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Hypoallergenic Dog Food: What is it?

When you walk into your typical supermarket, very rarely do you come across a hypoallergenic dog food brand. Dog owners mostly source hypoallergenic food from their local pet store. But what exactly is it and how can it benefit your pet?

What is Hypoallergenic Dog Food?

Hypoallergenic dog food is a specially formulated diet for dogs that suffer from food-related allergies. Conventional dog food isn’t bad for your pet if they don’t have food allergies. But if your dog does, its immune system will trigger an allergic reaction to the proteins or glycoproteins found within.

The immune system develops antibodies and continuous overexposure to the allergen will cause a hypersensitive reaction. Hypoallergenic dog food uses unique proteins that haven’t been introduced to your pet. Meaning the likelihood of an allergic reaction is reduced.

Should my Dog be on a Hypoallergenic Diet?

A Hypoallergenic diet particularly benefits pregnant dogs and those with allergies. It’s an all-around healthier option when compared to the conventional dog foods out there. Whilst raw diets are also beneficial some owners aren’t aware of what constitutes a nutritionally balanced meal.

The most common causes of food allergies are grains, chicken, beef, soy and wheat. However, it’s best to do a process of elimination diet to discover the exact cause. Hypoallergenic food provides novel proteins your dog hasn’t been exposed to before thus reducing the chances of an allergic reaction.

If you’ve noticed the following symptoms in your dog below, they may have food allergies.

  • Scratching & chewing at skin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Redness/rashes on the skin
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hot spots
  • Yeast or bacterial infections
  • Farting
  • Hair loss
  • Facial swelling
  • Anaphylaxis (rare)

Before switching your dog’s entire diet always consult with your vet. They’ll be able to help identify your dog’s triggers and which hypoallergenic dog food brand is better suited to your dog.

What are the Benefits of Hypoallergenic Dog Food?

There are a number of lifelong benefits related to the usage of hypoallergenic food. It’s known to reduce colitis, ear infections, itchy skin, reduce the risk of heart issues, and digestive problems. Ever had to squeeze your dog’s anal glands? You won’t forget that pungent smell!

Thankfully Hypoallergenic dog food reduces the risk of filled anal glands. This is because it’s high in complex carbohydrates and is easily digestible. Therefore it’s also recommended for dogs with sensitive stomachs. There are also a variety of extra ingredients beneficial for your pet, that isn’t found in conventional dog food.

Below is a list of nutrients found in hypoallergenic diets:

  • Vitamin A: Improves hair growth and skin maintenance. It also helps with the function of your dog’s nerves and muscles. Fish oils, liver, and egg yolks contain Vitamin A. It’s highly important vitamin for pregnant females and their puppies.
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant bettering the immune system. It’s found in trout, salmon, eggs, avocado, spinach, sunflower oil and soybean oil. Vitamin E defends your dog’s body from free radicals (reactive molecules that damage cell membranes).
  • Novel Carbohydrates: Some dogs are sensitive to specific carbohydrates. Novel carbohydrates haven’t been introduced to a dog’s digestive system thus reducing the risk of an allergic reaction. Sweet potato and brown rice are two examples of novel carbohydrates.
  • Zinc: Reduces immune and inflammatory reactions whilst benefiting your dog’s skin and coat. Zinc is found in fresh meat, dairy, seafood, and even vegetables.
  • Fibre: Reduces the negative effects of digestion such as gas and loose stools. Fibre is found in beef pulp, flaxseeds, apples, carrots, brown rice, and pumpkins.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Treats inflammation related to allergic reactions by changing the levels of eicosanoids. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in fish oil.

How Does it Work?

Hypoallergenic dog food won’t have an immediate effect on your pet. It can take between 10-12 weeks for owners to notice a difference. No dog is the same so you’ll need to research into the variety of brands available to determine which is best for your dog.

Unlike conventional dog food, hypoallergenic food removes all the bad stuff! So, you won’t find any artificial colours, flavourings, or preservatives. Some people believe a hypoallergenic diet will be the key to curing their dog’s health issues. This isn’t always the case so it’s always best to identify the root cause of your dog’s allergic reactions.

Whilst no food is ever 100% hypoallergenic, it still contains fewer allergens. Using ingredients that aren’t recognized by your dog’s antibodies is less likely to cause allergic reactions.

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Food Allergies in Dogs: Symptoms & Management

Dogs are allergic to a variety of things including food. If you’ve managed to attribute your dog’s allergies to their diet, you’ll need to find foods that won’t trigger a reaction.

Allergies can’t be cured but they can be managed. Food allergies are caused by an overreaction to one or more of the ingredients in your dog’s diet. Today, we are going to explain how you can prevent and manage your dog’s food allergies.

Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs

Dogs will experience a variety of symptoms, some more than others. The typical allergic reactions seen in dogs with food allergies are as follows:

  • Scratching & chewing at skin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Redness/rashes on the skin
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hot spots
  • Yeast or bacterial infections
  • Farting
  • Hair loss
  • Facial swelling
  • Anaphylaxis (rare)

Anaphylactic shock is rare but can be fatal. Its the result of a severe reaction to an allergen and immediate treatment will be needed. 

