Food intolerance in dogs is an often overlooked factor in a wide variety of health and even behaviour problems in our canine friends. We’re all used to hearing about the link between diet, nutrition and overall health and well-being. Humans have the unique ability to speak up and, of their own volition, go see a medical professional if they feel unwell if something is just not right in their health. Dogs rely on us for everything. The food we put down for them, when they get to see the vet and so it’s down to us to be aware of issues such as food intolerance, allergies and generally ensuring our dog’s diets are complied of the proper nutritional requirements based on their age, breed and lifestyle.
Here we’ll examine the effects of food intolerance in dogs, helping to give a solid overview of what to look for, symptoms of food intolerance and the steps to take should you suspect your dog may be intolerant to certain food types.
If asked about food allergies and intolerance, many of us would have a friend or relative who is unable to digest wheat or dairy. In fact it is so uncommon that restaurants and retailers now cater for a wide range of intolerances and allergies, so why are we yet to consider our pets and their intolerances?
Food intolerance and allergies in pets are becoming increasingly common and for one pair of dog owners a blood test led to a vast improvement in health for their much-loved pet.
Tony and Barbara Bridger from Tring were worried about their Border Terrier Cross, Ebbie.
For months she had been passing blood and mucus and being generally unwell. Just about everything had been tried until the vet mentioned food allergies.
Tony said: “You don’t like to see a pet suffer in that way and you don’t know what to do.
“It would not have occurred to us that it might be a food allergy, in fact we would have scoffed at the thought. Our pet allergic to food? We thought a test wouldn’t show anything.”
The vet drew some blood and sent it to Yorktest Veterinary Services who carried out extensive diagnostic tests on the sample.
The laboratory, which has carried out 12,000 tests over the past few years, specialises in finding out whether a food intolerance or an allergy may spark a pet’s problems.
Signs of an allergy can vary from one animal to another including skin problems such as scratching and hair loss or gastrointestinal problems which includes vomiting. Some pets also show behavioural problems.
Barbara says: “The vet said we should give the test a go before we begin to accept the symptoms as a condition or weakness.
“Since we had the results back which highlighted which foods Ebbie was allergic to, she has been a picture of health. It’s been marvellous – well worth doing.
“We would not have believed it would clear up so quickly. Looking at her now it’s hard to believe just how poorly she was. Her health improved in a week or two.”
Tony added: “In similar circumstances we would definitely do it again – and we would say to other pet owners they should not hesitate to have the test too.
“From the poorly state Ebbie was in this was like a miraculous cure.”
Paula Peacock from Yorktest Veterinary Services, said: “An allergy is a reaction caused by either direct contact such as eating or breathing in an allergen such as food or pollen. If a dog is regularly exposed to an allergen, for example, the same food, the resistance of its immune system will weaken, often resulting in poor health.
“Once the test results are known, pet owners can then discuss with their vet the type of therapy needed – ranging from dietary changes through to immunotherapy which is a series of vaccinations which help build up a dog’s immune system against pollens and insects.”
Find out more about dog allergies.