Food Allergies in Cats

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Food allergic reactions represent about 10% of all the allergic reactions seen in cats and dogs. It is the 3rd most common cause after flea bite allergic reactions and atopy (inhalant allergic reactions) Food allergic reactions represent 57% of the causes of itching and scratching in cats.
The entire procedure of a pet being sensitized to a specific agent in food and the complicated antibody action that takes place in the digestive tract in animals with food allergies are not very well understood. In spite of our absence of understanding of the actual disease process, there are many things that we do know including the symptoms, how to detect food allergies, and also how to treat them.

Food Allergies in Cats

Food allergic reactions affect both cats and dogs. Unlike atopy, there is no strong link in between particular breeds and food allergic reactions. Food allergies impact both males and women and neutered and intact animals similarly. They can appear as early as 5 months and as late as 12 years of age, though the large majority of cases occur in between 2 and 6 years. Lots of animals with food allergic reactions likewise have concurrent inhalant or contact allergies.

Food allergy or intolerance?

There is a difference that has to be made between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergic reactions are true allergies and show the characteristic symptoms of itching and skin problems connected with feline and canine allergies. Food intolerances can result in diarrhea or vomiting and do not produce a normal allergic action. Food intolerances in pets would resemble people who get diarrhea or an indigestion from eating spicy or fried foods. Luckily, both food intolerances and allergic reactions can be removed with a diet free from angering representatives.

Typical food offenders

Several research studies have revealed that some ingredients are more likely to cause food allergic reactions than others. In felines, the most typical offenders are beef, lamb, seafood, corn, soy, dairy products and wheat gluten. As you may have discovered, the most common culprits are the most typical components in both cat and dog foods. This connection is not a coincidence. While some proteins might be somewhat more antigenic than others, numerous proteins are similar in form and the occurrence of allergic reactions are probably associated with the amount of exposure.

Symptoms

The symptoms of food allergic reactions are similar to those of most other allergic reactions seen in cats. The primary symptom is itchy skin. Symptoms may also consist of loss of hair, excessive scratching, and miliary dermatitis.

It is hard to distinguish an animal suffering from food allergies from an animal struggling with atopy or other allergic reactions based on physical signs. Nevertheless, there are a couple of ssigns that increase the suspicion that food allergies may be present. If a feline struggles with allergic reactions year-round or if symptoms begin in the winter season, I suspect a food allergic reaction. With food allergic reactions, cats may develop very itchy skin which does not respond to steroid treatment.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis for food allergic reactions is really straightforward. But due to that numerous other problems can cause similar symptoms which many times animals are struggling with more issues than just food allergic reactions, it is crucial that other issues are correctly identified and dealt with prior to undergoing diagnosis for food allergic reactions. Atopy, flea bite allergies, digestive tract parasite hypersensitivities, notoedric mange, yeast or bacterial infections, or seborrhea can all cause comparable symptoms as food allergies. When all other causes have been eliminated or dealt with, then it is time to carry out a food trial.

Food trials and elimination diets:

A food trial consists of feeding a feline a novel food source of protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks. A novel food source would be a protein and carbohydrate that the animal had never ever consumed before. Examples would consist of duck and potato, or venison and potato. There are a variety of such commercial diets offered on the market. In addition, there are customized diets that have the proteins and carbs broken down into such small molecular sizes that they not would activate an allergic action. These are termed ‘limited antigen’ or ‘hydrolyzed protein’ diets. Homemade diets are frequently used, as the components can be thoroughly limited. No matter the diet used, it should be the only thing the animal consumes for 12 weeks. This implies no treats, no flavored medications; definitely nothing however the unique food and water. In addition, the cat should not be enabled to stroll, which may lead to him having access to food or trash.

Food Trial Tips
Only the recommended diet must be fed.Do NOT give:

  • Treats
  • Rawhides
  • Pigs Ears
  • Cow hooves
  • Flavored medications (including heartworm preventives) or supplements
  • Flavored toothpastes
  • Flavored plastic toys
  • Any type of food when giving medications

If you wish to provide a treat, use the recommended diet. (Hint: canned diets can be frozen in pieces or baked, and these can be used as treats.)

If possible, feed the other the exact same diet as the patient. If not, feed other animals in a completely various location than the patient, and do not allow the patient access to that food.

Maintain a different litter box for the patient.

Keep your animal out of the room at meal times. Even a couple of small amounts of food dropped on the floor or licked off of a plate can void an elimination trial and require you to begin over. Wash the hands and faces of any children after they have actually eaten.

Do not allow your pet to wander. Keep felines on leashes when outdoors.

Keep a journal where you can tape the date and any foods, treats, and so on your pet might have accidentally consumed.

Vets used to advise that a pet only had to be put on a special diet for 3 weeks however brand-new studies reveal that in dogs, just 26% of those with food allergic reactions reacted by day 21. Nevertheless, the large bulk of the animals reacted by 12 weeks. The exact same may be true in cats, for that reason, it is very important to keep the cat on the diet for the entire 12 weeks. If the cat shows a marked reduction or elimination of the symptoms, then the animal is positioned back on the original food. This is called ‘provocative screening’ and is important to confirm the diagnosis. If the symptoms return after going back on the original diet, the medical diagnosis of a food allergy is validated. If there has actually been no change in symptoms however a food allergy is still highly believed, then another food trial using a different novel food source could be tried.

Blood Testing:

There is no proof that blood tests are precise for the medical diagnosis of food allergies. Veterinary dermatologists insist that there is no merit in these tests whatsoever in the diagnosis of food allergies. The only way to accurately identify food allergies is with a food trial as detailed above. While the intradermal skin testing is outstanding for identifying atopy (inhalant allergies) it is inefficient for food allergic reactions. While specialized blood tests can be used to help in the diagnosis of atopy, they have no advantage in diagnosing food allergic reactions. In our evaluation of all the existing books and short articles on veterinary dermatology and allergic reactions, we might not find a single dermatologist that backed anything besides the food trial as a reliable diagnostic aid. If you wish to diagnose and treat food allergies you need to do a food trial.

Treatment

The treatment for food allergies is avoidance.Once the upseting ingredients have actually been recognized through a food trial, then they are eliminated from the diet. Short-term relief may be gained with fatty acids, antihistamines, and steroids, however removal of the items from the diet is the only long-term solution.The owner of the animal has two options. They can opt to feed the animal an unique commercially ready diet or a homemade diet.

If the owner opts to feed the homemade diet, then they can periodically challenge the pet with brand-new ingredients and identify which components are triggering the food allergy. For instance, if the animal’s symptoms decreased on a diet of rabbit and potatoes, then the owner might add chicken to the diet for two weeks. If the animal revealed no symptoms, then they could then add beef for two weeks. If the animal began to show symptoms, then it could be presumed that beef was one of the important things the animal was allergic to. The beef might be withdrawn and after the symptoms cleaned up, a different component could be included and so on, until all the offending active ingredients were recognized. A diet might then be developed that was devoid of the angering food sources.

If homemade diets are used, it is important that they be balanced, with appropriate amount of ingredients, vitamins, and minerals. Homemade diets for such long term use should be established by a veterinary nutritionist.

Understand that some family pets with food allergic reactions may develop allergies to brand-new foods if they are fed those foods long enough. If you see signs of food allergies returning, consult your vet.

Also read: Cat Allergic to Fleas

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