Keeping your dog healthy is one of the biggest responsibilities as a pet parent. After all, your dog is part of the family. Therefore, feeding them a high-quality diet is one of the most important things you can do to keep them happy and healthy.
Dogs can also be allergic to the environment or flea bites. You can find more about that here. But with more and more American dogs becoming dog food allergic, that responsibility can be even more significant than you realize.
This article will explore the different factors you should consider when choosing the best dog food for your allergic pet.
Allergic Reactions in Dogs
To choose the best dog food for your allergic pet, you’ll need to understand what allergies are and how they work. When your dog is allergic to something in his diet, he can experience varying degrees of distress.
Food allergy symptoms in dogs may include mild reactions such as a runny nose and watery eyes. However, the symptoms could also be more severe, like vomiting, diarrhea, hives, or even anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction).
Allergic reactions happen when your pet’s immune system recognizes a foreign substance, like a food allergen, as dangerous and tries to neutralize it. When your pet’s immune system mistakenly attacks his tissues, this is an allergic reaction.
Allergies can affect dogs and cats, but they are most common in dogs. Proteins or food chemicals usually trigger dog food allergies. Different dogs may react to the same allergen differently.
This makes allergies hard to predict and manage. Because of this, it’s vital that you find the right dog food for your canine.
How to Choose Your Allergic Dog’s Food
1. Identify the Allergen
The first step to finding the right dog food for your allergic dog is to assess your dog’s allergen sensitivity. However, you should take your furry child to a veterinarian first. They are professionals and will do the necessary tests to diagnose the symptoms.
Your veterinary doctor will assess your dog’s allergen sensitivity via a food trial or elimination diet. They will also give your dog a special hypoallergic dog food during this period while monitoring his health.
For about 8 to 10 weeks, your pet will be on an allergy diet for dogs. During that time, that is the only food your dog will eat. You cannot give your dog any other food, not even hypoallergic dog treats, for it to work.
After that time is over, your dog should be back to total health. Your vet will ask you to go back to giving your pet his original diet. If the symptoms return, it means your dog has a food allergy.
2. Research the Ingredients
You should look up the ingredients and nutritional values when choosing dog food. Allergies are caused by proteins and other chemicals found in foods. If one of these ingredients is present in a food that your dog is allergic to, then he could experience a reaction.
To prevent this from happening, you will want to research the ingredients and nutritional values of the food you choose. This way, you will be able to see what allergenic proteins are present in the food. This will help your dog be safe, as you will be able to avoid a reaction.
Ingredients to Avoid
Some of the ingredients you should look for and avoid are corn, chicken, beef, soy, lamb, wheat, dairy products, and by-products. Dogs that are sensitive to grains should eat grain-free food.
- Corn is one of the most common allergens in most dog foods. It is an ingredient that can cause many issues, so you should avoid them.
- Soy Protein is also a common allergen and can cause many allergic reactions. Wheat, dairy products, and by-products are also common allergens and should also be avoided.
- Artificial Coloring or Flavoring is not the same as allergenic proteins. While some dog food companies want you to believe that their food is allergen-free, they may still be adding artificial coloring/flavoring to the food.
It’s best to avoid food with artificial flavoring or coloring, so you don’t complicate things for your dog. This report says that some artificial dyes in dog foods are linked to allergic reactions in dogs.
- High carbohydrate levels A high carbohydrate level in dog food is something you don’t want to see. Why? Carbohydrates are usually the first thing your dog’s body targets if he’s allergic to plant-based foods.
So, if any of the ingredients listed on the bag are high in carbs, this could be bad for your dog. However, carbs are fine if your pet is only allergic to animal-based foods.
- High protein levels
This is similar to the issue of high carbohydrates. The problem here is that high protein levels in dog food are often the result of the company using cheaper protein sources.
This can result in your dog not being able to fully digest the high amounts of protein found in his food.
3. Choose Allergen-free Dog Food
You’ll want to make sure that the food you choose is hypoallergenic. These foods tend to have less protein, which is one of the most common allergenic substances in dog foods. Hypoallergenic dog food can also have less fat, which can also be an allergen for some dogs.
The dog food you choose should not contain allergens. For example, ensure that you’re not feeding your dog something that contains corn or soy, two of the most common food allergens.
4. Select Quality Ingredients
The best allergen-free dog foods will be made with quality ingredients. This means that the ingredients contain nutritional benefits and are not processed. Nutritional benefits are the specific vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that food provides your dog.
Because allergic dogs are likely to miss some nutrients due to their allergies, understanding the nutritional benefits will help you choose the right food for your dog.
Some of the most important nutritional needs of dog food are protein, calcium, vitamins, and fiber. These are all essential components of a healthy diet.
You’ll also want to look for fatty acids, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients will help provide your dog with the nutritional benefits he needs to stay healthy and happy.
5. Specially Prescribed Dog Food
Your veterinary doctor might prescribe a specially mixed hypoallergic dog food for your dog with allergies. He might suggest this option if your furry friend has severe food allergies.
This might be a bit more pricey than regular dog food, but there are affordable ones out on the market that do the same thing. So stick with the best dog food for allergies.
6. Limited or Novel Dog Foods
Another option your vet might suggest for your food allergic dog is to feed them limited ingredient foods. This means dog food with just a few ingredients. The fewer they are, the less risk of your dog becoming allergic to it. You will also be able to monitor the ingredients more efficiently.
Novel dog food is food that contains ingredients that replace allergens. For example, since beef, chicken, and lamb might be allergens to your dog, you can replace them with venison, duck, or salmon.
Now that you have these helpful tips in choosing food for your dog with allergies, you can make safer choices. There is no single best dog food for your allergic dog, but these are a few tips that will help you feed your fur baby with safe food. Follow the advice of your vet and double-check dog food ingredients before buying.