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Food Allergies in Pets

Dr. Rakesh. M. Shinde

The diseases of our domestic animals, which admit of cure, yield as promptly to homoeopathic medicines as those of man. The benefits of homoeopathy over other systems of medicine for our pets are many. It cures diseases and not palliate them with the humane nature of its cure.


It is difficult to distinguish an animal suffering from food allergies from an animal suffering from atopy or other allergies based on physical signs. However there are a few signs that always indicate food allergies. The diagnosis of food allergies is very straightforward. But due to the fact that many other problems can cause similar symptoms and that many times animals are suffering from more problems than just food allergies, it is very important that all other problems are properly identified and treated prior to undergoing diagnosis for food allergies. Atopy, flea bite, allergies, intestinal parasite hypersensitiveness, sarcoptic mange, yeast or bacterial infections or seborrhoea can all cause similar symptoms as food allergies. Once all other causes have been ruled out, food trial should be performed.

Symptoms

  • Itchy skin
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive scratching
  • Hot spots
  • Skin infection
  • Increased bowel movements
Elimination Diets
A food trial consists of feeding a dog or cat a novel food source of protein and carbohydrates that the animal has never eaten before. No treats, no dog bones, absolutely nothing but the special food and water should be given.

If a dog or cat shows a marked reduction or elimination of the symptoms then the animal is placed back on the original food. If the symptoms return after going back on the original diet, the diagnosis of a food allergy is confirmed. If there has been no change in the symptoms but a food allergy is still strongly suspected then another food trial using a different novel food source could be tried.

Common Food Culprits
Several studies have shown that some ingredients are more likely to cause food allergies than others. In order of the most common offenders in dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, eggs, corn and soy. In cats the most common offenders are fish, beef and dairy products.

The determinant of whether a food is likely to cause a food allergy or not is based on the structure and size of the glycoprotein in the food.

Symptoms
The symptoms of food allergies are similar to those of most allergies seen in dogs and cats. The primary symptom is itchy skin. Symptoms may also include chronic or recurrent ear infections, hair loss, excessive scratching, hot spots and skin infections that respond to antibiotics but recur after the antibiotics are stopped. There is evidence that dogs with food allergies have an increased incidence of bowel movements. One study showed that non-allergic dogs have around 1.5 bowel movements per day where as some dogs with food allergies may have 3 or more bowel movements per day.

Treatment
Eliminating the food, the dog is allergic to from the diet shoould be the foremost step. Homoeopathic treatment should be opted for as it improves the immune system of the body thus making the dog more resistant to allergies. Constitutional treatment is the best approach for the same. The following homoeopathic remedies can be tried:
  • Sulphur
  • Kali bichromicum
  • Graphites
  • Chamomilla
  • Hepar sulphuricum
  • Arsenic album
  • Mercurius
  • Natrum sulph
  • Carbo veg

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