Food Allergy Myths in Pets

There you are, watching your favorite movie, when suddenly you hear it again- the annoying scratch, scratch, scratch from the family dog. Could it be a food allergy?  Not possible, you say? Read on for the most common food allergy myths in pets.

Food Allergy Myths in Pets

1) MYTH #1: “My sweet Buddy had always eaten this food, so it can’t be a food allergy!”

TRUTH: A dog can be on the same food for years with no problems and then develop a food allergy to that food. They are much less likely to have an allergy to a food that has only been eaten for a few weeks.

2) MYTH #2: “I only feed the most natural, organic, pastured, grain-free food there is.”

TRUTH: The most common ingredients to trigger a food allergy are chicken, beef, soy, wheat, dairy, corn, lamb, rice and fish. Do these ingredients sound familiar? Yes indeed. That’s because they’re the most common ones found in pet food.

If a pet is allergic to these foods, it doesn’t matter if the animal was massaged daily or the plant was blanketed in pristine organic compost before becoming food. The pet will still be allergic to the ingredient.

3) MYTH #3: “Fifi is too old/young to have a food allergy.”

TRUTH: Food allergies can develop at any age in pets. Your pet could be less than a year old or ten years old. There is no ageism with food allergies.

4) MYTH #4: “Can’t we just do a blood test for food allergies?”

TRUTH: Life would be so much easier if we could just test for food allergies. Unfortunately, serum (blood) or intradermal (skin) allergy tests are notoriously unreliable for food allergies. These tests only check one antibody (IgE) produced by the immune system.

However, there are many aspects of the immune response that we can’t test for. Therefore, a food trial lasting up to 12 weeks is still the only way to truly diagnose a food allergy in pets. Sorry.

5) MYTH #5: “I’ve tried every food in the grocery store and nothing helps, so it can’t be a food allergy.”

TRUTH: Over-the-counter diets are notorious for having contamination with proteins not listed in the ingredients. Therefore, even if the bag says it’s chicken and rice, it could contain some beef or soy due to the processing of the food. Veterinary therapeutic diets are carefully manufactured to avoid this problem. Plus, your pet needs a diet containing a protein and carbohydrate that they have never eaten before (novel protein diet).

6) MYTH #6: “I’ve been feeding the food to Princess that my vet gave me, but it’s not working at all. Of course, she can’t live without her Numnum Snacks.”

TRUTH: A proper food trial means the animal is only given the prescribed diet and nothing else by mouth- no treats, snacks, table food, flavored heartworm medication, peanut butter with their morning pill, the neighbor’s cat, etc. Otherwise you’re just wasting time and money on a very expensive food.

But don’t fret, if you’re worried about Princess getting her special treats, follow these directions to make homemade treats from their prescription food.

7) MYTH #7: “My pet doesn’t have any vomiting or diarrhea, so they must not have a food allergy.”

TRUTH: True food allergies in pets show up as skin lesions- red skin, hair loss, scratching, chronic ear infections. Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are typically seen with food intolerances, which isn’t the same as an allergy. A food allergy in pets is the equivalent of someone with hay fever. A food intolerance or sensitivity is like a person who can’t tolerate dairy.

Well there you have it. Hopefully this has clarified some of the confusion with food allergies myths in pets. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for food allergies, but with the proper diet your pet can be much more comfortable and you can finally finish that movie!

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