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                         ADVERSE FOOD REACTIONS

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ADVERSE FOOD REACTIONS


 

  


 

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CANINE NUTRITION – ADVERSE FOOD REACTIONS
Introduction


Many dogs suffer adverse reactions to food, but such conditions are often very difficult to diagnose and treat. As manufacturers of super premium, hypoallergenic pet foods, we receive many enquiries regarding this subject. This fact sheet has been written to help you to provide
optimal nutrition for dogs suffering from adverse dietary reactions

Adverse food reactions cannot be ignored as they can cause a variety of challenges to your dog’s health and well-being ranging from skin and gastric disorders to behavioural problems

Whilst nutrition is a complex science, a simple understanding of the dog’s digestion and making the appropriate adaptations to the feeding regime and eliminating the reaction-provoking ingredient/s will help to restore peak health and vitality. 

What is an adverse food reaction? 

There are 2 main types of adverse food reaction: 

1) Food Allergy / Food Hypersensitivity – this is a true allergy which is defined as an immune response to an ingredient (usually a protein source)

2) Dietary or Food Intolerance – this is an adverse reaction due to non-immunologic mechanisms.

Reactions to Food
Immunologic
Anaphylaxis
Allergy

Non-immunologic
Intolerance
Metabolic Food reaction
Food Poisoning


Dietary indiscretion
Food Idiosyncracy
Pharmacologic Reaction

ABOVE: DIFFERENT TYPES OF ADVERSE REACTION TO FOOD

Terminology

Food anaphylaxis = an acute allergic reaction to an ingredient, usually manifesting in swelling of the face, lips, ears, tongue and throat. Hives (skin weals) may also be evident. 

Dietary indiscretion = describes an adverse reaction to food resulting from scavenging, over-eating or ingestion of indigestible material. 

Metabolic food reaction = an adverse reaction to a food or food additive as a result of the effect of the substance on the animal’s metabolism; e.g. lactase deficiency. 

Food idiosyncracy = an abnormal response that resembles a food allergy but does not involve immune mechanisms.

Pharmacologic food reaction = an adverse reaction to a food or additive as a result of a naturally derived or added chemical that produces a drug-like or pharmacologic effect in the animal.

Signs of Adverse Food Reactions

How do I know if my dog has an adverse food reaction?

Adverse food reactions may manifest in a variety of different ways. They can affect dogs of any age. True food allergies tend to arise after prolonged exposure to an ingredient, and these are most common in animals aged from 1 – 5 years. However, the incidence of adverse food reactions as a whole is highest in dogs that are less than a year of age, accounting for one third of reported cases. 

Although there is no conclusive proof that certain breeds are more susceptible, the highest incidence of adverse food reactions manifesting in gastrointestinal symptoms have been noted in the Shar Pei and German Shepherd. The Shar Pei and German Shepherd are also commonly affected by adverse reactions manifesting in skin problems, alongside the Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Westie, Wheaten Terrier, Boxer, Dachshund, English Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, Lhasa Apso and Golden Retriever. There is evidence that the Irish Setter is frequently affected with gluten induced enteropathy. 

The symptoms of an adverse food reaction are often similar to those affecting dogs with a range of other conditions. Skin problems often imitate those arising from bacterial or parasitic causes, whilst gastric problems may mirror those arising from viral, bacterial or medical causes. It is therefore extremely important to ensure that you seek veterinary advice in order to rule out other causes of the symptoms, and especially so if your dog is vomiting, lethargic and / or appears in discomfort. Antibiotic / anti-inflammatory therapy may be needed to treat secondary infection and inflammation. 

Some dogs may suffer other symptoms including the ingestion of unusual items (e.g. excessive grass consumption, eating stones or faeces). Some may lack concentration making them over-excitable and difficult to train. Unfortunately, the tests used to diagnose an adverse food reaction are not particularly reliable. Blood tests, endoscopic food testing and intradermal skin testing may be helpful in some cases but it is widely believed that a dietary trial excluding the suspected reactive ingredient/s is the most effective means of diagnosis. A faecal sample may be helpful to rule out bacterial causes.

Your dog may exhibit one or more of these signs : -

Gastrointestinal Symptoms -

      
Loose stools / diarrhoea
      
Increased frequency of passing motions
       Increased stool volume
      
Vomiting

Note: The above signs may also be indicative of over-feeding

      
Bad breath
      
Inappetance

Skin Conditions -


      
Skin inflammation (especially ears, face, feet, armpits and / or groin)
      
Hair loss
      
Scaly, dry skin / dandruff
      
Changes in the skin pigmentation
      
Oral ulceration

Behavioural Problems -


      
Eating unusual objects (e.g. stones, excessive amounts of grass, sticks, tissues)
      
Coprophagia (i.e. eating faeces)
      
Lack of concentration and difficult to train
      
Over-excitement and taking a long time to calm down
      
Irritability for no apparent reason

A young dog with poor skin and/or bilateral ear infection (affecting both ears) passing 3 or more bowel movements a day is a classic case where an adverse dietary reaction is the most likely cause of the problems. 

