Anyone else feel totally overwhelmed when you wander the dog food aisles at the pet store? There are so many options — and some of the food is pretty darn expensive. But even if you pick a bag of food that has a high price tag, you might be feeding your dog something that is detrimental to their health.
That’s right. A lot of dog food is full of allergy triggers — and those bags don’t come with a trigger warning.
Humans aren’t the only beings that suffer from adverse reactions to certain foods. In fact, food allergies are the third-most common allergies in dogs, and they can be tricky to spot because the symptoms are not what you think. The most common symptoms are itchy skin, scratching and hair loss. They may also have gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and gas.
Dogs can develop food allergies at any age, and allergies can suddenly be triggered by foods they’ve eaten their entire lives with no issues, making it even trickier to diagnose. Since many symptoms of dog food allergies can also signify other issues, it’s important not to diagnose your pup yourself.
If you’ve noticed these issues with your pup, it might be time to switch up his diet. Talk to your vet first, and with their go-ahead, try a limited-ingredient food that avoids some of these main triggers.
But why do these allergies occur in the first place? The truth is, no one really knows, though there are many theories floating around that may be at least partially true. Some vets have attributed food allergies in dogs to genetics, overexposure to certain foods, too many food additives, early cases of gastroenteritis and poor health care or nutrition.
All of these possible theories mean that while it may not be possible for you to prevent food allergies in your dog, you can lessen his chances while feeding him a variety of quality, limited-ingredient foods and making sure he has regular checkups with the vet.
Originally published August 2016. Updated June 2017.