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Get to the Root of the Allergy Problem! No More Bandaids

Allergies are common in dogs of all breeds, usually appearing after age 1 or 2 years. Many substances can act as allergens--proteins that trigger an immune system overreaction. Tree/plant pollens, molds, wool and synthetics used in carpets and bedding, and pesticide-treated lawns can all cause allergies in dogs, but the usual culprits are flea saliva and food. Itching, either at a single site or all over the body, is the number one allergic symptom. Some other signs of an allergy are runny eyes/nose, vomiting, and diarrhea.

When Moon Pie came to FTF, we started her on a prescription allergy medication that she has been on for several months, but it didn’t seem to be helping as much as expected. According to foster mom Emily J, her eyes were always pink, and she had tears running down her face 24/7. “She was constantly licking and scratching in between her toes and on her belly, her skin in those areas was raw, and her fur was coarse and brittle—like horse hair.”

Suspecting that Moon Pie might have a food intolerance, FTF ordered a test kit from 5Strands ( to learn if any foods could be causing problems. Testing involved clipping some fur from Moon’s side and mailing it to the company for analysis. Two weeks later, Emily received an 8-page report. Among the foods and ingredients that Moon Pie is most intolerant to are several types of dairy products (such as American cheese, cow’s milk, and plain yogurt), wheat gluten, chicken (including chicken eggs), pork, certain fish, corn, and a number of food coloring agents and synthetic food additives.

The report is intended to be used as an outline for a 6- to 8-week elimination plan. Avoiding processed pet food by feeding homecooked meals or raw food (which has pros and cons and is not recommended by all veterinarians) are the best elimination strategies, but they are time-consuming or expensive. A third option is finding a pet food with the least amount of the offending items, and this is the route Moon Pie’s adopters are taking. Yes, after months in foster care, Moon has finally found her forever home! Her family plans on reintroducing one offending food item at a time and watching for any return of symptoms. She will continue taking her allergy pills for the time being, but hopefully the dietary changes will make this medication unnecessary.

Good luck to sweet Moon Pie as she starts her new life!

Written by: Michele G

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