Friday, January 8, 2010

What do food allergies look like?

Determining whether your dog has food allergies is not an easy task.
The same physical symptoms you see are not specific to food allergies — plenty of things can cause a dog to scratch or lick excessively. Plenty of things can be responsible for rashes and ear infections. And certainly, what the skin looks like can, in some cases, look an awful lot like other issues, especially mange.
In fact, when Sensi began having skin problems years ago, our first guess was that he had either some form of the mange or some sort of mite problem.
So, it’s not as easy as catching your dog licking himself and saying: “Yep, he’s got food allergies all right.”
In fact, once you’ve begun wondering what is causing your dog’s skin problems, it can get even more difficult to determine that.
Allergy tests on dogs are not reliable. A good and thorough veterinarian, in my experience, will recommend food trials. After several months of food trials, you will have a good record of what your dog is allergic to.
We’ll be starting food trials again with Sensi as soon as he is healthy, and I’m sure I’ll blog in greater detail about what goes into conducting a proper food trial.
This blog, though, is supposed to be about what food allergies can look like in a dog. And lucky you, I just happen to have pictures.
The photos below were taken on Wednesday, the day after Sensi went to the vet and his second day on medications. Believe it or not, these pictures show a dramatic improvement compared to what Sensi looked like the day before they were taken.
Sensi continues to improve on a daily basis. His face is almost completely back to normal, with the exception of some scabbing, which I consider to be Mother Nature’s path to healing. The backside of his foreleg and a faint and fading rash on his underside are all that remains of this allergy episode now.
After a good bath this weekend, I’ll take some more photos to post on a blog update next week.
For now, though, here’s what food allergies can look like:Sensi's swollen & scratched eye, closed because of the camera's flash.Backside of forelegs are very red, but this photo shows scabbing developing. This is a great improvement over the open wounds that were there the day before.Here is a good example of why we need to focus on body language and eye contact to communicate with our dogs. Does Sensi's facial expression and eyes not clearly say, "I am sick, Mom. Why are you taking pictures of me?"

4 comments:

  1. Interesting article, my dog once all of the sudden was all swollen, I took him to the vet and the issue was that was playing with a wear bug that made him develop a strong allergy.

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  2. HELLO KAREN,

    I WAS READING ABOUT YOUR ARTICLE(SENSI'S FOOD ALLERGY).
    I HAVE A SIBERIAN HUSKY(2YEARS OLD) WITH TOTALLY THE SAME SWOLLEN, RED, SCRATCHED EYES. ALSO BEHIND HIS EARS.
    DID YOU EVER FIND OUT WHAT IS HE ALLERGIC TO?
    WE WENT TO THE VET COUPLE OF TIMES, NO HELP, NEXT WEEK I'LL TAKE HIM(MOOKIE) IN FOR A BIOPSY.
    PLEASE ADVISE,
    THANK YOU SO MUCH,
    HENRIETTE

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  3. Hi Henriette,

    We know that Sensi is allergic to a variety of food items — beef and corn, primarily — and suspect that he also has a variety of environmental allergies as well.

    We have not pursued testing to have an exhaustive list, however, we are giving him Claritin daily. This has been the biggest help of all. If he has a particularly bad reaction, we'll give him a benadryl too. For bad scratches under his armpits or on his forelegs, we use hydrocortisone cream topically too. That really seems to help, though I wouldn't recommend using it around the mouth and eyes.

    Is he red behind his ears because of scratching?

    You might consider discussing Claritin and Benadryl with your veterinarian to figure out whether that could benefit your dog, and what dosage is appropriate for Mookie's weight.

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  4. My husband have been feeding our morkie scrambled eggs a few times a week for a while he started licking his feet, and he gets like bumps on his back he took him to his vet and she thinks he has a alergic reaction to the eggs she gave him some medicine. but we a really worried about him.

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