Food Allergy & Feeding Trials
[ Basics ]
A food ingredient causes the immune system of the patient to react causing several GI tract and skin issues. The response may be mild like soft faeces to very strong like hives on the body to trouble breathing. It may be a frustrating condition to diagnose or manage.
[Age] Usually less than 6-12 months but can happen at any age.
Skin - itching / scratching / redness / hair loss on ears / face / paws / anal area / anywhere
GI - diarrhea, vomiting, loose stools
Mostly common protein sources like chicken, beef, fish etc but non-protein sources or additives like grain may also cause allergies.
Genetics play a role. Some breeds more affected (white colored dogs)
Feeding trial with a food prescribed by the veterinarian: Only this food is fed for 2-4 months and no other treats or food is given. Hydrolyzed protein is used mostly in this case. The logic is that immune system doesn't react to hydrolyzed protein. Cost of the prescription food is more than foods on the market but ultimately becomes economical when you take repeated visits to the vet and the medications into account. Prescription food just offers higher chance of working.
Serum food allergy tests - may let you know what your pet is allergic to but may give false positives. Also, you may still have to keep using the prescription food as it is sometimes difficult to find a food which doesn't have the ingredient that your pet is allergic to.
Intradermal testing - Done by a specialist where a pet needs to be sedated and then multiple allergens are injected in the skin and the ones that cause the most flare up of the skin are found to be the ones causing food allergy.
Prescription food - z/d, Anallergenic or Kangaroo based
Antihistamines - rarely effective
Corticosteroids - work but may come with serious short term and long term side effects
Cytopoint - monthly injectable, convenient, may work for some but not for others
Apoquel - suits most cases
Cyclosporine - immune suppressant, done above treatments don't work
Antibiotics - sometimes needed
Topical shampoos and medications - may be needed in addition
Good and can be managed with varying degree of difficulty.
[What makes it challenging]
Cost of zero allergen food
Takes 6-8 weeks to know if the food is actually benefitting
Frequent flare ups
Consultation, rechecks and medications needed sometimes repeatedly
Each case is different
Diagnostic test science is not there yet
Home made diets rarely provide full nutrition
Have to be strict with what you are giving your pet to eat
[Concurrent or Related Issues]
IBD / Addison's Disease
Flea / Other allergies like environmental