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If you’ve been following along in this vomiting series, then you’ve been reading about the different reasons your poodle may be vomiting, from ulcers to food allergies to dietary indiscretions to pancreatitis to Addison’s disease…(and many more).  We’ll continue talking about these causes over the next few posts – but for now, I want to continue focusing on food allergies or food intolerance.

  • Note: you can read my first post about food allergies here. That post talks about how to diagnose poodle food allergies.

Myth #1: Poodles can’t be allergic to foods that didn’t previously give them problems.

Au contraire.

Indeed, one of the most surprising things about poodle food allergies is that do NOT typically occur in response to a new food item.  Instead, food allergies develop over time. And that means that your poodle is likely to develop an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to an ingredient he’s been eating for a long time (sometimes years).

I mention this because many folks say, “my poodle couldn’t be allergic to wheat – he’s been eating it for years!”  However, it’s this repeated exposure over a long period of time that helps the food allergy develop (that and your poodle has a genetic predisposition to develop allergies).

So that means that some of the ingredients that are most common in dog food tend to be food allergy culprits.  These items include beef, chicken, eggs, soy, wheat, corn and other protein sources, grains and preservatives.

For example, Eddie the mini poodle apparently has a chicken intolerance or allergy.  He’s been eating a chicken and rice formula dog food.  A quick look at his treats reveals most of them have at least some chicken in them (even if they aren’t chicken flavor). And sometimes I’d put boiled chicken breast on top of his food.

That’s overexposure.  You add that to a predisposition for food allergies, and you end up with a poodle who can no longer eat chicken.

So the point is this: Chances are, if your poodle has a food allergy, she’s probably allergic to something that she’s been eating for weeks, months or even years.

Myth #2: High-quality (expensive) dog food prevents poodle food allergies.

I absolutely recommend that you feed your dog high quality food such as California Natural, Innova Evo, Wellness, Orijen, Taste of the Wild or another high quality dog food.

Most of these foods eliminate preservatives (especially the scary ones that many cause cancer) as well other fillers and items that aren’t that great for your dog.  And that’s a good thing.

However, these high quality dog foods do NOT prevent allergies.  If you’re feeding your poodle a high quality lamb and rice formula and your dog has a predisposition to get food allergies, then he may eventually start showing allergy symptoms in response to the lamb (and possibly other ingredients in the food).

Here’s the point: It’s not the quality of the food that causes or prevents allergies, it’s the INGREDIENTS in the food.  If your poodle is allergic to chicken, then he’ll be allergic to it no matter what the source – whether from a poor quality grocery store brand or a from a high quality dog food… or even from home cooked chicken.

So, I recommend you feed your dog high quality foods. But don’t kid yourself into thinking they’ll prevent allergies.

  • TIP: You can rotate foods every few months to help limit exposure.  That way your dog will be exposed to a variety of protein sources.  Be sure to read the labels, though, since some foods dump a bunch of protein sources into one bag.  You want to limit the sources so that you can rotate them.  For example, maybe you’ll do lamb and rice for a couple months.  Then maybe you’ll switch to a salmon formula.

Myth #3: Hypoallergenic diets alleviate allergy symptoms.

Maybe.  But sometimes “hypoallergenic” is just a marketing term.

You see, some hypoallergenic dog food is really just a limited ingredient dog food, such as duck and potatoes or rabbit and sweet potatoes.  The maker is assuming that your poodle hasn’t been exposed to these foods before, and thus the food won’t create an allergic reaction.

If that’s true, then your poodle likely will do well on the foods.  Indeed, if you’re still trying to track down exactly what your poodle is allergic to, then a limited ingredient dog food might help with a diagnosis.

However, you need to read labels.  If your dog is allergic to rice and a “hypoallergenic” food includes rice, then your poodle is going to be allergic to the food.

NOTE: Possibly the only exception are the “anti allergen” formulas put out as prescription diets (such as Hill’s Science Diet Z/D).  Here the proteins are broken down in such a way that your poodle’s body won’t recognize them as an allergen and thus won’t react.  However, IMO these are low-quality foods.  As such, use them as a tool or a transition step, but don’t let your poodle eat these for the long term.

That’s it for this time.  Next time we’ll continue to talk about reasons why your poodle is vomiting.

By the way – if you happened to stumble on this post because your poodle is vomiting as you read this, call your vet.  The call is free – and your vet can tell you whether you should come in ASAP or whether you can simply observe your poodle for a day or two.

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