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Food Allergies in Pets
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M Duffy Jones, DVM posted:
"My pet scratches all year long!"

This is a common complaint I get at my practice. Owners get very frustrated and feel bad about their pet possibly being uncomfortable. Many also get upset because they spend lots of money on medication, only to have the itching and scratching return as soon as the medication is stopped.

When I talk to owners about their pets' constant scratching I ask them lots of questions to determine if their pets have any food allergies. Food allergies are very hard to diagnose and it can take a lot of time and observation. Some things I ask pet owners to think about in these instances include:

* When does the itching and scratching occur?
* Is there a pattern to the areas their pets are scratching?
* What types of foods are they feeding?
* Have they recently switched pet foods?
* Is the scratching getting better or worse?
* Do they give their pets any treats? If so, what type and how often?

Changing Your Pet's Diet
If you look online at "food for food allergies in pets", you'll see many food types and brands, as well as different opinions about all of them. After years of trying to figure out what's best, I've concluded that every pet is different. I have seen improvement in many pets' food allergies on commercial diets, over-the-counter diets, diets with limited ingredients, home cooked diets, and raw food diets. I've also seen an equal number of pets get worse on these same diets.

The diet that works for one animal may not work for another. And it can take time to work through different pet diets until you find the one that helps your own pet. If I suspect a food allergy in one of my patients, typically I have the owner:

* Start with a protein source that the pet has never tried before. If the pet has been eating a chicken-based diet, I'll recommend changing to a fish-based diet.
* Look at the amount of grains in the pet food and shoot for a grain-free diet.
* Keep the pet on the prescribed diet for 6 to 8 weeks, meaning no treats, no rawhide"026 nothing but the specific foods allotted.
* Consider other pet care products you are using, such as heartworm or flea prevention. Some of these products taken orally have beef or pork flavoring, which also may interfere with a food trial.
As you can imagine, pet food trials are hard to do in real life. So if you think your pet has a food allergy, build up your patience and talk with your vet. It may take time to figure out which diet is best. But if you find it, the allergic reactions could disappear altogether, making all the time and effort worth it.

Have you ever had a pet diagnosed with food allergies? Share your experiences with the Community about your pets' food allergies how you've been able to cope.
Reply
 
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CMH7054 responded:
I replied yesterday, but I don't see it-well, here I go again!

We struggled for MONTHS to figure out our 10 year old Yorkie's allergies. She had been on a fish diet for years. Then she started scooting, twirling and scratching like crazy!! So we tried RX rabbit and potato (13 weeks)-still scooting. Then Rx hydrolyzed protein (soy) (8 weeks)-nope! In desperation, I had the VARL food allergy testing. It shoed a sensitivity to corn, wheat, pork, beef, milk, and soy. Then, the vet's nutritionist had lunch with a rep from Hill's Science Diet who had an allergic dog. The HIll's rep recommended Iams kangaroo and oat. Voila!! I also bought the CA Naturals kangaroo and lentil and I mix them together because I don't want to jinx it! IN a few weeks I'm going to try adding some chicken breast to see how she does.
Latte is a much happier dog. Through all this we found out she was hypothyroid, so she takes soloxine for that. She has a bacterial infection in her skin so she's on antibiotics for a month-the only time she scratched was when we stopped the antibiotic too soon. She also takes a pinch of prednisone, just in case.
It was a looonnnngggg and frustrating road. I had written on this site before trying to get more help and I learned a lot.
 
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RicRatCat responded:
This is not a response but rather an invitation. I have a blog that I created here on WebMD regarding the pets of the family: http://exchanges.webmd.com/ricratcat-loves-all-pets/forum/index . I invite you to take a look.
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to CMH7054's response:
I am so glad your pet is doing better. Finding the right food can be a long process. You are also doing a great job of managing the other disease at the same time - the bacterial infection and low thyroid. Keep up the good work.
 
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socialic responded:
We have a 2 1/2 year old silver lab who has a bad odor year round. I'm wondering if it could be allergies? We've tried several different types of food - including wet food, but that doesn't seem to help. We have TONS of different doggy shampoos, and none of those seem to help. She doesn't scratch a lot, but she does frequently have red-rimmed eyes. I was also considering taking her back to the vet to have her Thyroid checked? Any thoughts are appreciated!
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to socialic's response:
Usually when they smell I think of yeast - but typically they are itching. I would take them to your vet and check his thyroid and also see if they can find any yeast on him.
 
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CrystalNessie responded:
I also struggled for months finding the right food for my allergic dog. I had no idea dogs could be allergic to chicken, but that's what it was, and now that he is on the limited ingredient food called Natural Balance potato & duck, he is doing so much better! I'm so happy we found this food and that his quality of life has so greatly improved.
 
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jfdogmom responded:
I took my great dane to the vet because she was chewing herself raw. She was tested for mange (none found) then put on prednisone. That helped some except she drank a lot more and of course peed a lot more. Once she was done with that it was back to chewing. Then I started to read about food allergies and wondered if that might be the problem. I changed to a grain free diet. Now my question is if that is the problem how long will it take before I see an improvement. Her feet look awful and she just keeps straching and rubbing every where.
Help!
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to CrystalNessie's response:
Great to hear that you found a food that works. Sometimes it can take trying several foods before you find the right one.
 
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M Duffy Jones, DVM replied to jfdogmom's response:
It can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to know for sure if the food is making a difference. Also remember you have to cut out all other sources of food including treats. Any little bit of food with grains in it can throw your food trial off.

Have your vet check the feet for yeast or bacteria. Your dog might need to clear the secondary infections as well as working on the allergy.
 
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jen01 replied to socialic's response:
I have a silver lab that will be 2 years in a few months. We dealt with a problem of him smelling really bad when he was a few months old and could not figure it out. We have been to many vets and also dermatologists for dogs. His coat smelled horrible, his eyes would be goopy and had persistant rash on his stomach. The specialist treated hime for food allergies adn also put him on an antibiotic. He was eating bison and sweet potato by natural balance and we figured out it was the dog food that was causing his odor. He has really bad skin allergies and also color dilution alopecia (which gives him a really thin coat) from being a diluted color gene. I have had good luck with california natural the salmon and pea with very limited ingredients. He has no dog smell and has healthy skin now.


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