Veterinary Blog

Children’s Food Allergy Reactions May Be Triggered by Pet Treats!

By Dr. Leslie Ross D.V.M, B.Sc

Recently, like iron filings attracted to a magnet, my attention focused on a very interesting article written by the mother of a young son with food allergies. Dr. Amy Goulart, the writer is a managing veterinarian of a clinic located in Milpitas, California.

In the article, Dr. Goulart described her toddler’s elusive health problems, which were eventually attributed to being caused by a variety of food allergies. This diagnosis imposed a restriction on her son’s access to numerous foods containing allergenic ingredients. Very astutely, she then realized that the family’s dog food and treats sometimes contained these ingredients and that although her dog was not food allergic, the close proximity of her toddler to the dog as well as the dog’s food bowl was potentially a source of these substances.

She writes
“My toddler loves the dog. He loves to feed and train the dog. Handling pet food and forgetting to wash his hands, or even letting the dog lick him with food particles in her mouth, and yes, even sneaking a taste from the dog’s food bowl could be enough to cause a reaction”.

She points out that:
Although it is sometimes an easy matter to avoid obvious ingredient concerns such as milk or soy, sometimes it is not so easy. She took as examples milk-based products such as whey or casein that may be found in some dental rawhide chews; dog treats and some pet foods. Two other examples of sources of concern for egg-sensitized and peanut sensitized children are the ingredients albumin, which is egg-derived and peanut-based ingredients that may be found in pill wrap-a-round treats.

Dr. Goulart also points out that adding to the complexity of ingredient descriptions, many allergenic substances are currently exempt from a requirement for documentation such as in spices, flavorings, and colorings in pet and well as human foods.

( Although not mentioned in her article, I should add another source of concern for shellfish sensitive children which would be oral contact with shellfish exoskeleton based glucosamine products).

As Dr. Goulart points out in her article, until more stringent legislation is put into place to ensure that pet food and treat suppliers clearly define and list all ingredients of their products it is very important for parents of food-sensitized young children to stay informed and vigilant to their potential exposure to these items to protect them from mild to possibly very serious food-related reactions.

(Dr. Amy Goulart’s original article was published March 8, 2016, The VIN News Service).

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