Dog food allergies

Allergies are fairly common both amongst humans and dogs, and just like a human, a dog can develop an allergy at any age. The most common dog allergy is against flea bites, and the second most common is inhaling allergens such as pollen or molds. Dog food allergies come in on a close third place.

In order to develop a food allergy, a dog must be exposed to the same food ingredient for a couple of years or more. Most dogs are between two and six years old when food allergies are first noticed.

What causes food allergy?

An allergy is caused by the immune system responding to something it believes is foreign. It is a defense mechanism that would normally protect the body, but instead causes an over-reaction to harmless substances met in everyday life.

When it comes to dogs and food the immune system most often reacts to a protein, and the most common triggers are beef, milk and other dairy products, chicken, eggs, soy, corn, and wheat.

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

Symptoms of food allergy include excessive scratching and itchy skin. A dog with a food allergy can scratch until they lose all hair in an area, and the skin is often red and irritated. This is particularly common on the ears, groin, and belly. Some dogs with food allergies lick or chew on their paws, get repeated ear infections, and/or rashes. Stomach problems are also often connected to food allergies.

How do you treat a food allergy?

To treat a food allergy, the dog needs to stay away from eating the problematic ingredient. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find the problematic ingredient. The idea is to eliminate potential causes of the problem through feeding the dog something completely different from what he or she has eaten in the past. The new food – and nothing but the new food – has to be fed for two to three months to give enough time for the method to work. This means no treats or tastes of human foods, which can be frustrating for both dog and human.

Once the dog is symptom free, one ingredient can be added back at a time to see if the immune system reacts.



Are there hypoallergenic cats?

Russian Blue
The Russian Blue produces little allergens

Many believe that a cat or dog breed being hypoallergenic means they can’t cause allergies. That’s not entirely accurate – hypoallergenic means that something has a smaller risk of causing allergies, but it can still happen. There are no non-allergenic cats or dogs, but there are hypoallergenic cats breeds.

Many also believe that allergies are connected to the cat’s coat, but that’s not always the case either. Most people are allergic against proteins from the cat’s skin oils and saliva. These proteins are in turn distributed on shed fur. This means that some cat breeds – with fur – are gentler for persons with allergies than others.

The Balinese is a good example. These cats are sometimes called the “longhaired Siamese,” but despite their coat they produce little of the protein that causes allergies. This is also true for the Russian Blue and the heavily coated Siberian.

Bengals certainly aren’t hairless, and they produce just as much of the protein as many other breeds, but their coat is so fine that they don’t have to groom themselves as much as other cats. That means their hair carries less of the protein. Another upside of the Bengal is that they shed little, so what allergens are present won’t be spread around as much as with other breeds.

Cornish Rex is another breed that works well for many with allergies. They’re not entirely hairless, but they only have an undercoat. Since they’re less hairy than other breeds they also shed less, and cause less allergies.

The Sphynx cat is completely hairless. They have no fur that can trap allergens and shed around the house, and the allergy-causing substances stick to the cat.

Looking for a dog breed that won’t shed?

While even “hairless” breeds technically shed to some extent, many breeds shed so little it’s virtually impossible to notice.

If you have a dog, he or she will shed. Surprisingly, this is true for many “hairless” breeds as well. When looking at a Chinese Crested or other hairless breed they don’t seem to have much to shed, but they still have some coat. If shedding is an issue for whatever reason, there are breeds that shed very little, and you might want to look into the dogs on our handy list.

Though the following breeds shed very little, many still require regular grooming.

The Yorkshire Terrier appears to have lot of hair to leave around the house, but they shed little. These are large dogs in small packages, and most of them love to explore. They’re generally curious, energetic, and have big personalities.

Another great little breed with big personality is the Border Terrier. They are affectionate, learn easily, active, and love to exercise. If you want a friend to bring on adventures, a Border Terrier might be your perfect companion.

Poodles are intelligent dogs and often battle the Border Collie for top position on lists with intelligent breeds. Poodles shed next to nothing, and are easier to handle than Border Collies, so this can be a great choice for someone wanting a smart companion.

The Bichon Frise is a cute and cheerful breed that sheds next to nothing. They’re small but harry, and love to be active and play. Many people allergic to other breeds do well with a Bichon Frise.

The wire-haired or smooth varieties of Dachshunds also shed little. They can be a bit stubborn, but have a convenient size, do well in apartments, and are fun and playful dogs.

On the somewhat larger side, the Portuguese Water Dog is known for being loyal and athletic. This is a breed that requires lots of exercise, and a Portuguese Water Dog can be a perfect companion for an active family.

Are there hypoallergenic dogs?

Hypoallergenic means that something is less likely to cause allergic reactions. It doesn’t mean that the food, pet, or rug never causes allergies. The word hypo means lower than normal.

So, are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?

Not really. There are hairless dogs and dogs that shed very little, but allergies aren’t necessarily connected to the pet’s coat. Most allergies are caused by proteins in a pet’s saliva and dander.

A study at the Henry Ford Hospital has analyzed dust samples collected from almost 200 homes. Sixty dog breeds were involved in the study, and eleven of the breeds are considered hypoallergenic.

The conclusion? There is no significant difference between breeds in how much allergens are produced. There can, however, be a difference between individuals of the same breed. Thus, a person with allergies can be able to have one specific pet, even if they’re allergic to other individuals of the same breed.

Most dog lovers will argue that pets are good for children. This is true when it comes to allergies as well; exposure to a dog early in life will provide a certain protection against developing dog allergies.

Some tips to battle allergies:

  • Bathe the pet often. This reduces the amounts of allergen related proteins on both the dog itself and in the air. If a person in the household is allergic, bathing the pet at least twice a week can minimize the allergic reaction.
  • Clean and vacuum often. Use air filters, and consider constricting the pet to certain rooms, so the allergic person can have a safe haven.
  • Smaller dogs might produce less allergens than larger dogs.
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