Poodles are incredibly sensitive on many levels, most of which involve personality traits and the intuition many poodle parents witness. But sometimes it goes beyond the conceptual and into the physical in the form of food intolerance, also known as food sensitivity.
Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergy
Food allergies and intolerances are both physical reactions with similar symptoms, but they are different.
An allergy causes an immune system reaction with symptoms ranging from mild to fatal. An intolerance doesn't mean your poodle snubs American cheese because it's socially beneath him; it causes discomfort, but usually only digestive symptoms. Unlike an allergy, a food intolerance is not an immune system reaction, and it can't be life-threatening.
What Causes Food Intolerance?
Some disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease, can cause food intolerance with digestive distress.
Exposure to toxins, spoiled foods, additives and other chemicals can also cause major reactions and chronic problems, so check the label on your poodle's food.
Indeed, food itself is often the culprit, and sometimes the first step in determining an intolerance is to eliminate all but one or two ingredients for a while, then gradually reintroduce foods to the diet.
Foods to Avoid
Although many foods can be of concern, some well-known offenders include wheat—particularly the gluten portion—corn, soy, dairy and even beef.
Like us, every furry friend is an individual. One might be sensitive to a particular ingredient, while it's not an issue for the poodle down the street. Also, like us, dogs can develop intolerances to ingredients over time. So your poodle might begin having reactions to specific ingredients she has eaten for months or years.
Foods to Add
Replacing possible offending foods with other options will help determine whether a specific food is to blame, and can help bring your poodle back to her old self.
After removing any possible culprits, begin offering gentler options like chicken, vegetables and healthy oils. These oils can help by offering the essential fatty acids a dog needs, thereby optimizing health. In addition, oils with omega-3 fight inflammation, offering relief to your sensitive poodle's entire body. If a few simple changes don't take care of the problem, consult your vet.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.