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Dog Allergies & Diet

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Do you have an itchy dog? Does your dog have soft stools, gas, vomiting? Anal gland issues? Frequent ear infections? Perhaps they're hyper, can't calm down? Did you know, all of these may be signs of a food allergy or intolerance in your dog.

The occurence of true food allergies in dogs is thought to be much lower than expected. More commonly seen are food intolerances.

But what's the difference?

A food allergy is immunologic in nature, a food intolerance is non-immunologic. While food intolerances are less acutely severe, they are still crucial to manage; left untreated gut inflammation can occur which may cause IBD.

Causes of Allergies & Intolerances

  • Poor Gut Microbiome

  • Low Zinc Consumption

  • Storage Mites in Dry Food

  • Gut Inflammation

  • Environmental Triggers

How can diet help?

There are countless ways we can support a dog with allergies nutritionally! Vets may prescribe a course of medication, but most pet owners prefer to avoid medication long term. So how can we do that?

First looking at how well the gut microbiome has been fed is key, if the dog has been fed dry food or one food predominantly over the course of its life, it is likely that the microbiome - the bacteria which aids gut function, health and behaviour - has poor diversity. While table scraps have largely been chastised, historically lower rates of allergies and intolerances were seen in pets. It is not out of the realm of possibilites that the variety provided by occasional table scraps helped feed a stronger microbiome.

Switching from dry food to wet or raw food can also help. Dry food is the most susceptible to storage mite infestations which are a common cause of allergy type symptoms in dogs. We can often cycle through a number of foods when it is not the ingredients, but the formulation itself.

If changing foods hasn't helped and you don't suspect your dogs microbiome may be off balance, the next step is a novel protein diet. This is where there is a singular protein and carbohydrate source which has not been fed before. A full diet history is needed to establish a true novel protein. If your dog has been fed food containing chicken, beef, lamb, corn and rice - even in minute amounts - then our novel protein and carbohydrate may be duck and barley or pork and potato.

In cases where a novel protein cannot be found or reactions are still occuring, a hydrolysed diet may be considered. These diets are specialised and have been manufactured in a way where the protein has been broken down into hydrolysates of a lower molecular weight which is less likely to elicit an immune response due to the way complete digestion of protein results in free amino acids and small peptides which are poor antigens. Clinical studies have shown clinical improvement in 50 to 80% of dogs fed hydrolysed diets who were allergic to the intact protein

If the above is too daunting to tackle, don't worry! We're here to help. In severe cases, a homemade diet is advised and to ensure the diet is complete, we'd recommend our Clinical Diet Formulation which is packed full of 1-2-1 support and assistance from our Head Nutritionist. If a homemade diet isn't possible, we totally understand! Let us find a suitable food for your dog by using our Find a Food Service. We're well-versed in finding suitable novel protein diets on the market for your pet!


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