How Can You Tell If Your Cat Is Allergic To Food
Your cat may be allergic to certain foods if it seems to have year-round itching that affects the face, ears, armpits, legs, paws, belly and groin.
The itchiness can cause over-grooming and result in hair loss, wounds and abrasions. Skin inflammation and infections in the skin and ears may also be due to food allergies.
Unlike food intolerance, food allergies can also cause gut problems. Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea and vomiting can also be due to food allergies. Look out for scooting due to itchiness around the rectum, frequent bowel movement and strain during defecation if you suspect food allergies.
To summarize, the following are signs and symptoms that your cat has food allergies:
- Frequent scratching
How To Do An Allergy Elimination Trial
The idea is to feed only one protein for 4 to 6 weeks to see if your cats health issues improve. I suggest using a novel protein that your cat hasnt eaten before, if possible. I also recommend starting with either a red or white meat protein and if there is no improvement after the trial switching to the other type for another 4 to 6 week trial. Pork seems to work either way its almost a mix of red and white meat, a pink meat if there was such a thing.
You must eliminate all potential allergens. This includes treats , toppings like nutritional yeast, cheese, milk, eggs, bonito flakes, etc., and flavoured toothpastes. Your cat must eat only the single protein otherwise you cant tell if they are reacting to the food or something else.
What Type Of Cat Litter Is Best For Allergies
The following types of cat litter are available:
Pine is one of the newer litter types and is popular with owners because of its natural odor control. In addition, it has a pleasing pine scent that can mask the smell of cat waste.
Some cats dont mind the scent, but others will refuse to use their litter trays. But, rest assured, the pine toxins will have been removed from the litter, making it safe for cats to use.
There are certain brands of pine litter made from pine shavings. They use mineral oil to minimize dust and extract the clumping agent from plants. This means that there are no irritating chemicals that can cause an allergic reaction.
However, pine litter pellets can be hard and rough, so some cats will be uncomfortable underfoot. Consequently, this may not be the best litter to use if your cat has sensitive or cracked paw pads.
Walnut litter is made from walnut shells that would otherwise go to waste. Many owners use it because its sustainable, biodegradable, natural, and better for the environment.
Nut allergies are one of the most common causes of itchiness in cats. Cats can develop or be born with a walnut allergy. Even the smallest exposure to a walnut could result in an allergic reaction, the symptoms of which are vomiting, excessive itching, and a skin rash. Prolonged exposure will make things worse.
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Food Allergy Vs Food Intolerance
Keep in mind that your cats reaction might be due to a food intolerance instead of a food allergy.
A food intolerance basically means your cat has trouble digesting a certain food, while a food allergy means your cats immune system plays a role in causing the reaction.
Both food intolerances and allergies have really similar symptoms, but luckily your vet can help you tell the difference between the two.
What Are The Most Common Allergens In Cat Food
Knowing what triggers your cats specific problems can really help to eliminate the stress surrounding meal times as well as give your cat a more comfortable life overall. When vets recommend food trials they often aim to avoid the following allergens, just to be on the safe side. They will later reintroduce these allergens one at a time to see which one triggers the reaction. The main known feline allergens are:
- Dairy products
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How Do You Know If Cat Is Allergic To Food
Treatment Of Food Allergies In Cats
Once the allergen has been identified, it must be permanently excluded from the cats diet. Abstaining from that food is the only long-term solution to stop symptoms from coming back.
Your veterinary nutritionist may develop a specific diet tailored to your cats needs. Generally, a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in good quality protein is preferred. This diet may have two to three protein sources that do not irritate the cat. You will need to rotate the protein type every three to six months to help prevent more food allergies forming in the cat. The diet may be commercially prepared or it may have to be homemade.
To provide relief of symptoms immediately, antihistamines may be administered. This is only a short term solution, but may be necessary if the cat is suffering.
If a secondary bacterial infection is present in the skin, an antibiotic may be prescribed to rid the body of the harmful bacteria. Prescriptions generally range from two to four weeks.
Once the new diet is started, probiotics can be helpful in aiding food digestion. They can restore the good bacteria that the gastrointestinal tract needs to function properly.
