August 8, 2013

signs of a pet food sensitivity

1. Itchy Skin / Redness: While itchiness and irritation can be brought about by other things like fleas and contact allergies, food sensitivity is actually a top cause. If itching has been going on for a while, think back to when you last switched the diet, or check the package to see if the manufacturer changed their formula without you realizing. Other signs include a greasy or dry, brittle coat, and dandruff.

2. GI Upset: Chronic diarrhea and food regurgitation can be a sign of food intolerance, as the body tries to quickly expel the food ingredient that’s problematic. Rather than relying on medications or supplements to try to control the symptoms, look at the diet itself.

3. Chewing at the feet: Redness and excessive licking of the toes and paw-pads is a little-known, classic sign of a food sensitivity. It can be caused by a specific ingredient, or may be a reaction to an overload of difficult-to-digest by-products, fillers and chemicals in the food.

4. Ear infections: Signs include head shaking, a slight tilt of the head and general redness of the ear flaps. While not technically classed as a true ‘infection’ for the most part, a buildup of waxy, dark, yeasty-smelling debris in the ears may be a yeast overgrowth, which can be caused by an excess of simple (refined) carbohydrates in the food, which break down into sugar, that in turn feeds the body’s normal yeast and causes it to develop in excess. Consider a completely grain free, whole food diet, or at a minimum make sure those you do feed are organic whole grains only.

5. General lethargy, a lack of energy and vitality: Of course most dogs become a little slower as they age, but if your dog seems less enthused about life in general, can’t keep up with his dog park friends, or seems disinterested at meal time, it could be a sign that something in his diet doesn’t agree. An ingredient in the food may make him feel uncomfortable internally after eating, or cause tiredness just like gluten intolerance can in humans. Consider a food that’s minimally processed, with fresher ingredients and possibly grain-free to see if it restores a little pep in his step.

Be systematic in the way you change foods and observe your pet. Try a grain-free diet as a first step in combatting food sensitivities and then try different proteins to see if you can pinpoint the cause. If the intolerance is more complex, you may need to try allergy testing or an elimination diet.

The above information is not intended to diagnose or treat illness or disease and does not replace your veterinarians expert care and advice.

Curious which Honest Kitchen diet's are grain free? Download this chart of our recipes and ingredients.