Pets with environmental allergies tend to suffer in the spring and fall, but what about dogs and cats who seem itchy regardless of the season? In those cases, it’s likely there’s something in the pet’s diet that’s causing the miserable itching.
Pets with food allergies typically have symptoms such as itchy skin, skin and ear infections, and sometimes, vomiting and diarrhea. Unlike humans, who almost always have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms with a food allergy, dogs and cats are much more likely to develop a skin problem first. Dr. Karen Becker provides some signs that your dog or cat’s allergies may be food related:
- Your pet is less than 6 months old, or his allergies didn’t appear until he was over 6 years of age
- Your pet is a breed prone to food intolerances
- Your pet has received steroid therapy for allergies (which we do NOT recommend), but treatment hasn’t provided symptom relief
- Your pet has sores or skin damage around the neck area, under the collar, and his whole head is itchy
- Your pet is experiencing GI symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and/or constipation
How Food Allergies Develop
When your dog or cat has a food allergy or sensitivity, her immune system perceives that something in her diet is attacking her body. To deal with the “threat,” the immune system launches a counterattack. Certain substances in the diet are more likely to trigger the immune system than others, and protein is very often the culprit.
Although no research has been published on why carnivores become allergic to their natural evolutionary diet, we believe foreign contaminants may be the culprit, such as growth hormones, antibiotics and chemical residues rather than the actual protein.
Because a large portion of pet foods use conventionally raised farm meats, this will continue to be a problem for almost all susceptible pets. Often, it isn’t until the GI tract has been compromised by inflammation caused by an allergic response that your pet begins to show signs of digestive disturbance.
Identifying Food Intolerances
For pets over the age of 1 year old who are dealing with a food sensitivity, we recommend Glacier Peak’s Wellness Assessment Test to identify food intolerances. This simple hair and saliva test pinpoints over 300 food and environmental triggers that your dog or cat are sensitive to (highlighted in red below).
Pets fed the same food day in and day out for a period of months or years often develop a sensitivity to the protein source. Grains and vegetables can also be culprits. If the food is inexpensive and highly processed, chances are the meat is loaded with antibiotics and hormones, which can also cause the immune system to overreact.
Dogs and cats often grow sensitive to allergenic ingredients in food, typically grains and carbohydrates. The Wellness Kit’s test results can often identify the specific ingredient(s) in your pet’s food that are causing a problem, and the Barkery’s custom diet plan can most often resolve the issue.
Interrupting the Allergic Cycle With a Custom Diet
When your dog or cat is having an allergic reaction to some part of her diet, her body needs a break from the food she’s been eating. This gives the immune system an opportunity to settle down, which usually results in a reduction in symptoms.
After determining sensitivities from the Wellness Kit, the next step is to introduce a custom diet to start the healing process. Switching to a new diet involves transitioning your pet to a different food containing ingredients her body isn’t familiar with.
Because each case of food intolerance is unique, the Barkery’s nutrition specialists can formulate a protocol to get your pack member back on track. After two to three months, we encourage pet parents to find at least one or two other protein sources their pet can tolerate well. Every three to six months, they can rotate proteins and avoid further allergic reactions. Grass-fed, non-GMO proteins are better sources for a sensitive animal.
Supplements that support the immune system will also help your pet during its transition. If you’d like to learn more about the Wellness Assessment Kit, our Barkery Nutritionists are here to answer your questions! Click here for Wellness Assessment Kit customer testimonials.