Saturday, 16 November 2013

Food Allergies in Dog, Cats – Causes, Symptoms, Natural Treatments

In this article…
1.0 What Triggers a Food Allergy in Dogs and Cats
2.0 What Happens In the GI Tract When Food Triggers an Allergic Response
3.0 Symptoms of a Food Allergy
4.0 Common Food Allergens
5.0 Dietary Remedies for Food Allergies
6.0 The Post Elimination Diet
7.0 Topical Intervention - To Treat and Sooth Discomfort
       - Diarrhea
       - Ear Infections
       - Paw and Skin

1.0 What Triggers a Food Allergy in Dogs and Cats

Some dogs and cats have a greater tendency – natural predisposition for increased sensitivity to various foods, but…

The number of dogs and cats acquiring food allergies is rapidly increasing. This trend is reflected in the number one non-life threatening reason why people brought their dogs and cats to the veterinarian during 2012 - ear infections.

One of the most common causes of ear infections and paw and skin irritations is an over-growth of bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) which leads to a yeast bloom. The most common cause of yeast overgrowth is a food allergy. When the root cause of the bloom is not treated the condition becomes chronic. When the root cause of the infection is treated incorrectly (i.e. the solution offered by the veterinarian is multiple courses of antibiotics, is a prescription food, is a steroidal drug such as prednisone further health issues can and very often do ensue.

Food allergies occur due to overreaction of the immune system triggered by repeated ingestion of foods and additives that are potential and in many cases known allergens. In addition, once a dog’s or cat’s immune system becomes hyperactive it may also become reactive to food items that would not normally create a problem – for example chicken or beef. And there are additional factors that can exacerbate sensitivity to that chicken or beef...
  • Consider what the chicken or cow was fed during his/her life span…
  • Antibiotics?
  • GMO corn?
  • Growth hormones?
  • Grains high in aflatoxins?
  • All of these substances enter your dog’s and cat’s system when they ingest the meat from the chicken or cow;
Each of these substances are immune system suppressors, some contain known allergens (see further below). If in addition to the contaminated chicken or beef the food product (i.e. dry dog or cat food) also contains GMO corn and grains high in aflatoxins – you have just inadvertently double dosed your dog or cat with toxic allergen laden food.

Now imagine that your dog or cat eats the same food day in and day out – overtime the chance of developing an adverse reaction (to one of these ingredients) increases.

Many unsuspecting loving dog and cat owners are duped into thinking that the pet industry is geared to deliver the best quality nutrition for dogs and cats – unfortunately this is a false notion. The industry is geared to make huge profits.  Many companies seek to profit with great irresponsibility at the expense of your companion animal’s health and longevity.

2.0 What Happens In the GI Tract When Food Triggers an
      Allergic Response

  • A dog’s and cat’s GI tract is a semi permeable barrier – the partial permeability supports the transfer of nutrients into the blood stream for nourishment of the body;
  • The GI tract digests and breaks down food to enable the release of nutrients for absorption into the blood stream;
  • The GI tract keeps partially digested non-nutritive matter (animate and inanimate) and allergenic matter out of the blood stream, and instead passes the material to the eliminatory system;
    • When partially digested matter slips through the semi—permeable wall of the GI tract into the blood stream the immune system reacts (allergic reaction) – the slippage is a leak, the leak is commonly termed ‘leaky gut syndrome’, the medical term is ‘dysbiosis’;
    • This immune system response will occur each and every time the dog or cat consumes the material that caused the reaction;
    • When the substance is consumed on a regular basis or intermittent basis the allergic reaction becomes a chronic event;
  • When ingestion of the substance is halted the allergic reaction is not triggered and the chronic condition should be mitigated.

3.0 Symptoms of a Food Allergy
  • Fur issues;
    • Bald spots;
  • Eliminatory Issues:
    • Diarrhea;
    • Loose stools;
  • Infections:
    • Ear infections;
      • Chronic ear infections;
  • Skin Issues:
    • on paws;
    • on select locations on the body, or;
    • all over the body;
    • In the form of:
      • Acne;
      • Inflamed skin;
      • Irritated skin;
      • Rashes;
  • Vomiting.

4.0 Common Food Allergens

A few examples of species inappropriate, toxic known allergens common in commercial dry and wet dog and cat food…

Protein Sources (mammalian and plant-based);
  • Beef by product (hooves, etc.)
  • Chicken meal by product (beaks, feathers, etc.)
  • Egg by products made with factory-farm sourced eggs.
  • Fish meal that contains ethoxyquin or is contaminated with aflatoxins;
  • Legumes (i.e. lentils, chickpeas) – animal feed grade may be contaminated with aflatoxins;
  • Milk and milk products – while some milk-based products can provide multiple health benefits (i.e. plain, good quality yogurt, kefir and cheese) to dogs and cats, some dogs and cats are lactose intolerant;
  • GMO soy.
Fats – pour source fats
  • Factory farm sourced fish oil;
  • Rendered fat from D4 animals and/or from animals fed GMO, hormones, antibiotics; rancid fat preserved with chemical-based preservatives;
  • GMO vegetable source oils – canola, cottonseed, safflower, soy – high in pesticide residue.
Fillers - Grains
  • GMO corn, corn derivatives;
  • GMO soy, soy derivatives;
  • Other processed cereal grains;
    • Other whole grains (i.e. barley, pearled barley, rice, brown rice, and derivatives, rye, wheat, wheat gluten and derivatives, etc.);
    • In addition to being species inappropriate GMO is high in pesticide residue which in itself an allergen and health threatening in multiple ways (read the link on corn and soy found just above;
    • Grains (unless guaranteed by the pet food manufacturer as human grade grains) used in dog and cat food also have considerably higher amounts of aflatoxins;
    • Aflatoxins can also be found in cotton seed oil, fish meal, legumes (peanuts and other nuts, lentils chickpeas, etc.).
Other Fillers and Fiber
  • Beets, particularly GMO sugar beets;
  • Powdered cellulose – powdered cellulose is wood pulp, not appropriate food stuff and can be contaminated with chemicals – you can read more on this item here.
(may be present in high volume to act as a filler)
  • Legumes;
  • Potato;
  • Sweet potato;
  • Tapioca - you can read more on this item here.
Chemical-based preservatives such as
Synthetic additives and supplements, such as
  • Artificial Food colouring;
  • Artificial Food flavouring;
  • Menadione (also listed as: Sodium Bisulfate, Meadione Sodium Bisulfite, or (K3) is a synthetic  vitamin K derivative) - you can read more on this item here.
Other additives
  • Brewer’s yeast.
  • Molasses, refined, GMO
  • Pasteurized honey (this includes pasteurized honey and all honey that is in a processed, baked or otherwise heated product).
  • Syrup.
  • Sugar (derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, coconut, etc)
  • Artificial sweeteners.

5.0 Dietary Remedies for Food Allergies

For detailed information on DIY Diet Remedies, including a Elimination Diet read here.

6.0 The Post Elimination Diet

For detailed information on Post Elimination diet read here.

7.0 Natural, Herbal Topical Interventions - To Treat and
      Sooth Discomfort


Ear Infections

Paw and Skin
As you can see, there are many natural alternatives that can be used to sooth and treat the outward symptoms of food allergies - i.e. ear and skin infections, irritations. Don't use Prednisone as the dangers far exceed its benefits in the treatment of allergy symptoms, and the many natural safe alternatives are readily available and have few and often no side effects.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld. 

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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats