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Should You Test Your Pet For Food Sensitivity?

Should You Test Your Pet For Food Sensitivity?

Your pets are your babies, and you want them to be healthy and happy. But what happens when your pet isn’t happy and healthy? It could be that, like humans, they have a food allergy. If that is the case, testing your pet for food sensitivity might make all the difference. Keep reading to learn more about pet food intolerance tests and if your pet should get one.

Do Pets Have Food Allergies?

You may have never thought it was possible, but pets can have food allergies. These allergies can harm your pet’s well-being. Don’t fret too much, though; pets don’t often have food allergies. If your pet is allergic, it’s likely not a food allergy, as less than one in ten animals have food allergies. It’s more likely fleas or other environmental factors.

Dried kibble pet food. Heart shape dried animal food. Top view.

Symptoms of Food Allergies in Pets

Before going all out on a pet food intolerance test, one easy way to help determine if your pet may have a food allergy is their possible symptoms. Like humans, they may sneeze and itch, and some allergens can even be deadly to your dog or cat. While dogs generally have a higher chance of food allergies than cats, it’s best to keep an eye on both if you think there’s a possibility of a food allergy.

Common Dog Symptoms

Symptoms in dogs with a possible food allergy include some of the same symptoms as humans. Those symptoms include itchy and irritated skin on the ears, paws, rear end, and stomach. 

Hives and irritated bumps on the skin are other common symptoms in dogs. You may find your pup with swollen and red eyes. They may have diarrhea and vomiting. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior, too. If they have itchy skin, you’ll know it as they’ll constantly scratch and bite at themselves in an attempt to relieve the irritation.

Common Cat Symptoms

Cat symptoms are very similar to a dog’s. They might have itchy and irritated skin, swollen and red eyes, and upset stomachs resulting in diarrhea and vomiting. However, irritated skin appears more on a cat’s head and neck than on its backside and paws. Their behavior may be a tell-tale sign of increased scratching and biting, which could also result in cuts and hair loss.

Dog and cat together scratching irritated itchy skin from allergies

How Do They Test for Food Intolerance in Dogs?

Testing for food allergies in pets is not easy. If you believe your dog or cat has an allergy, your vet might determine that it’s a food intolerance rather than a food allergy. An allergic reaction to food starts from your pet’s immune system. Food intolerance or sensitivity could be a reaction to the type of food. Maybe it has too much fat or protein. 

You can test food intolerance or food allergy in the same way. You can also resolve the issues similarly by collecting as much information as possible about your pet and its behaviors. When heading to the vet’s office for the first time to discuss possible allergies, be prepared to give your vet the following information: your pet’s symptoms and changes in behavior; diet including its food, treats, and flavored toys; pet medications; and any other possible allergy triggers.

If a pet food intolerance test is the next step, prepare for a long journey. It takes time to determine specific allergies in humans, and the same goes for dogs and cats. It all begins with an elimination diet. 

You’ll switch to a different food your pet has never eaten before. This will go on for around three months, hoping the symptoms will disappear. After that, you will go back to what your pet was eating before the new food. This is under the assumption that the symptoms will return. 

You’ll then return to the special diet with the new food and introduce one additional food item at a time. For each item, if your pet isn’t showing any reactions, that food is not the culprit. You’ll keep re-introducing one food at a time until the symptoms return. When they do, you now know the problem.

Should You Test Your Pet for Food Intolerance?

Since it is challenging to determine which foods your pet may be allergic to, the only reason to test your pet for food sensitivity with a pet food intolerance test is if it demonstrates symptoms.

If symptoms are present and your pet is not its vibrant, bouncy self, you should start testing it for food sensitivity. Ultimately, you’ll be able to determine if the symptoms are allergic reactions or intolerance and sensitivity to a specific food.

dog and cat eating together

How Accurate Are Pet Food Intolerance Tests? 

Starting with your vet and professional pet food intolerance tests will be your best chance at getting your pet back to normal. However, you’ll need patience, as pet food intolerance tests don’t often give straight answers, and they take time to perform.

The most common pet food intolerance tests aren’t even tests. They are the process of elimination we mentioned earlier. If you do them correctly, working with your vet’s specific instructions at the correct time, pet food intolerance tests can be accurate.

How Accurate Are At-Home Pet Allergy Tests?

There are several at-home pet allergy tests available. But are they accurate, and should you use them? While vets can test for possible allergies through skin and blood tests, at-home tests work through hair and saliva. These tests can’t give exact data, but they can help you gain insightful information and determine potential causes for allergies, like environmental and food allergens.

What Age Do Food Allergies Show Up in Pets?

Food allergies don’t discriminate by age. They can show up at any time in your pet’s life. However, most food allergies occur after your pet has consumed the same food year after year. While you may not want to change your pet’s food all the time, it’s not a bad idea to switch it up occasionally. Transition slowly from one food to the next. 

Happy child lying on the floor with Labrador retriever

What Breeds are More Prone to Food Sensitivities?

Food allergies can appear anytime, and any breed of dog can be susceptible to them. However, you may want to pay more attention to your dog’s eating habits if they are a Labrador Retriever, a West Highland White Terrier, or a Cocker Spaniel. These breeds may be at an increased risk of having food allergies.

What Food Do Vets Recommend for Pets With Sensitive Stomachs?

If you’ve taken your pet to the vet and the vet confirms there are no food allergies, there are foods that can help with sensitive stomachs.

While no one food fits all pets with sensitive stomachs, there are things you can look for that will help you choose the right food for your pet. Look for foods with labels stating “complete and balanced.” Read the labels for the amount and types of ingredients. Look for components your vet recommends. 

Slowly transition the new food into your pet’s diet by mixing small portions into the old food until the new becomes the daily food and the old food phases out. 

If you can’t find exactly what you need from commercially-produced pet food, you may have to make some. For example, cooked chicken and rice can help settle a dog’s stomach. Please talk with your vet first to ensure your pet is getting everything it needs in its diet to keep it healthy.

Pro Tip: Some people consider pets with food sensitivities as “special needs” pets. Find out how to care for special needs pets and if your pet turns out to have a food allergy.

happy cat after pet food intolerance test

Talk to Your Vet About a Pet Food Intolerance Test

Talking to your vet about pet food sensitivity is one of the best ways to keep you and your pet healthy. If your vet determines that you need a pet food intolerance test, work with your vet to find the best possible assessment and treatment path. We won’t put up with upset stomachs, itchy skin, and swollen eyes. Your pet shouldn’t have to, either. 

Have you tested your pets for food allergies?

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