Food allergy

What are allergies, and how do they affect dogs?

One of the most common conditions affecting dogs is allergy. In the allergic state, the dog’s immune system “overreacts” to foreign substances (allergens or antigens) to which it is exposed. These overreactions are manifested in three ways. The most common is itching of the skin, either localised (one area) or generalised (all over the dog). Another manifestation involves the respiratory system and may result in coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be an associated nasal or ocular (eye) discharge. The third manifestation involves the digestive system, resulting in vomiting or diarrhoea.

What is food allergy?

A food allergy is a condition in which the body’s immune system reacts adversely to a food or an ingredient in a food.

What foods are likely to cause an allergic reaction?

Any food or food ingredient can cause an allergy. However, protein, usually from the meat source of the food, is the most likely offender. Proteins commonly found in dog foods are derived from beef, chicken, lamb, and horsemeat.

Isn’t a lamb-based dog food supposed to be hypoallergenic?

No, although many people think it is. Several years ago there were no dog foods on the commercial market that contained lamb. A manufacturer of prescription dog foods formulated a food from lamb that was suitable for allergy testing, which will be explained below. Because of that situation, lamb-based dog food was considered “hypoallergenic”.

Dogs are not likely to be born with food allergies. More commonly, they develop allergies to food products they have eaten for a long time. The allergy most frequently develops in response to the protein component of the food; for example, beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. Food allergy may produce any of the clinical signs previously discussed, including itching, digestive disorders, and respiratory distress. We recommend testing for food allergy when the clinical signs have been present for several months, when the dog has a poor response to steroids, or when a very young dog itches without other apparent causes of allergy. Testing is done with a special hypoallergenic diet. Because it takes at least 4 weeks for all other food products to get out of the system, the dog must eat the special diet exclusively for 4-8 weeks (or more). If positive response occurs, you will be instructed on how to proceed. If the diet is not fed exclusively, it will not be a meaningful test. We cannot overemphasise this. If any type of table food, treats or vitamins are given, these must be discontinued during the testing period.

Get in touch with us

Four great Veterinary locations in Sydney Australia
  • Alexandria
  • Dee Why
  • Kingsford
  • Marrickville

Shop 1/138 Botany Rd
Alexandria NSW 2017
Australia
Phone: (02) 9698 4120
Fax: (02) 9698 4125
Email: Alexandria@amsvet.com.au

815 Pittwater Rd
Dee Why NSW 2099
Australia
Phone: (02) 9972 2044
Fax: (02) 9982 2307
Email: Deewhy@amsvet.com.au

70 Gardeners Rd
Kingsford NSW 2032
Australia
Phone: (02) 9662 6703
Fax: Fax: (02) 9662 8829
Email: Kingsford@amsvet.com.au

402 Illawarra Road
Marrickville NSW 2204
Australia
Phone: (02) 9558 2500
Fax: (02) 9559 3410
Email: Marrickville@amsvet.com.au

  • Alexandria
  • Dee Why
  • Kingsford
  • Marrickville

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