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Lamb Allergy in Dogs

Understanding Lamb Allergies in Dogs: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Lamb allergy in dogs is a hypersensitivity reaction in the immune system in response to exposure to lamb protein. 

A dog allergic to lamb exhibits symptoms such as itching, redness, swelling, and hair loss. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections complicate lamb allergy. Systemic symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, hives, and sneezing manifest with lamb allergies. The immune system is triggered in response to the lamb protein, creating a series of inflammatory processes.

Glycoproteins are shown to have important roles in infection and immunity. The glycoproteins are vital in diagnosing allergic reactions in dogs. Diagnosing lamb allergy requires a physical exam and an elimination diet trial. The trial is conducted for several months under the veterinarian's supervision. 

Treating a dog allergic to lamb symptoms relies on removing lamb protein from the diet with anti-itch medication, skin and coat supplements, and antifungal or antibiotic treatments for secondary infection.

What is Lamb Allergy in Dogs?

A lamb allergy in dogs is the hypersensitive response to the lamb protein when ingested. The dog’s immune system reacts to the protein and releases Immunoglobulin E to attack the allergen, causing an immune response. The immune system's overreaction to the ordinarily harmless protein causes the symptoms of allergies. 

Symptoms include reddening (erythema), itching, hives, swelling, conjunctivitis, and gastrointestinal upset from canine gastroenteritis. A lamb allergy in dogs is manageable by avoiding lamb and lamb-based diets.

What are the Symptoms of Lamb Allergies in Dogs?

The symptoms of lamb allergies in dogs are listed below. 

  • Skin Irritation: Irritation is one of dogs' most common signs of allergies. Allergic reactions cause a chain of inflammatory processes. Lamb allergies cause noticeable changes in the skin due to a hyperactivation of the immune system that leads to itching, redness, and discomfort. Persistent skin irritation leads to traumatic dermatitis or secondary infection.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Dogs with lamb allergies exhibit gastrointestinal signs. Vomiting and diarrhea after eating lamb are common when there is food intolerance. The lamb protein is processed in the gut and is recognized as a foreign material that triggers bowel inflammation. Prolonged vomiting and diarrhea cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. 
  • Ear Infections: Persistent and chronic ear infections are prevalent in dogs with allergies. Lamb allergy makes the dog more susceptible to opportunistic bacteria and fungi that cause secondary infection. The natural bacteria and fungi turn into a skin infection that causes otitis. Allergies are “a component of ear infections in as many as 43% of cases. Furthermore, ear infections occur in 65-80% of dogs with underlying food allergies,” according to Weir et al. of VCA Animal Hospitals. Chronic bilateral otitis is a suspect cause of yeast infections secondary to dogs' allergies. 
  • Respiratory Signs: Dogs with allergies have respiratory signs like sneezing and difficulty breathing. The inflammatory action of immunoglobulins causes the airways to become irritated. Sneezing is how the body tries to eliminate the allergen and clear the airway, including inhaled allergens. Difficulty breathing occurs as a result of airway swelling. The dog is unable to breathe normally and needs emergency medical attention. 
  • Behavioral Changes: A dog with lamb allergy experiences a loss of appetite, as the uncomfortable effects of an allergy create a negative memory for the dog. There is a lack of playfulness as allergies are painful and affect the dog’s mood. The dog starts to have irritable behavior due to the irritation and itchiness of the allergic response. Some dogs are reluctant to be touched or petted. 

What are the Causes That Make a Dog Develop a Lamb Allergy?

The causes that make a dog develop a lamb allergy are listed below.

  • Genetics
  • Immune System Sensitivity
  • Early Exposure
  • Environmental Factors
  • Dietary Factors
  • Digestive Health

1. Genetics

Certain allergies are believed to pass from parent to offspring. “There is a 30-50% chance of their offspring developing allergies. This jumps to 60-80% if both parents are allergic,” according to a human study by the Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center. The findings are a probable basis for animal hereditary food allergies, but the exact mechanism is unconfirmed. Procuring the medical information of the dog’s parents helps predict future responses to certain foods. Visit the veterinarian when allergic symptoms are chronic and recurrent. 

2. Immune System Sensitivity

A susceptible immune system is the leading cause of allergies in dogs. An allergic response is caused by the hyperreactive reaction of the immune system to a non-harmful substance. The immune system protects the body from the perceived threat, causing discomfort. Managing allergies is dependent mainly on identifying the cause. Visit the vet when seeing signs of lamb allergy in dogs to confirm. 

3. Early Exposure

Early exposure to lamb proteins leads to allergy susceptibility in dogs, triggering an exaggerated immune response upon subsequent encounters. The heightened sensitivity results in an allergy to lamb over time. The immune system becomes increasingly reactive with each exposure, leading to more severe allergic reactions. 

The process is known as sensitization and is a key factor in the development of allergies in dogs. The dog's immune system gradually develops a stronger reaction to lamb proteins, manifesting as allergy symptoms.

4. Environmental Factors

Environmental factors contributing to lamb allergies include exposure to lamb proteins through dietary sources or contact with environmental allergens such as lamb dander or saliva. Dogs become sensitive to the allergens through repeated exposure, leading to allergic reactions upon subsequent contact or ingesting lamb products. 

