Ever wondered why your moggy has bald patches in its fur or keeps scratching its back under the kitchen table till the skin is raw? Your dog certainly can be intolerant to its food – may be gluten or cereals, or surroundings like pollen could be to blame.
A colleague found that her dog continued to be sneezing and scabs were seen on the skin. She headed to the vets to hopefully find some answers. Steroids were given for the first two years but there was the usual concern over the long term use of steroids of liver damage.
As an alternative to steroids two blood test packages can be performed. One for Food and one for Pollen. Vet examinations, of course are never cheap. Whole package costs around £400, but they can be cheaper if there is a specific suspicion of what can cause the allergy.
For the food package, cats and dogs can be tested for cereals such as: gluten, wheat and barley, meat eg lamb, pork and beef, and any reaction to cat or dog. So your pet cat may be allergic to your pet dog! The pollen package includes allergies to trees, shrubs and grasses, flowers etc.
Once diagnosed, it is sense of relief. Food intolerances can be avoided by typically not giving the pet the food. For example a dog with a gluten intolerance, the owner would feed gluten free pasta or rice with no biscuits or bread and to check all labels. Often pet food is poorly labelled as it does not require the same strict labelling as for human consumption. Treats can be poorly labelled. The word ‘protein’ can be written but the source of the protein, ie. the type of meat, can be unknown so a dog intolerant to pork could not be given this pet food.
There is an expanding number of pet food companies offering alternative foods. Pouches do a wide range of treats.
A range of Pooches foods have been tested by the Glebe Farm dog crèche and were a great success!
Diagnosis to pollen allergies can be resolved by vaccination solutions, made up by the vaccination laboratory. The aim is to build up immunity slowly with doses administered every 2-3 weeks in the beginning and monthly thereafter. An ongoing monthly injection can be administered by either the vet or the owner once trained. The injection package can be around £150 per solution, but if dog is allergic to more pollens than 6, more solutions have to be prepared which will increase the cost as well. Immunotherapy will help, as it increases the immune system and reaction to the allergen, it just takes some time and does not happen instantly.
In summary, seeing a loved pet in pain is a great concern to its owner. It can be very stressful until the diagnosis is made. Even then, there is a lot of time and patience required visiting vets and reading pet food labels. But best of all there are a growing number of specialist petfood manufacturers to treat and feed your pet!