When buying dog food online, it is important to know what you are getting as many foods contain allergens for some dogs. This is, however, not the only form of source of allergen.
An allergy is a reaction to a substance by the body’s immune system. There are many types of allergies for our 4-legged-friends, just like for ourselves, consisting of skin allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergens. Finding the cause of a reaction is often tricky and requires patience in many cases. It is always advised to speak to a vet, like you would your own GP, when you have concerns about your dog’s health. To make things tricky, there is often an overlap in symptoms between them.
Called allergic dermatitis, they consist of 3 common types of reactions; Flea Allergy dermatitis, Food Allergies & Environmental Allergens.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis is, as the name suggests, a reaction to fleas, in particular, flea bites. If you notice a lot of itching, red and inflamed skin or even scabs, we advise you to check your dog for fleas with a flea comb and to treat accordingly.
Food is a big source of allergens, in particular grain/cereals followed by Chicken. They can cause itchy skin and gastrointestinal symptoms. Changing to a non-grain food like Exe Valley Pet Foods is a good place to start to see if symptoms improve over a few weeks.
Environmental Allergens are a little more tricky to combat and can include dust, pollen, and molds. Often environmental allergies are seasonal, just like hayfever in humans.
With constant itching, licking and biting, your dog does stand an increased risk of secondary infection, opening up wounds to yeasts and bacteria which may require treatment as a result.
As mentioned, there are a wide range of allergens within a wide range of foods. The 2 biggest and most common ingredients are wheat/grains/cereals and chicken. Keep an eye on symptoms that include skin conditions like swellings, itchiness, poor coat, and hives. Gastrointestinal symptoms are also an indicator, like vomiting and diarrhea. If you suspect your dog is allergic to something in their food, it is easy to change to foods without these 2 key allergens though a more specialist food may be required for any other allergen.
Dogs can also have other sensitivities/food intolerances to other foods, including beef, eggs, dairy, and soy. Again, working with a vet to quickly figure out which food(s) are causing symptoms is advised.
Diagnosing allergies in dogs
Simply put, it is tricky to find what is causing an allergic reaction in both ourselves and dogs. It can involve many months of testing and ruling out any other medical conditions with many allergies not being 100% pinpointed. Diagnosing Flea Allergy Dermatitis is often the easiest, combing (to check for fleas regularly), bathing and providing flea treatment to ensure fleas are kept away, and seeing if there is an improvement in your dogs symptoms and can often result in quicker results. Food allergens can be more tricky and can take a longer time to see improvements. Switching to a new food without certain common allergens is a good start, like Exe Valley Turkey for example. The advice is to look at and check what goes into the food itself and eliminate different ingredients over a course of weeks or months, watching for improvements in your dogs symptoms.
By no means is this a complete guide to allergens, how to diagnose or treat them but we hope it is good starting point to help you in the diagnosis and treatment process.