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Food Allergies in Pets
|Food allergies (immune-mediated hypersensitivities) and food intolerances are common conditions in both cats and dogs.
Symptoms are often digestive in origin, i.e. diarrhea, enteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting and malabsorption. Food allergies can also manifest themselves through chronic ear infections, skin disorders and respiratory problems.
Natural Approach to Pets with Food Allergies
Food allergies are diagnosed through IGE blood testing or through food elimination diets. Once the foods have been identified and withdrawn from the diet, treatment should be directed at the organs or systems that have been affected.
For example, an allergic animal may experience frequent bouts of diarrhea or vomiting. Supplements containing glutamine, probiotics or enyzymes will help restore your petís digestive system and may reduce the severity of their allergic reactions to certain foods.
When food allergies cause itchy skin or rashes, treatment should focus on reducing inflammation of the skin. Essential fatty acids, (specifically Omega-3 fatty acids) are often used to treat skin disorders because they help the body produce anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, which means your pet may find relief from itching and pain.
The key to dealing with food allergies is to remove the food causing the allergy and then support the system which has been affected (digestive, skin, immune...) Because it can be a lengthy process to identify the food allergy, or if your pet has multiple food allergies, supplements may help lessen the allergy symptoms your pet is experiencing while you work to determine the cause.
An elimination diet involves giving your pet a "novel" protein and carbohydrate. Novel means one that your pet has never eaten before, like duck and potato or venison and brown rice. It may be difficult to find pet foods that contain these ingredients in your grocery store so we provided some suggestions below.
The following companies produce high quality pet foods which can be purchased at many local pet shops. Visit their websites to purchase online or locate retailers in your area:
Also, some people that have allergic pets prefer to prepare a homemade diet. A good reference book for preparing a homemade diet is "Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diet, The Healthful Alternative," by Dr. Donald R. Strombeck.