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Food Allergies in Dogs

Nothing to sneeze at: food allergies and your dog—signs, symptoms and what to do

Is your dog itching and scratching? Does she have frequent ear infections or poor coat quality? You could be contributing to your dog’s distress without knowing it if she’s allergic to what you’re feeding her. Food allergies are a rising concern with dog owners and it seems like more and more dogs are suffering from them.

But what exactly is a food allergy?

Food allergies are different from food intolerance. Food intolerance is the result of poor digestion, such as lactose intolerance. People and dogs with lactose intolerance are either missing or have low levels of the milk digesting enzyme lactase.

Food allergies are the over-response of your dog’s immune system to an invading protein. In the case of a food allergy, this protein is contained in your dog’s food. Proteins are present in most of the foods your dog eats. While most people recognize that meats are a source of proteins, there are also proteins present in grains and vegetables. Any one of these proteins has the potential to cause a food allergy.

Your dog’s gastrointestinal system (mouth, stomach, intestines) protects her from potential allergens each day. Approximately 70 percent of the body’s entire immune system is centered in the gastrointestinal tract. When your dog eats a meal, the food is first digested in the stomach. The large pieces of food are broken down into smaller pieces by stomach acid and then enzymes and stomach acid work together to break the complex protein structures down into smaller structures. The partially digested food then moves into the small intestine. The food is further digested until the proteins are broken down into their smallest parts, amino acids, which can then be absorbed into the body through special cells called enterocytes. Enterocytes act as both a welcoming hostess to amino acids that they like and want, and as bouncers (door guards) for amino acids they don’t like. When a whole protein is absorbed in the intestines instead of being broken down first, the immune system reacts and your dog shows symptoms of a food allergy.

When the System Works

The intestinal tract’s ability to prevent the absorption of whole protein is dependant on the health and integrity of the mucosal barrier. It is the proverbial guardian of the body at the gastrointestinal gate. The mucosal barrier (lining of the gut) is comprised of both structural components and immune system components. The structural components physically prevent the absorption of large proteins. The immune system component is responsible for recognizing potentially harmful contents of the gastrointestinal tract. The health and integrity of the gastrointestinal tract is dependant on the normal structure and function of the enterocytes, effective protein digestion, and the presence of the dog’s immune cells (called IgA cells) in the gastrointestinal tract.

The Gut and Immune System Together
Prevent Food Allergies

IgA cells are a type of immune cell secreted in the intestine. Some of the IgA will float freely in the contents of the intestine while other IgA attaches to the wall of the intestine to prevent whole protein from coming in contact with the enterocytes. Just like volleyball players they bounce whole proteins back into the contents of the intestine for more digestion. The more effective protein digestion in the stomach and intestine is, the smaller the proteins are when they come in contact with the IgA. Small proteins and single amino acids do not get bound to the IgA and are allowed to pass by the IgA and be absorbed into the body as nutrients.

At a Glance

Some of the breeds most prone to food allergies include: Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Collie, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Retriever, Shar Pei, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Dachshund, and West Highland White Terrier

Most common food allergens include:beef, dairy, and wheat.

Least common food allergens are fish and rabbit.

General signs and symptoms of allergies include: dry itchy skin, excessive scratching or licking, bald patches, a high frequency of hot spots, ear infections, skin infections, diarrhea, and vomiting.

When the System Fails

Malnutrition can affect enterocyte structure and function. A poorly functioning or damaged enterocyte can let whole proteins into the body. Once a whole protein has managed to breach all of the gut’s defenses, gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) takes over. GALT can prevent the body’s natural immune response to a foreign protein. Most of the time this is what happens, but in the case of food allergies, GALT does not prevent the immune response and an allergic response (immune hypersensitivity) is formed.

Unfortunately, every time the food is eaten, this over-response of the immune response becomes greater. So continuing to consume the diet that caused the allergic response results in a greater and greater response every time. After this hypersensitivity is formed, each time the dog eats the food, mast cells in the body’s immune system release hertamine. If this hertamine release is large enough, it may manifest as diarrhea, itchy skin, chronic skin infections etc.

Isolating the Problem

The first thing you need to do is work with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog’s symptoms truly indicate a food allergy. If that’s the case, your vet will likely recommend that you try an elimination diet— feeding a food that has a different protein (meat) source and a different carbohydrate (grain) source than what your dog has had before. Common anti-allergy foods (novel protein sources) include kangaroo and oatmeal or venison and potato. This prevents the immune response from continuing to be triggered.

