This Blog Post Was Provided by Cargill Nutrition & Nutrena Feeds.

Allergies are as mysterious as they are common in dogs; they can develop seemingly overnight and have symptoms such as itching, scratching and occasionally diarrhea if unaddressed.

As difficult as they can be to diagnose, dog owners can minimize the effect of food allergies and sensitivities and keep their dog feeling great with a balanced, nutrient-rich dog food such as Loyall Life.

Just like with their owners, the source of allergic reactions in dogs can be difficult to diagnose, because there are so many different types of allergens, and so many different possible sources of exposure. Many of the well-known allergens are environmental, such as fleas, pollen, and mold. However, while not as common in dogs, food allergies and sensitivities shouldn’t be overlooked.

Like any allergy, a food allergy is caused by your dog’s immune system. In a small percentage of dogs, the immune system will identify certain foods as a foreign invader. To combat this perceived threat, the immune response will develop antibodies and launch an immune response. As this response takes time to develop, your dog may not have an allergic response to a new type of food until months after you’ve introduced it.

 

What do allergic reactions look like in dogs?

In dogs, allergic reaction symptoms are almost as numerous as the different types of allergies. The most common symptoms are red, itchy skin, inflammation, and visible hot spots. Your dog may show other symptoms such as rashes, red eyes, hair loss, ear infections, or behavioral changes. In addition, about a third of dogs that have food allergies will develop digestive issues such as diarrhea.

Some dogs may suffer from multiple types of allergies, it can be difficult to isolate the cause of your dog’s suffering — especially if these allergies are seasonal. However, if you’ve ruled out other allergens, food could be the cause. For example, if your pollen-allergic dog is showing symptoms in the middle of a cold winter, it could be a food allergy or sensitivity to something new in the house.

Interestingly enough, a dog showing allergic symptoms isn’t necessarily allergic, and could instead be food intolerant. A digestive intolerance or adverse reaction to a specific ingredient or brand doesn’t need to elicit an immune response to have strikingly similar symptoms to an allergic reaction.

In either case, while they can be difficult to diagnose, the best way to avoid food sensitivities or allergies and make sure your dog is living his or her best life is to give them kibble with natural, nutrient-rich ingredients.

 

What ingredients can help minimize food sensitivities in dogs?

Look for a brand that features a protein that is novel for your dog as the main ingredient, and doesn’t include suspect ingredients such as artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or certain grains such as wheat, soy, or corn. Make sure increased levels of omega 3 fatty acids from fish, fish meal, fish oil or flaxseed are included in the food to help balance out the omega 6 fatty acids from chicken fat or vegetable oils.  High levels of these will lead to an Omega-6 & Omega-3 ratio that is not optimal, and could result in red, itchy skin. In addition, it’s always best to avoid chemical additives. Even though these are rarely allergens, they can certainly cause food sensitivity issues.

Loyall Life dog foods all feature high quality, digestible animal-based proteins as the primary ingredient and have guaranteed levels of Omega-6 & Omega-3 fatty acids with an optimal balance. The latter is crucial to minimize the effects of allergies or a food sensitivity, as it promotes skin and coat health while also reducing inflammation. In addition, each Loyall Life product line includes prebiotics and probiotics in order to support overall digestive health. Here are four things to look out for on the ingredient list:

  • Animal-based protein should be the primary ingredient of the food.
  • Ingredients that may trigger a negative reaction in your dog should be avoided such as artificial colors or grains such as wheat, soy, and corn.
  • The proper balance of Omega-6 & Omega-3 fatty acids are integral for skin and coat health. It also helps reduce inflammation.
  • Avoid chemical additives. While they often aren’t allergens, they can cause adverse reactions.
  • In some cases, if it is difficult to get your dog’s itching and scratching under control, you should consult with your veterinarian for additional help. He may recommend seeing a Veterinary Dermatologist to have your dog tested to identify possible allergens.

 

Lastly, if your dog is still having allergic reactions even after changing foods and removing protein, going grain free could be a solution. Like with a protein allergy, this option should be discussed at length with your vet.

While your dog’s food can be the cause of allergic or sensitivity reactions, the right brand can also be the solution.  Find the best fit for your furry friend here at your local Rockingham Cooperative.

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