Dogs with food allergies can have many different kinds of symptoms. There may be chronic ear infections, rashes, skin infections, hair loss, scratching, vomiting, diarrhea and frequent bowel movements, more than two per day. Allergies occur when the dogs body reacts to a particular agent in the food that causes an antibody response. Allergies can be cause by chemicals and preservatives in commercial dog food, so feeding more natural foods may be the best course of action
The Elimination Diet
To find the best natural foods to feed your dog, you must first eliminate the foods that may be causing the problem. This requires that you stop feeding all common commercial brands that may have preservatives, dyes and flavorings. Then you begin feeding your dog just one protein and one carbohydrate. Beef, chicken, fish, eggs and milk are known to trigger allergies, so avoid feeding your dog these foods. Proteins that tend to be less allergenic to dogs include lamb, duck, turkey, rabbit and venison. Carbohydrates like plain rice, potatoes or sweet potatoes are also known to be less allergenic. Choose one protein and one carbohydrate and feed only this combination to your dog for eight to 12 weeks. It takes this long to see if an allergy will clear up. If there is no improvement, try a different protein.
Commerical Hypoallergenic Foods
There are a number of dog food manufacturers that formulate their recipes particularly for dogs with allergies. Veterinarians often recommend these after the elimination diet has indicated a particular allergen. These natural dog foods are often free of the dyes and preservatives that are found in supermarket brand dog foods and may contain less commonly found proteins like duck, turkey or fish and organic carbohydrates like oat, barley or sweet potatoes.
Human Grade Foods
Some dogs allergies will clear up when fed only human grade food, that is, foods that do not contain certain parts of animals found in regular commercial dog food. There is no real legal definition of the term human grade, however, and these products can be expensive to provide on a regular basis. If your dog does well on them, however, it may be well worth the extra cost.
Some have posed the theory that dogs do best on foods that most mimic what they would find if they were in their natural state and try to provide foods as close to that state as possible. Raw foods can be contaminated with bacteria and cause food-borne illness, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Commercial products that have been processed carry less risk that those found in meat departments at grocery stores.
Natural Supplements for Allergic Dogs
Omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to alleviate canine skin conditions and boost immune systems, according to Placerville Veterinary Clinic in Placerville, California. Natural digestive supplements with probiotics are also available for those dogs whose allergy causes problems with their stomach and intestines, according to The Puppy Dog Place. You should consult with your veterinarian before adding any of these supplements to your dogs diet.