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How to Choose a Limited Ingredient Dog Food for a Dog with Allergies

Limited ingredient food

Last Updated: February 29, 2024 by Lisa Melillo

This awesome guide on picking out limited ingredient foods for dogs that have allergies is sponsored by Essence Pet Foods.

Food allergies are not a sneezing matter! Especially when it comes to your dog, who may be itching and sneezing up a storm due to food or environmental allergies. Is your dog licking his paws excessively? Does he seem to be itching his ears or his body at every available moment? Chances are your dog may be suffering from food or environmental allergies. But how do you know for sure? And if it a food allergy, is a limited ingredient diet the best option for your pup? Let’s find out more.

What are food allergies, and what impact can they have on my dog?

Food allergies are the result of an allergic reaction to a certain protein that your dog is exposed to. The allergy usually affects the dog’s immune system as the dog is typically exposed to the same time of protein repeatedly throughout his life. The symptoms of food allergies can surface in the form of itchy skin, upset stomach, hives, a swollen face, and persistent paw and/or ear infections. 

“We are not sure why one individual dog can develop allergies to a certain protein, and the next dog will not,” said Dr. Bradley Quest, DVM. “Food intolerances can occur with the initial exposure to a specific food ingredient and is usually not a result of an immune system reaction. Food intolerances usually manifest as gastrointestinal symptoms.” Gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs consist of but are not limited to: A change in appetite, changes in stool quality or quantity, weight loss, and abdominal pain. 

How can you tell if your dog has a food allergy

Food allergies can be a tricky thing. Talking with your veterinarian is the best way to know if your dog has a food allergy. He or she knows your dog best, and they can put your dog on a food elimination diet. Elimination diets consist of feeding your dog a single protein and a single fiber source that he may have never eaten before. It should last between 8-12 weeks if needed. If you notice during this period that your dog’s allergic symptoms did not surface or reoccur, then you can rule that the allergy was not the result of the protein.

“It is important to remember that flea allergies and environmental allergies are much more common in dogs than food allergies, and that is why it is always best to consult with your Veterinarian whenever you suspect your dog may have allergic symptoms,” said Dr. Quest.

What to look for in a limited ingredient diet

A typical limited ingredient diet will contain one or two protein sources and one fiber source. You will notice that limited ingredient diets do not consist of common food allergens such as chicken and beef. Essence Limited Ingredient Recipe, for example, follows a clean and simple philosophy. It uses two meat ingredients, two meals, and two sources of fiber to bring your canine companions closer to nature. In this case, in the Essence Ranch & Meadow Recipe, the meat ingredients utilized are lamb and pork. The two fiber sources utilized are pumpkin and quinoa. 

“Limited ingredient diets are important if a pet parent has a dog that has been diagnosed with a food allergy or intolerance,” said Dr. Quest. “Once the offending ingredient or ingredients have been identified, then a good LID diet can be used for that pet.”

Are food allergies in dogs preventable?

It’s hard to know for sure whether food allergies in our dogs is something that can be prevented or minimized. While there may be an abundance of information one can find online, it’s always best to talk to your veterinarian to get expert advice. “Some think that rotating protein and fiber sources in your dog’s diet may help to minimize the occurrence of food allergies,” said Dr. Quest. “Although this is not scientifically proven, it may help some individuals because the dog’s immune system is not constantly exposed to the same food ingredients all the time. However, it is important to remember that this does not guarantee your dog will not have food allergies.”

While researching this topic, you will find a wealth of information on canine food allergies online, but of course, it’s always best to talk to your veterinarian to get expert advice on your specific dog and his health needs. At that time, you can discuss the benefits of limited ingredient diets.

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