Wheat allergies in dogs

Man's best friend gets wheat allergies too.

Dogs react to food allergies by generally suffering with skin and coat problems. Itchy, red, flaky skin, and a dull coat are common symptoms of food allergies in dogs, and it's not like your dog can point out that a particular food is causing the problem.

Food allergies account for only about 10% of dogs allergy problems, but they are treatable once your dog has been tested and you have found which food is causing the problem.

You as the owner need to be aware of any changes to your dogs health, and if in any doubt whatsoever take your dog to a vet for formal diagnosis and treatment.

So what symptoms should you be looking for to check if your dog has a wheat allergy:

  • Itchy skin
  • Shaking of the head
  • Ear inflammation
  • Licking front paws
  • Rubbing face on carpet
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Sneezing
  • Asthma like symptoms
  • Anal itching
  • Behavioural changes
  • Seizures

Many dog owners never suspect that a wheat allergy could be the cause of their dog's health problems, usually because the dog has been fed the same food all its life and the symptoms have only recently appeared. But dogs are no different from humans in the respect that food allergies can develop over a period of time. Not every human suffering with a food allergy was born with it, and the same goes for dogs too.

Another issue is that some people might assume that their dogs are unable to eat poor quality or cheaper dog food, this is not the case with a wheat allergy, if your dog can't eat a cheap brand of dog food that contains wheat, then he can't eat an expensive brand containing wheat either. The only advantage with buying the expensive foods are that many avoid wheat as a cheap filler in the first place.

Of course it's not just wheat that dogs can become allergic to, some of the other most common foods resulting in food allergies in dogs are corn, soya, preservatives, beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, fish.

So what is the first step in diagnosing if your dog has a wheat allergy? Talk to your vet first, if they are not sympathetic look for another vet who is. Your dog will then have to go on an exclusion diet, and it's just as boring as the exclusion diets that humans have to go on.

BEFORE COMMENCING AN EXCLUSION DIET YOU SHOULD GET YOUR VETS APPROVAL AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A SAFE DIET.

On the exclusion diet you should feed your dog only a homemade diet, using ingredients that either the dog has never eaten before, or ingredients that are unlikely to be allergens, talk to your vet about this before starting though.

Exclusion diets are nutritionally poor, so you won't want to keep your dog on it for very long at all. And remember, no little doggy treats, or table scraps while on the exclusion diet. The same exclusion diet rules for dogs as for humans apply.

If after a few days on the exclusion diet the symptoms start to improve then switch back to the original diet to see if the symptoms recur. If they do then you know that something in the original food is causing the problem.

The next step is to go back on the trial diet until the symptoms disappear, then reintroduce one food/ingredient at a time, leaving a few days to a week before adding another item.

As soon as the symptoms recur then you'll have identified the allergen.

Exclusion testing is time consuming, you could as a quicker alternative try switching first to a brand of dog food labelled 'hypo-allergenic', if symptoms improve then you know it's a food allergy, you just won't know which ingredient it was that was causing the problem, unless you then try the exclusion diet.

Following a wheat free diet is a tough health choice to make for humans, but with your help then it should be a lot easier for your four legged friend to follow.

It's not a decision that should be made lightly and something that you should never embark on alone without guidance, so speak to your vet first about your suspicions, and certainly speak to your vet before you put your dog on any form of exclusion diet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information on this page is not to be taken as medical advice for dogs or humans. Please ensure that you discuss your pets health issues with a licensed veterinarian before undertaking any changes to your pets diet.