If your dog develops sensitive skin, an allergic reaction is the likely culprit. Testing reveals the allergy trigger, but foods are among the most common. If your dog suffers from skin inflammation, hair loss, or redness, your veterinarian may recommend dietary changes.
Determining the cause of food-related skin allergy requires a series of food trials known as elimination diets. If you’ve consistently fed your dog a food with just one protein source, such as chicken, it is much easier to narrow down the allergen trigger.
An elimination diet starts with a single protein and carbohydrate food previously not eaten by your pet. He can’t eat anything else while on this diet, including treats or supplements. The protein source may consist of a relatively uncommon dog food, such as rabbit or venison. The carbohydrate source is often oatmeal or sweet potato.
The elimination diet lasts at least three months. Should his skin problems disappear, your vet will have you transition your dog back to his original diet. If the symptoms return, the dog is probably allergic to proteins in that food. Symptoms may recur immediately or can take a few weeks to materialize.
Then it’s back to the elimination diet until the symptoms are gone. Your vet may have you start adding individual ingredients that could cause the issue. For instance, if your dog previously ate food primarily consisting of beef and corn, you would mix beef into the elimination diet and see if symptoms recurred. Such recurrence indicates he is probably allergic to beef.
If no symptoms appear, the vet may ask you to add corn. Wait again for symptoms. It’s a long process, but finding out the exact allergy trigger is critical.
Food for Dogs With Sensitive Skin
If your dog does well on a single protein and carbohydrate food, there’s no reason he can’t continue on that. You can also try a diet formulated specifically for canines with skin sensitivities. You’ll want to avoid any protein or carbohydrate your dog reacted to with the elimination diet.
Of course, sensitive skin commercial diets must consist of high-quality ingredients. Look for foods containing omega-3 fatty acids to maintain skin and coat health. Salmon and other fish-derived proteins are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Choose natural ingredients with minimal processing.
Make sure to transition your dog to his new food gradually. Start by mixing a small amount of the sensitive skin diet into his regular meals and wait at least a week before the transition is completed.
If nothing in your dog’s dietary changes seem to work, don’t despair. Your vet may suggest a prescription, hydrolyzed diet. In this diet, proteins are broken down into tiny particles. Your pet’s immune system does not recognize them as allergens.
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