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
- Redness/rashes on the skin
- Chronic ear infections
- Hot spots
- Yeast or bacterial infections
- 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.