Making the Switch to Hypoallergenic Dog Food
There are a number of reasons a pet owner should switch over to a hypoallergenic dog food. This type of pet food is directed at dogs with:
- itchy skin
- dogs with gastrointestinal problems
- coat issues
- ear problems
What many pet owners don’t know is that a dog’s diet can be to blame for many different types of chronic health conditions that are plaguing their pet.
This kind of pet food is designed to prevent allergic reactions in your pet that are based on their diet. Usually, this type of food will omit such ingredients as yeast, soy, beef, corn, dairy products and chicken.
TIP: If your dog is constantly dealing with skin and coat issues, rashes, or other types of allergies, then it may be time to change your pet’s diet.
The main symptom of an allergy in dogs:
- dull, flakey looking coat
- dog food allergy include licking the groin, paws and flank areas, fungal infections, excessive scratching that leads to a bacterial infection
- gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, gas, loose stool or vomiting
Aside from skin or gastrointestinal issues a dog can also experience some behavioral changes such as increased anxiety, depression or distress.
What can Cause a Dog Food Allergy?
The main cause of a dog food allergy is the high carb and protein content found in most commercial dog food brands. Additionally, most cheap brands of dog food also include additives and preservatives, which can irritate the intestines, causing irritable intestinal disease in dogs. Feeding your dog table scraps can also make this worse.
Have you noticed that your dog has been scratching or licking their paws almost obsessively? Has this recently started, even though you’ve been giving your dog the same food for years? Often, a dog can eat the same dog food for years, without noticeable signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction. Because of this, many vets will not consider a food allergy as the underlying cause of poor skin or digestion.
This condition is often misdiagnosed and instead of simply switching to a different type of dog food, the vet will prescribe medication to treat a fungal infection, intestinal issues or dry skin. A vet can also misdiagnose a food allergy as a flea or tick infestation.
If you have tried different medications to treat you dog’s itchy skin, or upset stomach, with no success, the best way to tell if your pet is suffering from an allergy is to try a hypoallergenic brand. Typically, your dog should respond to this change in diet within two months. During this trial period, do not give your pet any table scraps or dog treats. If your dog eats even one bite of allergy causing food during this time, they will continue to show signs associated with a food allergy, which means you’ll need to start the two month trial period all over again.
While giving your dog table scraps is highly discouraged, you should especially steer clear of processed lunchmeats, peanut butter, dairy, or wheat and white bread.
Top Brands your Dog will Love
A good brand will be highly digestible, and contain a low molecular weight protein. The dog food should also be gluten-free, lactose-free and come loaded with antioxidants.
The antioxidants found in hypoallergenic food is designed to heal the damage that’s been caused to your pet’s skin and stomach lining due to free radicals found in many popular brands of commercial food.
Free radicals can contribute to cancerous cell formation, tumors that both cancerous and benign and other types of growths on the skin. Most brands will contain vitamins E and C and Taurine.
Some of the top hypoallergenic brands of dog food include:
- Royal Canine
- Pinnacle Feed-Free
AvoDerm features a formula that contains chicken broth and liver, in addition to brown rice and grapefruit. Packed with vitamins E, D and B12.
Royal Canine is one of the more expensive brands of hypoallergenic food for dogs that you’ll find, but it’s also one of the most popular. This formula is designed to minimize allergy sensitivity. This product is lactose, gluten and wheat free.
Acana is often a brand that’s recommended by vets. With all-natural ingredients, this brand contains sweet potatoes, peas, oats, flounder, salmon and alfalfa.
Pinnacle Feed-Free Salmon and Potato hypoallergenic food for dogs consists of blueberries, pumpkin a variety of seafood and is packed with vitamins D, E and B.
All brands mentioned come highly recommended and have been proven to not only improve any skin or gastrointestinal issues in dogs, but they will also boost their immune system and energy level while also giving them a pretty magnificent looking coat.
Making your own Dog Food
More than anything, it’s important that the diet you feed your dog is well-balanced and complete, which means it meets all of your dog’s dietary needs. However, it’s okay if not every meal is well-balanced, unless you’re feeding your pet the same meal every day.
Homemade dog food can include a wide variety of foods. You don’t have to struggle to ensure that every single meal your pet eats is nutritionally complete, just as long as he or she is receiving what they need over a period of a week or two, they will be just fine.
Your average nutritionist wouldn’t expect you to follow every single recipe, without variation. Instead, people are given guidelines in terms of portion sizes and food groups. As long as your pet isn’t suffering from any health issues that require a special diet, there is no reason you can’t do the same for your pet. A puppy is often more susceptible to issues caused by a dietary imbalance or nutritional deficiency, compared to adults. This is especially true for large breed pups.
