As a pet parent of a pup with a food allergy, you may be wondering, “are dog food allergies genetic?” This is especially a concern for new breeders who wish to improve their breed, or for new owners who want to understand where their pup’s allergies came from. But, to cover this question, it’s important to understand what a food allergy is, when they occur, and which breeds are most prone to them.
Food allergies are abnormal immune responses to specific foods. Certain breeds are more prone to these responses than others, suggesting that genetic dog food allergies are possible. However, the actual mechanism for how these allergies are inherited is still unknown. Ready to find out more? Read on with us to find out what we currently know about genetic dog food allergies!
What Are Food Allergies In Dogs And The Science Behind It
Similar to people, dogs suffer from food allergies. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, 0.2% of dogs have a food allergy. Other sources, however, claim that the number of dogs is much higher, sitting at anywhere from 10% to 33%. Either way, food allergies in dogs are a growing concern for pet parents, as all types of dog allergies are on the rise.
When a dog has a food allergy, it means that their immune system thinks that a specific food is harmful. In response, the dog’s immune system tells the cells to release an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The next time that your dog chows down on this food, the IgE antibodies tell the immune system to release histamine into the blood. Histamine, along with other chemicals, is the cause of your dog’s symptoms. For example, histamine regulates itching and causes your dog to scratch after eating the trigger food.
Symptoms of Dog Food Allergy
The symptoms of a dog food allergy are typically non-specific. A food allergy may be mistaken for an environmental allergy, for example, as the signs are quite similar. What sets a food allergy apart from an environmental allergy is when the symptoms occur. If your dog starts itching and sneezing after eating food, a food allergy could be to blame. Similarly, skin rashes, eye discharge, oily skin, and hair loss are also signs of food allergies. In some cases, a dog with a food allergy might also develop chronic ear infections that are difficult to treat. The rarer manifestations of dog food allergies include seizures, pus-filled lumps, and bullseye-like rashes. If your dog shows signs of a food allergy, always get them straight to the vet!
Severe dog food allergies can lead to anaphylactic shock. Be aware of symptoms like itching, hives, facial swelling, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. As dogs have difficulty breathing, their gums can become cyanotic, meaning that they have a bluish color to their gums and tongue. If this sounds like your pup, get to an emergency vet right away. Anaphylactic shock can be fatal for dogs without quick treatment.
Are Food Allergies In Dogs Genetic
To date, there is no definitive answer to this question. However, current research and anecdotal evidence suggest that food allergies may indeed have a genetic component, alongside environmental factors, too. This is seen in the fact that several dog breeds are more prone to developing allergies than others. These breeds include German Shepherds, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and West Highland White Terriers, among several others. While these breeds are most prone to allergies, any breed, including mixed breeds, can develop allergies. . Because of the potential genetic component to food allergies, though, the best approach is to thoroughly research your breed and prepare to ask the breeder about any allergy problems they have had in the past.
Also, the age of onset is typically between 6 months and 3 years, and research shows that 33% of dogs develop a food allergy at less than one year old. Some studies link dog allergies to living in urban environments, too. The same study suggests that allergies arise when dogs don’t have regular contact with other animals, live in indoor facilities, and live with smaller families. This suggests an environmental component to dog food allergies.
Given the very complex nature of food allergies, future studies should explore the link between environment and genetics in order to better understand the mechanism. Until then, the answer to, “are dog food allergies genetic”, is a resounding “probably!” However, genetics are not the only element at play when it comes to dog food allergies.
Genetic Roots Of Dog Food Allergies – FAQ
Did we answer the question, “are dog food allergies genetic?” Got any more questions or concerns? Feel free to check our Frequently Asked Questions for more information. If in doubt about your dog’s allergies, always ask your vet for advice.
The most common food allergies in dogs include allergies to chicken, beef, dairy products, soy, and wheat. Current research suggests that beef and dairy may be the most common food allergies of all, with beef at 34% and dairy products at 17%. Less common allergens include corn, egg, pork, fish, rice, barley, rabbit, and tomatoes. With this being said, be aware that any food can become an allergen to a dog! No food is off the table when it comes to diagnosing your dog’s allergy – even dental sticks and treats could be responsible.
The time it takes for allergy symptoms to show varies considerably. According to Pet WebMD, hives may show up 6 to 24 hours after eating the allergen. Similarly, the time it takes for dogs to recover from a food allergy can vary, too. A dog may need weeks or months to show an improvement, depending on how severe their allergic reactions have been.
It is common for dogs to suddenly develop a food allergy that they did not have before. A dog can become allergic to a food that they have eaten their entire lives, which can make it difficult to diagnose the allergy. Similarly, some breeds like the West Highland White Terrier are known to develop allergies as they age, leading to sudden dog food allergies.
Your vet can prescribe the best medication for your dog’s allergies. Once your vet diagnoses your dog with an allergy, they might recommend antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal steroids. In some cases, it might even be best to use a course of Cytopoint or Apoquel for your itchy pup. Dog allergies can be life-long conditions, so having your vet manage the issues can help to prevent secondary infections from scratching. Be sure to ask your vet for advice if you believe that your furry friend has a food allergy!
Once your dog is on a food trial with your vet, it will take several weeks for their symptoms to clear up. Because of this, most dog food trials need to go on for a minimum of 8 to 12 weeks. During this time you must not give your dog any treats, including dental sticks, to ensure that the trial is effective.
So, are dog food allergies genetic? It’s likely, but research has not yet identified the specific genes or how they are passed on just yet. Until then, always thoroughly research your breed and ask plenty of questions if you have concerns about your breed’s allergies. Several dog breeds like German Shepherds and West Highland White Terriers are well-known for being prone to food allergies.