Think Your Pet Has a Food Allergy?

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What follows is the story of Fidough, the pooch with extra letters in his name to remind his caretakers that he is allergic to dough… er… wheat.

Fidough had been suffering from itchy skin, respiratory issues, and vomiting for as long as he could remember.

“Now wait,” you protest. “How long is that?”

Long-term and short-term memory in dogs is an entirely different topic that I won’t broach here. But I will alter the start of the story since you so keenly questioned my premise.

Fidough had been suffering from itchy skin, respiratory issues, and vomiting for as long as his human parents could remember. (You can more easily make assumptions about how long this could be, right?)

One day, Maman (Fidough’s endearment for his mother which conveniently combined the words “ma” — as in… but ma!, or perhaps more frequently… but mom!) — and “human.” He particularly liked this term because aside from being a portmanteau, it was also the French term for one’s mom, and he prided himself on attempting to master the languages of not only Dog and Human English, but in the language of what he assumed his Bouledogue Français ancestors might speak as well: Human French. (If you’ve forgotten by now what I started my thought with, we’re here: “One day, Maman…) decided that she would take Fidough (who was then simply known as “Fido”) to the vet.

After examining Fidough, the vet hypothesized that Fidough might have a food allergy.

“Dogs can have food allergies?” She asked incredulously.

The vet nodded. He told Maman that the way to determine if that’s true is to try an elimination diet to determine the substance that is causing the allergic reaction. Eventually, it was determined that Fidough was allergic to wheat and dairy.

Maman was not unfamiliar with wheat causing unfavorable reactions. Her young daughter Keito had been diagnosed with celiac disease only two years previous. She knew how hard it had been for Keito to cope with not being able to eat certain foods — but how would Fidough fare, suddenly not allowed to sniff the fresh loaf of bread on the counter (inhalation of an allergen can cause respiratory issues) or dig into the garbage with his deft paws to pull out the wheat-containing dog food Maman would need to discard (ingestion could cause vomiting)? Fidough’s dreams of running endlessly after a tennis ball in open fields of sun-soaked wheat would only remain dreams (topical contact could contribute to Fidough’s skin irritation).

And would guests remember not to feed him scraps from the table? Maman recalled how insecure she felt about sending Keito to school without reminding her teachers at least twice about her celiac. Would dinner guests forget that Fidough couldn’t eat certain foods even as a treat?

That’s when Maman made the decision to change Fidough’s name from Fido to Fidough to remind her guests of Fidough’s allergy, and to remind even Keito that she wasn’t alone: Fidough had food restrictions just like her.

To help support a children’s book to help kids cope with celiac disease and food allergies, visit GoFundMe.com/CeliaKaye.

For more information on pets with food allergies, visit FlanneryAnimalHosp.com.

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Originally published on The Huffington Post.