When most owners see their pet continually scratching, they immediately think fleas. However, excessive scratching is not always caused by fleas or parasites of any sort, but is the result of allergies. Recently, food allergies in dogs have become more recognizable and veterinarians now classify them as one of the top five allergies that affect dogs. Unlike most people, food allergies usually cause dogs to feel itchy and lose hair rather than have an upset stomach. The top food allergens that dogs react to are proteins from beef, gluten, and dairy products.
If you suspect fleas are not the reason for your dog’s constant scratching, you should have him or her tested for allergies. At SPCA Florida’s Medical Center, veterinarian staff will utilize a series of tests to determine your dog’s allergen. First, your dog will undergo a blood panel test to eliminate possible allergens, outside of food including, pollen, fleas, trees, grass, and dust mites. Your dog can also be tested using a serum IgE blood test that may be able to indicate a specific food. However, it is likely you will need to put your dog on an elimination diet. This hypoallergenic diet will take 8 to 12 weeks, and involves diligently feeding your dog none of the ingredients he or she has eaten in the past. Your vet will help you establish a diet plan and when to start reintroducing certain foods, as well as easy home-cooked food you can make. As food allergies in dogs are common, you can also buy hypoallergenic dog foods in most pet stores as well. The only cure for food allergies, as in humans, is avoidance, so once the problematic food substance is identified it will need to be cut out of the diet completely for the rest of your dog’s life.
If the elimination diet is not successful in curing your dog’s allergies, your pet may suffer from more than one allergy or may have an inhalant allergy. Whatever the cause of your dog’s scratching, SPCA Florida’s veterinary team will work with you and your beloved furry friend to find the solution and give your dog a less itchy future.