How to Tell if Your Dog Has Allergies
When it comes to telling if your dog has allergies, you should take note of any symptoms that they may be experiencing. Then, you must understand the difference between an allergy and an intolerance. Our Director of Nutrition Services, Dr. Anne Huss, has provided some insight on this before:
“Dog food allergy symptoms occur as a result of a flaw in a pet’s immune system and are an abnormal reaction to normal foods triggered by an animal’s immune system. In some cases, a pet’s immune system can misidentify or misjudge safe compounds (usually proteins) as a threat which causes the body to attack–leading to a food allergy.”
“A food intolerance, on the other hand, can be either an unusual reaction to normal food or normal reactions to abnormal foods that does not trigger a response from the immune system. For example, if your dog happens to get into the trash and eats spoiled food, the resulting vomiting and/or diarrhea would be considered a normal reaction to an abnormal food not due to a response from the immune system.”
Food intolerances affect the digestive system instead of the immune system. With that being said, it may take months or even years for dog allergy symptoms to develop from a specific food. So, if you’re wondering, “Does my dog have allergies,” we always recommend checking with your veterinarian, especially when determining whether your dog is experiencing an allergy or if it’s simply an intolerance. They know best when it comes to ensuring your pets get the right nutrition they deserve to be happy and healthy. Common allergy symptoms to look out for may include hives, itchiness, irritated skin, diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, and more.
Once you detect allergy symptoms from your dog, make sure to look for what may be causing them. Allergies aren’t necessarily a direct result of the food that they are consuming. The top three reasons are flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies, and environmental allergens. Fleabites or flea saliva may cause an allergic reaction to dogs. Sensitivities or allergies caused by food consumption can lead to itchy skin, such as in the ears or paws; but, these aren’t as common as people think. According to AKC, environmental allergens, such as dust, pollen, and mold, can cause an ‘atopic allergic reaction’ or ‘atopic dermatitis.’ In fact, one of the most common forms of allergies includes dog seasonal allergy symptoms.
The following questions are concerns that dog parents tend to have regarding skin symptoms: “Why is my dog itching so much?” or, “My dog has dry flaky skin and scabs… What should I do?” You can try a number of at home remedies to soothe your dog’s itchy skin. Some methods include applying coconut oil, oatmeal baths, aloe vera gel, etc.
Skin rash dog allergy symptoms often occur as a result of allergic dermatitis. Mayo Clinic describes this dermatitis as an immune system reaction that causes inflammation. Certain symptoms can arise if allergic dermatitis is triggered–including hives, eczema, and itchy skin.
Benefits of Dry Dog Food
Earthborn Holistic has several lines of dry dog food to choose from. Let’s take a look at the benefits of feeding your dog a dry formula.
As most of you may know, obesity continues to be a pressing issue among dogs. Portion control is advised to ensure that dogs are getting the appropriate amounts of nutrition they need. Since kibble takes a specific shape in comparison to wet food, this generally makes it easier to make a portion size. This provides a significant convenience factor especially because dry dog food also won’t go bad if left out all day.
In addition to standard portion control, controlled feeding can be utilized with dry dog food. Pet parents can use food puzzle toys or slow feeders to help with eating times if your dog is known for eating too fast. Integrating this method can help to improve their quality of life as well as challenge them to put those little brains to work.
Carbohydrates in dog food are something to watch for. Some brands can be particularly heavy in carb-heavy ingredients. If you plan to implement portion control into your dog’s diet, then you may consider a low fat dog food, especially if they are struggling with obesity. Dry dog foods generally have considerable amounts of fats to ensure the product will last for periods of time but low fat foods like our Weight Control formula are still great, convenient options.
According to Dr. Anne, the most common dog allergies are to beef, dairy products, and wheat, and less common allergens include chicken, eggs, and soy. It’s important to note that wheat allergies are very common among dogs, but none of our recipes contain corn, wheat, or soy. With that being said, our whole grain recipes include easy to eat ancient grains such as oatmeal, barley, and chia.
