up. Once the patient improves on the elimination diet, you can go back to feeding the original diet and if the clinical signs return then you have a definitive diagnosis: Your pet is allergic to his food.
Once the signs clear up on the elimination diet, you can test various new ingredients ” such as meats or grains or veggies ” one at a time to see if the adverse skin reaction occurs. Signs usually occur within one or two days, and if no signs occur within 10 days then your pet is not allergic to that new ingredient.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado