Hypoallergenic dog food is increasingly becoming a more popular choice for dog owners, but what does it actually mean? Ultimately, it’s dog food that has a low chance of causing allergic reactions. However, different manufacturers have different ideas of what dog food has to contain to be qualified as hypoallergenic, which can lead to confusion for all of us loving canine owners. We wanted to clear up any misconceptions about hypoallergenic dog food and whether or not there are any significant benefits to your dog’s health when selecting it.
What is hypoallergenic dog food?
Hypoallergenic dog food is specifically made with the intention of being suitable for dogs who are allergic to normal dog food. It is made without an abundance of nasty chemicals and with no artificial colors or flavors. Instead, hypoallergenic food is full of organic, natural ingredients (and typically very limited ingredients at that). It emulates what dogs would eat in the wild, so food in its most natural form.
This usually means unprocessed meat and lots of vegetables. They should be high in protein for optimum muscle development, and full of vegetables that contain essential vitamins.
When dog food contains meat that is unprocessed, it is easier to digest and therefore much more suitable for dogs with allergies. Dogs with sensitive stomachs benefit from a single protein source – this means only one meat is used per food, instead of a myriad of processed meat together. This is common in hypoallergenic dog food.
Another feature of hypoallergenic dog food is that it is free of grain. This, however, does not mean that all grain-free dog food is hypoallergenic. This is an often believed myth in the world of healthy dog food; all grain-free dog food is suitable for dogs with allergies. This is not true because food that does not contain grain may, in fact, have other allergenic dog foods in it, like eggs, soy, or beef. Watch out for this confusion, as the intolerance that your dog has may not be to grains but another ingredient.
Does my dog have an allergy to dog food?
Dogs, like humans, have varying dietary requirements. This, as well as the always-confusing discourse surrounding what food is healthy or unhealthy, makes deciding what food for your pup difficult. There are some useful hints for noticing if your dog does have an allergy and therefore needs hypoallergenic food. These are often subtle ailments, which makes noticing these issues difficult.
- Stomach issues. This includes bloating, vomiting, excessive wind or diarrhea
- Skin problems. If you notice your dog frequently scratching, it may not be fleas, but an allergy. Another skin issue that could be a sign of an allergic reaction would be dandruff, oily skin, or a flat coat.
- Loss of appetite. If your dog seems disinterested in its food, it may be a sign that they need hypoallergenic dog food.
- Soreness: You might notice signs that your dog has sore paws, tail, or other parts of its body.
If you spot any of these symptoms, a trip to the vet may be necessary. They will be able to confirm whether your dog has an allergy that you have been unaware of previously. They will suggest doing ‘elimination diets’; taking out certain ingredients from your dog’s diet to see whether its symptoms decrease, therefore spotting what is causing the allergy.
However, you can also start this yourself to see what food your dog is allergic to. The top 5 allergy-causing ingredients in dog food are beef, dairy, eggs, soy, and wheat, so try dog foods without these ingredients.
Through a process of trial and error, you will be able to notice what food is best for them. These ingredients are common in lots of different dog foods, so it may not be as easy as switching dog food brands. Elimination diets will not necessarily work straight away- it may take 10-12 weeks for your dog to adjust and its symptoms to stop.
Is Hypoallergenic food only good for dogs with allergies?
Hypoallergenic dog food is not just for dogs with allergies. Feeding your pup this healthy food can reduce their chances of wider health problems such as obesity and arthritis. Even if your dog is not fully allergic to normal dog food, it is still better for their digestion to choose hypoallergenic food.
This ultimately leads us to the verdict that selecting hypoallergenic food is a no-brainer in our opinion. Not only are you minimizing the risk of your dog having an allergic reaction, which can be incredibly unpleasant for them and occasionally you (depending on the symptoms…), but you are also improving your dog’s overall health in regards to obesity and arthritis.