Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hypoallergenic Dog Food

Don't Blame That Itching on Fleas: Hypoallergenic Dog Food Might Help

Being a loving dog owner, you're likely on the lookout for even the littlest sign that your pet's life is not as comfortable as you can possibly make it. So when your dog starts scratching at his belly or biting at his hindside, you may immediately whisk him or her to the vet for a flea dip. You'll also and use flea bombs all over the house in an attempt to have a flea-free environment for fido's return.

,Except. what if you've done all of that, and within ten minutes of returning home, the scratching and biting continues?

If your dog shows signs of allergies, and you are positively certain it is not from inhalants in the environment, fleas in his coat or other health problems, your dog might be experiencing food allergies. Before changing to a hypoallergenic dog food, there are a few things to consider.

If, for example, your dog has been eating one specific food or a favorite treat for many months or even years, he or she might have developed an allergy to one of the ingredients in the that food.

Your dog might go for months or even years eating the same food without any problems, but after a while his or her immune system might be accumulating enough antibodies to finally result in an allergic reaction. If your dog has a bad reaction to a food the first time he or she eats it, this is a food intolerance created by a toxin in the food (and there are, unfortunately, more of them than you’d like to think) but it’s not an allergic reaction.

Even though it’s normal to think that if your dog has a food allergy, he or she will exhibit indigestion like nausea or diarrhea, almost all dog food allergies cause severely itching skin, and dogs with food allergies very often chew incessantly at their legs and paws. If your dog has intestinal distress after a meal, you are almost certainlyseeing food intolerance and not an allergy.

The difficulty in diagnosing food allergies in canines is that most dogs who are allergic will suffer from several allergies at the same time. So even if you were to attempt to diagnose your dog’s food allergy by changing his or her diet, and your dog began exhibiting the itching skin of a flea allergy, you might mistakenly think the modification in diet was not effective in treating the food allergy.

Finding the Source of the Allergy

The only way to determine if the change in diet has been effective is to eliminate all other possible causes for your dog’s symptoms, and put your pet on what is known as an "elimination trial" diet. You will feed your dog a diet which consists of a single protein and a single carbohydrate which you have never fed before, along with water, for a period of two & three months. Because a food allergy can take months or years to develop, your dog will not be allergic to the new foods and will not likely become allergic to them in that short amount of time.

Your vet may either recommend a commercial food which will suit the purposes of your elimination trial diet, or may recommend that you prepare your dog’s food at home. While your dog is on the elimination diet, you’ll have to be disciplined enough to avoid feeding treats or table scraps, and take away the chew toys. If there are other dogs around, keep your pet away from their droppings. Some dogs will nibble on other dogs’ poop, and even that will be enough to invalidate your elimination trial diet.

If your dog’s symptoms are seriously improved after two or three months on the elimination trial diet, you’ll be certain that a food allergy was causing them. If they haven’t improved, or have worsened, you’ll have to look elsewhere for their cause, but you can let your pet return to the old way of eating.

One precaution: if you make the decision to create your dog’s elimination trial diet yourself, it won’t be fortified with the essential vitamins, trace minerals, and fatty acids necessary to preserve your pet’s health. Therefore you’ll have to get supplements and add them to the food before feeding your pet.

Nothing is as unpleasant to you, a loving dog owner, as watching your cherished companion suffer needlessly. If your puppy is constantly biting and itching, and you are reasonably certain that fleas are not the culprit, talk to your vet about what you can do to determine if a food allergy is the culprit!

After you have determined that food allergies are responsible for your dog's biting and itching, your vet might recommend trying a hypoallergenic dog food.

Sharda Baker has published several dog ebook and audios, including the internet best selling "Complete Guide to Your Dog's Nutrition" which covers many things including hypoallergenic dog food.