Are Food Allergies Overblown?
‘It’s probably not the food.’
Food allergies in dogs and cats are not as common as some people seem to believe. After examining the veterinary medical records of more than 3 million patients seen in 2016, the operator of more than 1,000 veterinary clinics reported that just 0.2 percent of dogs and 0.1 percent of cats were diagnosed with having a food allergy.
Oftentimes, fleas are the likely cause of a pet’s skin problems. Given that fleas are found everywhere — on outdoor and indoor pets, in all 50 states and year-round — Veterinarians recommend the use of parasitic preventives at all times.
If fleas aren’t the issue, the cat or dog might have an environmental allergy caused by pollen, dander, mold or cleaning products. Over the past decade, environmental allergies rose by 30 percent in dogs and 11 percent in cats.
“With thousands of itchy pets coming through our doors each year, [the report] aims to uncover the common causes and offer pet owners the tools they need to help their pets find relief,” said Daniel Aja, DVM, Banfield’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.
The report, available at http://bit.ly/2J5fHRX, tried to dispel food allergy myths. For example:
Myth: Gluten-free diets will solve food allergies.
Fact: “There’s no one-size-fits-all diet for pets with food allergies. Wheat allergies are possible but not as common as animal protein-based allergies.”
Myth: Pets with food allergies need a prescription diet.
Fact: “A veterinarian-prescribed diet isn’t always required for pets with food allergies, but a high-quality consistent-ingredient diet specific to your pet’s life stage is always recommended. What’s important is finding a diet with ingredients your pet hasn’t previously eaten and does not have an allergic reaction to, produced in a facility where there will be no cross-contamination.”
The report also calculated the:
- Most common diagnosis: dental calculus, overweight, otitis externa, patellar luxation, nuclear sclerosis.
- Frequent sufferers of environmental allergies: golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, cocker spaniels, boxers, French bulldogs, West Highland white terriers.
- Most common dog breed: Chihuahua, Labrador retriever, Yorkshire terrier, Shih Tzu, pit bull.
- Most common pet name: Bella, Max, Daisy, Buddy, Charlie.
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