Dogs that have already been diagnosed with irritable bowel disease may be more susceptible to adverse food reactions (usually dietary intolerance rather than true food allergy) since the inflamed bowel mucosa is likely to be more sensitive to certain ingredients. Dogs with this condition should avoid gas producing foods and those with an excessive fat content. 

Dogs with chronic colitis (an inflamed lower bowel) or malabsorption (an impaired digestive ability) may also benefit from dietary trials and avoidance of potentially reactive ingredients. 

Treatment of Adverse Food Reactions 

How do I treat my dog’s adverse food reaction? 

Step 1: Keep a Food Diary - The first thing to do is to closely scrutinise exactly what your dog eats each day. If necessary, keep a food diary for a period of a week. 

You must include absolutely everything that your dog ingests, and this includes things that he does eat, even if he isn’t supposed to; e.g. stealing cat food, raiding bins etc. 

You will need to include: - 

       The main daily diet (i.e. the proprietary dog food used)

       Human food given, such as left-over meat and vegetables from dinner, a piece of toast etc…

       Dog treats given (all types, including soft treats, biscuits and chews)

       Dietary supplements such as homeopathic remedies / toothpaste

       Access to other food-stuffs; e.g. garden vegetation, cat food or food intended for other pets in the household, scavenging and stealing 

Please ensure that everything possible is included in your list regardless of the quantity consumed. One small dog biscuit a day may not seem much, but it would be enough to trigger a reaction in a sensitive animal. Even flavourings and preservatives in toys and pet toothpaste may be of relevance. Some animals do have a threshold – whereby they may be able to digest small □uantities of a potentially reactive ingredient with symptoms only becoming evident after a certain volume is consumed. However, during the initial stages of investigation, you will need to exclude ALL the prime potential triggers from the diet. 

Once you have created your list, take a look at the items over-leaf and see if any of the common triggers of adverse food reactions are included. You may be surprised… 

Next, we advise that the food items most likely to cause an adverse reaction are eliminated from the diet. 

Supplemental and complimentary pet foods (i.e. treats) can be stopped immediately, however you will need to bear in mind that any sudden change to a routine can be detrimental. Therefore, if your dog has always been used to a food reward for good behaviour during training, then stop the potential offending food item, but replace it with a hypoallergenic dog treat (such as Arden Grange Crunchy Bites), a ration of the normally daily food allowance (weighed out and put by specifically for this purpose) or a very small portion of fresh meat (not beef or liver). Most of our reported incidences of adverse food reactions are as a result of ingredients found in non-hypoallergenic commercial dog treats, and often simply by substituting these with more suitable alternatives, the symptoms are alleviated.

Step 2 : Ensure that your dog is fed only pet food and treats that are preserved naturally - Arden Grange use a combination of mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E) and rosemary extract.

PET FOOD ADDITIVES THAT MAY CAUSE ADVERSE FOOD REACTIONS

 
Antioxidant Preservatives
Butylated Hydroxyanisole – BHA*
Butylated Hydroxytolulene – BHT*

*Often listed as EU or EC permitted antioxidants or preservatives

 Antimicrobial Preservatives
Sodium nitrite

Humectants
Propylene glycol 

Colouring Agents / Preservatives
Azo dyes – Tartrazine, Sunset yellow, Allura red
Nonazo dyes – Brilliant blue, Indigotin 

Flavours / Flavour Enhancers
Monosodium glutamate
Spices 

Emulsifying Agents / Stabilisers / Thickeners
Seaweed extracts – Carrageenan, Alginates
Seed gums – Guar gum 

Note: These additives have been known to cause adverse dietary reactions in humans, but there are is no documented evidence that they cause the same reactions in animals.

TIP
Avoid any artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives

Step 3 : Ensure that your dog is fed a hypoallergenic food such as Arden Grange that is free from the ingredients that are most likely to trigger an adverse reaction. Beef, wheat and dairy accounted for more than 65% of reported cases of adverse food reactions in 10 studies! It is never a good idea to suddenly change onto another diet however, and Arden Grange recommend a gradual introduction of the new food over a period of several days. 

