What is a food sensitivity and how does it differ from a food allergy? How do you know if your dog or cat is dealing with a food sensitivity? We’ll fill you in on everything you need to know.
It can be tough to know if your pet is dealing with a food sensitivity. Food sensitivities can often be confused with food allergies and vice versa. While a food allergy is caused by an immune system response, a food sensitivity is caused by a digestive system response.
A food sensitivity is also commonly called a food intolerance. An example of a food sensitivity/intolerance in humans would be lactose intolerance. Those suffering from this intolerance do not naturally create the enzyme necessary to digest lactose. Similar situations can arise for pets, although from different ingredients.
Food sensitivities in pets are more common than a food allergy. Suffering from food sensitivities can be very uncomfortable for your pet and very inconvenient for you, so it is worth it to find the cause and avoid any ingredient or food type that your pet may be sensitive to. Food sensitivities, like food allergies, can develop during any stage of life. It’s also important to note that while food allergies can be life threatening, food sensitivities are not. You’ll still of course want to deal with any food sensitivity you can in order to give you and your fur baby the best life possible.
Signs that your pet could have a food sensitivity/food intolerance:
1. Gas and/or noisy stomach: if your pet is struggling with gas constantly or you’re constantly hearing their tummy rumble, it is possible that the root of this problem may be due to a food intolerance.
2. Diarrhea: if your pet is experiencing routine bouts of diarrhea, this could be a sign of a food sensitivity. We recommend consulting your vet if this happens to you pet as it could also be a symptom of other serious issues as well.
3. Irregular stool and/or painful bowel movements: if your dog’s poop is inconsistent or often watery/loose, this may also be a sign of a food sensitivity.
4. Vomiting: while vomiting may happen occasionally for your pet, having it happen regularly is a definite sign that something is wrong. Vomiting is a common sign of a food intolerance and it can also be a symptom of other serious issues. Be sure to consult a vet right away if your pet is experiencing this symptom frequently.
5. Changes in energy: if you notice that your pet’s energy level has drastically changed, it could possibly be caused by a food sensitivity.
6. Itchy skin, itchy ears and skin rashes: while these are also common signs of a food allergy, they could also be linked to a food sensitivity.
7. Loss of appetite/lack of interest in food: while some pets can be a bit particular about their food, a lack of interest in meals could also be a sign of a food sensitivity. Your pet may begin to associate food with being uncomfortable when they are dealing with a food sensitivity.
Determining whether or not your pet does have a food intolerance will take a vet visit, along with some time. A diet change avoiding the ingredient or food type will be the corrective course of action. As our diets are minimally processed, contain high-quality ingredients, and are available in a variety of recipes with different proteins, our food can often be a great solution for those pets that are dealing with food sensitivities. Additives used in foods can also be the cause of many food sensitivities – our food is free of additives, fillers and antibiotics. Our Freeze-Dried Dinner Patties for dogs and Freeze-Dried Morsels for cats have many single source animal protein recipes that also contain limited overall ingredients that dogs with food sensitivities tend to thrive on. Our Raw Coated Kibble also comes with single source animal protein recipes.
Some of the more common pet food ingredients that cause sensitivities include:
- Food additives, including artificial flavors and food dyes
- Chicken or other animal poultry proteins
Is there any way to avoid food sensitivities in pets?
Similarly to food allergies, some breeds may be predisposed to certain food sensitivities. That said, feeding variety can help. While you do not want to be constantly switching food types, as quick changes can cause digestive issues, you can switch up recipes/proteins within the same food group. Once your dog or cat is fully transitioned to our food, we do suggest rotating proteins every 2-6 weeks. This means you would feed one flavor consistently for 2-6 weeks, then switch to another flavor for 2-6 weeks, etc. This is a great way to give your dog variety and to help keep protein-based allergies and food sensitivities at bay.
Wondering if food allergies are the culprit instead? Take a look at our blog post on how to determine whether or not your pet has an allergy and how to solve it.
Our information comes from consultation with our food science experts and veterinarians. For each dog we always recommend consulting with that dog’s veterinarian as they are most likely to know the needs for that particular dog.