What is hypoallergenic dog food?

Your friends come to visit and your dog is sitting on his mat constantly scratching himself. You find yourself insisting that he doesn't have fleas but has a coat condition instead. You notice that your friends are perhaps shying away from him a bit and from time to time scratching themselves as a sympathetic reaction.

When you find that your additional income is all going to vet bills and you are constantly trying out new products to help with the skin condition, it may be time to examine hypo-allergenic dog food to see if it offers any results.

Dogs, just like people. can be allergic to a number of food ingredients and sometimes it seems like it's next to impossible to track down what they are. Hypoallergenic dog foods allow you to give your dog a meal that contains ingredients that are less likely to cause a reaction. This way, you'll know for sure whether it is an allergic reaction that is making your pet so uncomfortable or whether it is something else entirely.

Food allergy symptoms in dogs

Dogs can show allergy symptoms in a number of different ways:

  • Chronic scratching and itching
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Yeast and other fungal infections
  • Itching throughout all seasons of the year
  • Stomach issues such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, etc.
  • Behavioral problems including anxiety and distress
  • Pronounced licking of the paws or groin area
  • Skin infections due to continuous scratching

Hypoallergenic dog food to the rescue!

When your vet has ruled out all other causes it's time to try hypoallergenic dog food. Your vet may also suggest that this be tried in tandem with other diagnostic tests. A lot of dogs do have food allergies and in some cases it may not even be the food ingredients in the package that are causing all the problems. Regular dog foods contain a lot of preservatives and additives that may be the cause.

In many cases it can be very difficult to track down the exact culprit that is causing the allergy in a dog and that is why hypoallergenic food has been created. It pretty much eliminates the main causes of dog allergies in one fell swoop.

Feeding the dog the same diet for years

A lot of people would never consider blaming the diet since their dogs have been consuming the same dog food for years. It is entirely possible, however, for an allergy turn on at any time during your pet's lifetime. Just because he was able to eat the food you gave him symptom-free yesterday does not mean that he won't react to it today. Allergies can occur at any time, any place and may occur when you least expect them.

It's also entirely possible that your dog has been allergic to this food since birth but has had the physical strength to fight off the allergy without showing any symptoms. At a time of mental or physical stress, your dog may not have the stamina it needs to avoid succumbing to the symptoms.

Anti-allergy dog food features

A good hypoallergenic food brand will include the following features:

  • Highly digestible
  • Gluten-free
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E and Vitamin C
  • Lutein and Taurine
  • No suspected allergy ingredients

Consider the table scraps!

A hypoallergenic diet must also take into account the table scraps that you're feeding your dog. If you offer your best friend a piece of your peanut butter toast every morning you are not helping the cause. It may be the peanut butter that he is allergic to! Avoid giving your dog any peanut butter, cheese, pill pockets and anything containing wheat. As well, any meat that you feed your dog should not be processed.

You should also look for hypoallergenic dog treats when you are conducting a trial of new dog food. Even rawhide should be avoided. There may be a chance that the rawhide is affecting him somehow and contributing to his food allergy.

Some of the most common foods that produce allergies in dogs include beef, chicken, dairy, lamb, corn, fish, wheat, yeast, soy and grains. There may also be a problem with mites and insects that have contaminated the grain supply. Many dog food companies use the cheapest grains possible in the manufacturing process and they are often classified as unfit for human consumption. Commercial dog food may include dead insect carcasses but you'll never see this on the list of ingredients!

Food brands to try out

Here are some of the hypoallergenic food brands that we recommend:

  • Holistic Radiant Adult
  • Royal Canin Hypoallergenic diet
  • Wellness Natural Dog Food
  • Orijen Dog Food - Grain free
  • Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein
  • Addiction’s Wild Kangaroo and Apple
  • Acana

Conducting a food trial with your dog

In many cases it can be very upsetting and disturbing to your dog to completely change his diet overnight. It’s best to mix in some of the hypoallergenic food to the food that you're currently giving him now. Gradually cut down on the amount of regular food and increase the amount of hypoallergenic dog food until he is eating only anti-allergy food.

Once your dog is on this regimen completely and you have also stopped giving him his regular treats and table scraps, you can expect to see results in approximately 8 to 10 weeks. It can take this long to see a physical or mental response so don't give up hope too early. Sometimes the food reaction just needs to run its course before leaving your dog’s body for good. Stay with the program and then take a good look at the results after these weeks have passed.

It's always a good idea to write down the exact symptoms that are occurring before starting the trial food program. It's easy to forget just how bad off your dog really was later on. You may not notice things improving if they are slow and gradual. Write down everything that you notice in your dog including physical and behavioral issues and then start the trial. At the end, take a look at what you wrote and compare how things are now as to how they were at the beginning. You may be quite surprised to see the difference!

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