Food intolerance or allergy may not only be limited to humans, but are also present in other mammals such as dogs, cats and horses, a study has found.
The findings showed that pets suffer from both lactose intolerance and outright milk protein allergies.
Some mammals are also liable to allergic reactions from certain proteins in wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, eggs and meat.
In the case of dogs, cats or horses, however, the adverse reactions mostly affect the skin, followed by the gastro-intestinal tract.
While asthma or severe shock reactions have rarely been observed in animals, there are overlaps among the triggers of immune response to certain foods and ingredients.
"Not only humans but basically all mammals are susceptible to developing allergies, as their immune system is capable of producing immunoglobulin E," said lead author Isabella Pali-Scholl, from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.
Because precise knowledge about many mechanisms and triggers for animals have not been sufficiently identified, avoiding allergens is the best animals can do.
The affected animals should be put under a so-called elimination diet. This regimen consists of removing all sources of protein from an animal's diet.
"During this period of diagnosis, the animal will be fed homemade food or diet food prescribed by a veterinarian. Only then, and if there have not been any dangerous allergic reactions before, can 'normal' food be gradually reintroduced," Pali-Scholl suggested.
This diagnostic procedure allows the allergen-free diet to be tailored to the respective food intolerance, while avoiding unnecessary restrictions, the researchers said.