Food allergies are the third most common form of allergy.
Approximately 15 per cent of our dogs suffer from an allergy. The most frequent of these is flea allergy dermatitis, followed by atopy and food allergies. In addition to parasites, pollen and mould spores, the triggering factors include the proteins in dog food. Every individual protein, e.g. in beef, pork, milk or corn, can cause a food allergy in dogs. It can affect any dog at any age, even if the dog has been fed the same food for years. The only way to make a reliable diagnosis is by using an exclusion diet.
Symptoms of a food allergy
The predisposition to allergies is often inherited by puppies. The outbreak thereof depends on many factors. Initial signs of illness often develop months or years after contact with the allergen. To begin with, the initial symptoms may only appear for a short time, but will increase noticeably every time contact occurs. This is often in the form of itching, which can lead to skin inflammation. Digestive problems such as vomiting and diarrhoea or respiratory problems with coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath are less common. Whereas allergic people usually react immediately to specific foods, the initial reactions often occur hours or even days later in dogs. This also makes it correspondingly difficult to diagnose food allergies in dogs. Particularly with regard to dog food, one should avoid specific allergy triggers. Meradog pure dog food is ideal for many food allergies because this dog food has only one meat source and one carbohydrate source.
Problems with proteins
A food allergy in a dog is most commonly triggered by specific food proteins that are contained in the dog food. Studies have shown that these are usually proteins from cows, soya, eggs, dairy products or grain. Fish and rice, however, seldom trigger allergies. If a food allergy is suspected, it helps if you avoid giving your dog a large number of different types of food or snacks to eat all at once, as this will make it impossible to check which protein is the actual trigger.
If your pet has a food allergy, Meradog offers its special pure dog food recipes, which are ideally tailored to the needs of sensitive dogs with intolerances or allergies. The Meradog pure dog food is based on just one animal protein source and one carbohydrate source respectively, therefore giving you a reliable way to avoid allergy-triggering components.
Recognising a food allergy
You can only reliably establish whether your dog has a food allergy with the help of a vet and an exclusion diet. It is important to watch for symptoms that point to an allergy in your dog. Whereas itching caused by a food allergy causes problems all year round, symptoms caused by grass and pollen allergies die down after the summer months. The most frequent symptoms of a food allergy are not diarrhoea and vomiting, but itching! Skin irritations can occur in various areas including the face, ears, paws, stomach, inner thighs and armpits. However, remember that: These symptoms can also relate to other illnesses, which is why a visit to the vet is urgently recommended.
The exclusion diet
When it comes to tracking down the cause of a food allergy in a dog or cat, the exclusion diet is frequently selected. It is the most reliable method of determining the trigger of the allergy. It involves feeding the dog with sources of protein and carbohydrates that it is not familiar with over an extended period. Examples of ingredients used can include lamb, turkey or salmon, mixed with rice or potatoes. Slowly switch from one food to another and continue administering it from then on for a period of several weeks. If an improvement is ultimately noticeable, a ‘provocation test’ should be conducted. This means that you feed your dog one of the triggers in question (e.g. beef) on a weekly basis. This is the only opportunity you have to identify a food allergy in your dog with certainty. As time goes by, you can compile a positive and negative list. However, remember that: Absolute consistency must be maintained during the exclusion diet. Treats should be avoided entirely during this period and the same applies to leftover food from the table and chewing bones. Otherwise, you will ruin the laborious exclusion diet in a single blow.
The allergy test in the large intestine mucous membrane
In addition to the exclusion diet, there are other possible ways of establishing food allergies in dogs. The allergy test in the large intestine mucous membrane works in the same way as the skin allergy test in human medicine. Suspicious proteins are injected into the mucous membrane of the large intestine under anaesthetic. The vet can check the reaction of the mucous membrane or take tissue samples using an endoscope. This method is frequently used for dogs with chronic diarrhoea. According to a study by the Albert Heim Foundation, this test quickly and accurately identifies the food constituents that the animal reacts to. This is a good decision-making aid for putting together the optimum nutrition.
The blood test
This is frequently used to determine the allergy factors in animals. The antibodies in the blood are measured (IgE and IgG). This method has been adopted from human medicine. However, little is known about whether the IgE level in the blood allows conclusions to be drawn about food allergies in dogs. According to the Albert Heim Foundation, no differences could be found in comparison tests between healthy animals and dogs with food allergies, parvovirus and worms. This means that a blood test cannot provide reliable information about the cause of a food allergy.
Our recommendation for you
Although the exclusion diet is laborious, it is the most effective method of identifying a food allergy. Responsibility for adhering to this diet rests with the owner and his/her family. Only strict adherence to the diet plan can help to effectively identify allergy potential. Dog owners tend to be reluctant to perform the provocation test often associated with this diet because it triggers symptoms to which they would rather not subject their dog. However, it does make sense for making a definitive diagnosis. The allergy test in the large intestine mucous membrane must be carried out under anaesthetic, which is something many dog owners don’t wish to put their dog through. However, this also is an extremely reliable method of pinpointing the allergy-triggering proteins, which makes food selection considerably easier. The blood test is less suitable for diagnosing a food allergy.
Treating a food allergy
The most successful way is to avoid the allergens. In the event of a food allergy, after accurately determining the allergy-triggering factors, you can select a dog food without these substances. In the event of intolerances or food allergies, Meradog's tried-and-tested pure dog foods offer a range of dog food types that contain just one animal protein source and one carbohydrate source respectively. Meradog pure offers the ideal solution for numerous food allergies. Because sometimes, less is simply more. Meradog pure dog food minimises the allergy potential, and provides healthy variation in the bowl with seven tasty variants. The practical experience of many concerned dog owners has shown that allergy-related feeding problems can now be brought under control with a special ingredient-reduced dog food.
Food allergy – Not a problem with Meradog pure.
By concentrating on a single protein source and a single carbohydrate source, you can avoid ingredients that your animal cannot tolerate with our well-tried Meradog pure dog food, thereby reducing its allergy risk considerably. The entire pure dog food product line also ensures plenty of variety when it comes to flavours. We are delighted to offer high-quality alternatives for health-conscious feeding of demanding dogs with food allergies.