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

Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats, causes, symptoms, natural treatments
In this article:
  1. What Triggers Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats
  2. What Happens In the GI Tract When Food Triggers an Allergic Response
  3. Symptoms of a Food Allergy
  4. Common Food Allergens
  5. Dietary Remedies for Food Allergies
  6. Natural Treatments to Sooth Symptoms 
    1. Diarrhea
    2. Ear Infections 
    3. Paws and Skin 

1. What Triggers Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats

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 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. As well there are additional factors that can exacerbate sensitivity. For example, toxic food and drugs the farm animal was exposed to:
Antibiotics?
GMO corn?
Growth hormones?
Grains high in aflatoxins?  
 
These substances damage a dog and cat's gut health and immune system.
 

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

A dog and cat’s gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is a semi permeable barrier. Partial permeability supports the transfer of nutrients into the blood stream to nourish all parts of the body.
 
The GI tract digests and breaks down food to release nutrients for absorption into the blood stream.
  
The GI tract prevents partially digested non-nutritive matter (animate and inanimate) and allergenic matter from entering the blood stream. These substances are passed out of the body via the lower digestive tract.
 
When partially digested matter slips through the semi-permeable wall of the GI tract into the blood stream the immune system reacts, resulting in an allergic reaction. The slippage of unwanted material into the blood stream is called ‘leaky gut syndrome’, the medical term is dysbiosis.
 
This immune system response will occur every time the dog or cat consumes the substance that caused the reaction.
 
When the substance is consumed on a regular basis or intermittent basis the allergic reaction becomes a chronic event.
 

3. Symptoms of Food Allergies

    Common symptoms include:
     
    Gastrointestinal Issues
    for example:
    • Eliminatory Issues
    • Diarrhea
    • Loose stools
    Infections
    • Ear infections
    • Eye infections
    • Skin infections
    Skin and Fur Issues:
    for example:
    • on paws
    • on select locations on the body
    • all over the body
    Symptoms such as:
    • Acne 
    • Hot spots
    • Inflamed skin
    • Irritated skin
    • Rashes
     

    4. Common Food Allergens

    Examples of common food allergens include:
     
    Poorly Sourced Animal Protein
    for example:
    Poorly-Sourced Fats and Species Inappropriate Fats 
    for example:
    • Fish oil from farmed fish.
    • Rendered fat from D4 animals and from animals fed GMO grains, soy, hormones, antibiotics; rancid fat preserved with chemical-based preservatives.
    • GMO vegetable oils – canola, cottonseed, safflower, soy.
    Grains 
    for example:
    Other processed cereal grains, including:
    • Barley, pearled barley, rye, wheat, wheat gluten
    Grains used in dog and cat food can be contaminated with aflatoxins. Aflatoxins can also be found in cotton seed oil, fish meal, legumes (peanut butter, peanuts and other ground nuts and beans, e.g., lentils chickpeas, etc.). 
     
    Starchy Root Vegetables 
    for example: 
    Beans 
    for example:  
     
    Other fillers 
    for example:
    • GMO sugar beets - should never be given to dogs under any circumstances.
    • Note that garden beets (table beets) should not be given to dogs experiencing yeast overgrowth.
    • Powdered cellulose.
    • Tapioca.
    • More information in this article
    Preservatives 
    for example:
    for example:
    Sweeteners 
    for example: 
    • Refined molasses
    • Pasteurized honey (this is not the same as raw honey).
    • Artificial syrup
    • Sugar (derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, coconut, etc)
    • Artificial sweeteners 
     

    5. Dietary Remedies for Food Allergies

    The elimination diet:

    6. Natural Treatments to Soothe Symptoms.
     
    Examples of natural treatments
     
    Diarrhea:
    Natural treatments:
    Ear Infections
    Natural Treatments:
    Paw, Skin, Anal Gland Issues
    Natural baths, rinses, soaks and sprays to soothe skin:
     
    Herbal Bath, Rinse, Paw Soak, Spray Recipes
    1. Rooibos Tea and Lemon Anti-itch Rinse Recipe
    2. Chamomile and Green Tea Soothing Rinse Recipe
    3. Lemon Balm and Nettle Leaf Refreshing Healing Rinse Recipe 
    4. Peppermint, Fennel and Rose Sensitive Skin Rinse Recipe
    5. Floral Antibacterial, Soothing Rinse Recipe
    6. Calendula, Antibacterial, Healing Rinse Recipe
    7. Marjoram Antimicrobial, Analgesic, Cleansing Rinse Recipe
    Himalayan Salt Soak Recipe

    More Natural Soak Recipes
     
    Creams, salves and sprays:

    Holistic Diet, Nutrition, Wellness Services Tailored to Your Individual Dog and Cat

    For information about my holistic diet, nutrition and wellness services, visit my holistic wellness services page.

    Maintain good health | Address acute and chronic health issues | Pre and post surgery support and recovery

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    Holistic Behavioral Services for Your Dog

    For information about my holistic behavioral services, visit my holistic behavioral services page.

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    Affiliations to Companies  
    ✓ None. 
    ✓ I don't sell food, supplements, or other products.
    I'm not aligned with any companies. 
     
    Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld.

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