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According to the nonprofit organization Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), it is estimated that “up to 15 million Americans have food allergies.” Every year, that number grows and there is currently no definite explanation as to why this is happening, although it has been expressed by some researchers that it may be due to a person’s environment and the form in which foods are eaten. Form refers to the ways food is prepared and how it is changed from its natural form — Is it highly processed? Are there additives? It can even be an act as simple as roasting nuts.
So, if humans are susceptible to developing food allergies, then you bet that dogs can have them too. While it is generally easy to diagnose or identify a person with a food allergy, it is often more difficult to do so for a canine. Many conventional dog food bought at the store has been processed to some extent, which may contain an ingredient that is causing your dog’s allergy or even have food contaminants. However, like humans, dogs can also have allergies to foods in homemade meals made with fresher ingredients like meats, soy, corn, or wheat.
These are some of the most common foods (any food form) that can cause an allergic reaction in your dog, although other foods can also be triggers. Another thing to keep in mind is that your dog may be eating a food that is not safe for dog consumption, and therefore causing an illness.
* For meat products, allergies can be triggered by a dog consuming raw or cooked flesh and/or protein in broth and fats added to processed treats.
So, what symptoms and signs will I see if my dog has a possible food allergy? Some symptoms are listed below for easy reference, but do leep note that these can also indicate allergies to other things such as trees, pollen, fleas, or mold. You can narrow it down by being observant while and after your dog has eaten.
- Rashes on the skin — rash color can vary from light pink to red and may appear brighter if your dog is scratching it
- Overly itchy dog
- Excessive and constant licking
- Chewing on paws that leads to paw swelling
Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of a food allergies in dogs are easily overlooked because they are thought to be attributed to other issues. If your dog’s reaction does not appear to be life threatening, then do your own food elimination test at home where you remove one ingredient at a time to see if any reaction occurs. Consider not feeding your regular store bought dog food for a few weeks and make your dog’s meals for that time. (For some homemade meal ideas click here and here.) In some cases, simply stopping or fazing out a conventional processed dog food will be the answer.
Contact a veterinarian if your dog’s condition is serious, worsens, or does not subside. A vet can do a proper physical examination, and with the help of the dog’s health history and a blood and skin test, may be able to pin point the cause of the reaction and identify the food culprit. Now you can eliminate that offending food from your dog’s diet indefinitely!
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