We have a lot of customers ask us questions about symptoms in their pets that seem consistent with food allergies. Some symptoms of allergies include:
- Itching & Scratching
- Frequent ear infections
- Hot spots
- Reddened skin
- Foul odor
- Greasy or gooey discharge in ears, eyes, coat
Often, vets will recommend treatment options such as steroids, topical medicines, or a prescription diet. While these options certainly address the symptoms of the problem, there may be more practical and holistic options for a dog suffering from mild to moderate allergies.
In this blog, we’ll look specifically at food options because, well…that’s what we do.
Our main beef with prescription diets is this: Prescription diets use modified, hydrolyzed and/or denatured proteins of small molecular weight to render them nonallergenic.
This is what I mean: The protein has been formulated (hydrolyzed) to be so small that it will not stimulate the immune system. The diet may also have used small carbohydrates as well to avoid the potential immune response to proteins in the carbohydrate component of the diet. However, the process used to denature roteins also inactivates enzymes and breaks down vitamins. A dog’s digestive systems is not designed to digest these proteins.
This is great short term solution, but in the long run, your dog’s gastrointestinal flora and vitamin intake will begin to suffer. We think the prescription diets are a great option for reducing the inflammatory response to an allergen, but from there, you should start to reintroduce individual ingredients to your dogs diet to test tolerance.
We recommend the follow foods for reintroduction:
- Natural Balance Fish & Sweet Potato Limited Ingredient Diet
- Natural Balance Duck & Potato Limited Ingredient Diet
Why you ask? (well, even if you don’t want to know why, we’re going to tell you…)
Ever heard the adage “you are what you eat?” It is especially pertinent for dogs.
Non-western medical theories believe that food is like a medicine. Food is classified as having various properties such as cooling, warming, etc. Allergic dogs should eat cooling foods such as fish, duck and rabbit. The cooling foods help to bring down the inflammation throughout the body. Foods like venison and lamb are considered the warmest of proteins and, to an allergic dog, would greatly increase the heat in the body and the allergic reaction. Cooling foods include duck, fish, rabbit, whitefish, cod, string beans, celery, banana, apple, pear, barley, brown rice, broccoli, flax seed oil and yogurt. Incorporating cooling foods into an allergic dog’s diet will help to resolve the underlying disharmony that is causing the reaction.
Not only do the Natural Balance foods contains cooling foods, they also use limited ingredients, which help minimize concern when reintroducing a dog to ingredients.
Allergic reactions can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to appear, so if the dog is showing no signs of an allergic reaction after one week of eating a particular food, an additional food should be reintroduced. During this process, if the dog starts to show signs of a reaction (such as diarrhea, vomiting, gurgly stomach, or skin irritations), the most recently incorporated food is revealed as the allergen (or one of the allergens). That food should be permanently eliminated from the dog’s diet.
If you’d like to learn more, take a look at the following articles for more information. And, of course, you can always call the friendly faces at Grateful Pet with additional questions 🙂
- Holistic Solutions For Your Dog’s Allergies: The Alternative to Steroids from Fetch Magazine, June 2008
- Food Allergies 101 from Modern Dog Magazine
- Forget The Steroids from Animal Wellness Magazine, April/May 2010