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Cat Food Allergies: Allergens Symptoms And Treatment
Food allergies are about as common with cats as they are with any other creature, including humans. Diagnosing food allergies can be a tricky business, however, as every cats allergic reaction can differ from the next. You may have already tried several approaches as easing your cats symptoms before coming here, or this may be your first port of call. Either way, we hope that the information provided below will help you to figure out whats causing your beloved pets cat food allergy and what you could do to help ease their discomfort or remove the problem altogether.
Natural Balance Lid Green Pea And Venison Dry Cat Food
Venison is the unique animal protein in this dry food for cats with allergies and sensitivities. Natural Balance also offers a similar venison-based formula as canned wet food. As with other novel proteins, venison is a good alternative to meats that your cat may otherwise be reacting to.
Natural Balance L.I.D. Green Pea and Venison Dry Cat Food
Venison is the only animal protein in this grain-free dry food recipe.rn
If you want to see how your cat does with a diet free of triggering proteins, this limited-ingredient diet food offers a duck-and-potato alternative. It has no chicken, beef, dairy, eggs, grain, gluten, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
Blue Buffalo Basics L.I.D. Duck and Potato Recipe
This duck-based food is free of chicken, beef, and dairy.
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Types And Causes Of Cat Allergies
There are 4 common allergies in cats: environmental, fleas, food, and seasonal. This section elaborates these types of allergies and the different ways in which they may affect your cat.
Environmental allergies. Substances that cause environmental allergies include pollen, grass, fungi, mold, and dust. Your cat may also have allergies to things like cigarette smoke, perfume, and some cleaning products.
Flea allergies. When a small insect known as a flea bites your cat, it causes an allergic reaction that can be very irritating. The saliva from a flea bite can affect a cats entire body, not just where the cat was bitten. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right flea prevention product to help protect your cat.
Food allergies. Some cats may have allergies to certain foods. This can cause skin itchiness, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your veterinarian can help you find out which foods are irritating your cat and create an appropriate diet.
Atopic dermatitis. When a cat experiences allergies, their bodies can often react with a skin condition called atopic dermatitis. With this condition, your cat may develop skin sores, scabbing, hair loss, and redness.
Environmental and flea allergies are usually treated by your veterinarian using the same meds, often including skin creams or a prescribed medication.
Skin Allergies In Cats
Like food allergies, skin allergies can cause real discomfort for your pet. Typically, what we think of as a skin allergy a cat may have is actually an environmental allergy that manifests as skin issues. And, because these allergies are the result of environmental factors, they are usually more common that food allergies. Determining the underlying cause and finding a proper course of treatment will help your pet live a more comfortable life.
Determining the exact cause of your cats allergies might be a process of trial and error, but if you think your cat is suffering from food or skin allergies, its essential to see your veterinarian immediately
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What Causes Food Allergies Or Food Intolerance
It may take months or years before your cat develops an allergic response to a particular food. However, once she’s allergic, she will almost always have a negative reaction to that food. Allergic reactions are most commonly associated with protein sources usually the meat in your cats food.
Food: The most common causes of food allergies and food intolerance in cats are beef, milk products and fish.
Damage: Inflammation, infection, surgery and some medications can damage the digestive system and may lead to food allergies or food intolerance.
Age: Food allergies and food intolerance can occur at any age.
Breed: Some cat breeds appear more likely to develop food allergies or food intolerance, including Siamese cats.
What Is Hypoallergenic Cat Food
Hypoallergenic cat food is food that does not contain ingredients that are known to be cat allergens. Instead, they consist of only ingredients that are not potential allergens.
It does not contain ingredients that are likely to cause allergic reactions, such as corn, wheat, rice, sugar, soy and beet pulp.
If you are aware of the ingredient or ingredients that your furry friend is allergic to, you turn to hypoallergenic cat food that absolutely does not have that ingredient. Your vet can also help you tailor a specific hypoallergenic cat food diet that is suitable for your cat.
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Infections Caused By Cats
Allergies are a manifestation of the immune system’s over-reaction to a non-infectious substance. But you can also get an infection due to cat exposure, such as ringworm, or an infection due to a cat scratch.
A parasitic infection caused byToxoplasma gondii is spread by cat feces. This parasite is very dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause birth defects.
Infections caused by cats are different than allergies.
