Does your dog have one or more of the following symptoms?
- Hair loss
- Hot spots / rashes
- Itchy / foul smelling ears
- Darkened skin from excessive licking
- Sourish odour
- Loose stools
Root causes of skin irritations are hard to diagnose. Our pets may scratch for a variety of reasons, sometimes due to food sensitivity, environmental allergens or even boredom. However, majority of canine skin conditions are due to yeast infections and/or allergies.
There are two primary triggers for skin related allergies – food and the environment. Pets can develop an allergic reaction to things in their environment, this includes things like dust, pollen, grass etc. For pets that have environmental allergies, they are never truly free of the allergen. Such cases can, at best, be managed by minimizing your pet’s exposure to triggers or with drugs that help suppress the allergy symptoms.
For those suffering from food related allergies, owners can avoid the itch fest simply by feeding a simple fresh food diet that avoids trigger food items.
How do I know if my pet has food or environmental allergies?
To answer that, veterinarians commonly recommend a process known as an elimination food trial. This elimination diet serves two purposes:
- To establish if your pet’s allergies stem from food, the environment or both
- Identify food items that trigger the allergy
The Elimination Diet
This method involves feeding your dog a much-simplified diet, mainly consisting of two to three ingredients: a novel protein (protein that the pet has not been exposed to) and 1 to 2 vegetables. It is essential to stick to this single protein diet for 8 to 12 weeks. Then gradually add in additional ingredients/supplements, one at a time, and observe for any reactions or intolerances.
For those with pets that have environmental allergies, one may notice that the elimination diet does little to improve the predicament for your pet – in which case alternatives to managing your pet’s allergies will need to be sought. However, most pet parents discover that their pets do better on a simple limited ingredient diet and many find that they are able to help improve their pet’s quality of life by better understanding what food items trigger the itchies.