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Why Plant Based Diets Are The Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food

Plant based diets are quickly becoming the most popular hypogenic dog food option for dogs with severe allergies.

Food allergies are becoming an ever increasing problem among North American pet owners. From chronic ear problems, to excessive scratching and licking, to digestive issues, food allergies are a dilemma that affect millions of distressed dogs. Many pet owners struggle to solve their dog’s food allergies, even after eliminating dozens of ingredients from their pet’s diet. This leads to increasing concern and frustration as their dog’s uncontrollable scratching and licking worsens over time. There are many things you can do to help reduce, or even eliminate symptoms associated with dog food allergies. And, naturally, the solution to dog food allergies lies in the diet itself. Unfortunately, vegan diets are not an ideal option for cats.

Why are vegan diets the best option for dogs with allergies?

When it comes to finding the right solution for your dog’s unique needs, there are plenty of roads that lead to the hypoallergenic promised land, and leading the charge are plant-based dog foods. A growing number of pet owners are turning to plant-based diets for their dog with astonishing results.

Sounds crazy, right? Can a plant-based diet provide balanced nutrition for dogs and relieve food allergy symptoms? Yes, when done right, a wholesome plant-based diet will not only provide all the nutrition a dog needs, it is an ideal choice for dogs with animal-based food allergies.

What is a food allergy in dogs?

A food allergy transpires when the immune system detects a particular food as a threat, causing an allergic reaction. Normally, the immune system protects the body from germs, bacteria, viruses, and disease. However, with food allergies, the immune system erroneously identifies a food ingredient as dangerous, and reacts via allergic reaction.

While closely connected, food allergies and food intolerances are not the same. Food allergies involve the body’s immune system, whereas food intolerances take place in the digestive system. Food intolerances pertain to the body’s inability to digest and absorb specific foods, and food allergies involve the immune system.

What are the symptoms of canine allergies?

Symptoms of food allergies in dogs can vary widely. Common symptoms include:

  • dirty ears that may lead to infection
  • licking and chewing legs and paws
  • itchy skin
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Less common symptoms include:

  • weight loss
  • hyperactivity
  • lethargy
  • increased aggression

What is the leading source of allergic reactions in dogs?

Food allergies are almost always due to specific proteins, however not all proteins are food allergens. With that said, any ingredient can manifest into an allergy, but proteins are the most common catalyst. 

For dogs with food allergy symptoms, trying to figure out which proteins to avoid can be an overwhelming task. This becomes even more daunting when pet food brands throw out all sorts of terminologies like hypoallergenic, limited-ingredient, novel protein, and more. 

How can I eliminate my dogs food allergies using a vegan diet?

When it comes to solving the puzzle that is food allergies in dogs, the best solution is to first reduce as many variables as possible. This will make it easier to keep track of the ingredients your dog is exposed to. Keeping a food journal is a wise idea, as it helps to keep an accurate log of the food ingredients your dog has been exposed to.

Plant-based, vegan dog foods offer a real advantage in solving food allergies since there are no animal ingredients. By removing meat from the diet, you remove the most likely allergens.

The commercial plant-based dog foods of today are nothing like those of years past. What was once nothing more than bags of corn and rice fractions has evolved into some of the highest quality dog foods on the market, made with wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients like peas, brown rice, quinoa, whole oats, lentils, and more.

Since vegan dog foods do not contain any animal ingredients, they are an ideal hypoallergenic choice. High quality vegan dog foods are not only nutritionally balanced, they are also highly palatable, and enjoyed by millions of dogs all over the world.

How long does my dog need to be on a plant-based diet to se a reduction in allergy symptoms?

Seeing results on a new hypoallergenic diet takes time. When you begin feeding a vegan dog food, make sure that you also eliminate all other animal sources from their diet, including treats, table scraps, and all other consumables. Instead, substitute those items for hypoallergenic, plant-based alternatives. Dogs with food allergies can still have treats and snacks as long as they do not contain any animal ingredients.

Once your dog is on his new vegan diet, give it 6-8 weeks to see improvements in their symptoms. Remedying food allergies in dogs takes time, patience, and planning. Monitor your dog for improvements in their symptoms, and don’t forget to record all foods in your log as this information will help you identify food ingredients to avoid in the future. 

