Strandloper Animal Clinic in Hartenbos
Food Allergies in Cats
Like many humans, cats too can suffer from allergies. Food allergies are more common amongst cats than we tend to acknowledge.
A Food allergy is an allergic reaction to one or more ingredient in a pet’s food. The most common allergens are beef and milk products, cereals such as wheat, corn and soya, chicken and eggs. The exact cause of food allergy is not known. Perhaps a change in the pet’s immune system causes certain ingredients to be perceived as “foreign” initiating inflammatory mechanisms to fight off the perceived “intruder”.
Most Common Symptoms of Foof Allergy in Cats
The most common symptoms of food allergy are itching, licking or chewing. Skin problems are also common in conjunction with food hypersensitivity. Some pets may also have diarrhea and other digestive problems. Symptoms can appear at any age, whether a pet just started a new diet or has been eating the same food for several years.
The only effective way of diagnosing a food allergy is to put your pet on a “hypoallergenic” or “exclusion” diet for a minimum of 8-12 weeks. Such a diet contains ingredients to which the animal has not been exposed in the past. Because the source of protein causes most allergic reactions, exclusion diets use proteins – often venison, fish or duck – that are normally not found in regular pet food. An exclusion diet may comprise home-prepared food or prescription commercial hypoallergenic products. Ask your veterinarian for his recommendation.
If your pet has a food allergy, there should be a significant reduction in the symptoms after the recommended period on the exclusion diet provided your pet is not also allergic to the newly introduced ingredients. To identify all the food allergens, add a single protein for 1-2 weeks at a time, while watching for a recurrence, or worsening of symptoms. If this happens, remove the offending ingredient from the diet. Consult your veterinarian for the correct procedure.