Monday, July 18, 2011

Dog food allergy testing: Sometimes, reactions are part of the learning

Liam the pug has a very swollen face in this blurry photo
No, the blue eyes aren't part of the reaction. But the swollen muzzle certainly is.
Liam typically has a gorgeous little pug face. His expression is open and calm, his muzzle is dark and his forehead is cream. He really is a stunner. But if you look at the blurry photo I've linked up here, you'll see that something is terribly wrong.

See that raised and weeping thing on the right side of his face? See how it's pushing into his eye?

Yup, that is no trick of the camera. It's a very serious allergic problem. And I know just how it happened.

Over the past few months, in an effort to keep Liam's health in tip-top shape, I have:
  • Changed floor cleaners
  • Swapped out detergents
  • Eliminated scented dog shampoos
  • Made my own dog treats
  • Swapped out flea medications 
 I also started making Liam's food from scratch, paying close attention to each and every ingredient that went into his food. I read the labels, bought meats that were free of antibiotics and disinfected all of the tools I used to make his food.

Since he'd been doing so well over the last several months, I started the terrible task of adding items back into his diet and looking for reactions.

Last week, I added back peanut butter. Things seemed to go fine, so I gave him a little jerky treat. I came home from a night out to see this sad little face peeping out from the edge of his dog bed.

Dealing with allergic reactions like this is truly terrible. I felt absolutely horrible for giving Liam something that would cause a reaction. Whipping a dog to the emergency room is also no walk in the park.

But, I am grateful that I know at least one more small piece about his allergy situation.

I'm spending the next few days removing all nut products and jerky products from his treat cupboard, and I'll scour his food ingredients to ferret out hidden jerky or nuts.

Then, when things have calmed back down, I'll try adding back another little nut or jerky bit, just to see if this comes back.

The one thing I'll do differently? Add in Benadryl. Using an antihistamine at the first sign of inflammation could keep a small reaction from snowballing. But unfortunately, I can't keep the testing from happening. I need to know what it causing the problem, so I can keep him safe in the future.

Thinking of following in my footsteps? Remember: Ask your veterinarian for advice first. Some reactions in dogs can be life-threatening. Never test anything without the permission of a trained medical professional. Only follow these steps if you have a formal okay.

And if you do it: Good luck!