Hypoallergenic dog food – help against dog food allergy
Genuine allergies triggered by an immune response are relatively rare in dogs. Food intolerances, however, are much more common. Have you noticed an allergic reaction in your dog? Have you already tried countless varieties of wet and dry food, only to find that your four-legged friend just cannot tolerate them? Does your dog suffer from gastrointestinal complaints, a rash or fur problems? An allergy test at the vet, or an exclusion diet will often indicate that your dog has a food allergy, and this usually means changing their food. You can find out from our guide how offering hypoallergenic dog food can help.
What does "hypoallergenic" dog food mean?
In the case of food allergies in dogs, there are usually specific proteins or protein compounds that trigger the allergic reaction. That is why it is important that dog food for allergy sufferers does not contain these proteins. Hypoallergenic dog food is formulated exactly like this, as indicated by the description "contains minimal allergenic substances". The recipes are designed to avoid protein structures that are common allergy triggers, using alternative ingredients instead. The hypoallergenic dog food from Green Petfood uses high-quality insect protein here because this is a very rarely used source of protein, which is ideal for producing sustainable dog food that is suitable for allergy sufferers.
The danger of an intolerance is minimised with hypoallergenic dog food
The aim is to include as few allergenic substances as possible, ideally none, and in line with this commitment, anti-allergy dog food is also grain free. InsectDog Hypoallergenic is a complete feed that contains select ingredients and avoids frequently used animal protein sources, which makes it ideal for adult dogs suffering from allergies.
Thanks to its components and additives, such as certain vitamins and minerals, our InsectDog Hypoallergenic (like all our other products) is designed to ensure the best diet for your dog. It is certified by the German Agricultural Society and rated as "excellent". It has also been tested as part of a clinical study at LMU Munich and received a very positive rating.
Our choice for all four-legged allergy sufferers:
Food allergy in dogs: both food and snacks are relevant
If your dog has a food intolerance, it is important to give them hypoallergenic dog food, but you also need to make sure any snacks that are offered do not contain the allergenic substances. With a serious dog food allergy, even the smallest dog biscuit could cause allergy symptoms. It is vital to combine a hypoallergenic complete feed with suitable treats to protect your dog against allergies. Snacks are not even necessary as part of a wholesome, healthy diet for your dog. They are primarily designed to offer rewards and treats. For these reasons, it is best to insist on high-quality products here. Alternatively, you could reduce the daily portion of food slightly and let your dog earn the extra food – this lets him feel rewarded for his efforts.
How can you tell if your dog has an intolerance to certain food ingredients?
Is your dog scratching or licking himself? Is he losing fur and suffering from reddened skin? Are his faeces either watery or very firm, and is your dog being sick regularly?
These are typical symptoms of food allergy in dogs
This can be an indication that your dog is suffering from an allergy or intolerance. The reason is that certain substances can trigger a response from the body's defence system. These substances are called allergens and they can cause various symptoms.
Characteristics of a food allergy:
- inflammation of the ear or ear canal
- loss of fur
- inflamed areas of skin (so-called hot spots)
- itching of the jaw or body
- brittle nails
Your dog's allergy could be triggered in various ways
- parasites such as fleas, mites or worms
- bacterial infections
- organic diseases
In addition, many allergies are caused by food containing ingredients that your dog cannot tolerate or that trigger a response from the dog's immune system. To be more precise, there are certain components containing protein, which can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. A so-called hypoallergenic dog food can help avoid your dog's immune system responding defensively to allergens.
What are common allergenic substances in food?
In principle, your dog can have an allergic reaction to any component in food. However, there are certain substances that typically trigger allergies, including animal proteins and grain. If your dog cannot tolerate wheat, barley or another variety of grain, a grain-free dog food could be the right choice for their diet. The grain here is replaced by an alternative source of carbohydrate, most commonly potato. If your beloved pet is sensitive to a source of protein or even to several food ingredients, a hypoallergenic dog food may be the best choice.
Possible allergenic components in food:
- pork, beef, chicken and other kinds of meat
- milk products
Food intolerance or food allergy?
This is a legitimate question because often these terms are used synonymously. People sometimes talk in general terms about a dog food allergy even though what they mean is an intolerance.
What are the differences between an allergy and a food intolerance in dogs?
- Food allergy in dogs: genuine allergies involving an immune system response are relatively rare in dogs and occur once the animal has come into contact with an allergen and has subsequently developed antibodies. As soon as the dog encounters the substance again, the body's defence systems are activated. The result is an allergic overreaction (itching, inflammation, hot spots).