Your vet may also suggest that you try a hypoallergenic diet. These foods are made with hydrolyzed proteins. That means that the proteins are already broken down into pieces that are small enough that IgA won’t bind to them and they won’t trigger an immune response.

Lamb and rice foods used to be considered “hypoallergenic” when most commercial dog foods were made with chicken or beef and corn or wheat. Since most dogs had never had lamb or rice before, it was a good option for dogs that experienced allergies while eating a regular food. Now, however, many dogs are showing allergies to lamb and rice diets. This is to be expected since an allergy can develop to any diet. If your dog is allergic to lamb and rice you may need to find a food with different ingredients such as fish and oatmeal, or venison and sweet potato.

While your dog is on any special diet, it’s very important that she doesn’t get any other food such as cookies, treats, rawhides, people foods, etc. Since you don’t know yet exactly what she is allergic to, you don’t want to give her something other than her food and trigger the allergic reaction. Once you’ve got her on a food that she is not reacting to, you can start to reintroduce other foods. If your dog reacts, you’ll know exactly which food (or foods) causes the problem.

Preventing Food Allergies

Is there anything we, as owners, can do to avoid food allergies from developing? This is one of the toughest questions in dog nutrition today. While we still don’t really know how to prevent allergies entirely, there are things you can do that may help your dog fight off numerous allergies.

Promote a healthy mucosal barrier. This can be done by ensuring that our dogs, and especially puppies, have adequate nutrition and health care.

Watch out for gastroenteritis. There have been some theories that early gastroenteritis or severe gastroenteritis, especially in puppies or young dogs, can result in an adult dog that is more likely to develop food allergies. Preventing gastroenteritis, in theory, is easy— just don’t let your dog eat anything but dog food and treats. In actuality, this is much harder to deal with. Dogs eat a variety of things, some that are not harmful—grass, dirt, bark, wild berries (i.e., raspberries, strawberries), sometimes a little cow or horse dung—and some that are not good for them (rotten garbage or dead animals). It can be very hard to police what goes in your dog’s mouth.

If you suspect that your dog has gotten into garbage or eaten something that may cause tummy upset, it may be best to feed your dog a low-protein diet (boiled white rice or potato) until the suspected tummy upset passes or you consult your vet. In general, if diarrhea lasts more than 72 hours without signs of getting better or if the diarrhea seems especially severe or malodorous, you should consult your vet. In these cases, do not attempt to treat the dog yourself with over-the-counter medications because diarrhea is the body getting rid of bad things in the gut. To give something that stops the diarrhea can result in keeping the bad things in the gut and causing a serious illness.

Promote effective protein digestion. In general, your dog should have no problem digesting protein. If you are feeding a homemade cooked or raw diet, grinding or blending your protein source in a food processor can be helpful in improving protein digestion. In kibble-fed dogs, the protein is already ground before it is kibbled so there is no need to grind it.

Choose a dog food with exclusive protein sources. A food that only has one or two protein sources can be helpful in giving you more choices later on should your dog develop an allergy. For example, if you use a food with five protein sources (i.e., turkey, chicken, duck, salmon, and tuna) and your dog develops an allergy to it, you now have to find a food that doesn’t contain any of these protein sources. This can be challenging. Conversely, if you feed a diet with chicken as its sole protein source and your dog develops an allergy to it, you can easily find a diet that doesn’t contain chicken.

Preventing food allergies may be impossible in dogs that are prone to developing food allergies. Some breeds are becoming noted for food allergies (see sidebar p.82). As a result, it is possible that a propensity for developing food allergies may be genetic, in which case, we should avoid breeding dogs that have food allergies.

Don’t Give Up

Dealing with a dog with food allergies can be challenging and disheartening. Proper diagnosis of food allergies can make it easier and understanding why food allergies start can help us prevent future allergies from starting. On a personal note, my Labrador has had food allergies all his 12.5 years. It has been a long road and often a difficult one. It is so much easier to find novel protein sources now than it was 12 years ago. If you have a dog with allergies, take heart, it will get better.


Looking for some alternatives or extras to feed to your dog? Check out our list of 10 “People” Foods for Dogs.

