Food Allergies in Pets

Pet owners want their pets to live long and healthy lives. Nothing is more miserable and frustrating than watching your dog or cat suffer with an allergic condition.

food_allergies.jpgThe symptoms range from

  • Eye discharge
  • Hair loss or hot spots
  • Paw licking and chewing
  • Scratching, itching and face rubbing
  • Ear trouble such as itchiness, redness or infection
  • Inflamed, reddened skin, especially in the belly area
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such as vomiting or diarrhea

What could be the cause of food allergies? Fifty years ago pets had much more variety in their diets than they do today. They ate table scraps or hunted for their own food. They ate something different practically every day. Then along came commercial pet food followed by some very believable marketing claims that these products were the key to pet health and longevity. When pet owners found an affordable and convenient kibbled food that seemed to "work" they stuck with it, sometimes feeding the same food exclusively for their pet's entire life. This is why allergic reactions develop - continued exposure.

The most common offending ingredients are

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Chicken eggs
  • Corn
  • Dairy products
  • Soy
  • Wheat

It is no coincidence that these are the ingredients used most often in pet food products.  

Before assuming that your pet is allergic to a food, you must first rule out other medical conditions. This means seeing your veterinarian. Other common causes could be flea sensitivities, contact dermatitis, inhalant allergies, a thyroid condition or yeast infections to name just a few. Once your vet has determined there is no other reason for your pet's symptoms, then it is time for the elimination diet. It is the only way to determine exactly what the allergen is. It is important that pets be off any allergy medications such as antihistamines or corticosteroids (prednisone) for two weeks prior to starting the diet.

The elimination diet is a food trial that consists of feeding your pet a novel food source - one protein and one carbohydrate for 12 weeks. By novel, we mean an ingredient that your pet has never eaten before. Examples of novel could be Go! Natural Salmon & Oatmeal, Venison and Rice, or Duck & Oatmeal by Petcurean Pet Nutrition. During the trial, the selected food should be the only food your pet eats for 12 weeks. This means no treats - absolutely nothing but the special food and water.

Observe your pet closely. If there is a marked reduction or elimination of symptoms after the 12-week trial, then attempt to feed your pet its original diet once again. If the symptoms return, then you know that he has an allergy to something in that specific food. Take your pet off the original diet again and feed the novel diet for 2 weeks or until symptoms subside. Then add ingredients of the original diet one at a time, monitoring your pet for 2 weeks before the addition of another ingredient until you find the culprit(s).

If during the food trial, you notice no improvement of symptoms, then switch to a different novel protein and carbohydrate source and start the 12-week food trial again. It is helpful to keep a written journal of the foods tried and your pet's reactions to them. Rarely is the first food trial conclusive.

Once the feeding trials have given you the answer, your pet simply needs to avoid that food.  You can strengthen your pet's immune system by using natural remedies. B-Natural's Bertes Immune Blend. It is a product that ATG uses with their own pets and highly recommends.

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition is a company that does things differently. We are a small business that is excited about offering pet owners better choices in pet nutrition. We believe that choosing appropriate pet food (be it commercial, raw or home prepared) is the most important factor in any pet's preventative health, convalescence and longevity.  Our name - Against The Grain - reflects our strong passion to provide pet owners with the knowledge to make healthy decisions about pet care even if we go ‘against the grain' of popular thinking.

To contact us:
1024 County Road 109
Montevallo, AL 35115

Phone: 205-665-9026
Fax: 205-665-5683
[email protected]