Have you ever felt an upset stomach after indulging in something you knew you shouldn’t have? Do you get itchy all over after being outside or around something you’re allergic to?
Maybe you’ve lucked out in life and have nothing that irritates your stomach or skin. If you’re like nearly 15 million Americans in the world, though, you might’ve experienced a reaction or two somewhere along the way.
The thing is, while you can identify and prevent allergies or sensitivities in your life, your dog can’t. They can’t tell you when their stomach is upset or when their paws itch. All they can do is brave the symptoms and hope you take notice.
Just like humans, dogs have common allergens. How often does your pup come into contact with the following?
- Cleaning products
The list could go on. The point is, there’s a good chance your four legged family member encounters potential irritants on a daily basis.
So what are the signs and symptoms you should watch out for? How will you know if your dog is reacting?
The answer to those questions could save your dog a lifetime of pain and discomfort.
Here’s what to watch out for:
- Red patches on the skin
- Spotty hair loss
- Scratching or excessive licking
- Watery eyes or runny nose
- Ear infections (your dog might shake its head frequently or scratch its ears)
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Any swollen areas on its body or paws
If you notice your pup exhibiting any of these signs, set up an appointment with your vet. Take notes of anything unusual your dog does so you can have good records of symptoms for the vet to make an analysis.
If your vet suspects food allergies or sensitivities, they’ll likely prescribe an elimination diet, which both humans and animals can benefit from. This type of diet is basically a way to pinpoint which irritants are afflicting your dog so you know what to stay away from.
How to follow an elimination diet:
Step 1: Choose a dog food with ingredients your pup has never come into contact with before. For example, if you’ve fed your dog chicken and rice all it’s life, opt for something like buffalo and sweet potato. Other alternatives might be beef, salmon, or even kangaroo. Look for carbohydrate sources like potatoes, vegetables, or oatmeal.
Step 2: Change your dog’s food over and constantly monitor for a change in symptoms. If rashes, licking, or stomach aches don’t get better over 2-3 weeks, try another food source. Consult your vet when choosing food, as they’ll know what’s best for your dog.
Step 3: Once you’ve found a food that eliminates all reactions in your dog, you can opt to start introducing old ingredients one by one, about two weeks apart at a time. By doing this, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly which food is making your pup react. Of course, you don’t have to reintroduce foods, but it can oftentimes save money and effort on not having to continuously search for uncommon protein sources.
What About Treats?
Using treats as rewards or ways to prevent excessive licking is a huge part of your dog’s life. When they suffer from food allergies, though, regular trips to the pet store become a bit more tricky.
Instead, do a search for naturally made dog treats – preferably not including ingredients like corn, chicken, or “byproducts.” Treats made from organ meat are often a safe and healthy option. While they might not sound all that tasty, your dog will go crazy for them.
Another option is to make your own treats and snacks. There are a ton of dog treat recipes out there, but not many that are dog-allergy friendly. Try recipes that are gluten and grain free or made from real meat products – not fillers.
Raising a pup with food allergies can seem tricky at first, but once you’ve gone through the steps of identifying the culprit, it’ll be smooth sailing. Stick to the tips above to ensure your dog’s pain and irritation never returns, and plan for a happy and healthy life!