Food Sensitivities and Allergies and Our Pets

Food Sensitivities and Allergies and Our Pets

Current global situation aside, some would say we live in a time of incredible un-health in our society.   It’s likely a multi-faceted problem but some of the issues are poor diet choices and over consumption, a lack of regular exercise, reduced nutrients available in our food, and environmental chemical exposure.

What we see in the pet world is a decline in health of our companion animals that mirrors the very decline in the health of ourselves.

Not really surprising that if we are making poor lifestyle choices for ourselves, that we might be making those same choices for our pets.  If our idea of exercise is a trip to the fridge during the commercials of our favourite tv show, then just as likely our pets are not getting the exercise they require either.  If our diet is high carbohydrate, highly processed, and nutrient deficient, then often we are feeding our pets the same.  The incredible rates of feline diabetes and companion animal cancers truly must mean we need to take a serious look at what changes we can make for ourselves and our pets – and try to stack the odds for good health in our favour.

We don’t have control over all of the factors contributing to reduced health and vitality in our own bodies and those of our pets BUT we can certainly make good choices for minimizing exposure to chemicals, fueling our bodies, and keeping everyone fit.  It can’t hurt and it certainly can help.

Our immune system is the starting point of health for the body.  A strong properly functioning immune system is imperative for continued good health.  What feeds the immune system?  We do.  Quality fresh, whole raw foods help the body keep the immune system operating.  If your gut is not working properly or if you are not feeding the wholesome nutrients that it requires, then the immune system quits functioning at optimum levels and eventually becomes compromised.  A compromised immune system often targets the body itself or the food that is coming into the gut.

Food sensitivities are a major symptom in our pets that indicate that the immune system (and gut health) are not in top form.

Hot spots, skin itchies, licking between toes or reoccurring ear infections (yeast) are some of the most common signs that the immune system is not acting appropriately and is finding foods to be sensitive to.  Often these are foods that the body sees regularly – on a daily basis.

Many of the food allergies (technically more of a sensitivity rather than a full blown allergy) that we see in dog and cats start off as an allergy to a single grain or protein.  For years, the main allergies we saw were to poor quality grains, so it was easy to help clients find a good grain free food.  But then a few months or years later, the dog would develop the same symptoms.  Its immune system was looking for something else to be sensitive to.
Why didn’t removing the toxic food from the diet fix the problem long term?  The reason is that we hadn’t fixed the underlying issue that was causing the immune system to be compromised and act inappropriately.  The bottom line is that it is not the food that is the problem.  The culprit is the pet’s immune system.  So yes, we have removed the toxin from the diet but if we stop there, then body will just find something else to be allergic to.  We need to fix the immune system.  And to do that, we need to ensure that the gut is functioning in top form.

We have had multiple clients that were almost to the point of not having any foods that their dog was not sensitive to.  These owners go looking for unique protein sources or switch to raw or home-cooked diets to have more control over the ingredients.  In desperation, many of these pets are put on long term steroids to control the symptoms.  Steroids don’t fix the problem, they mask the symptoms.  And while they are a wonderful tool to use (especially in an emergency situation), their long term use is not without health risks.   Wouldn’t it be great if we could restore immune health and resolve food allergies without medication?  It’s not always possible to rebuild the immune system and gut health  . . . but often it is.

The key is recognizing what you are dealing with early on, before your pet has developed multiple allergies and permanent gut damage.  If you catch it early,  you can remove the toxin, feed other foods, and hopefully take the steps to repair the damage to gut.  You have at your disposal, lots of different proteins and ingredients that do not cause issues, and so can rotate foods while repairing the gut and ultimately the immune system.

The best defense is to try to ensure good gut health and a strong immune system from day one.  A good pet prebiotic/probiotic supplement (or food source) can go a long way to maintaining gut function.  Make sure your pet food is made from quality ingredients, from reputable sources.  There was a study done in the USA that showed that by simply replacing 20% of a dog or cat’s diet with fresh whole raw foods, that overall health improved dramatically.  Rotational feeding is also a great way to ensure that you are meeting all of your pet’s nutritional requirements and giving the immune system less of a target for food allergies.  This means, switching up proteins and ingredients regularly.  Don’t just feed your pet a lifetime diet of one food.  Switch up your bag of kibble or box of frozen raw to something else often.  It also helps to prevent them from getting bored with their food.

If your pet is unlucky and you find that they are suffering with food sensitivities, do your homework, ask for help, and be proactive to resolve it.  You pet is not necessarily doomed to be uncomfortable or on medication for the rest of its life.