The Reality of Food Allergies in Pets

Food allergies occur in pets when a cat or dog’s immune system identifies a protein in his or her diet as an invader, something like a virus or bacteria, and attacks it. This triggered immune response is what causes unpleasant symptoms such as:
These problems can signify food allergies, but in spite of all the “hypoallergenic” pet food products available on the market, food allergies actually aren’t extremely common in cats and dogs. Yes, animals can suffer from food allergies, but there are lots of different conditions and environmental factors (besides diet) that can cause these symptoms.

Conditions That Cause Similar Symptoms in Pets

Before testing your pet for food allergies, our veterinarian will want to rule out other potential causes.

Conditions Which Cause Gastrointestinal Issues

Conditions Which Cause Dermatological Symptoms

Sarcoptic mange, allergies to fleas, and other environmental allergies (pollen, dust, grass, smoke, and artificial fragrances) are much more common than food allergies, but cause similar symptoms. Sometimes, these allergies will ebb and flow seasonally. Depending on the specific allergen, you might not notice any significant changes.

How Are Food Allergies Diagnosed?

Veterinarians typically use elimination diets to determine whether pets have food allergies. Although there are blood tests on the market which claim to test for food allergies, scientific studies have revealed that they are highly unreliable. An elimination diet limits the types of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to which your pet is exposed for a specific period (typically six to twelve weeks). This includes ingredients in regular food, treats, chew toys, chewable pills, and flavored pill pockets. Our veterinarian or a board certified veterinary nutritionist will help you design your pet’s elimination diet.
If during the elimination diet, your pet’s symptoms clear, we will then have you re-introduce your pet’s previous diet. If symptoms return quickly, this confirms the presence of a food allergy, rather than coincidental symptomatic relief due to a change in the seasons or environment.

Schedule an Allergy Appointment for Your Pet Today

At Companion Animal Health & Rehabilitation Center, we are committed to helping our pet patients live happy, healthy lives. If your pet experiences allergy-like symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment right away. The sooner we investigate your pet’s symptoms, the sooner he or she will have relief.