Many people believe that dogs are carnivores or natural meat eaters. However, generations of domestication have made dogs omnivorous, even if they are descendants of the wolves. This makes them perfectly adaptable to eat fruits and vegetables.
While this seems unbelievable, and several people in social media have often expressed as much online, cases like these do exist.
Sometimes, these can manifest when a dog’s body is constantly exposed to allergens like animal proteins for a long time. In the process, immune responses develop.
While animal-based proteins truly offer a wealth of benefits, allergies or sensitivities to meat can still develop. Here’s how they happen and how you can help your dog live with them.
What are food allergies
It should be noted that allergies are different from intolerance. The latter simply means that the dog will have trouble digesting certain ingredients, while the former happens due to the body’s immune responses.
Symptoms of food intolerance include digestive-related problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, or loose stools. (For a full list of symptoms, read: How to deal with your dog’s sensitive stomach). One example of intolerance is towards lactose, a type of sugar found in milk.
On the other hand, food allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies a food ingredient as a harmful one. These can range from meat sources and dairy, among others. Food allergies in humans can manifest through itching and skin hives. Similar symptoms happen to dogs with the addition of sneezing and even red eyes.
Identifying and avoiding the allergen is the fastest way to adjust your dog’s diet. And it’s worth starting with meat protein.
How do meat proteins cause allergies
Because animal proteins are common, prolonged exposure may lead to your dog’s immune systems misidentifying these as harmful, according to veterinarian Dr. Justin Shmalberg.
Allergic responses don’t normally happen the first time these proteins are ingested. This is why novel proteins like Kangaroo, Venison, or Brushtail Possum are sometimes fed in place of Beef. The immune system has to encounter proteins more than once for these proteins to be identified as potentially harmful.
Given that most dogs eat Beef or Chicken, this risk can’t be ignored. In fact, a 2016 study by the Biomedical Central Veterinary Research stated that 34% of dogs are reported to have allergies to Beef.
The risk goes even higher for certain dog breeds. A 2018 article from The Merck Veterinary Manuals lists Golden Retrievers, Dalmatians, and Labrador Retriever among the most allergy-prone of dog breeds.
How to help your dog live with allergies
While novel proteins may be a viable solution for dogs to get nutrition from animal meat, there are times when meat allergies become too severe for your pets. Such was the case with our founder’s Golden Retriever, Zack.
Zack suffered from allergies at a young age. His symptoms included rashes and even gastrointestinal problems caused by fats, grains, and additives caused by most pet foods.
To address this, Zack was given a variety of commercial and veterinary-recommended pet food. Even medications and steroids were also administered, but to no avail. Zack still suffered from sensitive skin and digestive issues. The only remaining alternative: a plant-based diet. That’s why we created Zen Vegetarian dog food, a 100% plant-based diet made with New Zealand vegetables and grains.
The result was nothing short of miraculous. From constant itching and medication, the vegetarian formula helped Zack recover gradually to full health. In the end, not only did a plant-based diet save Zack’s life, it also helped Zack live to 16 years old, far longer than the expected lifespan of a Golden Retriever.
It’s understandable that meat allergies in dogs can be unbelievable, but it can happen. If you have or know someone’s dog with this condition, consider giving them a vegetarian diet with plant-based proteins if the condition is too severe.
Zen Vegetarian is a holistic plant-based formula that’s rich in all the dietary protein dogs need for optimal nutrition. It’s enriched with Coconut Oil and Omega-3 fatty acids from Flaxseed to promote a healthy skin and coat. It’s ideal for dogs with meat allergies as it’s 100% free from animal .