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Grain and Wheat Allergies in Dogs
If you have visited a dog food section at just about any store that sells dog food lately, you might have noticed the ever growing amount of “wheat and grain free” products available these days. Is it just a new trend or has the progress of the pet food industry finally caught up with the needs of its main customers? If you have ever been around a dog that has an allergy to wheat or grains then you will certainly understand the need for such a product. Just a few years back those of us with dogs allergic to wheat or grain had to get specialty dog food that costs a fortune. But, now because almost every company has a grain or wheat free dog food we can find these products most anywhere and at almost the same price as the regular foods.
A dog's wheat or grain allergies just like most allergies have clear symptoms.
Those of us with dogs that have these allergies have certainly come to recognize their symptoms. The first which is often overlooked because dogs like to scratch anyway, is itching. The itching usually continues for days and will cause your dog to scratch and bite at his skin to the point of making himself bleed. He will lick and gnaw at his feet and you might notice his feet always seem wet. The second symptom usually noticed is head shaking. Our dog, when first reacting to a wheat allergy, would hold his head sideways and eventually shake his head to the point of making himself dizzy. The third and most noticeable, although it isn’t usually the first symptom to show up, is the smell, it is one of the worst smells a dog can have. It it strong and pungent, like a dirty sock, a really dirty sock. The smell most often comes from chronic ear inflammation but, can also be caused from yeast and inflammation on other parts of his body. Some dogs when reacting to a wheat or grain allergy might have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or chronic gas. Although, diarrhea and gas are symptoms of many problems, if accompanied by any of the other symptoms it is likely that the allergy is the cause.
The best and most accurate way to determine any food allergy is to eliminate the food and see if the problem goes away. Start by taking your dog off of the food and treats that he is currently on and begin a new diet. It will take several weeks for a noticeable change to take place. However, sometimes an allergy has caused an infection that needs to be treated by a veterinarian or an anti-fungal shampoo to kill the yeast or other harmful microorganisms.
It's a smart choice to keep your dog away from the foods they have allergies to.
Once you have determined that the problem your dog is having is a wheat or grain allergy then make sure he stays away from wheat. Staying away might seem simple but, wheat and grains are in everything, we found this out the hard way. Steer clear of most treats unless they specifically say they are grain and wheat free and believe it or not most store bought chewing bones have wheat in them. Also, while trying to sooth your dog's irritated skin you might want to get some “soothing, anti-itch” shampoo, but, most of those contain oatmeal which falls under the grain category and in turn will only irritate your pup even further because a wheat or grain allergy is also a contact allergy and not just a food allergy. There are some holistic solutions available as well, as some studies show that curcumin has an antihistamine like effect and can target respiratory inflammation. Also, be careful of some medicines, like flea or heartworm treatments either over the counter or prescription because even some of those contain wheat. Unfortunately, it’s a lifelong allergy that doesn’t usually go away but, because of all the available grain and wheat free products you should be able to effectively feed and treat your dog without breaking your budget.