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10 Signs Your Dog May Have Allergies or Food Sensitivities

By Katie Shannon

Just like people, dogs can suffer from allergies and food sensitivities. While more dogs have sensitives than true allergies, both can have a devastating impact on the overall health of your dog. Allergies can stem from food as well as environmental elements, and diagnosing them can be incredibly difficult. One of the best ways to work with food allergies is to put your dog on a strict diet; it is understandable the last thing you want is someone else feeding your pet unknown food.

1. Anaphylaxis: Is an extreme emergency. You need veterinary assistance immediately; we are talking minutes here. You may not know the cause of the reaction, but it does not matter. Your dog is in severe medical distress and needs life saving assistance and medications only a veterinarian can provide. Symptoms are sudden (and usually severe) vomiting, diarrhea, shock, seizures, coma and even death.

2. Breathing: The respiratory system is complex and vast, and very likely to be implicated in a severe allergic reaction. Pay attention to a runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, raspy, difficult or labored breathing. If things get bad do not hesitate to get your best buddy the support he needs from a veterinarian.

3. Mugshot: That cute little face of your favorite pooch is home to a number of sensitive organs and health indicators. Watch for facial and tongue swelling, pain and abnormalities.

4. Red, Itchy or Water Eyes: Eyes may be the window to the soul, but they are also so sensitive they can help you SEE if there is a problem. Irritation of the eyes is not to be ignored. They are incredibly sensitive and prone to being damaged if left or improperly treated. Please consult with your vet if your dog is experiencing any issues with their eyes.
Now, if your dog has a serious allergy, the following symptoms require immediate attention. Please see your vet, and in the case of extreme allergies, take all necessary preventative precautions you can.

5. Obsessive licking: It can be a gross and nasty habit. No doubt, your dog will wait until you have a room filled with company and take to licking themselves compulsively. Anal glands may be to blame, butt (pun intended) bum problems are not fun for anyone. Please have that looked at, asap.

6. Chewing their feet: Though dogs may lick and chew their legs and feet for a number of reasons, the most common cause is allergy related. Often red or rusty colored staining of the fur will occur between the toes. Behavioral habits, punctures, and irritation may cause excessive licking or chewing, however, if your dog seems to be making a regular habit of this, it is wise to look a bit more closely at the diet.

7. Ear infections: Does your dog have a chronic ear problem that may go away temporarily with treatment, but alas returns a short time later? If your dog is a swimmer, it could be a case of swimmers ear, but if not, food is again a suspect for the cause. Mind you, take into account general hygiene habits, like regular cleaning, hair plucking, and physical conformation can play a part in overall reductions in non-diet related ear problems.

8. Constant Scratching: Both allergic reactions and sensitivities can create red, itchy and/or inflamed skin, to varying degrees. In extreme cases can result in hot spots, hair loss, bald patches, flaky skin and abrasions. Soothing shampoos, medicated baths, and ointments, along with prescription medications can help temporarily calm flare ups, but ultimately figuring out the cause and avoiding the culprit is the only long term solution.

9. Vomiting: Frequent or severe vomiting is a sign of internal distress, again usually from a sensitivity. Some dogs may be more prone to upset tummies than others. Try ruling out a food sensitivity by changing your dog’s feeding schedule. A dog that vomits in the morning may be a result of stomach acid build up on an empty stomach and not caused by an allergy. Try feeding smaller meals more often and see if that helps.

10. Bowel movements: Diarrhea, loose stool or frequent trips outside; these are all indicators of a food problem, usually more of a sensitivity than an allergy. Knowing what is “normal” for your dog is key, but also understanding how different types of food, especially base ingredients in kibble with grains vs. grain-free foods, or proteins can affect consistency.

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