Understanding and treating food intolerances in pets
(Family Features) If your four-legged friend is exhibiting some unusual symptoms, there’s a chance a food sensitivity may be the culprit. Even for pets that don’t have a full-blown food allergy, food intolerance can create problems that are easily remedied with a change in diet.
“The length of time a pet has been on a food does not seem to affect the risk of developing adverse food reactions,” said Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, PhD, a companion animal nutritionist and registered dietitian. “A pet can react to a food after just one feeding, or after many months or years on the same food. Just like people, every pet is different, so the degree of sensitivity to an ingredient can vary.”
Knowing the warning signs is the first step toward understanding whether your pet is suffering from a food-related intolerance.
Cats with food intolerances may show symptoms such as:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Bloating and related symptoms, such as gas
- Skin irritation, which is typically rare in cats
Dogs may display these symptoms if they are suffering from sensitivities to certain foods:
- Excessive paw licking or chewing with paws often turning red as a result
- Chronic or recurrent ear infections
- Visible fur loss
- Itching and rashes, especially around the dog’s face, feet, ears, forelegs or armpits
- Vomiting and diarrhea
If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, it could be a sign he or she has a food intolerance. First, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any health conditions. Once your pet receives a clean bill of health, switching the food your pet eats may help alleviate his or her symptoms.
Home-Cooked Elimination Diets
An elimination diet is a specialized diet that is fed to pets and excludes all suspect ingredients. Once a diet is found that resolves the symptoms, a pet is then fed potentially aggravating ingredients to see if symptoms reappear. If they do, an adverse food reaction is confirmed. The elimination diet will need to be closely monitored by a veterinary professional and followed for approximately 6-8 weeks to determine success.
Limited Ingredient Diets
A limited ingredient diet (LID) offers a single source of meat protein with as few additional ingredients as possible to meet the nutritional requirements of your pet. Options like GO! Solutions recipes from Petcurean are formulated especially for pets with specific dietary needs and food sensitivities, and carefully prepared with premium-quality meat proteins, unique carbs and essential omega oils.
To determine whether a limited ingredient recipe will work for your food-sensitive pet, you should eliminate all treats and other food sources. You may notice immediate improvements, but your pet should stay on the new food for 8-12 weeks to ensure it is the right choice.
It may take some trial and error to find a food that works for a food-sensitive pet, but patience and persistence can help your pet live a happy and healthy life. Learn more about food options for pets with special dietary needs at Petcureango.com.