You may not know it or be aware of the fact that there are food allergies in dogs and cats. Just as some humans suffer from allergies; dogs and cats can suffer with them as well. If you are feeding your pet commercial dog food, it may even be causing symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Signs of Food Allergies
Your pet may exhibit symptoms of food allergies by have gastrointestinal signs like vomiting, diarrhea or even constipation. They may have a reaction on their skin resulting in itching, bumps, or redness. Occasionally they will have lesions or sores around their ears.
In cats, head and neck pruritus (or itching) is a very common indication of a food allergy.
The cat or dog can have eczema, dandruff, or even hair loss. All of these symptoms can make your pet feel bad and have less energy. It can be an agrivation to them as well as you, with all the scratching.
Common Foods Causing Allergic Symptoms
Most often pets are allergic to soy, beef, chicken, corn, diary products, and wheat. Some studies have indicated that two-thirds of the food allergies in dogs affecting their skin, is a result of a beef, dairy, or wheat product. In cats, beef, dairy, or fish account for ninety percent of the food allergies result in skin conditions.
These foods are not really causing the allergies. A lot of times it the that the animal becomes sensitive to what it is eating. It relates to how much protein the GI tract, or stomach and intestines can absorb. If the protein is not being readily absorbed, it becomes “foreign” to the body and stimulates an immune response. In this scenario, the body builds antibodies, which remain in the body to attack the protein any time that it appears again. Thus, the body has absorbed all it can of that particular type of protein (because it is not digesting it properly), and begins to exhibit symptoms of the food allergy.
Common Treatments For Allergic Reactions
Many cases of allergic reactions are treated with steroids. It has been clinically studied that glucocorticoids (steriods) found in dog food can actually cause your pets to become unhealthy. This is due to the increased secretion of gastric acids, as well as a reduction in mucus production.
Steroids also lead to a decrease in the ability of absorption of iron and calcium. As a result, thinning of skin and hair, skin atrophy, dull hair and the like are noted. Furthermore, secondary disorders such as bacterial and viral infections, lethargy, and pancreatitis may also be brought on with foods that contain glucocorticoids.
Steriods act as an anti-inflammatory but suppress the immune system at the same time. Long term use of steriods can lead to many other problematic health issues, such as thinning of the bones, thinning of the skin, brusing easily, just to name a few.
Holistic treatment considers the “whole animal”. Holistic care treats more that just the symptoms. Herbs have proven to be very effective in healing of these digestive and skin issues. These herbs can help with the poor absorption issues related to the protein absorption as mentioned above.
Glycyrrhiza glabra, is known as the licorice plant and is great for soothing an upset digestive system.
Althaea officinalis, is known as the marshmallow plant and is good for the mucus membranes in the digestive tract.
Ulmus Fulva or slippery elm is noted for its bark. This is an excellent digestive herb that has a lot of trace minerals and proteins that help improve the health of the digestive tract.