Posted by Pet Honesty on

Dog Food Sensitivity vs Allergy: What’s The Difference?

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Uh oh, Fido got into something he shouldn’t have and now he’s experiencing digestive upset. What next? Or, maybe you switched diets and it is definitely not agreeing with do you proceed? It can be tricky to navigate the world of dog food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerance. And that’s exactly why we’re discussing the difference between the terms, and offering suggestions about how to support your pet when he seems to have had an adverse reaction to an ingredient.

When To Seek Vet Support

Always err on the side of caution when it comes to pet safety. If you notice any changes to your dog’s demeanor or behavior take note! While it might be physically obvious if Fido has a dog food allergy, a less serious sensitivity may have symptoms that are easier to miss. In addition to regular Vet visits, it’s also a good idea to keep close tabs on your dog’s diet, in particular whenever you introduce him to a new food or ingredient. 

If you notice changes to his stool, mood, or behavior, get in touch with your pet’s healthcare provider asap. Here are some of the most common food allergy symptoms in dogs:  symptoms to watch out for, that might indicate your dog’s having an adverse reaction to something in his food:

  • GI Distress: If your dog’s experiencing an allergic reaction to a particular ingredient, has a sensitivity,  your pup is bloated, gassy, or otherwise uncomfortable, his food may be to blame!
  • Diarrhea or Constipation: Your dog’s stool is a good indicator of his overall health. If you notice changes to the regularity of his bowel movements or see that he has diarrhea or constipation, you should discuss whether or not his diet is to blame with your Vet.
  • Extreme Itchiness: If your pup is scratching his body to the point that you’re concerned, it’s a good idea to bring him in to get checked out. Your dog may be exhibiting signs have a food intolerance that’s causing the itchy, itchy reaction.
  • Recurring Issues: If your pet continues to experience ear discomfort or finds himself facing the same health issues over and over again, it could be an indicator that he’s experiencing an underlying sensitivity that’s affecting the rest of his health. 

When you bring your pet in for an exam, your Vet can give you more information about the testing possibilities to help determine whether or not your pet is experiencing an allergy or an intolerance. It’s always best to get a professional opinion and don’t try to guess at home. That said, there are some things you can watch out for, that might clue you in and let you know whether or not your pet has an allergy. 

What Is Food Intolerance In Dogs?

Your pet may have a food intolerance or sensitivity if he has a negative reaction to a diet or ingredient. The terms ‘sensitivity’ and ‘intolerance’ can be used interchangeably when discussing your pet, and mean that his body does not agree with a particular food. Dogs with a food intolerance often worsen over time, and will likely exhibit gradual symptoms over a longer period of time than a pet with an allergy. When your dog has a sensitivity, he’ll experience any range of symptoms, but they won’t involve his immune system.

Common Food Allergies In Dogs

What is a food allergy then? To put it simply, it’s a more intense sensitivity that involves an immune system response. The big difference between food intolerance in dogs and food allergies in dogs is the involvement of the immune system. 

The good news, for your pet, is that few dogs actually experience food allergies. Instead, when you notice an adverse reaction to dog food or a particular ingredient, it’s most often an intolerance. That said, food allergies are more dangerous to your pet because they do involve the immune system. Just like with people, severe food allergies can result in anaphylaxis and other potentially harmful symptoms.

While dog food allergies are rather rare, they absolutely occur and can require a lot from both you and your pet. You have to be diligent about the food you give your dog, accepting treats from others, and preventing kitchen mishaps that could result in your dog accidentally consuming the ingredient that’s causing him trouble! 

Here are some of the most common food allergies in dogs: 

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Egg
  • Chicken
  • Soy
  • Pork
  • Rabbit
  • Fish

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, and there are additional ingredients that your pet could react to. Plus, it’s wise to keep in mind the following things when it comes to pets and allergies. 

  • Dog allergies are rare: Food allergies are far less common than intolerances. So, if you suspect your pup is having a hard time with a particular ingredient, it’s rarely an actual allergy.
  • If your dog’s itchy, food allergies likely are NOT to blame: While incessant itching is a key indicator that your pup is experiencing some type of intolerance or adverse reaction to an irritant, food allergies rarely manifest themselves in the form of itchy skin.
  • Keep a close eye on your allergy dog: That said, dog food allergies are more serious than intolerances, so it’s important to closely monitor a pet who has allergies!
  • Dogs tend to have more than one allergy: If you know your pet has one food allergy, chances are he’s got an issue with other ingredients as well. Statistically, most pets have multiple allergies, so doing extensive allergy testing can be extremely beneficial to help you figure out if this is the case for your pet.

How To Support Your Pet

Whether your dog has a full-blown food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance, there’s a lot you can do as a pet parent to support your pup. Of course, Vet intervention and pharmaceuticals might be a part of your pet’s wellness journey. But, there are additional supportive nutrients you can add to your dog’s diet and changes to his lifestyle that can help with his symptoms.

  • Always introduce new foods slowly: Never switch your pet to a new diet without a transition period. And, if possible, introduce each new ingredient one at a time. This will make it much easier to identify ingredients that don’t agree with him in the event that he has an adverse reaction.
  • Add a probiotic to his diet: Support your dog’s gut with the help of healthy bacteria. Not only can a dog probiotic supplement help ease uncomfortable digestive symptoms, but it also supports healthy bowel function and digestion all the time. 
  • Add antioxidants to his dog bowl: Not only will they help keep his skin and coat healthy, but antioxidant-rich foods work to support a strong immune system, and that’s something that’s key when your pet has an allergy!

Pethonesty Products To Add To Your Sensitive Dog’s Diet

Whether your pet experiences occasional seasonal allergies, has a dog food intolerance, or has another sensitivity, supporting his diet with key nutrients can help. And that’s exactly why Pethonesty has products designed with allergy support in mind. Add Pethonesty Advanced Allergy SkinHealth Chews or Pethonesty Allergy SkinHealth Chews to your dog’s diet. They’re both formulated with probiotics to support your pet’s digestive wellness and immune system, fish oil to help with a healthy histamine response, and antioxidant-rich flaxseed to promote a healthy immune and inflammatory response.