Animal Care Clinic Tips

Nov 23, 2009 6:08 PM by By Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP

Food Allergies

Many owners feel that food is the cause of their pet's skin problems, but it is not the most common cause of itching, hair loss or even intestinal disease.

On the Central Coast, the most common cause of skin disease in dogs and cats is hay-fever, or inhaled allergies. Fleas are also a huge factor.

While fleas and other parasites are often easy to diagnose, determining whether a pet has inhaled allergies or food allergies can be difficult. There is no simple lab test for these problems. Even when we suspect inhaled allergies, we need to rule out food allergy as a part of the problem - some pets can have hay-fever, fleas and food allergy all at the same time!

Food allergies often appear as severe scabbing on the head of cats. Dogs may develop ear infections, anal gland infections or any number of skin problems. The cause of the allergy is not the brand of food, but usually a single ingredient such as wheat, beef or a food coloring. Each pet will be allergic to their own list of ingredients. In order to diagnose food allergies, we must feed your pet a diet containing all new ingredients for at least 8 weeks, with no other foods or snacks.

If you have an itchy pet, give us a call. We are open Monday through Friday 7:30-6, Saturday 9-3 and Monday nights until 8 p.m.

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