– See more at: http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/food-allergies-101/15131#sthash.M6rc6avE.dpuf

Why Does My Dog… Always Lick Me?

Puppy licking woman

It’s not much of a conundrum, really. The bottom line is that most of the time, dogs will lick their people as a sign of affection. “You are the sun and the moon,” their silky tongue would have you know. “And guess what? You taste good, too!”

But much as barking can be, licking is also a multi-faceted tool that seems to play many roles in canine behavior and, consequently, tends towards many different interpretations. Here’s a list of the many ways in which we homo sapiens have come to understand this culturally alien mode of communication: Licking is a natural instinct in canids. When a mother licks her pups and her pups lick each other during the course of grooming and other social interactions, we’re observing quintessential licking behavior in dogs. Indeed, this behavior is held up as one that may serve as the basis for all other licking decisions a dog makes. (“Mom licked me now I lick you …”)

  • Licking can play a role in the solicitation of resources, as when pups lick their mothers as a precursor to feeding or when lower-ranking pack members lick their superiors in the hopes of an invitation to dine on communal prey.
  • It’s just another sensory tool, say some researchers. Licking (and tasting) is like reaching out and touching something –– a sort of slobbery exploration.
  • Canine attention-seeking behavior often incorporates the tongue. Dogs often lick you to get your attention or as a simple greeting. As in, “Hey, I’m here. I’m cute. Pet me.”
  • Licking may be a way of playing. Many dogs who’s owners report as engaging in excessive licking behavior may be substituting their tongue for their teeth in the reserved dog’s version of a raucous play-fight.
  • In many cases, licking is a learned behavior. Dogs learn that when they lick their owners they get more attention, so they come to incorporate licking into more and more of their daily behaviors.

But what happens when extreme licking happens?

Extreme licking tends to be defined not so much by the dog as it is by the human beholder of the behavior. As such, any unwanted display of lingual attention –– even just a couple of polite laps every so often –– could be construed as excessive. In these cases it’s considered more of a human problem than an animal problem. After all, dogs will lick. It’s in their nature.

Nevertheless, dogs can be trained to turn the tap off, so to speak. Finding a veterinary behaviorist or certified dog trainer to aid in this process is strongly recommended.

Of course there are those times when licking may take on abnormal tones. Dogs who suffer certain types of obsessive-compulsive behaviors may manifest these as excessive licking. Typically, however, dogs affected by these behavioral disorders will turn to objects –– or more often, themselves –– by way of displaying their outsized penchant for licking.

All dog owners observing this behavior are encouraged to seek out the assistance of a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist for assistance. Many of these patients can be treated successfully so that their life might include more than what they might find at the end of their tongue.


To my current and future clients as well as friends and family, I am working on adding more classes and pricing to my site so please bare with me. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email or text me. Also, let me know what kind of info you guys are looking for. I will do my best to keep with the trends in this industry as well as fun stuff for you and your pets :)

With Love,


Top 10 books every dog lover should read :)



Keeping a regular collar (also known as a flat collar) on your dog is must for any dog owner. In addition to a microchip, your dog should be wearing a collar and ID tags at all times. Even the most responsible pet owners might have to face the devastating situation of a lost dog, and your four-legged friend is much more likely to get home to you quickly if he is wearing a collar.

However, a flat collar may not be the ideal choice for everyday walks with your dog.

  • Even a dog that pulls lightly can be at risk of neck injuries and other health issues due to damage from a collar.
  • Scared or panicked dogs can quite easily slip out of flat collars.
  • Prong and choke collars carry the highest likelihood of injury and damage to your dog, but even a flat collar can be harmful if you jerk the leash too hard.

Studies have shown that there are many health issues that can be caused from walking your dog on a collar, including:

  • Hypothyroidism, which can be caused from trauma to the thyroid gland in the neck
  • Ear and eye issues as a result of extensive pressure on the neck
  • Behavior problems caused by pain or other physical injuries from the use of a collar

While it is important to keep a flat collar on your dog for identification purposes, it is a good idea to attach the leash to a back-led or chest-led harnessrather than the collar.

How Should You Choose the Right Collar or Harness?
You may be overwhelmed with options when it comes to collars and harnesses for your dog. Check out the links below to figure out the best (and worst) options for you and your dog:

Related Reading:

Shared from https://positively.com/


Is It Safe for My Dog to Drink From Rivers, Lakes or Oceans?

