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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29804
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My dog has been acting erratically recently. I believe

Customer Question

Hi, my dog has been acting erratically recently. I believe that he had an allergic reaction to his food, but some of his behavior seems odd even for that:
Compulsive scratching - consistent with food allergy
overly tired - same
lack of appetite - same
The odd thing is he is also occasionally shaking his head strongly, something he never did before, as well as occasionally get up and run in a circle once then lie down, which also appears compulsive
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. Artoo's symptoms are important but not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one disorder. In particular, it's important to note that a food intolerance will mimic the symptoms of atopic dermatitis - allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dust mites, etc. If gastrointestinal distress - inappetence, vomiting and/or diarrhea - is seen concomitant with the pruritis (itchiness) of an allergic dermatitis, however - a food intolerance becomes more important. Both atopy and food intolerance can cause pruritis of the face, ears, ventrum (underneath him) and anus and so his head shaking can indicate either atopy or food intolerance or discomfort from something else entirely. Either can result in compulsive disorders. Administering a short course of a corticosteroid such as prednisone can be an easy manner in which to differentiate atopy from food intolerance. The former is usually quite responsive to prednisone; the latter isn't. You can also test for either - blood or skin scratch testing is available for atopy. Presumptive hypoallergenic diets are available for food intolerance trials. Food intolerance/allergy is best addressed with prescription hypoallergenic diets. These special foods contain just one novel (rabbit, duck, e.g.) animal protein or proteins that have been chemically altered (hydrolyzed) to the point that Artoo's immune system doesn't "see" anything to be allergic to. The over the counter hypoallergenic foods too often contain proteins not listed on the label - soy is a common one - and these proteins would confound our evaluation of the efficacy of the hypoallergenic diet. The prescription foods are available from his vet. There are many novel protein foods and a prototypical hydrolyzed protein food is Hill’s Prescription Diet z/d ultra (my preference). A positive response is usually seen within a few weeks if we’ve eliminated the offending food allergen. Food intolerance can arise at any age and even after our patient has been eating the same food for quite some time. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.