Grain-Free Pet Food: An Alternative For Dogs With Food Allergies

No breed predilection for food allergies has been firmly established in  or dogs.
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Removing the allergen from your dog’s diet completely will offer him relief from all his food allergy related symptoms. If the allergen remains in your dog’s diet, it will continue to weaken his immune system over time. This can lead to long term and recurring issues. While it may be a long process, if you are able to discover the actual ingredient your dog is allergic to, you may or may not be able to keep him on a raw food diet. Plus, once you know the actual allergen, you are then able to have strict control over your dog’s diet and can keep him from ingesting it in any form.
WebMD reveals the signs, symptoms, and triggers for food allergies in dogs.
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Beef is a common food allergen for dogs and can cause uncomfortable skin disorders as well as chronic conditions such as indigestion, ear infections, and breathing troubles. Allergies are due to an abnormally high defensive response to a protein, in this case, beef, that the immune system considers to be an intrusive substance. The process of digestion breaks down our foods into amino acids which are then absorbed by enterocytes, a type of white blood cell. If the digestive system doesn’t completely break down the proteins, the enterocytes see them as intruders and attack by releasing histamine into the system. It is often difficult for clinicians to diagnose food allergies in dogs and cats for several reasons:
Photo provided by FlickrAltogether, some form/combination of food allergies accounts for less than half of itchy and scratchy episodes in dogs.
Photo provided by FlickrIn order to identify what is the best food for dogs with food allergies you must first understand what are food allergies and what causes them.
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Proteins cause most food allergies. It's unusual for pets to be allergic to carbohydrates or fats. Considering all dog food allergies, two-thirds are caused by beef, dairy, and wheat. Dogs are also frequently allergic to soy, chicken, eggs, and corn. For cats, 90% of food allergies are caused by beef, dairy, and fish. Cats are also commonly allergic to lamb, wheat, chicken, and corn. No sex predilection has been reported for food allergy in dogs or cats. In some studies, no breed predilection was noted. In contrast, two studies found that certain dog breeds may have a risk for the development of food allergy: For dogs and cats, the most common sign of food allergy is itching and scratching. Other signs of food allergies are head and neck itching, miliary dermatitis, eosinophilic granulomas, swollen lymph nodes, hives, and conjunctivitis.Certainly, some owners are unable or unwilling to cook for their pet for the period necessary. In such cases, the dermatology service at UC Davis uses commercially available limited-antigen diets. For dogs these would include Purina LA (salmonid); Iams FP (fish and potato) and KO (kangaroo and oats); IVD duck, venison, whitefish, or rabbit plus potato; Hills D/D (duck or fish and rice); or Waltham fish and rice. For cats, these would include IVD duck, venison, or rabbit plus potato; Hills D/D feline; or Iams lamb and barley. Another option for animals who already have been fed many foods, or whose dietary history is unknown, is the use of hydrolyzed protein diets, in which the protein source is hydrolyzed to small molecular weights, thus avoiding the body’s “immunologic radar.” Such foods include Purina HA (hydrolyzed soy), Hills Z/D, or DVM Exclude. Use of a commercially prepared diet will give an approximately 90% chance of determining a food allergy; however, none of these diets will work for all animals, and failure of an animal to improve on such a diet may warrant trying another one, or a home-cooked diet in another trial.Concurrent hypersensitivities have been reported in dogs and include atopy, flea allergy dermatitis, intestinal parasite allergy, and even an allergy to bovine insulin. Concurrent pyoderma and/or infection is also common. Dogs may have pyoderma (superficial or deep) as the only clinical sign of food allergy. These dogs are often clinically normal (i.e., non-pruritic) while receiving antibiotics. Therefore, it becomes quite important to diagnose and treat secondary infections, as persistence of pruritus due to these infections may confound the ability of the clinician to diagnose the underlying allergy.Just like their human counterparts, dogs may develop food allergies. A food allergy is where the dog’s body recognizes food as a foreign invader and attacks it instead of processing the food.