Here are 15 things you may not know about food allergies:
1. 80% of dogs with food allergies will have chronically inflamed ears.
2. 15% of dogs with food allergies will have gastrointestinal signs, such as diarrhea, anal sac impaction, and increased gas.
3. Hair loss beneath the tail and on the skin surrounding the anal opening may be caused by a food allergy.
4. The meat source in a particular food is more likely to be the cause of a food allergy than the grain source.
5. Fish meat contains histadine which converts to histamine in the body. As you know, high levels of histamine can cause itching and make allergies worse.
6. Dog breeds most predisposed to food allergies include Shar-peis, Cocker spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Dalmations, West Highland Terriers, Schnauzers, and Springer Spaniels.
7. Common meat source allergens include beef, milk, chicken, eggs, fish, and lamb. Common grain source allergens include wheat, corn, soy, and rice.
8. Dogs and cats can be allergic to multiple ingredients in a single food, so any food fed should be limited to one hypoallergenic meat source and one hypoallergenic grain source.
9. Owners must allow at least 12 weeks on a "hypoallergenic" food before passing judgment as to whether or not the food is working to control clinical signs.
10. Heartworm medication, flea medication, and other chewable pet medications (i.e. antibiotics) may contain beef, which could cause a food allergy.
11. Beet pulp is an excellent fiber source that promotes bio-diversity among the "good" bacteria in the gut, which can help prevent food allergies. Many pet food companies are adding beet pulp to their "hypoallergenic" diets. Check the labels.
12. Allergies to food are the third most common cause of itching in dogs (behind fleas and pollen allergies) and the second most common cause of itching in cats.
13. Itching that does not respond to a steroid injection or oral steroids can often be attributed to food allergies.
14. In cats, intense itching and scabbing around the face and neck are often caused by a food allergy.
15. Vaccinations administered to puppies and kittens may also sensitize their immune systems to the foods they are eating at the time of immunizations. In other words, if a puppy or kitten is eating a food that contains primarily beef and corn during the time in which it receives its initial shots, there is a chance she'll develop an allergy to beef and corn in the future. As a result, it may become necessary to switch foods (food ingredients) later on in life (i.e. after two years of age) to prevent a food allergy from rearing its ugly head.