Itchy skin = a food allergy?
While most of us battling the bulge might think that a food allergy
might not be a bad idea, in reality it isn't something anyone should aspire to!
A food allergy can develop at any age and to just about any food you
might care to think of. However, the most common food allergies are,
logically, due to foodstuffs that your pet commonly consumes.
Animals usually develop an allergy to a particular food after a
prolonged period of exposure to that food. So just because your
pet has been eating the same food for the past year doesn't mean to
say that you should rule out it's food as a potential cause of an
Unfortunately,the clinical signs of a food allergy,especially in dogs and to a lesser extent in cats,
mimic other, more common, allergies like
flea allergic dermatitis
Clinical symptoms include a skin rash that is very itchy with pustules often evident.Sometimes,
especially in cats, a food allergy can lead to diarrhoea and occasionally, vomiting.
Food allergies can be a real challenge. Firstly they are probably not as common
as FAD or atopies, although the clinical signs involving the skin are very similar.
Secondly, having established that it is probably a food allergy, one has to identify
the offending food!
This can be a time consuming process as the removal of the offending foodstuff from
the pets diet may only show a positive response i.e. a decrease in itching, after several weeks.
Patience is thus the name of the game.
To identify the allergenic foodstuff, one has to change the diet to one that has ingredients
that the animal has not previously been exposed to (and hope like crazy that it is not
allergic to any of the new feedstuffs!). This is sometimes easier said than done especially
if the animal was on a commercial ration as these often have a variable composition.
The theory is that you change the diet to a bland, non allergenic test diet and the animal
responds positively. Then over the following weeks and months you add back one ingredient
at a time until you get a flare up of the allergic condition. Voila - you have identified
what causes the allergy!
In reality, this can be a very long and not always rewarding undertaking and most people
will settle for a basic diet that is non allergenic and not worry about trying to identify
the exact cause of the