Food allergies and intolerances in Chihuahuas
Although food allergies aren’t as frequent as atopic allergic reactions triggered by airborne allergens, they still account for about 10% of all allergies related health issues in all dog breeds. Chihuahuas aren’t an exception and may experience symptoms of food allergies through the course of their lives.
Even though food intolerance and food allergies tend to have rather similar symptomatic outlook, the mechanism of their development is entirely different. An allergic reaction is an immunologic disorder and happens when the body recognizes some ingredient as foreign and harmful thus triggering immune response to wipe out the potential threat. The ingredient the body recognizes as harmful is perfectly safe and nutritious; it’s just the dog’s body thinks of it otherwise. These types of food allergies can occur throughout the Chihuahuas’ whole life even in cases when the owners didn’t switch the food brands and ingredients they are feeding to the dog.
While the immunological system is responsible for allergic reactions to food, food intolerance happens as a result of a dysfunctional digestive system. Some Chihuahuas don’t have the stomach for some ingredients as the system finds them hard to digest, usually because isn’t able to produce some important enzymes for their digestion. The most common type of food intolerance in Chihuahuas and other dog breeds is lactose intolerance.
Symptoms of food allergies and intolerances
There is a vast variety of symptoms as a result of food allergies and food intolerances in Chihuahuas. The clinical signs can be in regard to the dog’s skin, his behavior and his digestion. Red patches all over the dog’s body and reddening on the paws after taking a meal can indicate a possible allergic reaction. Moreover, the dog will become restless and agitated, excessively itchy and will most likely lick and chew his paws. Long-haired Chihuahuas should be thoroughly checked for any discolorations on their skin when one might suspect a food allergy. Diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and sneezing additionally occur but are considered to be dubious signs because they accompany many other diseases known in dogs.
Diagnosis and therapy
Making a definitive diagnose of food allergy in dogs is somewhat tricky and requires money, time and patience. If you took your Chihuahua to the vet after recognizing some of the symptoms then most likely numbers of tests were performed in order to rule-out some other diseases. That’s probably the only possible way to diagnose food allergy in dogs – by ruling-out everything else. Allergy tests in dogs are new and unreliable so veterinarians tend to stick to the good-old elimination diet. Elimination diet consists of changing the usual Chihuahua food brand the owner is feeding to the dog to a hypoallergenic hydrolyzed type of food. You have to be really patient because the symptoms will gradually disappear over the course of one month. You can consult your veterinarian about the best possible hypoallergenic food for your Chihuahua. If the elimination diet works perfectly than the problem really were food-borne allergies, but if not then there might be some underlying and unknown health issue causing the symptoms.