Posts Tagged ‘dog health’

Food Allergies: Chicken Dinner Makes your Dog Itch

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Why, why, why so many food allergic dogs now as never before???  Either the whole world is going to hell in a handcart, or our sensitivities to our pets’ needs are more compassionate in the age of the dog-child and we notice and treat discomfort readily.  (There’s only one choice, right?)

Raja and I are optimists too and we believe that food variety is one key to a comfortable dog.  Making sure that your pet eats different and diverse meats, vegetables and grains helps mitigate against sensitization to any one repetitive food.

So, how can a dog that has been eating chicken stew for years suddenly become allergic?

When a sensitive dog (we’ll try to explain this later) eats an allergy producing food, his immune system produces antibodies against the food and, usually, there is no immediately visible reaction, such as a rash or an itch.  This initial process is called sensitization.  As the dog continues to eat the food, his immune system continues to produce more and more antibodies.  Antibodies in the system stimulate the body to produce histamine.  Histamine causes the allergic reactions.  The proteins in beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish of all sorts, eggs, milk, soy, corn, wheat, rice and legumes are all potential triggers.  Most food allergies appear within 2-12 years.  That’s a huge window, isn’t it?

A “sensitive dog” is a dog that is prone to allergies.  How will you know you have a sensitive dog?  You probably won’t. Maybe you will never discover it if nothing triggers his immune reaction.

Trying to prevent dog sensitization, one of the best ways to avoid the build up of histamine in the system is to offer a varied diet from the start, while ensuring that the nutritional values stay consistent and high.  So, change up your dog’s dinners.  Alternate many different lean meats, vegetables (no onions) and grains and help your little gourmet to avoid food allergies.  It’s not that hard.  Just imagine yourself as your dog, and realize you wouldn’t want to eat the same kibble every day for years either.

For travel dogs, this means sampling local fare that fits the food criteria: lean meat, no onions, varied vegetables and a little starch to thicken.  And not too many spices.  Every cuisine in the world, with the possible exception of the traditional winter food of the Inuit of the Arctic, has something that will work.  When traveling, look for simple, fresh, non-spicy, non-oniony.