Every pet owner has to decide on what type of food they will give to their best friend. Majority of us settle for commercial foods as these are easy and convenient to get. However, in dogs as in humans, having the right nutrition is much more complex than it seems at first glance. This complexity is because dogs, just like humans, have their own nutritional requirements, food choices, and even food allergies. Many of the foods that we choose for ourselves depend on these factors, and it should be the same case with our dogs. Picking the right pet food is one of the key elements required to ensure a good quality of life and longevity of your canine.
Natural Balance LID Sweet Potato & Bison Dry Dog Food 4.5 Lbs
Blue Buffalo Dog Basic Grain-free Turkey Potato 11 Lbs.
Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Recipe Dog Food 4 Lbs
Nulo FreeStyle Limited+ Grain Free Turkey Dry Dog Food 5 Lbs
Allergies in dogs are much more common than what people think. Veterinarians suggest that food allergies make up to 10% of all dog allergies. Allergic reactions are also responsible for around 20% of itching. While each dog reacts differently to certain types of foods, some studies indicate that some ingredients are more likely to cause allergies compared to others. Some of the common elements that be the source of allergies include chicken, lamb, beef, corn, eggs, fish, and wheat. Allergies become even more worrisome once we know that these ingredients are commonly found in commercial pet foods. If you would like to overcome the food allergy problem with your dog, you will need to get rid of these allergens.
How to Determine if it is an Allergy
Many food allergies react in the same way as other kinds of allergies. Some of the common problems include skin itching on the ears, face, foreleg, armpits and around the area of the anus. Other symptoms include excessive scratching, hair loss, skin infection and increased bowel activity. It can be difficult to determine if what your pet is suffering from are food allergies or some other sickness. The confusion is because most of the symptoms have similar expressions as food allergies. It is advisable that you rule out other conditions such as tick and flea bites, yeast, intestinal and bacterial infections first. After this, you can carry out a food trial that will help you to determine if your dog has any allergies.
How to Choose the Right Dog Food for Allergies
It is a standing debate around which dog food is better between commercial foods and raw foods. It is important to note that all dogs are different and can react differently to certain kinds of foods. There are several tips that you can use to choose between different types of commercial dog food.
Common Signs of Food Allergies in Dogs
The symptoms of food allergies can differ from one dog to the other. However, as we have already indicated above, the most common sign is itching which can affect the entire body or can focus on the feet and ears of the pet. Recurrent and chronic skin and ear infections are also typical. Some dogs can develop diarrhea, vomiting or a lot of gassiness. The symptoms will mostly start during the early age of the dog, usually before it is one year old.
How to diagnose food allergies in dogs
The most common method of determining if a dog has a food allergy is through a food trial using foods that are hypoallergenic. You can do that using a hydrolyzed protein or a novel protein. The novel protein sources usually consist of proteins that the dog has never consumed before and this reduces the possibility of an immune response. On top of this, the meal should have one source of a novel carbs as plants also have some proteins.
Some of these food options include potato and venison, pea and duck, potato and salmon and similar mixes. The most important thing is to ensure that the dog has never been exposed to these food choices before. In the past, the lamb was considered to be hypoallergenic but today it features in many of the commercial dog foods, and that means it is no longer novel.
The hydrolyzed diets alter the intact animal proteins that have been broken down into small molecules, meaning that the immune system may not be able to recognize them as allergens. This change means that a possibility of an adverse food reaction is significantly reduced. Rice and starch are commonly used as sources of carbs as they are also usually associated with allergic reactions.
No matter the hypoallergenic food you feed your dog with, make sure that you feed it for a period between 8 and 10 weeks so that you can adequately assess the response of your dog. There are dogs that will show a partial improvement in the symptoms of food allergy within a period of 4 to 6 weeks. However, there are certain breeds of dogs such as Cocker Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers that may take a longer time before they can respond. You will need to feed the dog with hypoallergenic pet food while avoiding other dog foods, treats and flavored medications like antibiotics, pain relievers, and heartworm preventives.
After diagnosing the food allergy using hypoallergenic pet food, you should carry out a challenge that will help to confirm the diagnosis. After the intake of the original diet, you should revert to the old one for 2 weeks. Once the food allergy has been established, the single source ingredients such as chicken slices and wheat sprinkling can be added to the hypoallergenic pet food. This test can help to determine the components that you should avoid in the future.
