Canine Food Allergies

By Diane Morgan
Author of The Basset Hound Owner's Survival Guide

The most common food allergens are beef, chicken, pork, fish, milk, whey, eggs, corn and
soy. All these foods are high in protein. The reason that proteins are so often involved is
that they are very large molecules, each component of which can combine with an antibody
or immune system T-cell receptor to produce an allergic reaction.

Food allergies will show up within 4 to 24 hours of eating the allergenic food, at least in the

early stages. Later on, the dog will show symptoms constantly. As in other types of allergies,
skin problems are the common signs, but some dogs also vomit, and have diarrhea or gas.
If your dog has a year-round itch that doesn't seem affected by weather, I would suspect
a food allergy.

Allergies can cause more than itching. In response to the allergen, the sebaceous glands of

the skin may become over-productive, altering the normal condition of the skin. This leaves
the skin open to infection (pyoderma). Pyoderma causes not only MORE itching, but also pain
and inflammation, ear infections, or even abscesses beneath the skin.

If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, you'll have to put your dog on a special diet.

DVM Pharmaceuticals has developed a hypoallergenic test diet composed of hydrolized liver,
casein (milk protein) oats, and pinto beans. Still, the precise substance to which your dog is
allergic can be hard to pin down. You can even try a homemade hypo-allergenic diet, if you
want. The only way to test a food allergy is by elimination of suspect foods. The animal must
be placed on a strict elimination diet, which forbids even treats. Your dog could be allergic
to any dietary ingredient, including the dye on medicine or the flavor in treats.

The new diet must contain a protein to which the dog has not previously been exposed like

venison, fish or rabbit. The simplest way to do this is to feed a dog a restricted diet of novel
protein. You may add something like rice to which very few dogs are allergic. You must also
use a supplement.

Further, the dog must stay on that diet for at least eight weeks. Gradually suspect foods are

added back one at a time, and the dog must stay on that food for at least eight weeks.
The best way to keep your dog from developing a food allergy is to switch your dog's
food frequently to challenge the immune system.

In general, it's best to feed your dog a diet that does not include artificial flavors, dyes, or

preservatives. Luckily, food allergies do not seem to be inherited. A good way to help prevent
your Basset from becoming food allergic is to provide him a varied diet from puppyhood. This
will challenge his immune system and make him stronger. The idea that feeding a dog only
one food is wrong-headed, un-natural, and boring.
Canine Health Index

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