Scratching the itch:
how dog food can irritate
your dog's skin and
what you can do.
Dogs, like us, can have a range of responses to the food they eat.
One sign that your dog may be having a negative reaction to their food is excessive scratching and itching (pruritus), or skin inflammation (dermatitis). These reactions can develop spontaneously, even after years of eating the food in question.
A study found that 1–2% of dogs presenting for veterinary care were found to have a type of food allergy. This increased considerably in dogs presenting specifically for skin inflammation or excessive scratching (0–24% and 9–40% respectively.)
Dogs will often lick or bite their feet and legs, or scratch their ears and sides, for a range of reasons. However, if you notice this becoming a habit, or that the skin is inflamed, then you need to take action. Biting and scratching is not the only sign of a bad reaction.
Other signs of allergies include vomiting and diarrhoea, or even hyperactivity, weight loss, lack of energy, and aggression. Food is not the only thing that can trigger allergic reactions in your dog. If you notice their mood has changed, or they are scratching incessantly, you should first identify any new additions to their environment. Everything from new shampoo to the flowers they sniff on walks has the potential to trigger a reaction.
If you are certain that it is the food they are eating that has caused it, you need to take steps to prevent the reaction from reoccurring.
Allergic reactions in dogs
Allergic reactions in dogs occur when the immune system overreacts to a perceived threat and produces antibodies. This will often manifest after prolonged exposure, rather than immediately.
Reactions are usually in response to proteins, such as beef or chicken, or soy and gluten from wheat. However, virtually any food ingredient has the potential to trigger an allergic reaction in dogs.
The first thing you should always do if you think your dog is allergic to something is to consult a vet. They can ascertain that there are no other more serious issues at play. If the vet agrees that their food may be triggering the reaction, you should consider switching to a different brand.
However, as many of the mainstream dog foods share the same ingredients, particularly protein sources, the reaction may reoccur. If your dog is allergic to a specific type of protein source or common ingredient, you may need to consider switching to a non-traditional type of food..
Hypoallergenic dog food
‘Hypoallergenic’ foods are foods that have been designed and formulated specifically to minimise the risk of allergic reactions. Some hypoallergenic foods are made using proteins that have been chemically ‘split’, or hydrolyzed, and broken down into their basic amino acid forms. This can help make the protein ‘invisible’ to your dog’s immune system. However, as the protein is still present in the food, it’s not a surefire solution.
Another (far simpler) solution is to buy a food that uses alternative proteins or ingredients which are less likely to be allergens, such as exotic meat-based dog food (like kangaroo) or meat-free dog food. However, we know that for the latter, owners might be hesitant to switch their dogs onto a vegan dog food diet.
This was one of the driving forces behind the creation of our revolutionary Percuro dog food. Our recipe is fundamentally hypoallergenic, containing zero traditional livestock proteins, dairy, wheat, corn, soy or rice. Instead, we combine unique, clean insect protein made from the Hermetia illucens fly larvae with a recipe packed full of non-allergenic oats, fruits, and minerals.
Clean insect protein is a powerful alternative to traditional meat. Although it might be a strange concept, insects are naturally hypoallergenic and contain no added antibiotics. It’s also far easier to control what they eat, meaning they are free from hidden nasties that can be transmitted to your dog. Insects pack the same protein punch as traditional meat in a package that’s easier on your pup’s stomach.
Percuro is a brilliant alternative to mainstream foods for dogs who struggle with the allergens in traditional foods. Best of all, it's packed full of everything a happy, healthy dog needs, in a delicious package. Think Percuro might be a better choice for your furry friend? Visit our shop and find the blend that’s right for you!