Any animal compelled to lap up toilet water probably has a cast-iron constitution, right? So what harm can come to a dog who drinks out of natural bodies of water? Plenty, as it turns out.

Outdoor water sources can harbor organisms and chemicals that can be harmful to your dog, some of which can put you at risk for zoonotic disease as well.

Some of the Risks

Here’s just a sampling of what can lurk in outdoor water sources:

Bacteria. Water that’s contaminated with animal or human waste can contain bacteria, including species of salmonella, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli and Leptospira .

In mild cases, these bacterial infections can lead to diarrhea (which could make for a long drive home from the beach, even with the car windows rolled down). Severe infections with these organisms can be much worse. Some of these bacteria may be shed in the stools of infected dogs, and improper handling of feces can potentially lead to infections in people.

Of these bacteria, infection with the Leptospira species can be especially concerning. These bacteria are often found in marshy or muddy water and slow-moving or stagnant pools frequented by wildlife, such as raccoons, opossums, skunks and rodents. Infection in dogs, if not treated early, can result in liver and/or kidney damage and death. Organisms can be shed in the urine of infected dogs, leading to potential infection in people.

If you live in an at-risk area or like to take your dog hunting, ask your veterinarian about leptospirosis vaccines. Although these vaccines can’t offer protection against every subtype of these bacteria, they do help protect dogs against some of the more common ones.

Blue-green algae. Though not exactly a plant, these bacteria produce energy by photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria can form colonies of blooms that often float on the water’s surface, especially during the hot weather of summer and early fall.

Dogs may swallow the blooms while swimming or ingest them when grooming their coats after being in the water.

Some of these blooms produce toxins, such as microcystins, which can lead to liver failure, and anatoxins, which typically affect the nervous system. Signs can begin soon after ingestion and may include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, collapse and death.

If you suspect that your dog has swallowed blue-green algae, it’s important to get him to the veterinarian immediately. No antidote for the toxins exists, but supportive care may help your dog survive.

Parasites. Outdoor water sources are also sources for parasites, including species of the protozoans Giardia and cryptosporidium. If your dog gets diarrhea after a day on the water, one of these may be the culprit.

Chances are, these parasites won’t be spread to humans, but there is a slight risk for those who are immunocompromised. 

Chemicals. Outdoor bodies of water can not only contain surface runoff from surrounding lands, such as pesticides and herbicides, but other chemicals like gasoline and oil from boaters. 

Salt. Consuming a little bit of ocean salt water probably won’t hurt your dog, but large amounts of it can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Dogs drinking ocean water may also experience diarrhea. 

So What’s a Dog Owner to Do?

When heading into the great outdoors with your dog, always pack a portable bowl and plenty of fresh water. If you notice your dog trying to drink out of a river or lake (or the ocean), lead him to his water bowl. 

In cases where the water smells or looks dirty (as enticing as that is for most dogs), it might be better to keep him on shore. And if your dog doesn’t seem like himself after a day on the river, lake or beach, take him to your veterinarian, just to be sure. 

And remember: If you wouldn’t drink the water, it’s probably not safe for your dog to drink either. 

How to Ease Separation Anxiety in Dogs

• Give your dog a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour of  aerobic exercise each day. 

▪ Work on basic obedience commands (come, sit, sit-stay, down, down-stay) for 15 or 20 minutes each day. Use rewards for compliance (praise, a quick pat on the chest, a food treat) rather than reprimands or punishment for lack of compliance. If you need help getting consistent obedience from your dog, work with a professional trainer.

▪ Wean your “Velcro dog” from being attached to you at all times when you’re home. Use a baby gate to barricade her in a separate room for part of the time when you’re home.

▪ Provide her with a delicious distraction, such as a Kong toy stuffed with a food treat (peanut butter is a popular Kong stuffer) while she’s by herself. You can also use a “down-stay” or “get in your bed” command to put some distance between you.

▪ Ignore her for 20 minutes before you leave and 20 minutes after you return. Effusive goodbyes and hellos make a dog with separation anxiety feel worse.

▪ When you leave her alone, don’t give her the run of the house or apartment. Instead, use a baby gate to confine her to one room, such as the bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen—wherever she’s least likely to do damage or disturb the neighbors. Leave a radio or TV on very low to provide distracting background noise.

