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Dog Nutrition

  1. Introduction to Dog Nutrition
  2. What to Feed Your Dog
  3. Delicious Homemade Treats
  4. Food Allergies
  5. Vitamin and Mineral Guide
  6. Choosing a Dog Food
  7. Treats are Better Than Table Scraps

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Food Allergies

A food allergy, as the name implies, is when your dog is allergic to a particular food or food additive in his diet. Protein sources, such as chicken and beef, are one of the most common allergens. Also seen somewhat frequently are allergies to certain grains such as rice.

Food allergies usually develop quite early in your dog’s life, generally before your dog is one-year old. Food allergy symptoms include vomiting,  diarrhea, excessive gas, skin itchiness, poor coat quality, foul smelling skin, inflamed skin and/or ear infections. The gastrointestinal signs (vomiting,  excessive gas and diarrhea) are present in approximately 25% of food allergy cases. Food allergies, unlike many environmental allergies that may come and good with different seasons, will not wax and wane.

The only true way to diagnose a food allergy is to perform food trials. Methods used to diagnose other types of allergies such as blood tests and intradermal testing (injecting a tiny amount of the suspected allergy into your dog to test your dog’s response) are not very accurate in diagnosing food allergies.

A food trial consists of changing your dog’s food to either a limited ingredient food or a hypo-allergic food. Limited ingredient foods are generally composed of one carbohydrate source and one protein source. The protein will be a novel protein meaning a protein that your dog has likely not yet been exposed to. Examples of novel proteins include venison, duck, fish, and kangaroo. Limited ingredient diets used to be available only by prescription through your vet. Recently, however, several commercial dog food companies such as Natural Balance and Wellness have developed limited ingredient foods available without a prescription. Hypoallergenic diets are generally designed to have very easily and thoroughly digestible proteins. The theory is that if the protein can be broken-down into small enough pieces within your dog’s digestive tract, your dog’s body will not be able to mount an allergic reaction to the protein. Hill’s Prescription Diet Canine z/d® Ultra Allergen Free is an example of commonly used hypoallergenic dog food.

The problem with food trials is that they are “trials” in the true sense of the word – your vet can only make an educated guess as to which food ingredient your dog is actually allergic to. It can also take at least 12 to 14 weeks for a food trial to begin to yield any positive results. During a food trial, it is essential that you do not allow your dog to have ANY  flavor-containing chew, treat, toy, medication, or supplement. The food trial will not be valid if your dog is given anything besides the trial food. At the end of the food trial period, if your dog’s symptoms abate your vet will likely suggest that you continue feeding your dog the food used in the food trial. If symptoms have not abated, your vet may decide to start a new trial with a different food.

Next Section>>

  1. Introduction to Dog Nutrition
  2. What to Feed Your Dog
  3. Delicious Homemade Treats
  4. Food Allergies
  5. Vitamin and Mineral Guide
  6. Choosing a Dog Food
  7. Treats are Better Than Table Scraps