Food allergy usually causes itchy skin. There may also be a gastrointestinal involvement, usually vomiting, diarrhea or both. All purebreds, crossbreds and randombreds are susceptible but breeds with an increased risk of food allergy include:
- Cocker spaniel
- English springer spaniel
- Lhasa apso
- Miniature schnauzer
- Shar Pei
- Soft-coated wheaten terrier
- West Highland white terrier
Food intolerance is a reaction that does not involve the immune system but may cause vomiting, diarrhea or other clinical signs. Any dog at any age may develop a food intolerance.
A dog develops an allergy to a specific ingredient in the diet called an antigen. The most common types of antigens that cause canine food allergy are proteins. Some of us feel that early weaning or early gastrointestinal infection both may be contributing factors to the development of food allergy later in life.
Diagnosis and treatment
Food allergy is diagnosed by feeding a novel and unique diet for at least a month (and preferably for six weeks to three months) that the dog has not eaten before. If skin disease resolves then returns when the former food is fed this confirms true food allergy.
Feed a home cooked or commercial diet consisting of nutrients known not to cause allergy. The processing procedures used to produce commercial dog food may somehow increase the antigenicity of some foods. This may lead to processed food triggering an allergic response while fresh food using the same ingredients does not. Some dog food manufacturers produce hypoallergenic foods with altered antigen size. We will give you specific advise for your dog and may provide you with an “exclusion diet” formulated from foods your dog is unlikely to have eaten previously. These foods include foods such as capelin (a deep sea fish), tapioca, potato and duck.
There are many causes of pancreas inflammation including dietary. This unpredictable and painful condition can be associated with a low protein, high fat diet. If a dog has an episode of pancreatitis, high fat foods should be avoided in the future.