The food should also contain a top □uality protein source that is easily digested. An incompletely digested food protein has the potential to incite an allergic response because of residual antigenic proteins and large polypeptide molecules.  Arden Grange diets use only the highest quality ingredients that are easily broken down into the building blocks necessary for all the structural and metabolic functions within the body. None of these ingredients are genetically modified.

COMMON ALLERGENS FOUND IN COMMERCIAL DOG FOOD & TREATS

       Wheat gluten
      
Beef
      
Dairy Products
      
Soya 

Note: Avoid pet foods listing ‘cereals’ as an ingredient as these usually chiefly contain wheat

TIP
Feed only hypoallergic dog food and treats

Step 4: Be careful what other food-stuffs your dog has access to; be these human foods, food intended for other pets, vegetation from the garden and other sources. Dogs with robust digestions can usually eat a variety of foods, but special care needs to be taken with the potentially reactive dog whilst you are working to establish the possible triggers of adverse food reactions.

Dairy products (especially milk, fermented cheeses and yoghurt)
should be avoided since many dogs are lactose intolerant, as their levels of lactase (responsible for the digestion of milk sugar) decreases with age.
 

Many dogs love fish, but Arden Grange do not recommend the feeding of tinned fish such as tuna and mackerel. This is because it contains high levels of histamine which may provoke an allergic response. 

Processed meats (particularly pork and beef sausages) also contain high histamine levels and therefore should be avoided. 

HUMAN FOODS OFTEN FED TO PETS THAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED IN THE POTENTIALLY REACTIVE DOG  

      
Milk, fermented cheeses and yoghurt
      
Liver (especially pigs’ liver)
      
Tomato, spinach & avocado
      
Tinned / processed fish
      
Sardines (fresh or canned)
      
Dishes containing spices (e.g. curry, chilli)
      
Processed meats; especially pork and beef sausages
      
Grapes, chocolate and onion – these are TOXIC to dogs

TIP
Your dog may love human food but make sure you are not giving inappropriate foods  that can upset the digestion

A NOTE ABOUT CHICKEN FAT / OIL

 It is a common myth that dogs allergic to chicken protein are also allergic to chicken fat or oil. 

This is not the case since a true food allergy is an immune response to a protein. 

The pure chicken oil in Arden Grange pet foods is easily digestible and acceptable to even the most sensitive digestion.

Future Management

The good news is, that whilst you will need to be extremely strict whilst identifying the cause of the reaction, you can then start to reintroduce other food stuffs back into the diet one by one on a trial basis. If symptoms return, then avoid that ingredient or food stuff in future. 

It is not unusual for the skin to become very scurfy during the initial phase of exclusion. This is a sign that the body is detoxifying itself from the ingredients it is unable to digest and properly metabolise. In cases of dietary intolerance, an improvement to your dog’s general health and demeanour may become noticeable very quickly. True food allergies take longer to rectify and it may be that it takes a couple of months before a visible improvement is noted. 

SOME FINAL HANDY HINTS

 Adverse dietary reactions can be exacerbated by stress and over-excitement, since the immune response is impaired when an animal is suffering from stress. Try to keep your dog to a routine and provide a calm environment particularly during feeding times. 

A small meal is more easily digestible than a large one. Arden Grange recommend the feeding of several small meals throughout the day if an animal is suffering from symptoms that may be associated with an adverse food reaction. 

Excess fermentation can occur in food stuffs that are improperly stored. It is especially important that animals suspected to be suffering from adverse dietary reactions are fed food that has been stored correctly. Arden Grange pet foods should be stored in airtight contains in order to prevent them from becoming moist from humidity or condensation.

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Arden Grange diets are a sensible choice for dogs with suspected adverse food reactions since they are hypoallergenic and free from artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives. Safe supplementation with Arden Grange hypoallergenic Crunchy Bites dog treats ensures that your dog doesn’t go without reward during the food trial. 

Our nutrition advisers can offer advice on the best product for your dog and help you with any queries that you may have regarding any aspect of your dog’s nutrition. Simply call us on 01273 833390. 

Please note that this information has been written with the potentially reactive dog in mind. Many dogs are able to successfully digest and metabolise a variety of different ingredients. More information is available on request.

 

 
 
 

LEGAL NOTICE - All information and material contained within this web site is Copyright 1997-2016 Videx German Shepherd Dogs
This Page was last modified on 05 September, 2017.

David & Rhoda Payne - VIDEX GSD

Malvern, Worcs. UK
            Mobile :+44 (0)7710 760466 - Land-line Picture of phone: +44 (0)1905 830900 -
email: david@videxgsd.com