Some causes of food allergies in dogs

Dogs with food allergies

Dogs with food allergies are unfortunately very common in today’s pet society. No less than 80% of today’s dogs and cats will suffer with an allergy issue sometime in their life, which has their pet parents in dire straits trying to offer relief for their pet.

Constant scratching and itching are common signs in dogs with a food allergies, resulting in sore swollen skin rashes, biting of their paws and body, irritated infected ears and hair loss in patches.

So what causes food allergies for our pets?

Although there are a number of influences that can produce these symptoms I believe the main contributors are –

1. Inadequate diet
2. Vaccines, and over-vaccination
3. Leaky gut syndrome

All three of these conditions effectively result in your pet’s immune system being severely suppressed. This means that your pet’s immune system cannot fight to its full potential against these allergens, resulting in an allergic reaction.

Let’s take a quick look at each of potential contributors.

Inadequate Diet

Today’s pet parent is exposed to many different food options for their pets. Foods that come in the form of dry kibble, canned food, cooked food, cooked rolls, fresh meat trims, raw formulated diets and freeze-dried raw diets.

The selection is huge and quite intimidating. Who thought purchasing pet food could be so difficult? On top of this, you also have different views coming from professionals in the industry. Some vets recommend dry kibble, or canned foods, other experts recommend quite the opposite, such as raw diets. You simply just want to get it right, because you love your pet.

The decision is important though, because it will ultimately decide the state of health of your pet’s immune system. So, with all of the diets mentioned above which one should we possibly consider?

Let’s look at it this way, whose immune system do you think would be the strongest if we were talking about our child’s diet – a child whose meals were predominantly based around a selection of quality fresh ingredients including meat, vegetables, fruits and fats or a child with a diet based on “breakfast cereals,” containing mostly processed and whole grains?

Both diets certainly offer some form of nutrition with some essential nutrients being provided, but which diet is providing these nutrients in a form that is readily digestible, with a wide selection of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates at a level that are synergistically working with each other to supply what the body needs?

Of course, it’s the child’s diet whose diet consists of a selection of fresh ingredients that include meat, vegetables, fruits and fats.

Drum roll please…our pets are no different!

The only changes are the nutritional portions of those ingredients due to the cat and dogs’ physiology compared to ours. Dogs and cats are carnivores, (humans are omnivores) and our pets’ ability to process raw, predominantly protein based meals ensures the very best opportunity for a strong healthy immune system.

If your pets’ immune system has been suppressed from being exposed to “non-species appropriate diets,” such as the ingredients in dry kibble, then the ultimate result will be a compromised immune system that simply is not working to its intended capacity. Dry kibble is economic and convenient but it is not the best nutrition. Your pets will survive but certainly not thrive!

Over -vaccination

Vaccines and the harmful effects of over vaccination continue to stir debate and controversy – and for good reason. The harmful effects of over vaccination have now been well documented and studies have proven that yearly vaccination of your pet may simply not be required. In some studies, it has been proven that one vaccination given to your pet at the age of 16 weeks is significant enough for the dog’s antibody levels to be present for its entire life.

So, why are we still encouraged by some professionals to have our pets vaccinated every 12 months without doing an antibody level test first (known as s Titer test)?  Why does a 12kg dog receive the same vaccination amount as a 36 kg dog given this is a toxin that is being injected into your pet’s body.

I am not against vaccination, but I would certainly encourage that the weight and health of each pet be individually considered prior to administration of a vaccine and that titer tests are done to determine antibody levels against a disease first before automatically administering the vaccination to see if it is actually required.

The next question we should ask is ‘what are the “carriers” used in the vaccination’, what proteins may be utilised as carriers in these vaccinations. Where are they derived from?

In my experience, the two common proteins that pets are allergic to are chicken and beef. Is it possible that these proteins are used in the vaccinations being given to our pets at a young age? If this is so, does it not then make sense that our pets’ immune systems are doing their job, and now recognising these proteins as “invaders,” have built antibodies to attack them? Again, a lot of controversy around vaccinations, and certainly as a pet parent, I am closely watching and waiting for more studies and information to be presented.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Finally, Leaky Gut Syndrome. The name sounds terrible and if you find your pet has this syndrome it is just as ugly as the name. Leaky gut, in simple terms simply means that the stomach lining of our pets has deteriorated and small holes are now present in the lining of the stomach allowing undigested food particles to pass through the digestive system directly into the blood stream. These contaminant food particles can be a catalyst to disease and allergies.

Contributors to a Leaky Gut can be –

a) Over-processed food – Dry Kibble, canned food, cooked rolls, foods void of any real nutrition.
b) Over-vaccination – ask your vet to perform a Titer test to check your pets’ level of antibodies prior to administration of another vaccination needle. If the level of antibodies is sufficient, then your pet does not require another needle. Titer test yearly or every two years.
c) Common chemical pollutants – food chemicals including preservatives, antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides, heavy metals.
d) Stress to our pets – moving to a new home, loss of another pet, weather (storms).

If you think your pet is possibly suffering from this condition, do not despair. The stomach lining can be repaired by simply introducing a raw natural species appropriate diet.

Also include in the diet some homemade bone broth, full of natural high levels of gelatine, excellent for repair of the stomach lining, and a quality probiotic to ensure healthy gut flora.

Try to reduce exposure to contamination, and ensure if there is anything that may be contributing to stress to your pet, you try to alleviate those circumstances as quickly as possible.

I hear from many pet parents regularly about their frustrations and the expenses involved in trying to treat their dogs with food allergies and other pets for their skin conditions caused by allergies. Common expensive antibiotics and creams do not fix the issues; they simply just treat the symptoms. You must explore the cause of the issues and source if you hope to allow your pet a stress free, allergy free life.

It’s really quite simple. Let’s feed our pets what nature has always fed them to ensure they thrive, not survive. This is the first step in treating the cause of the problem.

A food science graduate, Chris Essex founded Big Dog Pet Foods in 2000 after many years working in the smallgoods industry, before he recognised a gap in the market to create pet food for dogs made up of bones and raw food that was full of nutritional ingredients.  Visit www.bigdogpetfoods.com

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