Why is an increasing number of dogs being diagnosed with food allergies?
It seems as if lately every other dog has been suffering from allergies. Dogs scratch and nibble at themselves, lose hair, lick their paws. This goes on for months and they get better after a corticosteroid injection or antihistamine tablets.
Both are just a symptomatic therapy and do not solve the problem, they just “tone down” the symptoms a bit. But overall – the condition is not improving. The dog is struggling, owners are constantly bringing it to the vet, expensive allergy tests are being conducted. All in all – an allergy is a very frustrating condition for the animal, the owner and the vet.
It is usually very difficult to determine the cause of allergies,
to guess exactly what food, plant or chemicals from the environment are the cause of the allergy. Even testing for specific substances (allergy tests) rarely determines the exact cause. That is, it often turns out that the dog is allergic to just about everything.
Immune system disorders that occur due to problems in the gut (because the gut is the body’s largest immune organ) are the most common cause of allergies.
The gut irritated by inappropriate food that is difficult to digest, which contains harmful chemicals and the one which adversely affects the healthy microflora, becomes the place where hypersensitivity reactions occur.
So, the organism becomes irritated by a specific substance and begins to react non-specifically to other substances that it would not otherwise react to without this specific allergen.
When a dog suffers from an allergy,
which manifests itself with various skin changes (hair loss, itching, redness, ear infections), therapy focuses only on the allergy, antibiotics and corticosteroids only worsen the condition in the gut, and consequently, the allergy worsens. Initial success with corticosteroids often quickly turns into an even worse condition.
It is, therefore, extremely important to deal with the cause – which is the unhealthy gut. By unhealthy gut, we refer primarily to the condition of the intestinal microflora, because when there is a good proportion and balance of this population of bacteria, allergies disappear.
In short – the first and key step in fighting allergies is choosing the appropriate and quality food.
Food that is:
- easily digestible – fresh raw meat contains enzymes that help digest food
- natural – does not contain additives (flavour enhancers, dyes, etc.)
- rich in prebiotics and probiotics (maintaining a healthy microflora)
What usually happens is that dogs end up eating food the label of which says something like ‘hypoallergenic’, usually in bold letters.
And now that you understand how allergies occur due to a disbalance in the gut. Because the gut is the largest immune organ. You also understand how wrong it is to feed highly-processed food to dogs with food hypersensitivity:
- nutrients have changed beyond recognition,
- the body cannot break them down,
- they accumulate in the body,
- irritate the immune system and become an allergen.
Another very important thing – in the case of allergy-prone dogs it is extremely important to avoid foods rich in carbohydrates. Not only cereals but also potatoes, peas, beets, etc. Make sure to study the label of the food you give your dog. One sentence that says that it is dog food for dogs with food hypersensitivity should not mislead you.
And last but not least – don’t trust anyone who tells you that allergies are likely to remain your dog’s lifelong problem. Contact us and we will help you deal with the condition in your dog’s most important and largest immune organ – the gut.
Petra Galetić, dr.vet.med