More and more pet parents are dealing with food allergies in their four-legged companions, many without even knowing it. The signs of food allergies in dogs and cats are not always easily recognized. Once the signs are identified, there are basic steps pet parents can take to avoid common allergens, relieve their pet’s discomfort, and still provide all the nutrients he needs to live a healthy, happy life.
Signs of Food Allergies in Pets
One might expect food allergies to affect the gastrointestinal system, but GI problems are more about effective digestion of the food than an allergy to it. Instead, food allergies in dogs can present themselves as itchy or oozing skin, red irritated eyes, nasal discharge, coughing or sneezing, asthma, inflamed ears, or swollen paws.¹ Cats with food allergies show slightly different signs, with the main indication being itchy skin that leads to excessive scratching and hair loss.² What often looks like skin problems or environmental allergies may really be signs your pet is not tolerating a particular ingredient in his food.
Most Common Food Allergens in Pets
Many likely food allergy suspects have been identified over time. If you suspect your pet is allergic to something in his diet, check to see if one of the most common food allergens is present. For dogs, the culprit is likely to be beef, corn, wheat, soy, eggs, and milk.3 Cats with food allergies tend to have reactions to wheat, corn, dairy, beef, pork and fish.4 Pets, like many people, can be allergic to gluten, so gluten-free pet foods are becoming more common.5
Often pet parents can successfully identify the culprit causing the allergic reaction by making a series of changes to their pet’s diet. By monitoring the reaction of pets to various pet food ingredients, it is possible to eventually eliminate the one creating problems. Alternatively, veterinarians can help by testing your pet against potential allergens, to reduce the trial and error and more quickly determine the cause.
Three Tips for Avoiding Food Allergies in Pets
#1 - Rotate your pet's protein source. Often pets eat the same food, week after week, year after year. “Food allergies have been shown to occur more in pets that are fed only one food source for a prolonged period of time. Your pet’s immune system can become bombarded with the same allergens for so long that it begins to react negatively to the food source.”6 Rotating your pet’s primary protein source, a major ingredient in healthy pet foods, can help reduce developing an allergy over time, as well as provide a variety of different amino acids for optimal nutrition.7
#2 - Be aware of hidden ingredients. Due to pet food labeling regulations and inaccuracies by some companies, pet foods may contain ingredients not on the label. This means that pet parents must learn the common sources of hidden ingredients and ask pet food companies about them. One hidden source of protein comes with the man-made minerals, proteinates, or amino acid complex minerals routinely added to most pet foods. The protein carriers attached to these synthetic forms of minerals consist of hydrolyzed soy. In addition, “natural flavoring” is a very common ingredient found on most bags of dry pet food. Most often it is a hydrolyzed form of dried or liquid chicken liver. But you won’t see this chicken protein listed on the ingredient panel of the pet food because it falls under “natural flavoring.”8
#3 - Choose a food free of common allergens. One of the simplest things you can do to avoid food allergies in pets is to select a pet food free of the ingredients most often creating allergies for pets. Ignore the television commercials and magazine ads. Forget about how pretty the package is. Flip it over and read the ingredients.
Nature's Logic is ideal for sensitive pets. For easy protein rotation, the company has created seven different protein formulas: Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Venison, Duck & Salmon, Sardine, and Rabbit. Our foods contain none of the common allergens like corn, wheat, soy, or gluten. Pet parents need not fear hidden ingredients when feeding our formulas. The food’s flavor comes from naturally-dried meats, so there is no hidden soy. Further, Nature’s Logic has created the first and only, full-line of commercial pet food in the world with no chemically-synthesized vitamins, minerals, or other ingredients. For more information, please visit www.natureslogic.com.
Have you ever had a pet with food allergies?