Little dogs often have special dietary and nutritional needs that other dogs don’t require, so it’s essential for dog owners to know if little dogs are allergic to foods such as poultry. Though they are small, little dogs may need more calories per pound than larger dogs due to their higher metabolic rate in their youth and potential health problems as they age. As a result, it’s essential to be aware of any food issues with your little dog in order to avoid long-term problems.
Are little dogs allergic to poultry? Little dogs can be allergic to poultry, among other proteins. In general, dogs require a range of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Dogs need grains, fruits, vegetables, and meat for a balanced diet, which is why commercial dog foods are popular among dog owners. However, pet owners should be aware of potential allergies to poultry and poultry-based products in case their little dogs develop allergic symptoms.
Little dogs are fun, wonderful companions. However, they vary greatly from other dogs in the care that they require—especially when it comes to their diet. Therefore, it’s essential for dog owners to be familiar with potential food allergies to proteins such as poultry in dog food, and how these allergies present as symptoms. This way, any potential allergic reaction can be addressed for the health, safety, and comfort of your little dog.
What We Mean by Little Dogs
In general, a little dog is considered to weigh less than 22 pounds or measure in height under 16 inches. Within the overall category of little dogs are breeds that are much lighter and shorter or a little heavier and taller.
Some of the most common breeds of little dogs are:
- Yorkshire terrier
- Shih Tzu
- French bulldog
Certain breeds of little dogs may have specific nutritional concerns. Therefore, it’s important to consult your veterinarian for advice about nutritional risks based on the breed, age, or existing health conditions of your dog.
What We Mean by Allergic
Like humans, dogs are at risk of having abnormal reactions to food. However, food allergies present themselves differently when it comes to dogs. An allergy in terms of diet describes an immunologic reaction to food allergens and requires previous exposure to the allergen for symptoms to present themselves. In dogs, the allergy is usually expressed through the skin and seen most often as itching.
Dogs can present food allergy symptoms before they are even a year old, but allergies can develop at any time. Some symptoms of food allergies in dogs may include:
- Non-seasonal itching involving the whole body
- Non-seasonal itching focused on the ears and feet
- Chronic or recurring ear and skin infections
- Vomiting, diarrhea, excessive gas
Food allergies actually take time to develop, which is why they can be difficult to diagnose. For example, a dog may have been eating food with allergens for quite some time before symptoms present themselves.
Dogs with food allergies are usually allergic to proteins from animal and/or plant-based ingredients in their diet. When these proteins are broken down into molecules, the dog’s immune system misidentifies them as potential threats. Beef, wheat, dairy, and chicken are the most common products that create food allergies in dogs.
What We Mean by Poultry
When it comes to pet food, poultry can mean fresh meat (as in fresh poultry, deboned poultry, freshly prepared poultry) or pre-prepared, dry meat meal (poultry meal, dried poultry, dehydrated poultry). If an ingredient in dog food is listed simply as “poultry,” then it generally refers to the fresh form.
Poultry does provide a good quality, relatively low-cost source of protein that is tasty to most dogs. The category of poultry can include products from domestic fowls such as chicken, duck, or turkey. However, since many dog food companies don’t specify which animal species “poultry” in general comes from, many canine nutritionists find it too ambiguous.
Using such a general term can allow the manufacturer to change the recipe among batches, which makes it difficult to identify specific food allergens for dogs. In addition, the quality of poultry used in pet foods can vary considerably.
Little Dogs, Allergies, and Poultry
The most common allergy symptom that your little dog may display in response to chicken as a food allergen is itchy skin. Pet owners may notice their dog licking and scratching his head, neck, ears, and limbs. Such excessive licking and scratching can lead to lesions or even hair/fur loss. In addition, your dog’s eyes may become irritated, and he may get frequent ear infections or experience digestive issues.
Unfortunately, many food allergy symptoms in little dogs present in the same manner as respiratory or insect bite allergies. This can make it challenging to narrow down the cause of the allergic reaction. However, there are some methods to figuring out if your little dog is suffering from a poultry allergy.
For example, food allergies occur at any time of the year, unlike seasonal or environmental allergies. In addition, medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids used to treat other types of allergies are ineffective when it comes to food allergies.
If you suspect your little dog has a food allergy, and poultry, in particular, your vet may implement an elimination diet which would include removing poultry and any products containing poultry from your dog’s diet.
Along with other dietary instructions, the elimination diet can illustrate whether poultry is the cause of the allergic reaction in your little dog if allergy symptoms return once poultry is re-introduced. If there is no improvement in symptoms, the process should be repeated for a different ingredient.
Diet Changes to Avoid Poultry Allergy
If it’s confirmed that your little dog is allergic to poultry, you can make changes to her diet. You can feed her foods that were well-tolerated during the elimination diet trial period and eliminate what wasn’t tolerated well.
Unfortunately, over time, dogs tend to become allergic to foods that they eat regularly. To avoid this, some professionals recommend varying a dog’s diet every two to three months in order to prevent a food allergy from developing. Another option is to consider commercially made hypoallergenic dog food, which generally doesn’t contain additives, artificial flavorings, or colorings.
Some pet owners decide to prepare homemade meals for their little dogs in order to be in control of what goes into their food. However, especially with little dogs, it’s essential to consult a pet nutritionist or veterinarian to ensure you are providing a balanced and healthy diet.
Consult Your Personal Veterinarian
As with any care that you provide your canine, supplying safe and nutritious food is an essential part of being a pet owner. Most people associate their veterinarians with medical care for their animals. However, your dog’s individual vet can be a great resource for advice about feeding and allergies as well. Your veterinarian can recommend food products, brands, and other information to ensure the safe feeding and best diet for your dog, which can reduce your stress level as a pet owner.
There are many online sources that offer advice and demonstrations as to how to safely feed your dog. However, dogs vary widely when it comes to their age and breed requirements, specific dietary needs, allergies, and what is best for them as individuals. For these reasons, your dog’s veterinarian is a far better resource for consultation and expertise. The only person who potentially knows your dog as well as you do would be your vet.
If you suspect that your little dog has any food allergies, it’s important to make a visit to the vet as soon as possible to identify the problem. By consulting your personal veterinarian, you can be certain that you are providing the best care for your pet, especially when it comes to their dietary needs and safety.