If your dog happens to eat gluten-free, no need to worry because all of our grain-free recipes also happen to be gluten-free. Earthborn Holistic’s best dry dog food for allergies can differ from dog to dog depending on the allergy. Our Venture limited-ingredient recipes are usually a really great option. If your dog has a chicken allergy, they can try switching up their main protein to Venture Duck Meal & Pumpkin for example. Additionally, our UNREFINED recipes are another option that are made of grain-free and chicken-free formulas.
Sometimes switching proteins might not be enough, in this case; you may want to try switching to a limited-ingredient formula for your pup. Dr. Anne states, “since food allergies are (generally) in response to proteins from the diet that are misidentified by the immune system, switching the primary protein source in your dog’s diet can ease the allergy.” The recipe we often recommend for the best dry dog food for skin allergies are any of our Venture formulas previously mentioned, or a food with a fish protein so your dog gets plenty of Omegas. We highly recommend trying our Venture Roasted Lamb & Butternut Squash recipe if you have been having issues feeding your dog chicken or beef proteins.
Is Dry Food the Right Food for My Dog?
Unfortunately, there isn’t necessarily a clearcut answer to this question. In fact, it may take some trial and error to figure out which dog food is best for your dog.
Grain-free dog food is great for dogs with allergies to grains and our grain-free diets are packed with superfoods for great nutrition and taste. These protein rich recipes are available in a variety of proteins to choose from. Whether your dog has a gluten allergy or a wheat allergy, Earthborn Holistic has you covered with plenty of nutritious feeding options. Sometimes, though, other factors aside from allergies affect what you should feed.
“My dog’s not pooping… What should I do?” Like humans, dogs too, can experience constipation. This is likely due to lack of fiber in their diet or eating something that they shouldn’t have. It could even be as a result of old age or low activity levels. Try feeding them pumpkin, canned dog, or some form of fiber supplements. Hydration and exercise are always key. A whole grain recipe can also provide more fiber to your dog’s diet.
“My dog poops too much… What should I do?” First, take note of the consistency and color of your dog’s stool. AKC reports that large volumes, pudding-like or watery consistency in addition to signs of mucus and blood streaks are not normal. There are a number of remedies that you can try before making a visit with your local vet. Some treatments may involve fasting for roughly 12 to 24 hours. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, they are likely dehydrated in which you want to provide them with plenty of water. Pumpkin is an effective ingredient to implement at home for upset stomachs and most Earthborn Holistic recipes even have pumpkin included.
Believe it or not, it’s common for veterinarians to evaluate dog poop. This can include looking at the texture and color. Texture should be not too hard but not too runny. Healthy dog stool is considered to be moist, easy to pick up, and log-shaped. A dog poop color chart can be helpful in telling what is wrong if it’s not a chocolate brown color. If this is the case, you should consult with your veterinarian. Don’t be alarmed if there are added colors from time to time because it could just be as a result of food they have eaten. However, it should not be a recurring issue. White spots may be a result of tapeworms, while blood streaks may mean there are cuts in the anus area.
Benefits of Wet Dog Food
In addition to Earthborn Holistic’s kibble lines, we offer moist tubs and canned K95 wet dog food recipes. If you have a picky eater on your hands, switching things up with grain-free wet dog food may be worth a shot. Wet dog food generally has a much higher moisture content than dry dog food.
The higher moisture content can actually be quite beneficial for pups who don’t receive proper hydration. Some other benefits of wet dog food include palatability, satiety, and easier to chew. Dry food often isn’t as flavorful as wet food, so this can especially help to motivate older dogs or dogs with less of an appetite. Satiety significantly helps with weight management because dogs will feel fuller for longer periods of time. Wet food recipes are easier for dogs to eat than kibble as well.
“Can dogs eat wet food only?” They definitely can, but don’t be afraid to mix it up. In fact, many pet parents enjoy using wet food as a topper or a mixer with kibble. This will provide them with the best of both worlds. Ultimately, you should listen to your dog’s needs to decide what kind of food is best for them. Consult with your veterinarian as always.
