The "best hypoallergenic dog food" for one dog is not the same as for another; it comes down to what ingredient each dog is allergic to. To determine which substances to avoid, if any, you have to start with a visit to the vet. A review of your pooch's medical history and a physical examination are the first steps needed to diagnose your pup's condition. It might be food allergies and it might be something else. A food allergy occurs when an ingredient invokes a response from the dog's immune system, commonly causing itchy, red or irritated skin; some pups develop sores, hives or chronic ear infections.
Dog food allergies make pups uncomfortable. It's the third most common cause of allergic scratching for canines. Ultimately, a pooch's genetics and environment will play roles in whether it develops allergies to certain foods. In some cases, all it takes for a canine to become allergic is to be exposed to the allergen one or more times. But it's paradoxical that most dogs become reactive to substances they've consumed for years.
Common Allergy Triggers
The most common allergens for canines are beef, dairy, lamb, egg, chicken, soy, fish, pork and rabbit. Various spices and additives are also known to trigger an allergic reaction. Keep in mind when dog food allergies strike, often two or more ingredients are making Spot sick.
To diagnose which allergens your dog is allergic to, the pup will need to go on a test diet. This means taking your pooch off the foods you're currently providing, including everything from snacks and treats to Spot's canned food and kibble. Your veterinarian will select a simple-ingredient diet that consists of one protein and one carbohydrate that your dog has never eaten before. You will need to watch your dog closely to see if Fido quits itching. It can take up to 10 weeks to see improvement.
Finding the Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Once your dog's condition improves, old foods that are suspected of being allergens are one-at-a-time reintroduced to the dog's diet. This way, you determine through elimination which ingredients make your dog sick and which are hypoallergenic for your canine. Your veterinarian may suggest additional foods so you'll have plenty of hypoallergenic doggie diet options.
Prescription Hypoallergenic Dog Food
Some vets offer commercial diets that are considered ultra-allergen-free. These foods use hydrolyzed protein -- a processed protein that's so small it won't trigger an allergic reaction. Keep in mind that, while a diet like this might be great for dog who has issues with protein, it might not be a good fit for dogs who react to other ingredients in it.
Deirdre Sullivan is an NYC-based writer with more than 12 years experience writing articles, copy and social media content for lifestyle brands and publishers including ideeli.com, Lucky magazine, Match.com, Chemistry.com, Houselogic.com, Stylehive.com, Worthpoint.com and more. Topics include home and garden, pets, tiny homes/small living, green living, DIY, dating, vintage collecting and style.