Recognizing and Treating Food Allergies & Sensitivities in Dogs

dog with allergies licking paw

Confusing food allergies with food sensitivities (or intolerances) is a common mistake by pet parents. Whilst food allergies and food sensitivities have very different causes, the outward symptoms are very similar. However, it is important to differentiate true food allergies from food sensitives to best help Fido avoid skin and digestive upsets. 

So what is a food allergy or food sensitivity?  

Food Allergies

A true food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies a particular food ingredient as harmful and subsequently commences an immune response. True food allergies are much less frequent that food sensitivities. In fact, studies indicate that of the total population of dogs who do suffer from allergies, only 10% of those dogs are suffering from food allergies and most reactions are due to far more prevalent causes including fleas, parasites and the environment. The clinical signs of a food allergy include:

  • Intense itching
  • Chronic ear inflammation
  • Gastrointestinal problems (chronic diarrhea or gas)
  • Skin redness 
  • Hair loss 

dog with missing fur on paws

Whilst the ingredients that trigger an allergic response vary for every dog, the most common food allergens include beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork and corn.

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities are non-allergic reactions to a food that may present with as a cumulative response to an offending agent. Sensitivities can result from a pet being unable to properly digest certain ingredients such as meat proteins, dairy, grains, artificial colors, artificial flavors and chemical preservatives. The onset of food sensitivities typically occurs suddenly within 48 hours of ingesting the offending food. Signs of food sensitivities include:

  • Poor skin condition
  • Itchy coat
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Foot yeast 
  • Bacterial infections
  • Loose stools
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and gas   

dog getting ear cleaned

Treating Food Allergies & Sensitivities

If you think that your dog is suffering from either a food allergy or sensitivity, always consult with your veterinarian first to accurately identify the problem. For both food allergies and food sensitivities, the clinical signs are often diagnosed with an elimination diet and challenge. This approach focuses on feeding a diet that limits the number of ingredients to avoid potentially offending ingredients. Therefore, natural, grain-free and limited-ingredient diets have become a go-to choice for pet parents who believe their dog has a food allergy or sensitivity.

Recipes such as Wellness CORE SIX are specifically crafted to be naturally hypoallergenic and avoid common food allergens, therefore reducing the likelihood of that diet causing reaction in dogs with food allergies or sensitivities. 

Wellness CORE SIX dry dog recipes are crafted clean with only six main ingredient sources, a single animal protein source and limited carbohydrate ingredients. They are free of common food allergens such as grains, chicken, diary, wheat, soy and artificial ingredients to limit a dog’s exposure to ingredients that commonly cause adverse reactions. CORE SIX is available in Cage-Free Duck, Free-Range Lamb and Sustainably-Sourced Salmon recipes (including a recipe crafted specifically for Small Breed dogs). While CORE SIX are limited in ingredient sources, they are high-protein, rich in natural fats and are fortified with omega fatty acids, dietary fibres, prebiotics and probiotics to ensure your dog has the balanced nutrition they need to support healthy skin, coat and digestive system. 

Supporting a dog with food allergies or sensitivities can be challenging, but with an understanding of what is causing these allergies or sensitivities and the right diet, pet parents can alleviate their dogs’ adverse symptoms. As you limit the ingredients in your dog’s main meal, don’t forget that you should also limit ingredients in treats and toppers. Wellness CORE 100% treats are great for dogs with food allergies and sensitivities as they are made a single protein source for a healthy, crave-worthy snack.

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