Alas, your newly-found dog is excited to go home with you. You are as thrilled as your furry friend. You spent a lot of time selecting for the best pet to fit your lifestyle and behavior. This pup is the cream of the crop. However, he started head shaking and scratching all over his body on his first day at home. You rushed him to the clinic and the veterinarian diagnosed your new puppy with abnormal food reaction and sensitivity in particular grains and chicken. How did the flare-up happen? Here is some information to help you out.
Allergy, Sensitivity or Intolerance
Food allergies occur when an ingredient in the food triggers an animal’s immune system that results in an unexpected response. Removal of the triggering compound will lessen the extent of this kind of immune reaction. Some researchers even believe that specific genes of dogs elicit it. The common signs vary from the skin and ear lesions to gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea. Some animals even pass gas and scratch rear ends more frequently. Studies also show that only around ten percent of allergy cases in dogs are due to their food. There are still dozens of causative agents that show similar signs. The differential diagnosis for this kind of occurrence includes bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases. Even environmental factors such as pollen allergy need to be ruled out, too.
Food sensitivity, on the other hand, is an aggregation of non-allergic reactions. It is usually due to improper digestion of certain feed ingredients. The common signs are almost the same food allergy but the reaction time is shorter. Food intolerance is due to the incapacity of the animal to tolerate certain feed types due to its physiological make-up. For example, lactose-intolerant dogs do not have the digestive enzyme lactase to break it down and result in stomach upset and indigestion.
Feed Ingredients and Other Factors
As a pet owner, being aware of feed ingredients is important because some components cause most canine allergies. Common food allergens that trigger dog sensitivities include grains like soy, corn, and wheat. Meat such as beef, lamb, and chicken also causes some reactions. Some dogs may even show sensitivity to a plant-sourced ingredient like potato and carrot.
Other predisposing factors to food sensitivities include genetics, breed, age, and their surrounding environment. Some dog breeds like Cocker spaniels and Dachshunds are more sensitive to food than others. Documented researches even show that Irish setter and possible Border terrier breeds have gluten allergies. Compared to an adult dog, a new puppy is more susceptible to an abnormal food reaction since their immune system is still developing.
Diagnosing Food Reactions
Unfortunately, the test for food sensitivity or allergy is not easy. Unlike the usual veterinary procedures, this test does not have any confirmatory kits or protocols. The best method to use for diagnosis is through a dietary elimination trial. For about a month, this kind of feeding trial starts with a special diet, usually hydrolyzed proteins and carbohydrates. Once there is an improvement, an ingredient from the old diet will be reintroduced for further observation. Identifying and eliminating the specific feed component are definite goals for the new diet.
Some feed companies claim that simple diets as hypoallergenic, sensitive, allergen-free, grain-free, or with the limited ingredients. This kind of strategy leads owners to do an elimination trial on their own. This is dangerous as household sabotage can happen where some dogs ended up eating unprescribed food like dog treats and table scraps. Seek veterinary guidance for this trial procedure to avoid misleading interpretation of the results.
If you think that your puppy is allergic to his dog food, act fast. Your responsibility already has begun when your pet stepped in your life. Do not do anything drastic that could further hurt your fur friend. Coordinate to your veterinarian on what to do next. Remember, your pet is lucky to have you so do your best all the time.