Although fleas are the #1 cause of allergic reactions in canines, food still comprises of 10% of all allergies suffered by man's best friend. Depending on the severity of the condition, a Chihuahua suffering from food allergies may experience a wide range of symptoms from mild itching to nausea and vomiting. Whether it's mild or severe symptoms, owners should take the appropriate action to treat and prevent food allergies in their Chihuahua.
Before we start, it's important to note that Chihuahuas can develop food allergies at any stage in their life. Even if they've eaten the same type of name brand dog food for years, their body chemistry could change all of a sudden, causing them to experience an allergic reaction from it.
Identifying Food Allergies
Owners should closely monitor their Chihuahua both during and after they eat. If you believe they are suffering from an allergy, you should check for some of the most common symptoms related to allergies. While this isn't a completely accurate technique for diagnosing allergies, it will get you on the right track to better understanding what's wrong with them.
Common Symptoms of Chihuahua Food Allergies:
- Chewing and/or licking parts of their body.
- Gnawing on paws.
- Excessive itching; oftentimes accompanies with the need to roll their body on the floor.
- Coughing or wheezing.
- Restlessness and/or agitation.
- Sudden red patches throughout their body (difficult to identify in long-coat Chihuahuas).
If your Chihuahua experiences one or more of the previously mentioned symptoms after consuming a meal, there's a good chance they are allergic to an ingredient found within the food. Before you go rushing out to the veterinarian in hopes of performing an allergy test, you should first attempt to identify the cause yourself. The truth is that canine allergy test are still relatively new and not 100% accurate. Conducting your own test through process of elimination is often more effective.
Is My Chihuahua Suffering From a Food Allergy or Intolerance?
Most owners automatically assume a food allergy is to blame for their Chihuahua's health issue. While this is certainly true in some cases, the problem could actually be an intolerance rather than allergies. Both conditions may exhibit similar symptoms, making it difficult for owners to properly diagnose. So, what's the difference between the two?
Food allergies occur when the body identifies a certain ingredient, chemical or food as a foreign invader and responds with a reaction. Although the food might be perfectly normal and nutritious, the Chihuahua's body thinks it's a foreign invader that may cause it harm. Food allergies are the result of an immune system disorder because it's the system responsible for identifying and responding to invaders.
On the other side of the fence is a food intolerance. Basically, a food intolerance is caused from a digestive disorder and not an immune disorder. A Chihuahua with a weak digestive system for certain foods is said to have an intolerance. Lactose intolerance is one of the most common types of intolerances in both people and dogs.
Choosing a Hypoallergenic Food
The term "hypoallergenic" when used to describe dog food refers to a food with a low risk of creating an allergic reaction. If your Chihuahua frequently experiences allergic reactions after eating a meal, you should try switching to a hypoallergenic food. It's a common assumption that all of the expensive name brand food varieties are healthy, nutritious choices. The fact, however, is that many expensive brands of dog food contain filler ingredients and rendered proteins that may trigger allergic reactions.
When choosing a dog food for your Chihuahua, look for a premium, organic variety with a limited number of protein sources. Some of the brands of lesser quality will pack in everything from cow hooves and chicken beaks to lamb skin and bonemeal. It's unnatural ingredients such as these that are typically the culprit for food allergies. Also, don't rely on recommendations by your veterinarian. It's not uncommon for veterinarians to push specific brands of dog food simply because they sell them at their office. If you need help choosing a quality hypoallergenic brand of food for your Chihuahua, check out the list at PetFoodAdvisor.com.
Introducing Your Chihuahua To a New Food
Watch your Chihuahua closely to see how they respond to their new diet. A new brand of hypoallergenic food will hopefully eliminate their allergic reactions. With that said, it may take several weeks before their body adjusts to this new diet. If your Chihuahua is still experiencing symptoms after switching their diet to a new food, give it a couple of weeks to see if it clears up. Remnants from the old food could still be lingering in their system, causing it to respond with an allergic reaction. If the condition isn't better after 2-3 weeks, consult with your veterinarian.
Food allergies may also be caused by contaminants rather than specific ingredients. If an outside contaminant falls into your Chihuahua's food bowl, it may cause an allergic reaction. Some owners prefer to feed their Chihuahuas outside simply because it's cleaner and doesn't result in crumbs on the carpet. However, pollen, dust and other contaminants can blow into their food bow, essentially tainting their food. Only feed your Chihuahua indoors to prevent the possibility of this happening.