Dogs can suffer from food allergies at any point in its life however many cases have been observed to occur between two to six years of age. Oftentimes, dog owners will hardly notice that their dogs are suffering from allergies. Allergy symptoms—itching, scratching, paw chewing, hot spots, unexplained ear infections— are common manifestations of many skin conditions which may not be allergy in nature.
Just like any type of allergy, food allergies often manifest as a result of a hypersensitivity reaction of the dog’s body to one or more components present in its diet. A dog’s immune system plays a major role in an allergic reaction. When a component in the dog food is recognized as an allergen, the immune system responds by producing histamine which is responsible for the allergy symptoms. Aside from the skin lesion, histamine often acts on the digestive tract to cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Studies have shown that dog food usually incorporates many ingredients which can trigger hypersensitivity reactions. Ingredients which possess the potential to trigger such reactions include chicken, dairy products, wheat, beef, soy, preservatives and other chemicals which have been added to food to improve the flavor and palatability.
With the help of your veterinarian, you will able to map out a course of treatment to address the existing allergy problems that your labrador is suffering form. The usual regimen is to try the so-called “elimination diet” where your dog is given a completely new protein source and carbohydrate source.
The most common ingredients which are now used for elimination diets include game meat such as venison, kangaroo, or rabbit. Recommended carbohydrate sources include sweet potatoes or oats.
Other options include feeding a hydrolyzed protein diet, where protein sources are broken down into smaller forms which can easily be assimilated and absorbed thus preventing any hypersensitivity reaction to occur.