By Heather Legg
We all know allergens can pop in odd places way beyond unexpected foods. I’ve seen nut oils in lotions and shampoos, milk products in soaps and cleansers. Though it’s not quite the same as ingesting the allergens, and usually it’s more broken down and less allergenic, for those with severe allergies, they will want to stay away.
Here’s the latest place I found some unexpected allergens – pet food. We recently got a new hamster and I never thought to check his food for allergens, but when we found some identifiable pieces in it, we looked at the package. And along with dried papaya, we discovered almonds are in it. A friend had given us her leftover food after she no longer had her hamster, so I looked at that food. Not only almonds, but peanuts and wheat ingredients. Luckily, my daughter’s not allergic to almonds, but for those allergic, check your hamster food.
Here’s another one, bird food. Not only does it often have peanuts in it, whole or in the shell, but some brands use pecans in it. We once bought some like that by accident, which we still used, but unfortunately my daughter couldn’t feed the birds. My mom had another brand with pecans which she was going to give to us for the hamster (yes, they like bird food) before she noticed the nuts.
I have yet to look at the dog food, but am guessing it’s okay for us since it’s been years that we’ve been feeding it to our dog. But if you have a new pet or switch foods, take a look at the ingredients while you are still at the pet store.
It’s not a bad idea to make your own pet food, either. More and more people are doing with their dogs, I heard of someone who feeds her dog a mixture of brown rice, chicken livers and vegetables. Sure it’s more work, but healthier for the dog and keeps allergens away from you.
You can supplement the diet of your smaller pets, like rabbits or hamsters. Many people recommend starting with a good commercial mix and then adding to it. Just make sure there is a lot of variety, but they can eat all kinds of things, all kinds of seeds, fruits and vegetables. Check out some of the websites if you’re interested, and remember, either way, check your labels.