Food Allergy is more and more common among our pets. In fact, it is as prevalent among pet animals as it is among humans. Allergies have increased in developed countries over the past few years.
The base for an Allergy is that the organism recognises a molecule (generally proteins) as strange and potentially harmful, against which different defence systems start to fight causing itching, swallowing, bronchial constriction, nasal mucosity, diarrhoea, etc. Indeed, many immunologists consider that there are immune responses to some elements that are not causing any problem for the organisms and as a result of that, different diseases arise when the pressure of infectious agents are decreased in the first world countries due to the vaccine coverage for the human or animal population as well as life and hygiene habits.
Allergy to common proteins in the animal food such as those contained in chicken, veal, pork, lamb, fish, eggs, different cereals, etc. are very common. Symptoms are varied and we may observe disorders in the skin, with swallowing and itching that usually affects the area of the face, extremities, groins and armpits. There may be intense itching, loss of hair and over-infections associated with bacteria and yeast as well as otitis, diarrhoea and vomiting.
For Food Allergies to arise, a previous phenomenon of food sensitivity must happen, so this is uncommon in puppies and usually the range of age of the affected animals varies between two and seven years of age.
There are diagnostic methods based on serology (detection of specific antibodies) which have low specificity for Food Allergies, although they are highly sensitive for the environmental kinds. When we suspect a food allergy, we recommend the owner starts with an elimination diet consisting of food that has never been exposed or fodder where proteins have been hydrolyzed in smaller pieces which are not recognised as strange by the organism and they do not generate immune response. The pet’s owner must bear in mind that the animal must exclusively eat this new diet and water for four months and after that, if symptoms are better, the new diet must be finished and pet given standard food. We may also treat with corticoids depending on the case, since antihistamines have limited effects against itching of the skin and swallowing in our pets. This also applies to antibiotics and specific shampoos used to control other infections associated with skin irritations.
If you have a problem with Allergies such as mentioned above, seek the advice of a professional.
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