How To Know If Your Pet Has A Food Allergy

Food allergies in pets can be among the most difficult diseases to diagnose and treat. But you must discover them before you can start treatment!
How to know if your pet has a food allergy

Diagnosing food allergies in pets can be very difficult for veterinarians. If you suspect that your pet is allergic, your  veterinarian will probably have to work really hard to get to the bottom of the problem. 

But why are food allergies so difficult to detect? What symptoms do they cause? In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about this immunological process.

Different types of allergies

So that you can better understand the diagnostic process, we will start by dividing all types of allergies into three different categories. They are:

  • Food allergies. Here you will find the allergens that cause an allergic reaction in the food.
  • Environmental allergies. Here you will find allergens in the environment.
  • Contact allergies. This is the easiest allergy to diagnose. This is when the allergy is caused by contact with a special object, such as a necklace or a food bowl.
  • Allergy to lice or ticks. As the name suggests, it is when a bite from a parasite triggers an allergic reaction.

These different categories may seem a bit obvious, but you will soon see why it is important to know them. Especially since it is possible to suffer from more than one of them at the same time!

Foods that often cause allergic reactions

Not all types of food have the same potential to give your pet allergic reactions. While it is true that virtually all substances can contain potential allergens, it is certain foods that often tend to give rise to them.

When it comes to meat, it is beef and chicken that can more often cause food allergies. And if we talk about cereals, it’s usually corn and wheat. 

Food allergy in pets: Food in heart-shaped bowls.

How do I know if my pet has a food allergy?

There is no easy answer to that question. Do you remember the list of different allergies? Unfortunately, in addition to contact allergies (which tend to cause a more local reaction), all the others have very similar symptoms.

To make things even more complicated, allergies can develop at any time and at any age. Many pet owners ignore the fact that it may be a food allergy because their pets have eaten the same food throughout their lives.

Unfortunately, always eating the same food is no guarantee that your pet will not develop an allergy from one day to the next. Although it may seem surprising  , these spontaneous allergies are not limited to pets, but they can affect people. 

The situation is the same with all environmental allergies because they can also develop suddenly. For these reasons, it is not as easy as we might think to identify the reason why your pet suddenly itches so much.

Procedure for a diagnosis

In order to identify an allergy  , you need to look for some clinical signs that tend to be quite non-specific. The most common are:

  • Itchy and itchy skin
  • Red and irritated skin
  • Skin eczema
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes)
  • Alopecia (especially common in cats)

These symptoms can thus lead to the veterinarian suspecting an allergy, but in order to be able to identify the cause  , one must continue the examination and use more complex methods. 

At the moment, there are some diagnostic tests on the market that can analyze the levels of immunoglobulin in the blood. They are found in the blood and are a way to measure the presence of an allergen. Although they have great potential, these methods are currently not as reliable as we would like, especially when it comes to cats.

Therefore  , the best diagnostic tool is the old-fashioned process of elimination. 

Elimination process

This diagnostic method means that the main allergenic foods are removed from the animal’s diet. For example, if your pet has been eating chicken or rice-based pet food for many months, you need to find something else to eliminate it as the cause of the problems.

It is also possible to make your own pet food at home, or perhaps follow a  specially developed hypoallergenic diet. The latter can have very positive results but also tends to be much more expensive. 

Once the food is ready, it’s time to let your pet eat only the new food for at least two months. It is important to point out that the animal may eat  only  the new food. If you also give your pet candy, it can affect the outcome.

It is a good idea to maintain the new diet for a sufficiently long time so that you can definitely observe the results. If your pet responds positively and its symptoms improve, then it’s time to reintroduce the previous food to see if it causes an allergic reaction. If so, you know you’ve found the cause!

Food allergy in pets: A sad dog is lying next to its food bowl.

We hope that you found the article interesting and that you now understand how complex it can be to successfully diagnose food allergies in pets. But as a first step – and this applies to all diseases – you need to detect it as early as possible!

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