Study finds common children’s allergens in pet food

SONY DSCWhen it comes to food allergies, avoidance is key. However, while it may be easy to avoid foods you know you are allergic to, oftentimes allergic reactions occur when we are unaware that a potential allergen exists.

For example, a new study is demonstrating this to be true in the case of children who have common allergies to foods such as wheat, eggs, soy, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, and also have pets. This is because some of those same allergens are also common ingredients in pet food.

Published in the Journal of Allergy Clinical Immunology, the study showed that of the 452 surveyed dog foods and 295 surveyed cat foods, 86.9% of them had at least one major allergen present. In addition, 43.9% of the foods tested had at least two major allergens present. According to the study, the frequency of individual foods in the screened pet foods was as follows: wheat 47.9%, egg 36.9%, fish 28.9%, soy 28.1%, milk 7.9%, shellfish 0.5%, peanut 0.3%, and tree nuts 0%.

Among dog foods, the most common food allergens were wheat, at 50.6%, egg at 33.2%, and soy at 25.7%, while among cat foods, the most common were fish (45.8%), wheat (43.7%), and egg (42.7%).

This study was prompted when a young boy in California was licked by a puppy and broke out in hives. As it turned out the dog had been given a peanut-flavored snack bone right before he came in contact with the boy, who was later found to be allergic to peanuts.

“I’m very surprised actually. It makes a lot of sense but I can tell you that in 30 years of practice I can’t remember a single patient asking me that question.” Dr. Paul Ratner-Medical Director for Sylvana Research said in a recent article.

“Parents that have children with allergens are already used to looking at labels when they go shopping, so I guess now they’re going to have to start looking at the labels on the pet food they buy as well,” he continued.  “If you know your child has a food allergy and you suspect that what the pet is eating is causing a problem for your child, you can certainly look at that label and switch to a hypo-allergenic food for that pet.”

While some animals may have been wrongly accused of being the source of a child’s allergies, the clinical significance of these findings remain unknown, warranting further investigation—including determining the concentration of the food allergens within the pet foods.

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