Numerous dogs experience allergies or intolerances, but many pet owners find it challenging to distinguish between the two. The following provides an explanation of the disparity between pet food allergies and intolerances.
Pet Food Allergies
A pet food allergy involves the immune system's response. It occurs when a dog reacts to a specific ingredient, such as a protein source, triggering the release of histamine that causes itching. Typically, food allergies manifest as skin-related problems in dogs, including inflammation, itching, hair loss, and hot spots. There is also a possibility of developing recurring ear infections even after treatment has ended.
A dog with a food allergy will likely always suffer from it, although the severity may change over time.
Many pet owners tend to assume that itchy skin is caused by a food allergy. However, true food allergies in cats and dogs are rare and account for only 1% of all skin diseases in dogs.
Pet Food Intolerances
Pet food intolerances, on the other hand, do not involve the immune system. They occur when a particular food does not agree with a dog's body, causing functional or mechanical issues in digestion. For example, a dog may be sensitive to wheat. Intolerances often resemble food allergies because the body can only exhibit problems in limited ways.
Identifying the cause of food intolerance can be challenging. Owners can adopt an elimination diet by removing suspected ingredients from the dog's diet for at least four weeks and then reintroducing them to observe any physical changes.
Common ingredients that may cause intolerances include grains (such as wheat and maize), eggs, soy, or dairy.
What Can Pet Owners Do?
If pet owners suspect that their pet is suffering from a food allergy or intolerance, there are several actions they can take:
- Feed their pet hypoallergenic food to avoid common allergens and intolerances.
- Choose a diet with a single protein source, such as meat or fish.
- Select a diet with novel ingredients.
- Follow an elimination diet.
At Working Dog Food Co., our Superfood 65® and Grain Free recipes are all hypoallergenic. Each recipe is carefully formulated to be free from common allergens that may cause intolerances and sensitivities in pets. The Superfood 65® range is enriched with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to support everyday health and well-being. Meanwhile, the Grain Free range, made with sweet potato and potato, is suitable for those with grain intolerance or sensitivity.