▪ Do not leave a dog with separation anxiety in a closed crate. Many dogs with separation anxiety have panic attacks when crated and will injure their mouths or front feet trying to bite or claw their way out of the crate.

▪ Don’t use an anti-bark collar. It’s unlikely to work on a dog with separation anxiety.

▪ Start a program of desensitization or “flooding.” Flooding for separation anxiety would involve setting aside several hours on a weekend during which you enter and leave your apartment so often that you essentially wear the dog out. Leave the apartment every few minutes, on a varying schedule, for a minute or two at a time then come back. Be sure not to return while your dog is barking or howling, or else you will be rewarding her for that behaviour. If it’s impossible to walk out the door without having your dog bark, you might have a friend remain in the apartment while you go in and out. Desensitization for a dog with separation anxiety involves giving her your customary cues that you’re leaving—such as picking up your car keys or briefcase, opening the coat closet, putting on your “work shoes,” and so on—without actually leaving.

▪ A DAP diffuser or collar may help calm an anxious dog.

▪ An antidepressant may be helpful for a dog with separation anxiety. Clomicalm (clomipramine) is widely used for that purpose. In severe cases and for occasional use, an anti-anxiety medication can also be given one hour before your departure. No drug can extinguish separation anxiety on its own, however. Desensitization is essential.

Excerpted from Hound Health Handbook © 2004, 2009 by Urbanhound, LLC Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York All Rights Reserved Available wherever books are sold.

– See more at: http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/how-ease-separation-anxiety-dogs/21954#sthash.PozWrjIm.dpuf

Introducing a new Dog into your home.

Introducing a new dog can be an exciting, but potentially stressful situation. You may have children or other dogs in the home, and might not be sure how your new addition will fit in with current family members.
When it comes to introductions, advance preparation and patience will be key. Make sure your current dogs are able to cope peacefully around other dogs before you decide to bring home another dog. Multi-dog households can work well, but they can also lead to serious fights and potential injury.
If you have children in the home, teach them how to stay safe around dogs, and make sure your new dog will be good with children. Introducing a dog to a new baby is a delicate proposition – one that you want to get right from the beginning to ensure a special lifelong bond between child and dog. Introducing older children to a new dog must also be done with care to make sure that both dog and family members understand each others’ needs.
Introductions should occur slowly and should never be forced. Dog-to-dog introductions are best done on neutral territory, and sometimes taking the dogs for a walk together first is a good starting point. Minimize face-to-face greetings as much as possible, as these can get tense quickly.

You should stay calm at all times during these initial introductions, as any tension can be felt by your dogs. If you are having trouble with introducing a new dog, find a qualified trainer near you to help.
– See more at: https://positively.com/dog-behavior/new-dogs/introducing-a-new-dog/#sthash.7Hgmc3RD.dpuf

Canine Body Language

Awesome article on Body Language. The signs and how to understand what their trying to tell us :)


5 Apps That Could Save Your Dog’s Life In An Emergency

1. ASPCA Mobile App (free)

The ASPCA mobile app stores and manages your pet’s health records, delivers breaking news about animal welfare, includes a step-by-step guide for finding a lost pet, and tells pet parents what to do to take care of pets in case of a natural disaster.


Source: ASPCA

2. Tagg (free)

Tagg offers a free app that syncs with their GPS Pet Tracker. Through the app, pup parents can track their dog’s location and activity level. Should the worst happen and a dog get lost, the Tagg offers in-app driving directions to the pet’s location.

tagg app

Source: Dream Big, Bark Loudly

3. PetTech PetSaver App

The PetSaver app from PetTech includes detailed instructions for CPR and first aid procedures, as well as lists of foods, plants and substances toxic to pets.


Source: iTunes

4. American Red Cross Pet First Aid App ($0.99)

Another comprehensive first aid app, the American Red Cross pet first aid app includes instructions for handling common emergencies, tools to find the closest vet or 24-hour animal hospital, advice on giving medication, and more.


Source: Google Play store

5. Buddy Rescue by VineLight (subscriptions TBD)

VineLight Buddy Rescue is an app-in-progress looking for backing via Kickstarter. If funded and developed, the app would respond to emergencies such as fires in the pet’s home by notifying 911 and neighbors who could rescue pets even before the fire department arrives. VineLight Buddy Rescue also includes GPS pet tracking, as well as integration with other smart devices in homes to open doors in case of emergency.

Source: Kickstarter

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