Posts Tagged ‘food allergy’

Feeding time at the zoo

  Is it time for a change?

There are a number of good reasons you might change the food your pet is eating, including:

  • Pet enters a new stage of life, such as going from puppy/kitten to adult to senior
  • Pet develops a food allergy
  • Pet requires a prescription diet to manage health issues, such as obesity or liver disease
  • Pet refuses to eat its regular food
  • Pet could benefit from a higher-quality food than the one it currently eats

Before changing your pet’s diet, consult with your veterinarian.
In the case of prescription diets, your pet may need to be
on a strictly measured amount, rather than free-choice feeding.

The key to making the switch is to gradually introduce the new food, in order to reduce the possibility of digestive upset. 

This is the trick to introduce a new food to your pet:

Days 1 and 2: Feed 3 parts old food and 1 part new food*

Days 3 and 4: Feed 2 parts old food and 2 parts new food (i.e. half and half)

Days 5 and 6: Feed 1 part old food and 3 parts new food

Day 7: Feed only the new food

*Be sure to calculate how much of each food to give, so that you are not overfeeding.

If your pet experiences loose stools during the transition, your veterinarian may recommend adding probiotics to the diet.

Est. 1973

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If your pet has food allergies or certain dietary restrictions, you’ve likely spent a good deal of time examining food labels to ensure no offending ingredients are present. But what if all your hard work was for naught? That seems to be the case for some un-named foods examined in a recent study by Chapman University.

Seriously...what's in there???

Seriously…what’s in there???

The pet food study found that 16 out of 52 foods tested contained a meat ingredient that was not listed on the label. And, the meat that was listed on the label was not even detectable in 7 out of the 52 samples. The study noted that the majority of labels (31 of 52) contained correct information; however the university declined to name any of the pet food brands tested.

What does the FDA require on pet food labels? Click here to find out!

The study did determine that no horsemeat was present in any of the samples. So, what’s in there? Here’s the breakdown:

  • 51 samples contained chicken
  • 35 samples contained pork
  • 34 samples contained beef
  • 32 samples contained turkey
  • 26 samples contained lamb
  • 9 samples contained goat.

This bird meat was found in only one of the samples.
Click here to find out what it is!

The study noted that pork was not mentioned on 7 out of 52 pet food labels, representing the “most common undeclared meat.” Meanwhile, the makers of 2 cat foods, 2 dog foods, and a dog treat claimed beef as an ingredient — but no beef was actually present in the sample. The study could not determine whether ingredient substitutions and omissions were accidental or intentional.

So what does this mean for pet owners? Most of us are not equipped with the sort of high-tech lab equipment needed to test our pet’s food. We’re left to research and trust the manufacturers.

But keep your eyes open. If your pet has been doing well on a particular brand, but seems to develop skin or intestinal disorders following the purchase of a new bag of the same brand of food, it could be due to a wayward undeclared ingredient.

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Est. 1973

A new allergy season is picking up where the old one left off. We’re seeing more cases of dogs and cats with itchy ears, faces, bellies, feet and rumps. Add dry, flaky skin, fur loss, excessive licking and chewing (especially at the feet), scabs, and fleas and you’ve got one unhappy furbaby.

There are some things you can do at home to ease your pet’s allergy symptoms, especially in the case of allergens which are inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

1. Keep your pet’s skin moisturized – from the outside. Dry skin allows allergens to more easily pass through the skin barrier and cause itching. Use a rehydrating shampoo (we like Hydra Pearls) plus a separate conditioning rinse or spray.

Allow the shampoo to contact your pet’s skin for 10-15 minutes. That is forever in dog-bathing time, but that’s what it takes for the shampoo to be effective.

If the shampoo is the non-lather kind (many are) don’t add more; doing so will just make rinsing it out all the more difficult. Which brings us to the next tip:

Rinse your pet’s coat thoroughly, to remove all soap. Follow with a cream rinse or leave-on conditioning spray (such as Dermal Soothe Spray.)

2. Keep your pet’s skin moisturized – from the inside. Ask your vet about powder or capsule-type Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplements, like ProDerma or Free Form Snip Tips. Skip the fish oil supplements designed for human use; your pet has its own EFA requirements that can’t be met with a human product.

3. Rinse your pet with plain water to remove allergens, daily if necessary. Most pets won’t need a full-blown sudsy bath daily or even weekly. But a cool water rinse can help take the heat off, as well as physically remove pollens that can cause your pet to itch. If a daily rinse is not realistic, try targeting your pet’s problem areas with a damp cloth, especially after your pet has been outdoors.

4. Use your pet’s monthly flea treatment every month, even if you aren’t seeing fleas (which means the treatment is working!) For a hyper-allergic pet, a single flea bite can touch off a serious inflammatory response.

For more complex issues, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication may be necessary. Your vet may also suggest a six-month elimination diet to rule in or out food allergies. A trip to the veterinary dermatologist may also be in order, especially for young animals that will be dealing with lifelong allergy problems.

If your pet is suffering from allergy symptoms, schedule a vet visit to get recommendations and treatments tailor-made for your dog or cat. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating allergic pets, so be prepared for some amount of experimentation to see which method gives your pet the most relief.

NOTE: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any diseases, or take the place of a client-patient-veterinarian relationship. If you have questions about your pet’s health, your veterinarian will be your best source of information.

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What is dietary sensitivity?
Dietary sensitivity refers to an adverse reaction to food. There are two types:
Food allergy – an immune reaction to a particular ingredient, usually a protein. A food allergy can be a permanent condition.
Food intolerance – Not all reactions to foods are allergies. Some pets simply cannot tolerate certain foods.

What causes dietary sensitivity?
Food – Common allergens for dogs are beef, dairy, and wheat. Common allergens for cats are beef, dairy, and fish.
Damage – Inflammation, infection, surgery, and some medications can damage the digestive system and lead to dietary sensitivity.
Age – Food intolerance is more common in younger pets, while food allergies are more common in adult pets.
Breed – Some breeds are more likely to have dietary sensitivity, such as Siamese cats, Westies, Cocker Spaniels, and Irish Setters.

What are common signs of dietary sensitivity?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Frequent scratching and fur loss
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Chronic ear problems
  • Poor growth in young pets
  • Coughing, wheezing, sneezing

Why does the vet recommend Hill’s Prescription Diet?
Hill’s Prescription diets such as d/d, z/d, and z/d ultra are designed to address food allergy and food intolerance symptoms. The ingredients may include novel proteins, to which a pet is less likely to react negatively; essential fatty acids to soothe inflamed skin; or hydrolyzed proteins.

What is the importance of a hydrolyzed protein?
Dogs and cats have histamine receptors that react to foreign particles. Think of your pet’s histamine receptors as Y-shaped, two-pronged instruments. A normal-sized protein can reach across both prongs and set off a histamine reaction, which you may see as red, itchy skin and ears.
Hydrolyzation breaks a protein into tiny pieces that are not big enough to cover two prongs at once, rendering the protein “invisible” to the pet’s histamine receptors. That way, the body won’t trigger an allergic response.

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Information taken from Hill’s Pet Nutrition pamphlet “Dietary Sensitivity,” available at our clinic.

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