Just like us humans, dogs too suffer with food allergies and intolerances. One of our lovely members, Charlene Tildsley from The Countryman's Choice has kindly provided us with this blog all about how to identify the differences between an allergy or intolerance, and what we can do to help our dog with their nutritional requirements.

Introduction

Owning a dog with food intolerances or allergies can be hard going, take it from someone who knows! My Labrador, Diesel, suffered from the day I brought him home. He was weaned on to a popular brand but due to my understanding of canine nutrition I was able to rectify his issues quickly. He has since then been fine with a couple of hiccups along the way so I have decided to let you in on my knowledge in the hope it may help your dogs too.
In the recent years we have seen a rise in sensitivity in dogs when it comes to food but do you know the difference between allergies and intolerances? Let’s dive right in and take a look…..

Allergies

A pet food allergy involves the immune system. This can be triggered by a dog’s response to a certain ingredient such as protein source. For example, cells may release histamine which causes itching. Generally, food allergies cause skin related issues in dogs such as inflammation, itching, hair loss and hot spots. There is the possibility they can develop ear infections that can become a
reoccurring theme once treatment has ended. A dog that has a food allergy will most likely always suffer from this. However, the severity of this can change over time.

Intolerances
A pet food intolerance does not involve the immune system and is caused when a food doesn’t agree with a dog’s body. This is simply a functional or mechanical issue with digesting a particular food. An example of this is a dog may be sensitive to wheat. Intolerances often mimic food allergies because the body can only demonstrate a problem in so many ways. Common ingredients that may cause intolerance’s include grains (i.e wheat and maize), eggs, soya or
dairy.

You may notice a difference in your dog if they have an allergy/intolerance.

So, what can dog owners do?

If an owner believes that their pet is suffering from a food allergy or intolerance, there is a number of things they can do:

  • Feed their pet Grain Free or Hypoallergenic food as this helps to avoid common allergens and intolerances.
  •  Choose a diet with a single protein source such as meat or fish.
  • Follow an elimination diet (This works by removing a suspect ingredient for a minimum of 4 weeks from a dogs diet and then reintroducing the ingredient and wait for a return of any physical changes).
Grain Free

Grain Free recipes are ideal for dogs with sensitivity or intolerance to grains or gluten; a great alternative to rice or cereal based recipes. Pet Food formulated without grains may help to alleviate common symptoms of grain sensitivity or intolerance.

The benefits of Grain Free diets can include:
• Less and smaller stools
• Reduce Shedding
• Improved Skin & Coat Condition
• Improved Breath Odour
• Reduced Wind
• Reduced Itching & Scratching
• Reduced Digestive Upsets

The Benefits of Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato can be a key ingredient in many Grain Free dog foods. So let’s look at the benefits of Sweet Potato and why is it added?

  • It’s Superfood! Packed with a wide range of vitamins and minerals and naturally gluten free.
  • Great for digestion as sweet potatoes are high in fibre which helps to promote a healthy digestive system and good stool formation. They are also soothing on the stomach so are great for more sensitive dogs.
  • They have a low glycemic index which means that they release glucose more slowly into the blood stream unlike other starchy foods which release this more quickly once consumed. This means blood sugar levels remain more constant and provide a steady release of energy throughout the day to the dog.
  • They are one of the best sources of Vitamin A which is an antioxidant powerhouse and is thought to have anti-aging properties along with helping to maintain good eye sight and aid skin and coat condition.
  • Thought to have anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties as they are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant, along with other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, Iron, Phosphorus and Magnesium.

Sweet Potatoes offer a wide range of benefits to your dog.

It’s worth keeping this information in mind when searching for the right food for your dog. A lot of owners don’t even realise their dogs has allergies or intolerances due to the signs been so subtle in some dogs. With so much emphasis on our eating habits, maybe it's time we looked at our dogs, more importantly I believe working dogs should be the ones who are looked after as they help us more than the pet dog. The least we can do is to make sure they are fuelled correctly for those long days in the field!

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