Food Allergies in Pets

Food allergies in cats and dogs rank as the third most common type of allergic reaction pets suffer from after fleas and reactions to inhalants such as pollen, dust and molds.

According to veterinarians and nutritionists from Merrick Pet Care, the most common sign of a food allergy in both dogs and cats is very itchy skin along with redness, which causes the pet to repeatedly scratch and attempt to bite at the area.

The affected area can be anywhere on the body but often affects the face, causing the cat or dog to constantly paw at their face, paws (especially between the toes) and around the anus, causing them to “butt ski” or “butt scoot” in order to try and eradicate the itchiness. Other symptoms of a food allergy can be digestive issues such as nausea and vomiting as well as recurring ear problems — particularly yeast infections.

The best way to find out what protein is causing the allergic reaction is by conducting a food trial.

You can start by simply purchasing another flavor (protein) pet food. If you pet has primarily been eating a chicken diet, then switch over to a lamb recipe or salmon. But it’s a really good idea to do a food switch under veterinary supervision because no one understands your pet’s general health and specific medical issues like your pet’s veterinarian. Certain prescription diets that are good for food trials are only available at the veterinarian’s office. And, if your pet has had a severe allergic reaction, she may initially need medication to control the discomfort.

The average food trial takes between eight and 12 weeks.

Additional tips include:

  • Cut out treats during a food trial because they could contain the offending protein
  • Don’t give your pet any vitamin supplements that may be flavored
  • Be careful what toothpaste you use to clean teeth because they are contain flavoring

Leave notes on the refrigerator and on the treat jar so that everyone in the household knows that there is a food trial in progress and this way you can keep everyone on the same page.

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