Over the course of the past few years, we’ve become more aware of the fact that people aren’t the only ones with allergies. Our dogs can get them, too. A lot of problems that look like misbehavior or other health issues can actually turn out to be related to what your pet eats. That’s why there are so many different types of hypoallergenic dog food currently on the market. However, not all dogs have the same allergies. Let’s look at some of the things that might cause allergies, and what we can do to help fix them.
One surprising problem for many dogs is grain food. There are some grains and starches more likely to cause problems, but they’re also some of the most commonly used ingredients in dog foods. After all, most kibble is based in soy, corn, rice, wheat, oats and other starchy materials. Hypoallergenic dog foods attempt to use less common carbs, in order to help dogs avoid the ones that are causing them issues. They’re also usually fairly low in carbohydrates, in an attempt to reduce the risk of a reaction.
Most dogs aren’t allergic to all carbohydrates, though. Some of them can eat wheat but not rice, or barley but not corn. The same goes for meat allergies. Dogs are very likely to develop an allergy to beef – one of the most common dog food ingredients – but less likely to have allergies to the less common lamb. However, you shouldn’t make the mistake of believing that you can start a dog out on these hypoallergenic foods to prevent problems in the future. After all, most allergies happen because of exposure, not because of the ingredient itself.
A healthy dog with no problems eating grains or other starches should eat a fifth to half its diet in carbohydrates. The rest of the diet should be non-carb based. However, dogs with allergies will require something a little different. Hypoallergenic dog food, whether made at home or purchased from a commercial supplier, shouldn’t include as many carbs.
No matter what kind of diet your dog eats, remember that he or she shouldn’t eat the same thing forever. Should you switch foods all the time? No – that can cause stomach upset and other digestive problems. However, changing from time to time and making sure all new foods have different ingredients is a great choice for people who want to keep their pets from getting allergies.
Don’t make the mistake of buying a hypoallergenic dog food for a healthy animal. It could give your dog even great sensitivities later. Instead, change foods periodically, read labels with care, and consult your vet about the right diet for your pet. It’ll help you have the healthiest pet you can.
by Karen Hayes