- Food intolerance: a food intolerance involves an immediate reaction to the trigger substance. The immune system is not involved.
The important thing is to work out which allergens your dog is reacting to.
Whether it's a dog food allergy or a food intolerance, the allergenic substance should be excluded from your dog's diet in either case.
Are food allergies in dogs common?
Although studies on the prevalence of food allergies in dogs have been carried out for over 30 years, we still have no reliable figures on the incidence of these issues. One possible reason for this is the lack of consistent, comparable investigations. The varying nomenclature poses another problem, making it difficult to distinguish between allergic and non-allergic causes of hypersensitivity to foods. The one thing many study authors have in common are similar results for what are actually food intolerances: rather than a food allergy, it is much more common for dogs to have eaten unsuitable foods or to have a non-immunological food intolerance.
Food allergies in dogs: is there a predisposition?
While there is a suspicion that typical dog food allergy symptoms are becoming increasingly common, the various independent researchers all agree that there is no particular predisposition associated with breed, sex or age in dogs (and in cats). Similar findings have been produced by studies in the 1960s, 80s, 90s and in the early 21st century. In many studies, a relatively large proportion of dogs (between 33 % and 55 %), who were affected by food intolerances were under the age of one.
Agnes with Louis from Jülich
What can you do if your dog has a food intolerance?
First, you should visit your vet to have the intolerance diagnosed. This can be done using an allergy test, in other words by examining blood and skin, but may also involve an exclusion diet. This means your dog will spend several weeks eating a special allergy feed, which consists exclusively of specific sources of meat and carbohydrate. You can either buy a ready-made product, or you can cook the food yourself for your dog. A nutrition plan drawn up by your vet will help you with this.
If allergens are identified, a change of food can be made. This should be done slowly and with patience. The desired effect may not be achieved immediately for every dog. For some animals, it can take up to three months for the allergy symptoms to disappear completely.
Can food intolerances or allergies be cured?
If your dog cannot tolerate specific food ingredients or has an allergic reaction to these items, unfortunately this cannot be cured. The problem is usually genetic in nature, and the animal's body will respond to the allergens throughout its life. The only thing you can do is to withhold the relevant substances – in other words eliminate them from your dog's diet.
Food allergies in dogs may also be triggered by the dog food itself. Even if you have fed your pet a particular variety of food for a long time, the dog may suddenly no longer be able to tolerate it. Or perhaps you offer the same variety from a different manufacturer, and this triggers an allergic reaction. According to experts, this can be the result of substandard food quality. One potential indication of this is the inclusion of animal by-products, sugar and artificial additives in the list of ingredients. That is why it is important to provide your dog with high-quality food made from natural, regulated raw ingredients, with vitamins and minerals that have been tailored to create the most nutritious diet. Provided this food is suitable for your dog's health, age and energy requirements, you can continue offering it in the long-term. Hypoallergenic dog food is very high in quality because the recipe has been developed for a specific diet and only uses selected ingredients. In addition, both the production processes and the finished products usually undergo regular checks to ensure the hypoallergenic dog food does not contain typical allergenic substances.
Exclusion diet: to diagnose your dog's food allergies
An exclusion diet may help identify a food allergy or intolerance. This is something you can either do yourself or with the assistance of your vet. It is important to note that an exclusion diet is time-consuming.
- Your dog will be given food that only contains rarely used protein and carbohydrate sources. These must be substances the dog has never encountered before.
- Normally exotic ingredients such as ostrich, horse or goat are used for exclusion diets. For our non-allergenic dog food, we use insects that have been bred in the EU. These offer a previously unused food ingredient while also contributing to sustainable production processes.
- You will need to continue feeding your dog the special food until you see an improvement. This can take up to 10 weeks.
- As soon as the food allergy symptoms have disappeared, a provocation test with the old food is necessary. This is a test to see if the symptoms reappear.
- If this is the case, you will need to continue giving your dog the hypoallergenic food and tests will be conducted to establish which protein sources can or cannot be tolerated.
Hypoallergenic dog food instead of an exclusion diet
Hypoallergenic dog food offers an alternative to laborious exclusion diets. Experts recommend this kind of food because it normally consists of just a few ingredients. This, and the fact that classic allergens are avoided, reduces the risk of allergic symptoms occurring. The food is easily digestible, palatable, full of lots of different nutrients, and it promotes quick, long-lasting stability in the immune system and the overall organism. This restores your dog's health in just a short period.