How to Relieve Allergies Using a Limited Ingredient Diet
If you suspect that your dog has some kind of allergies, the first step should be to consult a veterinarian. The vet will run a wide range of tests and carry out a physical examination that will help him rule out any potential medical causes of the symptoms in dogs. In case the tests do not show any allergies, you should then feed the dog on a diet with limited ingredients, which is merely a pet food product that consists of a simple ingredient list. It should preferably consist of a novel protein source and carbohydrates. The reason for this is that allergies in dogs can occur as a result of exposure to certain dog food brands for an extended period. To fight that allergy, it is advisable to remove the particular food from the diet of your dog. To determine the ingredients that are leading to the problem, you will need to use the limited ingredient diet(LID).
Many of the high-quality dog food have limited ingredients. Therefore, with a bit of searching, it is possible to find the pet food that doesn’t have some of the key components from the last meal of the dog that may have caused the allergy. On top of getting rid of the allergens, feeding your canine with a dog food brand that has limited ingredients will also minimize the risk for new allergy development. After discovering the appropriate limited ingredient diet, it is advisable to feed it to your canine for 12 weeks to ensure that all traces of the allergy go away.
After the dog recovers from the allergy, you can identify the allergens that are causing the issue by introducing various allergens each time and considering the response of your dog. In case you discover that the dog with allergies has developed a sudden skin disease or diarrhea, this could be a sign that you have found the food that is causing allergy. After identifying the cause of the allergic reaction, there are two options you should consider. First, you can choose a completely new dog food brand that doesn’t have the ingredients that caused the allergic reaction. You can also opt to continue feeding your dog with the LID that you have been using for the first 12 weeks.
Top 6 Dog Foods for Dogs with Allergies
In case your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction, a good option would be to go with the limited ingredient diet as it can ensure that your adult dog gets the desired nutritional value without triggering an allergic response.
If the dog does not have allergies and you want to ensure that it doesn't develop them, you will need to pick a diet that does not contain the common allergens for dogs. The dog should also consume foods that have novel sources of carbohydrate and proteins. If you are still unsure of the best recipes that are also allergy-friendly, here are a few brands that are worth considering.
1. Natural Balance
One of the brands that you can consider for your dog with allergies is Natural Balance. The reason why we choose this brand is that it uses some high-quality ingredients in the product. However, it is worth noting that most of the ingredients in the formula are LID. The brand has been developed using good nutritional facts and scientific principles.
It contains premium ingredients such as complex carbs, high-quality meats, fruits, and veggies. The brand has a variety of product choices such as dry foods, biscuits, canned foods, raw foods and many more. The company has over 15 limited ingredient recipes, and many are made using novel carbs and proteins such as Venison, Duck, Bison, Wagyu beef, sweet potatoes, legumes, and peas. Nature Balance also has a number of minimal-calorie diets, high-protein formulas and whole body recipes for canines in their different stages.
2. Purina Pro Plan Focus
In case you are searching for good dry food for dogs that have allergies, one product that is worth trying out is Purina Pro Plan Focus. The main ingredient in this dog food is Salmon. Salmon can be one of the proteins that your canine has never tasted and therefore makes it a good choice for a novel source of protein.
One thing you will love about this food is that it doesn’t contain any wheat, corn, or soy, which are some of the most common allergens that can cause a skin reaction in your canine. It also includes rice and oats as the primary source of carbs. Rice and oats are considered to be weak allergens and are therefore unlikely to trigger any reactions. While this product isn’t cheap, you will definitely find the price to be justified due to the high-quality ingredients and the thoughts that have been put into the formulation.
3. Blue Buffalo Basics
This is a company that is popular for its high-quality food for cats and dogs. Their diets are made using nutritional philosophies that are built around the natural and fresh ingredients of high quality. Each of the recipes is made using the premium protein sources and are supplemented with digestible carbs, healthy fats and other supplements that are beneficial.
