Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to allergies than others. They can develop a whole host of uncomfortable symptoms and it can be difficult to find a food that provides all the appropriate nutrition, without the offending protein source and most importantly, a food Fido will eat. Thus, having knowledge of the most common allergens as opposed to those less likely to cause problems, is important.
Allergic reactions to food manifest in a variety of ways. Symptoms can include itchy, dry skin and excessive scratching or licking that lead to "hot spots" -- self inflicted trauma -- and possibly skin and ear infections. Internally, vomiting and diarrhea can result, possibility causing dehydration. Food allergies can be present at a young age or may develop over time as an immune response.
When it comes to protein sources, the most common allergens include beef, dairy products, wheat proteins, chicken, egg and soy products. This seems like an extensive list of common ingredients, but pet parents should not be discouraged, as there are many other protein sources and hypoallergenic diets available once the offending allergen or allergens have been determined.
Less common commercial protein sources such as lamb, venison, rabbit and fish are often found in hypoallergenic and low-allergen diets. Dogs with allergies to the more common chicken and beef may do well with these alternative protein sources. However, it should be noted that allergies toward any food can develop, so it is important to monitor for symptoms even when using novel proteins.
To help determine what your pup is allergic to, a veterinarian will use an 12-week elimination trial, replacing the current food with a strict hypoallergenic diet that excludes any treats or table scraps. At the end of this 12-week period, the vet will reintroduce the previous food for a brief period to determine what protein source is causing the allergy. At this point, your vet will help determine an appropriate low-allergen maintenance diet.
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