Diagnosing a Food Allergy

Trying to determine your dog’s allergic triggers isn’t going to be easy! Their immune system is overreacting to something and it could be anything! Below you can find ways to try and pinpoint exactly what your dog is allergic to.

Process of Elimination

To diagnose a food allergy, use an elimination diet for 12 weeks. Your dog’s reactions will help pinpoint exactly what they are allergic to. Your dog’s immune system can overreact to anything including chicken and wheat! 

Add and remove ingredients slowly until you’re able to establish the root cause. Don’t forget to keep note of their feeding through a log. This way you won’t lose track of any progress.

Special Diet

Consult with your vet about a special diet for your dog. Again, they will similarly conduct a process of elimination to ensure they don’t overreact to the food. Your vet may be able to recommend specific dog food brands that could work wonders for your dog!

Never steer away from your dog’s diet and that means treats too!

Skin Specialist

Just to be on the safe side undertake some skin tests via a specialist. Many dogs that suffer from food allergies are also allergic to other things in their surrounding environment. So even if you do pinpoint your dog’s food allergy, they could still suffer from skin conditions.

Food for Dogs with Allergies

Your dog will need a change in diet if they’ve displayed symptoms of a food allergy. There are plenty of food brands out there that can help reduce your dog’s allergic reactions. Once you know your dog’s triggers you can start finding methods of prevention.

Hypoallergenic Dog Food

If your dog has a food intolerance to standard kibble, hypoallergenic food is a better option. There are no artificial colourings, preservatives or flavourings. It’s also free from allergens making it a healthier choice if your dog suffers from a food allergy.  

Of course, there will be a variety of brands out there. So it’s important you take a look at the ingredients of each before making a decision. Hypoallergenic food won’t produce immediate results but should be noticeable after 10-12 weeks of feeding.

Cold Pressed Dog Food

Another version of dog food known to be fantastic for dogs with allergies is cold pressed food. Most dry dog food brands use a method called extrusion. This heats the kibble to temperatures of up to 170 degrees which can destroy many of the vitamins and nutrients within.

Cold pressed food is cooked at lower temperatures so more goodness is contained. It’s the closest alternative to a raw diet and digests well as the food doesn’t expand in the belly. This reduces your dog’s chances of Bloat and Gastric Dilatation Volvulus.

Dog Treats 

It’s important you never steer away from your dog’s diet. Even the smallest treat is enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Ensure any dog treats are 100% natural. Even standard treats that don’t have colourings, flavourings, and preservatives can still be bad for your dog!

Managing your Dogs Food Allergies

There is no cure or magic pill for dogs suffering from food allergies. So owners will need to learn to manage their dog’s symptoms. Below are some ways you can try to manage your dog’s food allergy symptoms.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are highly recommended for both dogs and humans with allergies. It’s best to consult with your vet before purchasing antihistamines from over the counter. Your vet may even have their own supply as some antihistamines designed for humans could be dangerous for our pets.

The American Kennel Club recommends Benadryl for dogs suffering from food allergies. Despite it primarily being a medication for humans, dogs can also benefit. Symptoms of food, environmental, and seasonal allergies may be soothed with Benadryl. 

Probiotics

Probiotics can be added to your dog’s diet and can help relax symptoms. Many owners are seeking natural remedies for food allergies as opposed to medications. Probiotics are microorganisms that are also known as ‘good bacteria’. They help balance and support your dog’s gastrointestinal system.  

There are a variety of probiotics that can be given to your dog. Yoghurt is the most popular but please be aware some dogs are allergic to dairy. Other probiotics include kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and tempeh.

Coconut Oil

Please be aware some dogs could be allergic to coconut oil so test your dog with a small amount first. Coconut oil has anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and anti-bacterial properties. Mix a teaspoon/tablespoon (depending on your dog’s size) in their meal once a day. 

Coconut oil shouldn’t be given on its own or in large doses as this can cause diarrhoea. Coconut oil can soothe the skin thus reducing itching. It’s nutrient-dense and can settle tummy issues.

Muzzle & Elizabethan Collar 

In some extreme cases, your dog may require a muzzle to prevent him from picking up food on their outdoor walks. This will prevent them from triggering a potential allergy through scavenging.

Elizabethan collars are a great way to stop your dog from itching himself. Especially if you go out and don’t want them scratching and chewing away at their skin. The collars in turn will help prevent infections from developing as a result of excessive licking.

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Cold Pressed Dog Food: What is it?

Cold-pressed dog food is fairly new to the UK dog food industry. So what exactly is it and how can it benefit your pet?

cold pressed dog food

What is Cold Pressed Dog Food

Since the 1980s, Europe has been producing cold pressed dog food. But it’s only recently been introduced into the UK. Many dog owners have begun making the switch, yet thousands are still unaware of what exactly cold pressed dog food is!

Dry dog food is created through a method known as extrusion. The ingredients are mixed together, heated whilst under pressure, and then cut by a machine into shapes. The temperatures used are typically around 160 degrees. Around 95% of dry dog food brands use this method.