Contrary to popular belief of, dogs are not carnivores, and do not require meat in their diet to live healthy lives. Dogs are considered omnivores and have the capacity to obtain the nutrients they need from nutrient-dense, plant-based sources. 

Studies prove that plant-based diets are not only perfectly suitable for dogs, they also have many added health benefits that can improve a dog’s overall quality of life. From their hypoallergenic benefits, to the reduction in carbon foot-print, there are many reasons to consider a vegan diet for your dog with allergies.

About Brandon Forder

Brandon holds multiple certifications in pet nutrition and canine psychology. He has more than twenty-five years experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon has a lifelong passion for helping people become great pet parents. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, web, and radio.

6 Responses

  1. Hi, we have had our dog for less than a year, she is a rescue, around 3 years old and is a lab and bull dog cross. After a few months of having her she started reverse sneezing from time to time. It eventually got worse and became a daily thing or sometimes multiple times a day. She then lost interest in her food and started to lick and bite her back legs and paws. After several vet visits and trying different things the vet put her in a prescription antihistamine and we just recently changed her food to a hypoallergenic vegan food (Purina HA). Since the food is so expensive I’m trying to find out more about making food for her. I would be open to trying a different food if it was less expensive but all the ones recommended were the same price and we are only able to buy it through the vet. I saw above in a reply you offered a way to boast dogs’ immune systems with supplements. I wonder if something like that would help her as well? Do you have any thoughts? Thanks!

    1. Hello, Genevieve. Thank you for posting.

      This is a conversation best suited over the phone, as I will need more information. Please email me brandon@canadianpetconnection.ca, and I am happy to help. I am happy to help you find solutions to these problems.

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Hello
    Our Mini double mountain doodle
    is 18 months and had several doses of Otomax for ongoing ear infections. He had been on Royal Canin Hypoallergenic HP for a few month but his allergies (including biting his paw) continue. He does not get anything else to eat.
    Looking for a long term solution to help him. He is otherwise healthy.

    1. Hello, Patti. Thank you for your comments. I am happy to help.

      Allergies can be a tricky thing. At first it is difficult to know whether the allergic reaction is to something in the diet, or something in the environment. Unfortunately, we do not have much control over our environment, so diet is the first thing to work on. To begin, you want to simplify the diet as much as possible to reduce variables. There are many limited ingredient dog foods on the market. It is best to begin with a protein your dog has not had previous exposure to (rabbit, venison, duck, pilchard, etc), or eliminate meat proteins all together.

      Another solution to consider is boosting immune system health. Many pet experts believe most “pet food allergies” are actually caused my immune system imbalances, and not the actual food itself. For this purpose, I would recommend a high quality immune boosting supplement like Flora4, or NaturVet Hemp Immune Chews

      Please have a look at my recommendations and let me know your thoughts. I am at your service, so please stay in touch!

  3. Hi, I have been reading your articles on dog food with much interest. My dog currently gets the Royal Canin Hypoallergenic HP food which I have to buy through the veterinarian. He has a sensitive stomach and I believe the vet said he has colitis. When we rescued him from the SPCA we discovered his issues, some foods result in vomiting and diarrhea. He does fine on the Royal Canin food but it it is very expensive. If that is our only option I will be happy to continue paying it to keep him healthy for a long life. What I’m wondering, is there a less expensive alternative that is similar? Or do you have other suggestions for a diet for a dog with a sensitive stomach?

    1. Hi Kelly, thank you for taking the time to post your questions. I am happy to help to the best of my ability.

      While the Royal Canin Hypoallergenic HP certainly has a role to play in treating conditions like colitis, it is considered to be a very low quality diet sold at an astronomical price. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthier, more affordable options for your consideration. While there may be a little bit of experimentation involved, the best approach is to focus on a wholesome, simplified diet. Making sure your dog has enough dietary fibre is essential, and this is where supplementation comes in. Regardless of the food you choose to feed, you may want to consider supplementing the diet with pumpkin or psyllium, for example.

      Products like FirstMate’s Grain-Friendly line are very popular for dogs with digestive problems. This would be an excellent place to start, and would be a considerable improvement in quality over the Royal Canin, and it will cost half as much.

      Please have a look at my suggestions and let me know if you have any thoughts. Thank you, Kelly!

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