Dealing with Pet Food Allergies
Raising an animal is A LOT of work at times. We do everything we can to give them the best of the best – from the latest toys and most comfortable bed to the best training that money can buy….
Then there’s the food…
This causes such a stir in some pet circles. You’ve got those that raw feed vs those that kibble feed, those that share scraps with their dog vs those that won’t allow it. Somewhere in the middle of all this feeding controversy there are the dogs like my dear Daviana.
You see, I didn’t get much choice when it came to Dav’s feeding habits. She has a condition called Atopic Dermatitis. Pet MD defines Atopic Dermatitis as, “an inflammatory, chronic skin disease associated with allergies”. Basically, what happens with my dear girl is that any allergen that triggers her reaction causes her to become so itchy and irritated she literally begins to lose her hair… she scratches, rubs and licks at herself until she is raw, with skin welts. It got pretty bad before we started learning our way around her many allergies…
She’s allergic to grasses, pollens and dust mites among other things on the environmental side. We’ve learned to manage this with a collection of medications, medicated shampoos and contact drops.
But to make matters worse, she has a food hypersensitivity that also triggers her skin condition, and through a LONG journey of experimentation, with our vet at our side, we discovered she has one of the longest lists of allergies her vet had ever seen…. I mean really, this dog is allergic to almost everything! We tried more dog foods than I ever knew existed, and through an elimination style diet finally got her settled on something she could stomach. You see, dear Dav can only have seafood based foods, or vegetable based proteins. Any other protein is off limits. Oh, and don’t forget that it also must be grain free!
Thank you Taste of the Wild for being the answer to our long search!
Treats were another fun one. You see, there aren’t a whole lot of options out there for dogs with her allergies. Let’s start with the fact that a majority of dog foods and treats include a chicken meal base. It doesn’t matter if you are feeding your dog beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey – most of them contain a chicken meal base. This girl can’t do chicken….
This is a good time to note that it is important that you take the time to read the ingredients on your pets food. There are a lot of super common and popular foods out there that are PACKED with fillers! You may think you are saving some money, picking up the cheaper food, but when you pet has to eat twice as much to stay full and heavy, you would be better off going for a slightly higher quality option if you can afford to do so. I know that funds can be tight, so no judgement here! Feeding them something is better than nothing at all. However, its important to consider not only the cost of the bag, but how long that bag is going to last you!
If you are looking to explore some higher quality dog foods to find out what options are available to you, Dog Food Advisor does a great job of breaking it all down!
We gave up on purchased dog treats, and instead focused on what fruits and vegetables they can eat. Poor Indy, our other dog, has been dragged along on this journey. We weren’t going to separate them to feed them separate meals, or only allow one treats at a time, so her restrictions became his restrictions.
So what, you may ask, gets their tails wagging and the drool flowing? These pups LOVE carrots! We can literally give them a whole carrot and they run away proud as can be, gnawing down on it like they would a bone. They recognize the sound of the vegetable crisper….
Now here’s where I’m hoping I might be able to lend some of you a hand. If you are currently out there trying to fight the food allergy fight, know that I am with you! I’ve got you! Its beyond frustrating at times, and it takes A LOT of patience. Start by limiting your pup down to a food that has as few ingredients as possible. The idea is to eliminate pretty much everything to a food that they can tolerate with minimal ingredients, then slowly start adding things in, watching for a reaction.
Some of the more common allergens for pups include:
Now obviously being on the list doesn’t mean its going to be out for your dog! Dav THRIVES on a fish based diet. Just as you do with humans, you should find a diet that works for your pup, and their needs. Most dogs who deal with food allergies, however, are allergic to more than one item on the list. Making it even more challenging, dogs can develop allergies in time (just like humans). This means you could feed your pup the same food for years and suddenly BAM he/she is allergic to it and you’re back on the search (*knock on wood* she’s been doing great on her food for quite a few years now).
If you find the grains/dairy/corn side of foods are your problem, you may choose to go with a raw food diet. I can’t give you much information there, the restrictions on Dav’s protein sources ruled that out for us rather quickly so I didn’t do too much research into it. What I will say is do your research, plenty of it, and make sure that whatever decision you make, you make an educated one! I am in no way anti raw diet; it works great for some dogs! However, you are now controlling your pet’s nutritional intake so you do have to make sure you do it right if you go that route!
As for the treat side of life, if you are trying to limit what your pup is eating, you may wish to go the route that we went. Here are 11 fruits and vegetables that you fill find many experts believe are great options for your furry friend. If you are looking for a pup, these are all great option. Cats, however, lack receptors for sweetness and thus they don’t like fruit…. So stick to the vegetables on the list for your feline friends!
- Green Bell Peppers
At the end of the day trust your gut, and listen to your veterinarian. These two combined will help you ensure that you figure out just the right combination for your fur baby! The important thing, above all else, is that they are happy and healthy! If nothing else, I hope that this shows you aren’t alone!
What food do you swear by for your pet? Does your pet have a favourite fruit or vegetable?