Chronic food-related health issues in animals, such as itchy skin and “leaky” gut are also known as intestinal dysbiosis. However, many affected dogs do not have diarrhea or weight loss, but instead commonly exhibit “hot spots”, chewing on the coat, and licking the feet or anus. Other signs and symptoms include vague abdominal pain, acid reflux, nausea, abdominal bloating, flatulence, chronic fatigue, constipation, pancreatitis, and even seizures. Sometimes, serum liver enzyme levels are elevated; in other cases they are asymptomatic and are diagnosed only after endoscopic intestinal biopsy.
Food sensitivity testing for common allergens and peptides in dogs and cats has been available for some time and tests for the grains most often associated with IBD and other symptoms of adverse food reactions such as, but not limited to, wheat and other glutens, like barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats (unless labeled as gluten-free), as well as corn (often a GMO product now) and soy (a phytoestrogen). These grain types are among the major constituents (top five ingredients) that make up the bulk of standard commercial kibble fed to most dogs. Other common allergens in pet foods or animal food compositions are poultry and venison, and the testing and screening is also directed to, but not limited to other meats, fish, dairy, eggs, other grains, botanicals, oils from seeds or fish, botanicals, vegetables, nuts, or fruit. For example, wheat-sensitive enteropathy is a heritable trait in Irish Setters. Gluten foods cause immunological reactions which lead to atrophy of the intestinal villi of the inflamed small intestine. This, in turn, results in diarrhea and weight loss due to malabsorption of fluid, electrolytes, and dietary nutrients. Even though chronic or intermittent diarrhea and intermittent vomiting are the most common symptoms of this food sensitivity, there have been few studies of the prevalence of this condition in animals being presented to veterinarians with chronic diarrhea or vomiting or other common bowel symptoms. The result was often either no diagnosis or a missed diagnosis of an immunologic food sensitivity or intolerance.
Food re-activities also can be seen to foods or supplements that the animal ate before it became a meat source, so that reactions to grains, milk proteins and legumes can be seen. Recent studies published in North America and Europe showed that nearly all of the premium and prescription foods tested contain undeclared sources of animal origin (meat, poultry or fish), and soy proteins. Furthermore, the body’s metabolism and food re-activities can change at anytime as food sensitivity is cumulative and affected by continual environmental exposures.