Over the past couple of years I have had the privilege of living with two wonderful dogs. Like most people that I know, dogs are not perfect. It's unfortunate that mine have dog food allergies. I've seen firsthand the symptoms of what a food allergy can do to a dog. Now I like to help others learn to notice the symptoms of dog allergies.
Dog allergies typically come in three different types. The most common is a flea allergy where the dog is allergic to a flea's saliva. The second most common is an inhalant allergy, which will typically be caused by things like dust, mold, and pollens. The third most common is a dog food allergy.
It's a common misconception that a food allergy will only occur when a dog is switched to new food. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Our canine friends are just like people that can develop allergy symptoms later in life. A dog can eat the same food for three or four years and their bodies can change and they can become allergic to it.
Some common symptoms for food allergies are just like those for flea or inhalant allergies. It's not always easy to determine cause. Typically a dog food allergy symptom will start with an overall itchiness which results in increased scratching and licking.
If the allergen is not removed, the symptoms will probably get worse. In our case, our dog started off with additional scratching and licking. Over time this led to hair loss around the eyes and muzzle. We also noticed that our dog was shaking his head more often which can frequently be an early of sign of an ear infection.
After working with our veterinarian and a friend who was very knowledgeable about dog foods, we were able to get our dogs on a grain free dog food. After 12 weeks of being on this food, our dogs were doing much better and did not seem to be nearly as itchy. Our lab's coat started to grow back around his eyes and muzzle and they seemed a lot happier.