Pet Food Allergies
- Tuesday, 21 June 2011
“Gluten-free” and “wheat-free” are common terms arising in human nutrition topics, and most recently in pet nutrition. It is important that new pet owners as well as those who find themselves taking too many trips to the vet's office should be well informed about potential food sensitivities in pets.
Celiac Disease and Grain-Sensitivity
Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune condition, triggered by gluten in foods, which can cause damage to the small intestines and prevent food from being properly absorbed by the body.
Both humans and dogs can be diagnosed with celiac disease, though it is much less common in the latter. However, many households with severe gluten allergies choose to feed with gluten-free pet food and treats to ensure a safe environment for their families.
Pets need not be diagnosed with celiac disease to suffer from grain-sensitivity. Pet parents should be aware of these common signs of food sensitivities.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include:
Chronic Gastro-Intestinal Upset (diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting)
Chronic Dermatitis (flaky skin, hair loss, redness, bumps, rashes)
Chronic Ear Infections (dark, smelly waxy debris in the ears caused by yeast overgrowth, shaking and scratching head)
Symptoms of other common allergies include:
Itching or chewing of ears, around the eyes, paws, underarms, groin, and anus.
Vomiting and/or loose stools
Excess flatulence (dogs may often stretch their bodies seeking relief)
If you are concerned your pet may have a food allergy, consult your veterinarian. Blood tests or a change in diet may help to identify specific sensitivities.
Identifying the Culprit Ingredient
Know the ingredients of your pet’s food, including treats. Glutinous grains include:
If you suspect your pet may be sensitive to glutinous grains, look for suitable starch replacements, such as:
Buckwheat ( which is not related to wheat, despite its name)
Other common food sensitivities in pets usually stem from:
Be sure to consider the source of oil ingredients as well. For example, if your pet has an allergy to corn, corn oil may also contribute to symptoms. Look for alternative oils, such as rice bran oil which is both hypoallergenic and anti-oxidant rich.
If your pet’s food or treats contain suspicious ingredients, consult your veterinarian about properly changing diets. Often, by eliminating just one ingredient at a time, you will be able to pinpoint a specific allergy.
Pets can suffer from many of the same diseases and allergies as humans, but unfortunately cannot communicate their uncomfortable symptoms. Fido never complains of belly-aches, and skin rashes are not always easy to find. This means that it is especially important for pet owners to be aware of subtle symptoms and learn how to stay aware of their furry friend’s health.