Having said this, it will not work if your pet is very sensitive to food and reacts to all sorts of different substances. In this case, an exclusion diet is probably the only option. You should always consult your vet about a potential food intolerance or allergy, so you can discuss various treatment options such as the dog's diet and hypoallergenic dog food.
Special dry food with insect protein for allergic dogs
We have developed a special product to provide the best possible diet for dogs with food allergies. This uses insects as an alternative source of protein.
Justification and benefits of insects as a foodstuff:
- Up to now, insects have not been used in pet food production.
- In other cultures, for example in the Asian region, insects have been a highly valued source of protein for many years. They also contain lots of valuable minerals and fatty acids, which can contribute to a healthy diet for your dog.
- In contrast to conventional meat, the use of insects in food production has a much lower environmental impact. Fewer greenhouse gases are produced, there is less strain on the land, and water consumption is also much lower.
- Hypoallergenic dog food with insect protein has a positive impact both on the environment and on people. For one thing, production requires far less agricultural land. Another important factor is that feed consumption is significantly lower than in conventional meat production, which can help alleviate the shortage of resources.
Suitable allergy food
Changing food does not necessarily have to involve using a specialist product like hypoallergenic dog food. Although these kinds of food mostly contain ingredients that do not trigger food allergies or intolerances, even a special product of this kind cannot rule out a dog food allergy if it contains ingredients the dog is unable to tolerate. So, the key thing is to provide your dog with food that does not contain the relevant allergen. This is why an exclusion diet is so important to identify which ingredients your dog is reacting to. For many dogs, the triggers are proteins found in grains or meat. A grain-free dog food or a product that avoids particular animal proteins could be the solution for your dog's symptoms.
Our products use special ingredients so that the food is particularly well-tolerated and to ensure allergies to typical dog food ingredients are almost completely avoided.
- Wheat, oats, barley and other varieties of grain are replaced by alternative carbohydrates such as potatoes and peas.
- Typical animal proteins from beef or fish are avoided. Instead, high-quality plant-based protein sources like peas or other options, such as insects, are used to supply essential protein.
- Natural additives like algae and yeast are used to ensure an optimal supply of nutrients.
Dog food with no meat or grain – is that possible?
If your dog reacts to proteins in grain or meat, you are right to ask whether a grain-free and meat-free diet would be healthy for your pet. The answer is very clear: yes! Due to their genetic development – and in contrast to their predecessors, the wolves – dogs are omnivores. In addition to meat, they are also able to get their nutrition from fruit, vegetables and grains. They have no problem at all with ingredients like potatoes or rice, which are high in starch. There is scientific evidence that they can digest these ingredients – significantly better than wolves are able to. Consequently, there are a wide range of different ingredients available to give your dog a rounded, healthy diet. The crucial thing when choosing and combining ingredients is that your dog gets all the nutrients it needs for its health.
When is it sensible to get an allergy test for your dog?
An allergy test should not be used to diagnose the allergy as such, but to identify which substances are tolerated and which are causing symptoms. Due to the fact that dogs without allergies can also produce positive test results, and genuinely affected animals can sometimes test negative, an allergy test is only recommended if no other cause can be found for a particular symptom – e.g. itching. If no bacteria, fungi or parasites have been identified and a metabolic disorder has been ruled out, an allergy test makes sense. If an allergy test comes back positive, the vet will introduce the appropriate treatment: for allergies to house dust mite or insect bites, a hypo-sensitisation or desensitisation therapy is an option, aimed at reducing the excessive immune response. For food allergies, an elimination diet is the first option, which involves avoiding specific foods while adhering to a strict selection of protein sources.
Completely vegetarian and hypoallergenic diets for dogs?
Some Green Petfood products contain high-quality plant-based ingredients, which are tailored to meet your dog's needs. These are ideal for dog food allergies because they avoid typical allergens like wheat and meat protein. With hypoallergenic dog food, most food allergy symptoms will ease after a few days or no more than a couple of weeks. Once the symptoms have abated, you should continue to use the hypoallergenic dog food. It is possible for your dog to become sensitive to the "new" food ingredients later, but this is relatively rare.
Allergies in dogs can have all sorts of different causes and must be identified through what is often a laborious process.
If this seems a familiar story for your pet and the symptoms they have suffered, get in touch with us right away. We are ready to offer advice and support and will find the right food for your loyal companion. We have a range of different food varieties that are suitable for dogs with allergies, and we can help you choose the right one. Whether you choose our VeggieDog (meat-free) or InsectDog (with insect protein), you will be offering your four-legged friend an alternative if intolerances or allergies have been a problem.