What are food allergies?
Food intolerance occurs when a dog or cat is sensitive to a component of their diet. This can manifest as either a skin or gastrointestinal disease. In dogs, the patient often licks and bites at their legs, feet and around the belly. In cats the lesions can mainly be found around the head and neck. Food allergies should be considered as a possible cause only when the skin disease symptoms are non-seasonal. Like other causes of allergies, secondary infection and self trauma can occur.
Whilst most allergies are to a particular protein or carbohydrate in the diet, sensitivities can also be secondary to additives and preservatives.
What is our treatment process?
Diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs and a process of elimination of other causes. There is no definitive single test for food allergies. Where a pet is suspected of having food intolerance, it is recommended that they be fed a restricted diet for 6-8 weeks. The restricted diet must not contain a protein or carbohydrate source that they have previously been eating.
There are several hypo-allergenic diets on the market that can be used for the dietary trial. Our veterinary staff will select one that is best suited to your pet. Most of these come in both a tinned and dry food variety. It is important that the patient sticks to the diet and not deviate from the treatment plan. Feeding your pet any other treat or food variation can make the diet treatment process invalid. After 8 weeks if the symptoms have resolved, then we slowly introduce a novel carbohydrate or protein source, one at a time and assess for any changes to the skin or gastrointestinal health.
For more information please talk to one of our veterinary staff or click the links for further information on skin disease.