Monday, September 9, 2013

Does Your Pet Have a Food Intolerance?


Photo by: Linda Mitzel



By the Staff at Petagogy

Every day people come into Petagogy complaining about their pets’ itchy paws, loose stools, irritated skin and other maladies, looking for a supplement or medication to treat the problem. Because these symptoms are often signs of a food intolerance, we usually recommend changing the pet’s food as the first response--in many instances a simple food switch does the trick! Take a look below at some of the signs that your pet might have a food intolerance. If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, you might first try changing his or her diet to eliminate some of the most common ingredients that can cause a food intolerance. But remember: always consult your veterinarian to ensure that you are correctly identifying and addressing your pet’s health needs.

Itchy Paws
Although not a guarantee, itchy paws are a telltale sign of a food intolerance. It’s often overlooked as either a nervous habit or sign of environmental allergies. A good way to tell the severity of the problem is to look at the skin between your pet’s pads to see if it is red or irritated. If so, it is likely an allergic reaction. If your dog or cat is often gnawing on their paws, look at your pet’s food ingredients and see if it’s time to make a change.

Hot Spots or Red, Irritated Skin
Similar to a reaction in humans, a skin reaction can be a symptom indicative of a food allergy. Look out for dry patches, hot spots, red irritations and dandruff. If your dog or cat’s skin seems to be bothering them, try switching foods if yours contains a common bothersome ingredient.

Decrease in Energy or Appetite
An unusual decrease in energy or a lack of appetite may be a sign that your pet has a food intolerance, particularly if the energy slump is soon after a meal. It is important to note that a decrease in appetite can be indicative of other problems, so if in doubt, as with any other issues, consult your veterinarian.

Loose Stool
Probably one of the most common symptoms of a food intolerance (particularly a grain intolerance), chronic loose stool is often ignored by pet owners who assume it’s just their dog or breed. Pet owners often try to remedy the loose stool problem with supplementation and/or medication when a food switch is all that is needed.   

Ear Infections
Chronic ear infections are another symptom that is often overlooked because of a dog’s breed (“Labs always get ear infections”). Dogs with ear infections are oftentimes put on medication and given supplements to help reduce the yeast buildup; however, ear infections and ears with constant wax build up are often a sign of a food allergy or intolerance.

If your dog or cat has any of these symptoms and no other immediate symptoms or issues, we suggest trying a different food that eliminates some of the common ingredients that can trigger these reactions. Some of the most common triggering ingredients are chicken and grains such as wheat or corn. Some pets are intolerant of other ingredients including potatoes, fish, soy, eggs, additives and brewer’s yeast. Quality of ingredients is also something to look at; avoid byproducts, un-named meats (for example, “animal meal”), artificial coloring and flavors.

There is a wide range of quality foods for any budget that eliminate these sometimes problem ingredients. Look for foods with limited ingredients, and a single protein source to start, so that you can easily compare ingredients between foods. Since our pets can’t talk, eliminating problem ingredients one at a time is a good way to determine what’s triggering your pet’s intolerances. Additionally, anytime you switch food be sure to slowly transition, mixing the old food with the new food, for up to two weeks. Give your pet some time (four to eight weeks) to adjust to the new food to determine if the new food is working. 




Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies. Petagogy is located at 5880 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Learn more at www.petagogypgh.com.

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