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Food Allergies In Dogs

Is your dog itching and scratching? Does she have frequent ear infections or poor coat quality? You could be contributing to your dog’s distress without knowing it if she’s allergic to what you are feeding her. Food allergies are a rising concern with dog owners and it seem like more and more dogs are suffering from them.

A food allergy is reaction by an individual animal to a particular substance in their food. This occurs when the bodies’ response to normal food becomes confused causing abnormal reactions. Frequently the food has been part of the diet for a long time. We cannot stop this abnormal reaction so the only effective treatment is to avoid eating the food that causes the problem.

The most common causes of food allergy in dogs include mutton, chicken, wheat, corn, soy, dairy foods and eggs. Occasionally chemicals such as preservatives, additives or food dyes are also the culprit. The most common causes of food allergy in the cat include fish and dairy products.

Common signs

The most common clinical sign of a food allergy is itching. This leads to chewing, rubbing and scratching with hair loss and redness. Some animals may have loose stools, diarrhea, vomiting or ear infections. The signs are often very similar to the signs seen with other allergies.

Diagnosing the problem

Unfortunately there are no reliable tests to diagnose food allergy in dogs and cats. The diagnosis is made by conducting an elimination diet trial. This involves feeding a new food that your pet has not eaten before for a period of 6-8 weeks. If your pet has a food allergy, and there is improvement in the itchiness and/or loose stools over this period of time, you will be able to identify the foods to be eliminated.

Elimination diet trial

For six to eight weeks you will need to feed a new diet. Use home prepared foods, through there are commercially prepared alternative in biscuits and tinned forms. It is essential that you feed nothing other than the trail diet. Feeding even a small amount of other foods will result in a continuation of allergy symptoms.

Food items that need to be avoid during the trial:

• Treats
• Bones
• Human foods
• Vitamin supplements
• Toothpastes or flavored medications.
• Milk

Food items okay to be fed during the trial:

• Bones (of the meat source used in the trial)
• Jerky treat (of different meat sources)
• Water

Assessing the diet trial

In order to diagnose an allergy to food, seek for an improvement in the symptoms while on the diet and a worsening of them when pets are introduced to other foods. The easiest way to achieve this is to record on a daily basis the symptoms (itchiness / loose stools) and level of severity your pet has experienced. It is also important to record any foods not part of the trial that were accidentally fed. This will helps diagnose a food allergy and tell if other allergies are also present.


Dr Sharad Singh Yadav is the Chairman of Advanced Pet Hospital & Research Centre which is open 24 hours throughout the year and located in Bishal Nagar, Kathmandu. He may be contacted on tel: 4422855 or email: aphktm@gmail.com