Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Working With Your Dog's Food Allergy

There are many signs that your dog could have a food allergy. The list is almost endless, but the main culprits are itchy skin, a dull and/or frizzy coat, inflamed ears, excessive licking of certain areas (paws for example), lethargy, diarrhea (even projectile stools), blood, mucous or both in the stool, gas and possibly even vomiting. These, coupled with horror stories of owners coming home from work to find their living rooms sprayed with sick-dog diarrhea can all be symptoms of dog food allergies. Some symptoms can be a lot more dangerous, like seizures or negative behavior changes. When dealing with your dog's food allergies you need to understand, change and monitor the dog's diet and reactions.

A dog owner should keep in mind that most reputable dog foods don't contain corn, soy or wheat. Another part of the understanding of a dog's allergies is to comprehend the grains used to make dog food. If your dog's food does contain any of those "filler grains" it might be wise to continue looking for a different food. Corn, soy and wheat are grains that pet food companies fortify their food with because they are relatively cheap products. But not only that, these three grains are regular allergy culprits.

If you have changed your dog's food in the recent past, this is a telltale reason as to why your dog may be acting sick. A general rule of thumb when changing a dog's diet is to gradually introduce new food into his diet. 25% percent at a time over the period of ten days. This basically breaks down to a 25% increase in the new food and a 25% decrease in the old food every 2 to 3 days. Some dogs adjust well, and some dogs need a more gradual shift. The main point here is that sometimes what looks like an allergic reaction is simply your dog having an upset stomach while re-calibrating his intestines to a different diet.

In order to get your dog back on track if he is indeed suffering from a food allergy is to completely monitor his food intake. This means a "reloading" of his entire diet. Tackling your dog's food allergy starts with changing what your dog consumes while assessing what he has been consuming. This also means that there can be no cheating and that the diet needs to be strict. Look for hypoallergenic foods. Follow the above principle of a 25% shift in food every few days. Things get complicated at this point however, because the words "hypoallergenic" don't necessarily mean that your dog won't be allergic to the food. An example of this is lamb. Lamb is what used to be considered as the "ultimate" hypoallergenic meat. Lamb allergies while not common, are possible as well. So whatever exclusive diet you decide upon for your dog it should fit whatever your dog works with. This could take some trial and error, or it could work nicely and immediately.

Corn, soy and wheat may not be the best grains to fortify your dog's diet with, but brown rice and potatoes are both starches that receive more respect, and have a better track record as far as dog allergies go. Let's assume that you choose a chicken and rice diet. You could prepare the chicken and boil the rice. This way you will know what your dog is consuming, how it was prepared, etc, etc. Hopefully, you will notice an immediate improvement. Most people queried on this subject for this article were very secure with the fact that the determination of a food allergy is started with home cooking your dog's meals. What this betrays is a general mistrust in store-bought dog food. But we also have to be realistic here, some of us simply don't have the time or patience to boil copious amounts of chicken breasts and brown rice. If that is indeed your case, then another method is to scrutinize the dog food that is on the market and find that which seems the simplest, healthiest, and most suited for your dog.

Dog food allergies are unpredictable, much like human allergies. An example of this is that most people are born drinking milk. They drink it through their adolescence but then as adults, they develop a lactose intolerance. Dogs are similar in the fact that they might eat the same thing their entire life and then suddenly a latent allergy kicks in.

As I researched this article, I found that the most heartening fact is that if your dog isn't allergic to the food that you settle on, the positive change can be immediate. When working with your dog's food allergies you need to comprehend, adjust and watch your dog's demeanor as well as his food. A dog is a resilient creature, and when you find the proper diet for your pet, he will bounce back quickly.

When dealing with your dog's allergies, it might be wise to consider a vegetarian diet. At West Coast Pet Supply we have all of the products you need to keep you and your pet healthy and content.

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