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In previous posts I referred to Eddie, a mini poodle who’s been vomiting.  After lots of vet tests and some trial and error, we’ve eliminated possible causes of poodle vomiting such as intestinal obstruction, bloat, parvo and similar diseases and illnesses.

In Eddie’s case, his main problem seemed to be a food intolerance (chicken)… although now it seems he may have developed a secondary ulcer, since he can’t eat dry kibble without vomiting. I’ll talk about that more in another post. But first, let’s talk about poodle food allergies and food intolerance…

NOTE: If your poodle is vomiting or has other signs of illness, call your vet!  The call is free, and they’ll let you know whether you should come in.  They may even be able to offer you advice over the phone.

For example, maybe your poodle just has a touch of gastritis (stomach upset) because of dietary indiscretion (“garbage gut”).  In that case, your vet may suggest you withhold food for 4-24 hours and then start on a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice.

But again — talk to your vet, because toy poodles in particular dehydrate quickly and can get dangerously low blood sugar levels if they’re vomiting and/or if you’re withholding food – so you do NOT want to do this unless you’re under your vet’s supervision.

Now assuming you’ve already talked to your vet, here’s a bit more info about poodle food allergies/intolerance…

A food intolerance typically manifests as digestive upsets, such as vomiting, abdominal discomfort, loose stools, or even diarrhea.  It’s as if the poodle just can’t quite process a particular food properly, so the body “rejects” it.

Typically, you’ll see poodle food allergies manifest as “skin” symptoms. That means they’ll get itchy skin, particularly around the ears and feet.  If your poodle dog is scratching a lot, chewing his feet or otherwise uncomfortable, you may be dealing with an allergy.

Does your poodle have an intolerance or an allergy?  Let’s leave that up to your vet to decide.  We’re not so worried about semantics as we are about giving your poodle some relief.

Unfortunately, you can’t just look at a dog and determine if allergy or intolerance symptoms are caused by food allergies or environmental allergies (which can be similar to what humans get).  Instead, you need to do one of two things:

1. An allergy screening with your vet.  They can do a simple blood test, although some people say these aren’t very accurate.  They can also do a skin test (like they do in human), which would help you track down more of the environmental allergies.

2. A food trial.  If you suspect your poodle has food allergies, then one of the best ways to diagnose it is by using a food trial.

Let’s look at this point in more detail…

Diagnosing and Treating Poodle Food Allergies with a Food Trial

There are two ways to do a simple food trial at home.

One way is to use the food your vet prescribes, such as the Science Diet Z/D diet, which comes in either a “low allergen” or ultra allergen free formula.  These types of foods tend to include ingredients – like chicken – that may be at the root of your poodle’s allergies.  But the proteins have been broken down in such a way that your dog’s body likely won’t recognize it as an allergen, and thus won’t react.

The downside of using these prescribed diets as that they are expensive and they aren’t very good quality food (IMO).  But you may give your poodle some relief by feeding this food temporarily while you and your vet figure out the next step.

The second way to help diagnose a food allergy is by using a home cooked meal.  In this case, you want to use a novel protein and a novel carbohydrate (e.g., something your poodle hasn’t eaten before).  You might use combinations like turkey and potatoes, fish and sweet potatoes, beef and rice… etc.  Talk to your vet or someone who specializes in animal nutrition to decide which combination is right for you.

Regardless of which method you choose, here’s how it works…

Generally, you can figure if your poodle’s symptoms clear up on the diet then a food allergy or intolerance is to blame.  However, the diet needs to be very strict.  That means no bones, chews, treats or even flavored meds (like a heartworm tablet).  The dog needs to ONLY eat his special diet – nothing else – for at least two or three months.

I know, I know – kind of a pain in the butt.  But if your poodle dog has a food allergy, it may take that long just to clear the allergen out of her system.  And so you need to really be strict and make sure your poodle isn’t eating anything else except the anti-allergen food or the limited ingredient meals you’re giving her.

That means making sure your other household members or neighbors aren’t slipping anything to her.  You also need to watch that she doesn’t pick up crumbs off the floor or lick food off your face or hands.

Also, if you have other pets in the house, be sure to keep their food far away.  Even though I always feed my cats up high, one of them has a habit of playing with her food. She loves flicking her kibbles off the dresser and onto the floor, right to my mini poodle. 🙂

Finally, watch your poodle outside like a hawk to make sure she’s not picking up anything out there.

If your poodle is dealing with a food allergy or intolerance, you’ll usually see that your poodle is getting relief long before the 12 weeks is up.  In the case of Eddie the mini poodle, once I removed chicken from his diet I could see his vomiting decrease almost instantly – from four times a day to just once per day in a matter of 24 hours or so.

Once you’ve passed the 12 week point (and your poodle didn’t pick up any stray crumbs or foods in those 12 weeks), then your next step is to start slowly introducing other proteins and carbs. For example, if you’re feeding rice and chicken, then you can try adding in lamb.  Feed that for a couple weeks and see if you notice any symptoms.  If not, you can add something else – just one thing – and again observe for several weeks and note any changes.

Yep, it’s a long process that will drive you nuts because you have to be so careful. But it’s worth it just to give your poodle some relief.

That’s all for this time.  Next time I’ll talk a bit more about how your poodle may have developed his food allergy or intolerance. And then in future posts we’ll talk about other possible reasons a poodle may vomit, such as Addison’s Disease or pancreatitis.

One response to "Poodles with food allergies or a food intolerance"

[…] you can read my first post about food allergies here. That post talks about how to diagnose poodle food […]

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