Effects of Food Allergies – From the Dog’s Point of View
Food allergies, like most other allergies, cause animals to feel just plain lousy. The nature and extent of symptoms will vary between affected animals. A dog that is allergic to something in its diet almost always will show signs of having itchy skin. It will scratch, lick and bite at random areas of its body in what unfortunately will be an unsuccessful attempt to relieve its discomfort. Dogs with food allergies may also become nauseated and develop mild to severe gastrointestinal symptoms. If a dog is allergic to one of the primary ingredients in its food, or if it has multiple food allergies, its symptoms probably will be more serious than those symptoms of dogs that are allergic to only one minor component of their diet.
Symptoms of Food Allergies – What the Owner Sees
Food allergies are one of the most frustrating of all medical conditions for dog owners to deal with, particularly because it can take a very long time to isolate the offending food ingredient(s). Owners of dogs with food allergies typically start to see signs of a problem after their dogs have been eating a particular diet for several months. Unlike the signs of food intolerance, the signs of food allergies usually do not come on suddenly. They develop fairly slowly and become progressively worse over time. Sometimes, food hypersensitivity symptoms don’t show up for a few years. Owners of dogs with food allergies may notice one or more of the following symptoms or signs in their pets:
- Scratching, licking and/or biting at random areas of skin and coat; usually intense and non-seasonal (“pruritus”)
- Hair loss
- Skin sores/wounds; raw and oozing; self-inflicted in response to itchiness/pruritus
- Skin redness
- Raised skin bumps; pustules; hives
- Skin rashes
- Redness and moist rashes inside the ear flaps
Skin reactions from food allergies tend to show up most frequently on a dog’s face, between its toes, on its groin and flank areas, behind the front legs (in the armpits or “axial” areas) and on or inside of the ears. In severe cases, dogs may develop hives, which are raised red bumps and pustules. When a food allergy affects a dog’s digestive tract, it may experience unexplained vomiting and diarrhea and may have more frequent bowel movements than normal. Whatever their exact symptoms, dogs that are allergic to something in their diet will be uncomfortable at best. Over time, they may become severely distressed, distraught or depressed as a result of their condition.