Many top dog food companies use filler ingredients in their recipes which contain a lot of known ingredients to cause dog food allergies. Some of the most common offenders include:
Do not automatically assume that beef is bad for your pet. Feeding a single food for years increases the potential for your dog to develop an allergy to one or more ingredients. Beef is one of the most common ingredients in a large number of well-known food brands, which may be a reason it’s number one.
Some dogs have problems digesting lactose, just like humans. Note: this is an intolerance and not a true allergy. However, lactose intolerance can lead to flatulence, diarrhea or vomiting if severe enough. To truly identify if it is an allergy or intolerance, keep in mind that dairy allergies may manifest as skin itchiness or related symptoms, whereas lactose intolerance is always about digestion.
Wheat is an extremely common ingredient used in dog food because it is readily available, cheap, and it provides a great source of energy when blended with an animal protein such as chicken. This does not mean it is always a good thing for your pet though. However, a dog’s body has no real nutritional need for wheat (and other grains), and dogs can be negatively impacted by wheat consumption.
An egg allergy means that your dog’s immune system overreacts to the proteins present in the egg yolk. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to avoid eggs. Just be sure to double-check food labels.
The same rules apply here as they do for beef! Chicken is widely used in dog foods and feeding your dog something for many years can cause an intolerance to build up and lead to an allergy.
Dr. Karen Becker, for Healthy Pets, is very concerned about soy. “The health risks associated with soy products far outweigh any potential benefit,” she writes.
Even though dogs have become a lot more domesticated in the decades of humans raising them, they are still primitive beings. Dogs have little natural digestive support for breaking down and metabolizing complex carbohydrates and cereal grains. These difficult-to-digest fibers and grains remain undigested, with the body relying mainly on fermentation to break them down. Over a long period of time, this can damage the lining of the digestive system, resulting in bowel inflammation disorders, food sensitivities, food allergies, leaky gut, and obesity.
Less Grain & More Rich Proteins
Most vets today recommend that carbohydrates and grains make up a small portion of a dog’s diet (according to Dogster: 50% vegetables/40% meat protein/10% grains) as quoted by CanineJournal. A large amount of raw/grain-free dog foods, especially wet or freeze-dried contain more protein and animal fats and fewer carbohydrates.
Other benefits of a low or zero-grain diet include lowered hunger levels, food-related allergy reduction, increased energy, healthier stools, a shiny coat, and better breath.
While self-diagnosing dog food allergies can be relatively easy, there are many other problems that can cause similar symptoms, and many times animals are suffering from more problems than just food allergies, it is very important that all other problems are properly identified and treated prior to undergoing diagnosis for food allergies. Always consult your vet before making a drastic change to your pet’s lifestyle such as food, exercise, medications, etc.
Trial and Elimination Dieting
A food trial is a tactic to determine if your pet has an allergy by trial/error with diets. This process includes a limited number of ingredients in a pet’s food. ‘Limited Diets’ typically include a very short list of ingredients in your pet’s food, such as cooked rabbit and rice or cooked salmon and potatoes. Regardless of the diet used, it must be the only thing your pet eats for approximately 12 weeks. This means no treats, no flavored medications, no bones, and absolutely nothing but special food and water. In addition, this means extra effort on the owner’s part to ensure the dog does not get into the trash can or other areas where food is stored.
A vast majority of pets respond by 12 weeks on a limited food diet. Therefore, it is very important to keep the pet on the diet for the entire 12 weeks. If the dog shows a marked reduction or elimination of the symptoms, then the animal is placed back on the original food. If the symptoms return after going back on the original diet, the diagnosis of a food allergy is confirmed.