“My dog stopped eating dry food… what should I do?” If your dog has stopped eating dry food, definitely try opting for wet dog food instead or mixing in some wet food to beat the pickiness. Both formulas provide them with nutrients and benefits. You can combine dry food with wet food until they gradually are able to eat solely dry food again.
Is Wet Food the Right Food for My Dog With Allergies?
Wet food is certainly an option for a dog with allergies. All of our natural dog food recipes are made with tasty fruits and vegetables and added vitamins and minerals, making them a perfect dog food mixer or whole meal for your pup.
Calories in wet dog food tend to be significantly lower than calories in dry dog food. Many pet parents may look to wet food diets when their pups are looking to lose a few pounds. There are also high calorie wet dog food recipes for dogs who may need to gain weight. These wet formulas are higher in fat and protein.
“Is wet food bad for dogs’ teeth?” It honestly depends. Wet food sometimes gets stuck and creates buildup on dog teeth while dry kibble or oven-baked biscuits can help remove tartar buildup on dog teeth naturally with their crunchy texture. As long as you’re keeping up with vet visits and using other methods to stay on top of your dog’s dental health, feeding wet food shouldn’t be a problem.
“Does canned dog food cause loose stools?” Loose stools can occur if you do not transition your dog’s food gradually. Regarding how to switch dog food, we recommend a transition over 7 to 10 days. Canned dog food shouldn’t directly relate to loose stools unless your dog has a sensitivity to an ingredient. If this occurs, check in with your vet.
“Can wet dog food make a dog sick?” Dogs may get sick from canned dog food if the recipe has allergens, in which case a dog may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or other symptoms. This is why it is important to look for allergen-friendly recipes or maybe even limited-ingredients, depending on your pup’s allergic severity.
Does My Dog Have Allergies or an Intolerance?
We touched on the difference between food allergy and food intolerance in the beginning of this article. According to Dr. Anne, the most common dog allergies are to beef, dairy products, and wheat, and less common allergens include chicken, eggs, and soy.
Allergy vs intolerance depends on the severity. Dr. Anne, Earthborn Holistic’s Director of Nutrition Services differentiates by the following:
“Food allergies can take months to years to develop into a particular food. Once developed, the allergy will persist with a negative reaction to that particular food or allergen. On the other hand, a food intolerance will come on more quickly due to the immune system not mediating the response.”
Are Dogs Lactose Intolerant?
Like humans, dairy is safe for dogs in limited quantities. However, AKC reports, “dairy products are a leading source of food intolerance in dogs, and many canines are lactose intolerant, which means they have difficulty digesting milk.” You’ll be able to tell if your dog is lactose intolerant if they experience loose stools, gas, vomiting, abdominal pain, and/or diarrhea.
As a pet parent, you can perform a dog food allergy test or elimination diet to see if they are allergic to certain ingredients. These should always be done under supervision of your vet.
Sensitive Stomach Dog Food
If your dog has digestive issues, you’re in luck because Earthborn Holistic carries multiple sensitive stomach dog foods. A limited ingredient diet is particularly helpful for pets with sensitive stomachs. As mentioned earlier, our Venture line consists of four limited ingredient dog food recipes. These recipes have no traces of grains, glutens, potato, egg, peas, legumes, lentils, chicken, colorants, fillers, by-products, or artificial preservatives.
If your pup isn’t the biggest fan of dry dog food, then give wet dog food a try. All of our natural dog food recipes are made with tasty fruits and vegetables and added vitamins and minerals, making them a perfect dog food mixer or whole meal for your pup.
Limited ingredient diets sometimes means single protein dog food. These kinds of formulas are ideal for dogs who may be allergic or intolerant of chicken or beef for example. On another note, pumpkin in dog food is a specific ingredient that provides so many benefits, specifically with digestion.
