Itchy skin and stomach upset could be allergic reactions to your dog’s diet.
But what is the best dog food for allergies?
Finding the right dog food to treat your pet’s allergies can seem like an uphill battle. With all the different types of hypoallergenic dog foods on the market, how do you know which dog food brands to trust?
At Rick’s Dog Deli, we believe that healthy dog food is the best way to treat dog allergies of any kind, whether you’re dealing with itchy skin or GI issues. Just like humans, dogs deal with the uncomfortable effects of allergies, and just like humans, a nutritious diet made up of real food is the key to alleviating their symptoms.
The trouble is that dog food allergies can be a complicated issue to untangle. From identifying common allergens to treating allergic reactions, many pet parents find themselves in a never-ending cycle of symptoms, new brands, and calls to the vet. Here at the Deli, we aim to make things a bit easier so your dog gets the relief s/he craves.
Types of Dog Allergies
What we call an “allergy” is simply the immune system showing a response to a substance that is not inherently harmful. The body recognizes the substance as a potential threat, and takes actions to contain the foreign invasion.
There are several things that can cause your dog to suffer from allergic reactions, but they can be broken down into two main types: environmental allergies and food allergies.
Environmental Allergies In Dogs
An environmental allergy is a reaction to things found within the dog’s external environment. (Pollen, grass, and household dust are common allergens.) Symptoms typically include itchy skin, hotspots, runny eyes, poor skin and coat health, and a low quality of life.
Environmental allergies are somewhat difficult to control, since they are present in every aspect of a dog’s life and—in many cases—inescapable. Frequent baths and medication can help, and in many cases, switching away from highly processed commercial dog food helps eliminate the majority of symptoms. The healthier your dog food is, the healthier your dog.
Food Allergies In Dogs
Food allergies, on the other hand, are reactions to ingredients in the dog’s diet. Common symptoms are stomach upset, weight loss, lethargy, and itching.
In recent years, food allergies have become a growing problem for dogs. The cause of this problem is still to be determined, but most believe it to be a result of inbreeding and over-vaccination.
Regardless of the cause, food allergies can be treated by simply eliminating the offending ingredient from your dog’s diet and switching to a high-quality dog food that doesn’t cause the reaction. Determining the dog food allergy however is not so simple.
What Is Causing My Dog’s Allergies?
Because allergies vary from dog to dog, it is rare for a single brand or formulation of dog food to be universally hypoallergenic to all dogs at all times.
For example, a product labeled “allergy-friendly” that contains lamb as the first ingredient won’t help if your dog is allergic to lamb. As a result, you would either find yourself right back where you started or end up bouncing around from brand to brand.
Ultimately, the best dog food for allergies is one that doesn’t contain the allergen, so it’s crucial that you find out what that ingredient is.
Although allergy testing is readily available, it is also unreliable and inconclusive. The only way to be sure of your dog’s suspected allergies is to use the elimination diet as a tool to identify these intolerable foods.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
There is a relatively simple and effective way of determining your dog’s allergies. Elimination diets or limited ingredient diets consist of hypoallergenic dog foods to lessen the number of ingredients in your dog’s food so you can better determine what food your dog is allergic to. The longer the ingredient list, the most possible changes for allergens in your dog food.
You start by giving your dog limited ingredient foods (and nothing else!) to allow the reaction to subside. While there is no exact regulation for what constitutes limited ingredient dog food, most have just one protein source to provide essential amino acids and occasionally one carbohydrate source. If the food contains a blend of proteins and ingredients, it will be nearly impossible to find out which one is causing the reaction.
At Rick’s Dog Deli, we recommend using goat meat as the main source of protein. Since goat meat is uncommon in the United States (and most dogs have not been exposed to it), goat allergies are extremely rare. This gives us a constant in a world full of variables.
Once the dog’s system has removed the last remnants of every other protein, we can go back and introduce various proteins to determine if they cause an allergic reaction in the body.
For example, after following the Goat Protocol for a period of eight weeks, we reintroduce chicken into your dog’s diet. If we see a reaction, we can safely determine that the dog has a chicken allergy. It’s important to not only treat the immediate symptoms of your dog’s food allergy but to also determine its cause to ensure lasting health.
This is a great food for dogs with skin allergies as well, as many food allergies manifest as itchy skin, ears, and paws.
What Is the Best Dog Food For Allergies?
The best diet for dogs with allergies—whether environmental or food—is a species-appropriate diet that consists of real meats (not “meal!”), fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates/grains mixed in the proper ratios.
Science is realizing more and more that a healthy diet is the foundation for overall health in humans, and your dog is no different. Fresh pet food with the proper vitamins and minerals will keep them happy, healthy, and allergy symptom-free so they can keep being your best friend.
If you’re looking for allergy relief on behalf of your canine companion, you’ve come to the right place. We offer plenty of therapeutic meals in addition to allergy relief like grain-free dog foods and kidney support.
At Rick’s Dog Deli, we put your dog’s health and well-being first at every step. We use ingredients we know will benefit the health of your dog like brown rice to aid digestion to apples and carrots to boost the immune system. From choosing only USDA-inspected ingredients to carefully blending Custom Meals, we guarantee that you and your best friend will enjoy every mealtime!
Stop by our College Park location to say hi with your canine friend or give us a call at 407-505-2839 to see how we can help.