Over the past few years, there’s been increased discussion about food allergies in dogs and cats. A walk down any pet food aisle reveals a number of different products claiming to be allergen-free, hypoallergenic or grain-free, and now many pet owners scrutinize ingredients lists to determine the best food for their furry friends. However, it seems that food allergies might not be as common as people think, and diagnosing those few cases is extremely difficult.

The clinical nutrition team at Tufts University contends that food allergies in pets are actually rare and gluten intolerances are not an issue; cats show no adverse effect to gluten and only two breeds of dogs — Irish setters and border terriers — might be susceptible to gluten.1

Often there are other causes for the symptoms people associate with food allergies. A virus, bacteria or parasite can all cause gastrointestinal symptoms; while fleas, dust mites or pollen can cause itching, skin irritation and ear infections.1

Diagnosing a food allergy is extremely complicated as there is no test that provides reliable results. Instead, veterinarians rely on an elimination trial to identify specific food allergens. A pet must be put on a strict diet, with limited ingredients, for at least a month to see whether there’s improvement. If there’s a marked improvement, ingredients are slowly introduced to try to pinpoint the trigger.1

If your pet is suffering from gastrointestinal problems, itching, skin irritation or ear infections, don’t automatically assume a food allergy. It’s more than likely caused by another source and a veterinarian can help diagnose the problem.

Hudson’s Bay Financial Services is happy to offer coverage for your dog and cat through Petline Insurance — Canada’s largest pet insurance company. With pet insurance, you can be reimbursed for up to 80% of the cost of veterinary care and services if your pets fall ill or are injured. Additionally, you’ll earn Hudson’s Bay Rewards points that you can spend in store or online.2

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1 Clinical Nutrition Service. “What every pet owner should know about food allergies.” Retrieved September 26, 2018, from http://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2017/01/food-allergies/.

2 Earn 2,000 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points when you purchase a Basic Care plan, 3,000 Rewards points for an Enhanced Care plan and 4,000 Rewards points for an Enhanced Care Plus plan. Rewards points will be issued in equal increments after every six months when you use a valid Canadian-issued credit card to pay for your premiums and will not be pro-rated. Offer valid in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec and the Yukon.