All their products have Lifesource bits, a blend of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. The Blue Buffalo Basics consists of whole lines of LIDs and premium proteins such as Salmon, turkey, lamb, and duck. It also includes digestible carbs such as potatoes. On top of the limited ingredients, many of their formulas have novel proteins and grain-free carbs.
In case you are searching for dog food that has a wide variety of ingredients, then Pinnacle may not be the best choice for you. However, it is the perfect choice for pet owners who are searching for a grain-free or a LID.
The company says that its products have been formulated to ensure complete health and wellbeing of dogs and this is the reason why they use high-quality proteins as well as grain-free carbs in all their recipes. Currently, Pinnacle has 6 grain-free recipes for the dry foods and 5 canned food recipes that are also grain-free. These are manufactured with a number of key ingredients and healthy supplements. The recipes from Pinnacles are also allergy-friendly and contain proteins such as duck, turkey, trout, salmons combined with grain-free carbs such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and veggies.
Each of their recipes has an omega fatty acids blend which ensures a healthy coat and skin for the dog. This is on top of the so many fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants. All their recipes are added with chelated minerals to ensure the maximum absorption of nutrients. This is on top of the dried fermentation products that are popular for probiotic support.
5. Blue Buffalo Freedom
The reason why this company adopted this name is that they have a wide range of pet foods. Their products can be categorized into 2 brands- The premium Instinct brands and holistic prairie brands. The instinct brands have several lines of products such as high-protein, classic, freeze-dried, grain-free and the raw food products.
The company also has a LID line with each product being made of a single protein source. There are 3 brands of limited ingredient kibbles that are suitable for the adult dogs and one that is suitable for the small breeds. These contain proteins such as rabbit, turkey, and lamb. This is on top f the digestible carbs such as tapioca and green peas.
As a bonus, each of these limited ingredients has omega-3 as well as Omega-6 fatty acids that ensure a healthy coat and skin.
Another ingredient is a green tea extract coating whose goal is to ensure added aroma and taste. In case you feel that LID is not the right choice for your dog, you can choose the line that contains grain-free kibbles, canned foods, and high proteins. They also have various meals that are freeze-dried as well as raw products that have been frozen for canines.
6. Hill’s Science diet
This is another perfect dry pet food for dogs that have been tested by veterinarians or at home using scientific vigor. The diet contains real chicken as the main ingredient. It has a lot of antioxidants that are the perfect choice to treat bowel repair and to enhance the skin.
One advantage of this diet is that it has been formulated to enable easy digestion and is gentle on the stomach of those dogs that have a sensitive constitution. This formula is a good dry food for dogs suffering from an itchy skin as it contains ingredients that are not only of good quality but do not contain the artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. The diet isn't hypoallergenic. This is because it has a wide range of ingredients rather than a single source of carbs or proteins. If you are searching for good quality and affordable diet that suit the sensitive stomach of your canine, this is just but the right menu for your dog.
This dog food brand is popular for its holistic approach to dog nutrition. This is to mean that they only opt for the best ingredients that ensure that your dog is able to get the nutritional ingredients she needs while eliminating those she doesn’t.
The company has different lines of products that are suited for different life stages of a dog. For instance, the Complete Health line consists of the grain-free and original recipes that are suitable for different stages of dogs from the puppies to the senior dogs. In case you have a dog that is suffering from an allergy or is just sensitive to grains, the Kibble’s CORE line, as well as the canned foods, can be a good choice. There are also different recipes that feature the quality proteins such as turkey, chicken, whitefish, and salmon.
In case you prefer the LID for your dog, you will find a whole range of products known as Simple. These Simple products consist of 6 food recipes that are dried and 4 of them that are free of grains with a healthy weight formula as well as the small-breed formula. The products consist of limited ingredients such as the meat proteins that are of high quality. If you want to ensure good digestion for your dog, you can choose these products as they are supplemented with probiotics and prebiotics.
Allergies are a serious condition affecting dogs just as they do with people. Environmental allergies can lead to severe skin conditions, respiratory and digestive issues. All these health conditions can compromise the quality of life of your dog.
The food allergies are equally bad or are even worse as they compromise the ability of the dog to digest and also absorb nutrients from the food they consume. Therefore, if your canine is suffering from allergies as a result of food, it is advisable to switch to the top brands that are suitable for your dog.