What Is Wet Food Allergy
Cats with food allergies often develop uncomfortable and unsightly skin conditions, and although wet food does not pose a higher incidence of allergic reaction than dry food, allergies to the ingredients in any type food may arise. An elimination diet is the veterinary gold standard for accurately identifying which allergen is distressing your feline. This process is often time-consuming, requiring several weeks to months of treatment, however, it is still the most popular and accurate method available today to deduce which ingredient is causing the patients reaction.
Cats can develop uncomfortable and unsightly skin conditions due to allergies to any ingredient, including the ingredients found in wet cat food.
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How Are Food Allergies Treated
Food allergies, like other allergies, cannot be cured. Instead, they are managed through avoidance of foods that trigger allergy flare-ups.
Once your pet has been diagnosed with a food allergy, you may choose to continue the food that you used during the food trial for long term maintenance. Alternatively, you may be able to work with your veterinarian to find a different food that will provide similar relief from symptoms. Every cat differs in the severity of their food allergies. Some cats may react dramatically to even trace levels of an offending allergen, requiring carefully controlled hypoallergenic foods, while other cats may have a higher tolerance and may do well on a different flavor of a typical cat food.
“Food allergies, like other allergies, cannot be cured.”
Regardless, once you have found a diet that works for your cat, you will need to continue that diet long-term, avoiding cat treats and other foods that may trigger an allergic reaction.
With careful dietary control, the prognosis for cats with food allergies is typically good.
Contact And Flea Allergies
You might be surprised to learn that most cats are only vaguely bothered by fleas. But those that are allergic can suffer and so can their owners. Contact and flea allergies generally cause skin irritation in cats and are treated topically. Cats with contact and flea allergies often chew their skin raw, leading to hair loss, odor and infection, so fastidious flea control is a must.
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Common Food Allergens In Dogs And Cats
First on our cat and dog food allergy list is beef. Not only is it the most common protein found in dog foods, but its by far the most commonly reported pet food allergen in both dogs and cats. A study from BMC Veterinary Research reveals that as many as 34% of dogs and 18% of cats experiencing food allergies are allergic to beef, making it a leading offending allergen.
Like beef, chicken is a common food allergen that youll often see at the top of the ingredient label for any pet food. Of the dogs experiencing food allergies, 15% of them are allergic to chicken. Chicken allergies also affect about 5% of cats.
The third most common protein source in pet food is lamb. Though it includes a smaller percentage of allergic dogs, its reported that 5% of dogs face a lamb allergy.
Just like people, dogs and cats can have a hard time digesting dairy products. While dairy isnt as big of an offender as proteins, it is one of the most commonly recognized food allergens in both dogs and cats. Look out for ingredients like colostrum, milk, whey, cheese, and yogurt on the nutrition label.
Tip: Dogs and cats can also experience lactose intolerance, which leads to gastrointestinal signs like gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Since the symptoms of lactose intolerance and dairy allergies are very similar, we recommend talking to your veterinarian to determine if your pet is struggling with a food sensitivity or a full blown allergy.
Wheat and Grain
Regular Ear And Skin Infections
If constant itching doesnt tip you off that your cat has food allergies, it could be frequent infections. Ear infections are the most common infections related to allergens. Theyre identified by obvious debris in the ear, foul odor, and redness. They can also be extremely painful, so your cat might shake their head or paw at their ear more than usual. Regular skin infections on other areas of the body also point to food allergies.
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What Should I Do If I Suspect My Cat Has Food Allergies
Mites, bacterial infections as well as yeast infections can also cause chronic itching. Hence, it is important to rule them out to determine the actual cause as to why your cat is scratching frequently.
If you suspect that the scratching is due to food allergies, the best action you can take is to pay a visit to the vet. The worst thing you can do is to pick up new food at the pet store or your local supermarket. Switching diets or food will only make it harder for you and the vet to determine what ingredient your cat is allergic to and/or the best way to treat the allergy.
The vet will most likely start your kitty on a food trial to test which foods are the cause of all the tummy issues and skin itchiness. During the food trial, your cat will be given a special diet free from proteins that your cat has been eating. Food trials usually take 10 to 12 weeks.
Food trials include:
- Hydrolyzed protein diets where proteins are broken down to a very small size so that your cats immune system is unable to recognize them.
- Commercially available novel protein diets that do not contain any of the protein that your cat has been eating previously.
- Home-cooked novel protein diets that do not contain any of the protein that your cat has been eating previously.
Besides a food trial, your vet can also check for allergic reactions through blood tests and skin tests.