Food intolerance and Food allergy are two types of adverse reactions to a specific food or food additives. The number of animals showing symptoms linked to food allergies and intolerances increases dramatically every year. Symptoms of food allergies and food intolerance are mostly similar. These similarities make it difficult to quickly differentiate between an allergy and intolerance. Food allergy involves an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated immune response. However, food intolerance does not trigger an immune response and is mostly associated with the digestive system.
Until a few years ago, allergies were thought to be the most common adverse reaction to food. However, now due to extensive research, it was shown that food intolerance can be predominant, more common, and likely to become a chronic disease. Dogs and cats of any age, breed, or gender can be affected.
Food intolerance usually manifests itself with dermatological clinical signs and/or gastrointestinal signs. However, this kind of adverse reaction can affect almost any organ and cause weakness, lack of appetite, weight loss or poor weight gain, and poor growth in a young pet.
Symptoms of Food Intolerance
The following symptoms occur more frequently in dogs and cats with Food intolerances.
Skin: non-seasonal itching/scratching or hair loss, red and inflamed skin, licking a paw, seborrhea, pyoderma (papules or pustules on the skin), hot spot, scrotum dermatosis, unpleasant skin odor.
Eye: constant tearing, redness, and conjunctivitis.
Ear: ear shaking, reddening, excessive odor and/or excreted from the ears, and otitis.
Oral cavity: chronic gingivitis and stomatitis, periodontitis, halitosis, laryngitis and pharyngitis, excessive tartar deposits.
Gastrointestinal tract: vomiting, flatulence/abdominal gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea.
Perianal glands: inflammation of anal glands, pain, licking, bad smell.
Urogenital system: nephrosis, chronic nephritis, idiopathic cystitis, and lack or diminution of male and female fertility.
Respiratory system: sneezing, rhinitis, wheezing, coughing, or asthma
Bone structure: growth disorders, obesity, osteoarthritis.
Reproduction system: irregular or silent heat, prolonged anestrus, split heat, hypo fertility, prolonged lochia, and difficult deliveries.
Behavior disorders: bad attention, hyperactivity, panic attacks, anxiety, groundless fears, mood swings, insomnia, aggressiveness.
Causes of Food Intolerance
Food intolerance in dogs and cats is associated with enzyme deficiencies, abnormal absorption or naturally occurring chemicals in food. Food intolerance can be caused by natural and artificial food ingredients or food additives, coloring and spices used during food manufacturing, the toxicity of contaminated and/or spoiled foods, as well as ingestion of excessive amounts of a specific nutrient like vitamin A or vitamin D. Intolerance to Food additives is a growing problem now, because more pet foods contain additives which are used to enhance flavors and increase shelf life. Pets with food intolerance have a different level of sensitivity to food ingredients and additives. Veterinarians order Food intolerance tests to help design a diet and eliminate the cause of digestive problems.
The serological detection of the level of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to selected food is a convenient and easy way to diagnose Food intolerance. A higher level of IgG antibodies to specific foods can indicate that a food is problematic to consume. Test results should be observed in the context of the complete clinical picture and help veterinarians formulate an elimination diet.
Using a new generation of advanced and fully automated technology, our laboratory provides a test for IgG detection in order to diagnose Food intolerances in dogs and cats.