Pet Talk: Pet food allergies versus intolerances

Confusing food allergies and food sensitivities (intolerances) is a common mistake a lot of pet owners make - and veterinarians too! Since they are two very different immunological responses and require completely different care, we thought we'd clear things up for you!

To begin, it is worth noting that food allergies are actually quite rare. Think about it…a carnivore allergic to the one source of nutrition that allows them to thrive - that's kind of odd! If Fido is scratching incessantly, regurgitating his food or has chronic bowel problems - you might actually have an intolerance on your hands and NOT an allergy! 

Here's the difference: 

Much like people, your pet's immune system should react to threats by manufacturing  antibodies that will allow the body to mount an immune response against these pathogens. In the case of pet allergies, an over-active immune system processes common substances as an assault, because of this your pet's body mounts an immense response to combat the threat. Unfortunately, if it is a food allergy, his body is trying to fight something that he actually needs to survive.

If your pet is having an immediate immunological response;  like itchy, red and moist/scabbed skin, inflammation and/or swelling, this is reflective of a food allergy. If allergies go untreated, they can wreak havoc on Fido's health. Reactive antigens can circulate in his bloodstream for up to 6 weeks! Therefore it is crucial to correctly identify what your pet is going through and treat accordingly. 

Food sensitivities (intolerances), on the other hand, do not typically involve an immunological response. If you notice your pet regurgitating or having any sort of GI tracts issues, like diarrhea or vomiting, this is a sign of an intolerance to whatever your pet has ingested. Food sensitivities build up over time (if a pet is fed the same thing day in and day out, they can develop an intolerance to it) or, it can also happen the moment you introduce a new protein or food to your pet's diet.

The first step in clearing up the confusion is correctly diagnosing your pets suffering. This can be done with a simple blood test or allergy exam (if you suspect allergies). In terms of healing, nutrition is the optimal option. The foods you feed your pet will eventually heal or harm them. Opting for a real, species appropriate and biologically available diet for your little carnivores will allow their system to rest and re-balance and heal.

With proper information and care, not only can we heal both allergies and intolerances in your pet but they can get back to doing what they do best - being your furry best friend! 

Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll be delving into the most commonly misdiagnosed issue that afflicts a great deal of domesticated dogs and cats - yeast overgrowth!

Bailey Blu in NDG is located at 6152 Sherbrooke St. W. Call 514-507-4526. Bailey Blu DDO is located at 3681 Boul. Saint-Jean. Call 514-675-9500.

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