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This Months June's News Letter
In Pet Wellness:
Food and Flea Bite Allergies
The previous section of this article dealt with atopy or inhalant
allergies. This article will deal with food allergies or to be more
Food allergies account for only about 10% of
allergy problems in dogs, however they are easily treated so it makes
sense to test for them if you suspect they may be the culprit of your
dog's skin problems.
Like inhalant allergies, food sensitivities primarily manifest
themselves with itchy skin. Other symptoms include anal itching,
shaking of the head, ear inflammations, licking front paws, rubbing
faces on carpeting and rarely vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence,
sneezing, asthma like symptoms, behavioral changes or seizures. Many
people don't suspect food allergies as the cause of their dog's
itching because their pet has been fed the same food all its life and
has just recently started having symptoms. However, animals can
develop allergies to a substance over time, so this fact does not rule
out food allergies. Another common misconception is that dogs are only
sensitive to poor quality food. If the dog is allergic to an
ingredient it doesn't matter whether it is in premium food or the most
inexpensive brand on the market. One advantage to premium foods is
that some avoid common fillers that are often implicated in allergic
Dogs are not allergic to a dog food per se, rather they react to one
or more of the ingredients in the food. Some of the most common
culprits are beef, pork, chicken, milk, whey, eggs, fish, corn, soy,
wheat and preservatives. Many animals are now developing allergies to
other sources of protein as well. These was once thought to be
very hypo-allergenic, but the more these are used,
the more sensitivities are springing up.
The first step in diagnosing a food allergy is to eliminate all
possible allergens and feed ONLY a homemade diet with ingredients the
dog has never eaten before. The diet should be a protein and a starch.
NOTHING else can be fed during this time; no
biscuits, chewable heartworm pills, chew toys or any table scraps!!
You must also keep the dog away from feces if he or she is prone to
This diet should only to be fed for a short period, while testing for
allergies. It is not nutritionally complete enough for long term use.
Check with your veterinarian before beginning the test. If the
symptoms improve during the trial diet, go back to the original food
for several days. If symptoms reoccur you know that something in the
food is causing the reaction. The next step is to return to the trial
diet and add one new ingredient a week (i.e. add beef for one week and
if no symptoms occur add corn the next week for one week).
Once you have discovered the allergen you can look for a commercial
food which does not contain that ingredient.
This process of elimination is trying and time
consuming. You should be aware that it may take up to 10 weeks to see
an improvement. However, it is the best method available to test for
food allergies. You may wish to try switching your dog to one of the
foods listed above for a month as a trial. If the dog shows
improvement you know you are dealing with a food sensitivity, you just
won't know which ingredient to avoid. If there is no improvement, you
will need to begin the elimination testing.
Allergy shots are very safe and many people have great success
with them, however, they are very slow to work. It may be six
to twelve months before improvement is seen. Substances
that are tested include cats(!), feathers, wool, molds, dust,
trees, insects, plants and pollens. Before testing, your pet
must be free from all steroids, oral or injected (including
those found in ear and eye medicines) for a specified period of
time in order for the test to be valid. In all about 60
different substances are tested for.
This type of reaction, again usually severe itching,is not to the
flea itself but rather to proteins in its saliva.
A single bite can cause a reaction for five to seven days,
so you don't need a lot of fleas to have a miserable dog.
To test for flea allergies, a skin test is performed which must be
read in fifteen minutes and again in forty eight hours. Unfortunately
injections to desensitize are not very effective because it is hard to
collect enough flea saliva to make a serum!
For dogs with this problem a strict flea control regime must be
maintained. We would caution you, however, against using strong
chemical preparations on your dog. Often times the flea control
program produces more harmful effects than the fleas, including
seizures and skin problems, so please use caution.
As always your Veterinarian is the best source of information and
treatment for questions or problems that may exist.
If you have any suggestions or comments or would like to add
our "Monthly Newsletter",
mailto: CaroleMiller@In-Memory-Of-Pets.com>> Carole
mailto: JohnMingo@In-Memory-Of-Pets.com>> John
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Bless all who come to "In Memory Of Pets" in sharing loving feelings
for their beloved ones.
John, Carole and Staff
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