Animal products and meat should make up at least half of your dog’s diet. A diet that’s too high in fat can lead to weight gain and obesity. On a high fat diet, your dog is also at risk of developing deficiencies of other required nutrients.
Unless your pet gets intense, routine exercise, use only lean meats that contain no more than ten percent fat. For poultry, remove the skin and cut off any visible fat. Most vets can agree that it’s better to give your dog dark meat as opposed to chicken breast, unless they’re on a strict low fat diet.
If you decide to feed your dog raw bones, they should make up about one half of your dog’s total diet. If you feed your dog bony parts use the lower end of the range such as backs and necks. If you’re using mainly meaty parts such as thighs, you can feed them more. Never give your dog cooked bones.
Boneless meat includes both red meat and poultry. The heart is an excellent choice and one that’s lean and cheaper than other types of muscle meats.
Fish contains vitamin D, which should otherwise be supplemented. Canned fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are great choices. If you’re cooking the fish yourself, be sure to remove the bones and never feed your pet raw trout or pacific salmon.
You can feed your dog large amounts of fish a couple of times a week or small amounts daily.
Animal nutritionists recommend adding beef livers to your pet’s diet. Liver should make up about five percent of the organ meats you use. Offering small amounts of liver daily is ideal.
Eggs are a highly nutritious addition to any diet. A dog that weighs twenty pounds or more can have one egg a day, while smaller dogs should be given only half.
When it comes to dairy, kefir and plain yogurt are tolerated well by most breeds. Ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are also great options. Refrain from offering other types of cheeses which are high in fat.
Produce isn’t really a significant part of a dog’s diet, however, fresh fruits and veggies can provide much-needed fiber that supports the digestive tract. Antioxidants and other types of nutrients can also be beneficial to how your pet looks and feels.
Starchy veggies such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, pumpkin, winter squashes and legumes all provide your pet with the type of carb calories that can work to reduce food costs while helping to keep the weight on highly active dogs. For overweight dogs, quantities of these foods should be limited. In order to be digested by dogs, starchy foods must first be cooked.
Non-starchy veggies such as leafy greens are low in calories and can be fed in large quantities. However, too much of these types of veggies can cause gas and bloating. Cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower and broccoli can have a negative effect on thyroid function. In order to be digested properly by dogs, all raw veggies should be pureed using a food processors, juicer or blender. Whole raw veggies are not harmful and can be used as treats.
Fruits such as papaya, berries, melon, apples and bananas are good for your pet. However, be sure to avoid raisins and grapes, which can cause kidney failure.
The use of grains in homemade dog food is somewhat controversial, as they may possibly contribute to inflammation caused by arthritis, allergies of IBD, in addition to seizures and other issues. Some types of grains contain gluten, which can cause digestive upset in some dogs. Many pets do well with grains, which can be used to minimize the cost of feeding your pet homemade dog food.
Starchy veggies and grains should make up only about half of your dog’s diet. Excellent choices include quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal, pasta and barley. White rice is low in nutrition but can be used to settle an upset stomach.
Are Supplements Necessary for Dogs?
Some supplements are definitely necessary. Others may be needed if you can’t get your dog to eat certain types of foods.
Not to mention, the longer food is kept frozen, the more nutrients they lose. Which makes adding supplements to your pet’s diet the perfect solution.
Unless you feed your dog raw meaty bones, all homemade dog foods must be supplemented with calcium. The amount of calcium in mineral supplements and multivitamins isn’t enough.
Your dog needs as much as 800mg per pound of food. You can add ground eggshells or seaweed calcium as well.
A homemade diet also requires added oils for calories and fat and in order to supply certain nutrients. It’s crucial that you use the right kinds of oils because each type offers different nutrients. Fish oil provides DHA, omega three fatty acids and EPA which can help to reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system.
Adding too much or not enough iodine to your dog’s food can supress thyroid function and it can be difficult to determine how much is in their diet. A dog that weighs around fifty pounds will need approximately three hundred micrograms daily. Kelp is available in supplement form and is high in iodine.
Q and A
Ticks are the most common reason for itchy and dry skin in dogs
A food allergy can be responsible for cancerous and non-cancerous growths on dogs
You should notice significant changes in your pet after they have eaten hypoallergenic food for two months
Acana is the hypoallergenic brand that’s most often recommended by vets
Most cases of food allergies will get misdiagnosed at one time or another. Usually a vet will diagnose your pet with a fungal infection or flea infestation