Little brown and white chihuahua itching his ear with his back right foot

For our little furry friends, it is important to recognize the difference between pet food allergies and pet food intolerance.

Pet food allergies affecting dogs and cats is comparable to when a human is lactose intolerant. Food intolerance is the result of poor digestion, while a food allergy is when our pet’s immune system mistakenly identifies a particular food ingredient as being harmful. Cats and dogs alike have similar food allergies yet different allergic responses.

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Snoring caused by an inflamed throat

  • Paw chewing

  • Swollen paws

  • Dull, brittle, or coarse fur

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing

  • Wheezing

  • Increased scratching

  • Runny eyes and nose

  • Ear concerns

Cats become allergic to food when their body misrecognizes something ingested and identifies it as a hostile invader rather than a protein source.

Cat pet food allergies can originate from artificial food coloring, which some inexpensive brands sometimes include in their ingredients to make their food more appealing. Cornmeal, preservatives, and meat by-products are also used as a filler in cheaper foods, playing culprit to causing allergic reactions. Most cats also do not have enough lactase enzymes to digest dairy products, therefore leaving them susceptible to vomiting and diarrhea. Seafood is beginning to be recognized as becoming a more popular food allergy for our cats.

Now that we have identified what causes food allergens in cats, what can we do to give our pet some relief? recommends increasing your cats Omega-3 fatty acid intake which can act as an anti-inflammatory substance and reduce sensitivity promoting overall health. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids that your kitty will love include a can of sardines, a dash of salmon oil, or the oil from a krill pill drizzled over your cat’s wet food.

Common pet food allergy responses for dogs include:

  • Itchy skin

  • Recurring ear infections

  • Non-stop scratching of ears, paws, face, and back

  • Bald Patches

  • High Frequency of Hot Spots

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

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Now to address the dog in the house that just can’t seem to stop scratching.

For dogs, about 70 percent of their body’s entire immune system is centered in their gastrointestinal tract, which includes the mouth, stomach, and intestines. Therefore, with the consumption of protein contained in your dog’s food, there can be an over-response of the immune system to a food allergy. Similar to cats, the proteins in dog food are broken down into molecules that the immune system does not identify. Most dog food allergies are linked to more than one thing and they have to have a genetic predisposition to develop allergies.

The most common causes of allergic responses in dogs are beef, dairy, and wheat. Some of the breeds most prone to food allergies include Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Collie, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Retriever, Shar-Pei, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Dachshund, and West Highland White Terrier.

And now that we have discovered pet food allergies for dogs, what are some things we can do to give our pup some relief? recommends introducing a hypoallergenic dog food for 8-10 weeks, with most dogs showing improvement within 4-6 weeks. Some dogs may take longer to respond, and it is important to refrain from giving your dog any other foods during this time. You want to get a true response to how your dog’s allergic reactions are changing during this time. The best measure is to refrain from giving cookies, treats, rawhides, people food, etc. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the best hypoallergenic food for your dog, which is usually only available through your vet. Common anti-allergy foods including kangaroo and oatmeal or venison and potato. You can also give your pup an oatmeal bath to provide relief from dry and itchy skin, and clean their ears with 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 1 part water. Never use alcohol to clean your dog’s ears.

Now that we have a little insight on how to address pet food allergies for our little furry friends at home, we can hopefully get everyone to feel better.

Happy Cat, Happy Life. Happy Dog, Happy Life.