Dog owners must identify and minimize their pets' exposure to the allergens to manage lamb allergies. Consult a veterinarian to develop a personalized treatment plan. The plan involves dietary modifications, allergen avoidance strategies, and allergen-specific immunotherapy.

5. Dietary Factors

Ingesting any food that has been integrated with lamb triggers an allergic reaction. Some dog food contains lamb-based flavorings or ingredients. Screen the food items before giving them to a dog with a lamb allergy. The ingredients on the product packaging must be investigated for lamb derivatives. 

Provide good quality, lamb-free meals to dogs with lamb allergies. Take the extra effort to read product information and analyze unknown product ingredients. Visit a veterinarian when allergic symptoms are chronic and recurrent.

6. Digestive Health

Physiological changes in the digestive anatomy are able to cause lamb allergy in dogs. Conditions such as leaky gut syndrome, wherein there is an abnormal increase in intestinal wall permeability, are able to trigger lamb allergies. Poor digestive health in dogs often manifests as diarrhea and vomiting episodes. 

Proper attention to the quality and content of the dog’s diet is key to preventing digestive health problems. A veterinarian must treat vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Chronic digestive upset leads to dehydration, malabsorption, and electrolyte abnormalities. 

Are there Dog Breeds that are More Prone to Developing Lamb Allergies?

No, there are no specific breeds that are allergic to lamb. Lamb allergies occur independent of age, sex, breed, and diet. Other forms of dog allergies are suspected to be caused by hereditary factors, although food allergies are not confirmed to be hereditary. 

The parental genes for being allergic to specific triggers are sometimes passed on to the offspring. Food allergies are generally common in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Mini Schnauzers, and Chinese Shar-Peis. 

Is Lamb Meat a Common Cause of Allergy in Dogs?

No, lamb meat is not a common cause of allergy in dogs. Among the many animal proteins that dogs eat, “the most frequently reported food allergens involved were beef (102 dogs, 34 %), dairy products (51 dogs, 17 %), chicken (45 dogs, 15 %), wheat (38 dogs, 13 %) and lamb (14 dogs, 5 %)” according to the study by Mueller et al., titled “Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats”, 2016. The data shows that lamb meat is a type of dog allergy that is relatively uncommon in dogs, making it the least among the common proteins. 

How Do You Diagnose Lamb Allergies in Dogs?

You can diagnose lamb allergies in dogs by conducting a food elimination trial. The veterinarian prescribes a diet containing either hydrolyzed protein or a novel protein source. The diet must not contain any ingredient that the dog has previously ingested. 

The dog is fed the food for eight to twelve weeks. The diet is the only food that the dog is permitted to eat while undergoing the trial. Once the allergic signs cease, the dog undergoes a food challenge by reintroducing lamb. A dog food allergy to lamb is confirmed when the allergic signs return within a week of reintroduction to the dog’s diet. 

Diagnosing lamb allergies in dogs is important to provide proper relief and care for the condition. Having an itchy dog without knowing the cause is stressful for the dog and the owner. Effective disease management depends on identifying the allergen so that it is avoided. 

What are the Treatments for Dogs with Lamb Allergy?

The treatments for dogs with lamb allergy are a combination of medications and lamb avoidance. Medications such as anti-itch medication, antibiotics, prescription diets, and skincare supplements are commonly used in dogs with allergies. The veterinarian develops a treatment plan that targets the dog's specific needs. 

Anti-itch medications control the itching response in dogs. The medication aims to reduce the intensity and frequency of itching, decreasing further skin damage. Antibiotics and antifungals eliminate secondary infections that damage and prevent skin healing. Dermatological diets are necessary for dogs with skin allergies. 

The change in diet helps hasten healing and return the skin to normal. Over-the-counter antihistamines are available for everyday use. A veterinarian administers epinephrine as an emergency treatment for anaphylaxis. 

Elimination trials are important in diagnosing a dog with lamb allergy. The trial involves eight to twelve weeks of hypoallergenic feeding followed by a food challenge. Lamb is reintroduced to the diet after the elimination trial. A dog food allergy to lamb is confirmed when the allergic signs return within a week of reintroduction to the dog’s diet.

Can Dogs Die from Lamb Allergy?

Yes, dogs can die from lamb allergy. High amounts of exposure to an allergen are able to cause a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an immediate severe, life-threatening condition in dogs. Signs of anaphylaxis include wheals, hives, swelling around the face, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Systemic anaphylaxis affects the cardiopulmonary system, making breathing hard for the dog. Anaphylactic shock is when there is multi-organ failure due to the intense immune system reaction that leads to death if left untreated. 

Can CBD Oil Help Treat Dogs with Lamb Allergy?

Yes, CBD can help treat dogs with lamb allergy. CBD oil allows allergies by soothing itchiness, inflammation, and pain. CBD acts on the ECS or endocannabinoid system, a complex mechanism that regulates primary bodily functions. 

The ECS influences metabolism, stress, memory, pain control, and inflammatory and immune responses. CBD oil for dog allergies helps reduce inflammatory cytokine production, relieving redness and itchiness. Consult a veterinarian for the proper use of CBD in dogs with lamb allergies.