Food Intolerance in Dogs

Aug 13, 2023

Food intolerance in dogs can be tricky to pinpoint and is often confused with food allergies in dogs. Sometimes, they seem similar, but there is a difference and things you can do to help if your dog suffers from symptoms of food intolerance.

Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergies: What’s the Difference?

At first glance, dog food intolerance and food allergies might seem like two sides of the same coin, but there are some key differences.

  1. What Happens: Food allergies involve an immune system reaction to a specific food protein, leading to a range of symptoms, including skin issues and gastrointestinal problems. On the other hand, dog food intolerance arises when a dog’s digestive system can’t digest a particular food or ingredient. It doesn’t invoke the immune system.
  2. Onset: Allergic reactions typically occur rapidly after exposure to whatever is triggering, whereas intolerance symptoms might take longer to manifest and can be dose-dependent. This means your dog may not seem to have an issue until later, and you’d not connect the trigger with the symptoms.
  3. Severity: While intolerances are generally less severe and often lead to digestive issues, allergies can result in severe reactions, including anaphylaxis in rare cases.

Symptoms of Food Intolerances in Dogs

  • Gastrointestinal Upset: This can manifest as diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive gas.
  • Bloating: An accumulation of gas in the digestive system, causing the stomach to appear swollen.
  • Lethargy: Dogs may appear more tired or less interested in activities they usually enjoy.
  • Skin Issues: These can include itchiness, redness, and ear infections, often confused with allergic reactions.
  • Chronic Ear Infections: Consistent ear problems can sometimes hint at underlying food intolerances.
  • Frequent Bowel Movements: Increased frequency, urgency, or inconsistency in bowel movements can be a telltale sign.

The Gut Connection

Often, food intolerances in dogs are rooted in poor gut health. But what happens when dogs suffer from food intolerances?

  • Inadequate Digestion: Some food intolerances arise because a dog lacks certain enzymes needed to break down specific foods. This can lead to undigested food fermenting in the gut, causing gas, bloating, and discomfort.
  • Gut Inflammation: An imbalance in the gut can cause inflammation, making the digestive tract more sensitive and reactive to certain foods.
  • Altered Gut Microbiota: A disruption in the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut can lead to decreased digestive efficiency and heightened sensitivity to certain foods.

Causes of Food Intolerances in Dogs:

Food intolerance in dogs goes back to their gut health. Some issues that affect that are:

  • Enzyme Deficiency: Some dogs might lack specific enzymes required to digest certain food components, like lactose.
  • Chemical Sensitivities: Certain food chemicals, like additives or artificial flavorings, can trigger symptoms in sensitive dogs.
  • Naturally Occurring Food Components: Some dogs can be intolerant to naturally occurring substances in foods, such as histamines in fish.
  • Dietary Indiscretion: Consuming spoiled food or foreign objects can disrupt a dog’s digestive system, leading to temporary intolerance.
  • Rapid Diet Change: Abruptly switching dog foods can result in digestive upset, as the dog’s system needs time to adjust.

Promoting a Healthy Gut to Alleviate Symptoms

Bolstering gut health can help the symptoms of food intolerance in dogs, and a healthy gut can go a long way in improving overall digestion and reducing discomfort.

One of the things about Bernie’s Perfect Poop is that it was designed specifically to address gut health in dogs. Whether it’s food sensitivity or food allergies the four key ingredient groups in Perfect Poop are what makes a dog’s gut the strongest it can be. This can help a dog’s symptoms when it comes to things that might cause adverse food reactions and can also help keep your dog’s overall health and immunity strong.

  1. Fiber: Helps firm up stools, promotes regular bowel movements, and acts as a prebiotic to feed beneficial bacteria. Miscanthus grass, flax seed and pumpkin are the key fibers that are in Perfect Poop.
    • Benefit: Supports a balanced gut microbiota and assists in pushing out toxins.
  2. Prebiotics: Non-digestible fibers that serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria.
    Xylooligosaccharides are prebiotics that consist of sugar oligomers from xylose units. Bernie’s Perfect Poop uses enough Miscanthus Grass to have significant XOS and inulin.

    • Benefit: Encourage the growth of good bacteria, thus improving gut balance and overall digestive health.
  3. Probiotics: Live beneficial bacteria that can help balance the gut’s microbial environment.
    • Benefit: Boosting the number of good bacteria can help outcompete harmful ones, leading to better digestion and reduced intolerance symptoms. The probiotics we use in Perfect Poop are spore-forming and hardy, so they’ll hold up against the harsh stomach conditions in your dog’s gut.
  4. Digestive Enzymes: These help break down food components like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
    • Benefit: Ensuring optimal digestion reduces the chances of food fermenting in the gut, which can cause gas, bloating, and discomfort. This also helps ensure your dog’s immune system is fed as best it can be.

Food intolerances in dogs can be painful and cause a lot of confusion on how to help your dog. Ensuring a healthy gut in dogs can help many of the symptoms, making our furry friends more comfortable and healthier in the process!

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