Getting the Right Nutrition on a Limited Diet
Dog food nutrition is essential to assure that our favorite four legged friends live the long, happy and healthy lives that they deserve. If your dog has been experiencing any special dietary needs, a limited ingredient diet is an option to make sure you are taking proper feeding precautions.
Earthborn Holistic offers an entire line of limited ingredient dog food called Venture. Venture recipes are made of everything you want and nothing you don’t–no traces of grains, glutens, potato, egg, peas, legumes, lentils, chicken, colorants, fillers, by-products, or artificial preservatives are in any of our Venture grain-free recipes.
To us, holistic dog food recipes are crafted with your dog’s overall health in mind. We use high quality proteins and ingredients and never any corn, wheat, or soy in any of our recipes and add vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s health at any stage of life. All of our recipes are complete and balanced in accordance with AAFCO requirements for their Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.
With that being said, let’s now take a look at the benefits of various vitamins for dogs:
- Vitamin E for dogs helps with dogs’ cell function and fat metabolism
- Vitamin C for dogs can help reduce inflammation and cognitive aging
- Vitamin D for dogs allows the body to balance minerals for healthy bone growth
- Vitamin K for dogs is used to activate your dog’s blood’s ability to clot
Checking Your Dog’s Food for Top Allergens
Once you’ve become familiar with your dog’s symptoms and their allergens that cause them, it’s of utmost importance to check your dog’s food for these allergens.
Learning how to read a pet food label and looking at the ingredients is an important first step, especially if your pet has allergies or other food sensitivities. A dog food label will list ingredients in order from largest to smallest similar to human food. To reiterate from one of the previous sections, the most common food allergies in dogs include beef, dairy, and wheat, while some less common dog allergies include chicken, eggs, and soy. These are foods you may want to add to your allergens list, so you know to steer clear of these when purchasing dog food.
Is It Ok to Mix Wet and Dry Dog Food?
As briefly mentioned earlier, mixing wet and dry dog food is completely okay! Just make sure your pup isn’t allergic to any of the ingredients in each recipe. From our moist dog food tubs to K95 canned dog food recipes, we have many options if you’re looking to give them something a little different as a tasty treat, meal mixer, or dog food topper.
Mixing dog food is a great way to switch things up, especially if your dog seems to be getting bored of their usual food. If you decide to mix though, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t overfeeding. If weight management is the focus for your pup, you may first want to have your local vet help you calculate their proper daily calorie intake so you can figure out how much of each type of food you should be feeding each day.
This dog food variety method may prompt you to find effective ways of storing dog food. Dry dog food and wet dog food require different kinds of storage. Wet dog food typically requires a few more precautions than kibble. In general, remember to take note of the expiration date on the product, so you know roughly how long you will be able to keep it before feeding your pup.
What Else Can I Do to Help My Dog With Allergies?
We’ve looked at a number of things that are directly related to allergies in dogs. You’re probably wondering if there’s anything else you can do as a pet parent to help. Here are a few extra tips that we recommend just in case your pet is experiencing any symptoms and you want to take more efforts to prevent them from arising again:
- Regular grooming – Dog groomers will offer deep cleanings. However, it’s also recommended to clean your dog’s eyes and ears regularly to especially lower saliva allergies.
- Supplements – Natural supplements for dogs with itchy skin include fish oil, coconut oil, digestive enzymes, quercetin, and yucca. Pairing these with a nutritious diet is ideal.
- Hypoallergenic shampoo – Baths help to remove dead skin from your pet which will also help reduce allergens. Make sure to use hypoallergenic shampoo when giving your pup a bath.
- Non-toxic cleaners – Natural remedies are especially helpful for dogs that experience seasonal allergies. AKC offers five dog-safe cleaning solutions you can mix at home.
- Veterinary care – Always report to your vet if you’re not sure what to do or if you have any questions about your dog’s diet.
Allergies are never fun to deal with, but hopefully you now feel prepared to differentiate between intolerances and allergies and are knowledgeable of formula options, symptoms, and treatments. If you think switching to dog food for allergies is in your dog’s best interest, check out our Venture recipes today.