Cold-pressed dog food is made with lower temperatures ranging from 45-80 degrees. As a result, the food is cooked quicker without the need for excessive temperatures and steam. Ingredients are blended naturally and gently pressed together. The food shapes resemble their natural ingredients. Ingredients are pre-cooked to eliminate any bacteria from the food.

The cold-pressing method is the key difference between standard kibble brands. Nutrients are better preserved, allowing food to break down and digest quicker. Cold pressed dog food is the closest product you can get to a raw diet.

What are the Benefits of Cold Pressed Dog Food?

There are numerous benefits to switching your dog onto a cold pressed diet. Below, we have listed the positives of a cold-pressed dog food diet. 

Nutritional Value 

Due to the lower temperatures, cold pressed dog food preserves nutrients, fibres, enzymes and ingredients. Normal kibble brands destroy a lot of goodness due to the high temperatures used during the extrusion period.  

Cold pressed dog food uses all-natural ingredients. There are no preservatives, additives, colours and other nasties that will enter your dog’s body! Many of these things are attributed to causing food allergies in some dogs.   

Thanks to the higher nutritional value and high density, your dog can be fed in smaller amounts. This can save dog owners money as a result. 

Bloat & Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

As opposed to extrusion, the method of cold-pressing makes the dog food easier to digest. Kibble expands and floats in your dog’s stomach, which can leave your dog with an upset tummy. Cold-pressed dog food doesn’t expand and dissolves from the outside.

This can help prevent fatal conditions such as Bloat and Gastric Dilatation Volvulus. Dogs that are fed pressed instead of extruded food are less affected by these two conditions. Kibble is known to be high in starch. A lack of fresh, raw food within your dog’s diet can contribute to Bloat. 

Improvement to your Dog

The nutrients, vitamins and minerals all contribute to a healthy coat and skin. It may also increase your dog’s activity levels, great for senior dogs! Skin and fur should appear healthier. Nails may also grow longer and faster so keep the clippers to hand!

Dogs suffering from food allergies will benefit from cold pressed dog food as it’s completely natural. It’s not easy pinpointing your dog’s allergies, but if it is food, then a cold pressed diet should reduce their symptoms.

Cold Pressed Dog Food & Raw Diets

Raw diets have been the centre of debate amongst dog owners, pet nutritionists and vets. Whilst there are many pros to a raw diet, there are a number of cons. Vets don’t recommend dog owners creating their own dog food as this may not be balanced nutritionally. 

Cold pressed dog food is created with natural minerals, vitamins, and ingredients. It is nutritionally balanced and can be fed alongside a raw diet. The low cooking and lack of processing make cold pressed food the closest alternative to raw food. 

Costs of Cold Pressed Dog Food

Price-wise, cold pressed dog food isn’t excessively pricey. In fact, some kibble brands are the same price! Although it is worth saying the best brands of cold pressed food will be on the pricier end of the scale.

The higher nutrient and density levels in cold pressed dog food mean smaller portions can be given. This in turn means you won’t need to restock on food as quickly as you would with standard kibble.

Recommended: Learn about food allergies in dogs here!

cold pressed dog food kibble extrusion extruded

What are the Negatives of Cold Pressed Dog Food?

Any food or brand will of course have negatives. After all, nothing in this world is perfect! Whilst this isn’t a long list, there are still downsides that dog owners should be aware of. 

Shelf Life

As cold pressed food retains more nutrients and natural ingredients, the food will go off quicker than standard kibble. The shelf life of unopened bags typically lasts around 6-9 months. It’s much shorter than extruded food which lasts up to 18 months.

Food Allergies

Your dog may still show signs of allergies if you haven’t pinpointed the exact cause. So in some cases, cold pressed dog food might not be a quick fix. Especially if they are allergic to products such as chicken. You will need to start the process of elimination to determine the culprit of your dog’s triggers.

Cold Pressed Dog Food Brands

In the UK, cold pressed food is new to the dog food industry. So new brands will be popping up here and there telling you how great their food is! It’s important to research the company and where its ingredients are sourced.

Some may source their supplies from third parties that preheat the food. This could damage the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals held inside. It’s always best to find a company that sources and produces its own food right here in the UK.  

Changing my Dog to Cold Pressed Dog Food

Every dog is different, so if you do decide to make the switch to cold pressed food, it’s important to transition slowly. Keep a close eye on your dog and consult with your vet if you feel this is necessary.

  • Introduce the cold pressed food in small portions, whilst still feeding your dog their original food. Increase the amount of new food each day, reducing their previous kibble simultaneously. 
  • During the change, you will need to keep an eye on their stools. Poo should be firm so if your dog experiences diarrhoea you will need to slow down the transition. Some dogs have more sensitive stomachs and a richer diet could trigger loose stools. 
  • Your dog may vomit if their food has been swapped over too quickly. This isn’t a very common side effect so you should always contact your vet just to be on the safe side.
  • Some dogs shed more fur than usual due to a poor diet. Cold pressed dog food should return the shedding to its normal form. It will also improve the coat so even the dead fur should be noticeably healthier and shinier.
  • If you are simply changing to a different brand of cold pressed dog food you can start using the food as you would the previous brand.