• Gayle Rigione, Allergy Force CEO

...And Then Came The Dog With Food Allergies


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Our oldest son was diagnosed with food allergies when he was just shy of two years. I know, it took me awhile (too long) to connect the dots. I dismissed his frequent vomiting after a meal as his ‘sensitive tummy,’ as often as I assumed it was the sudden onset of a ‘tummy bug.’ It wasn’t until we experienced back-to-back throw up episodes after vanilla Haagen Dazs ice cream that I took him to an allergist.


We walked out of that appointment with a food allergy diagnosis for eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, shrimp and green peas and an epinephrine prescription in hand. Shell shocked.


Fast forward 9 years and I’d say we’d figured out how to navigate life with food allergies by that time, from milestone events to class parties to team celebrations to restaurants to international travel. That’s not to say we didn’t make food choice mistakes from time to time, but we felt confident in our family’s food allergy knowledge and management know-how.


And then we adopted the long-awaited puppy. Sweetest puppy ever. A beagle mix. A rescue from the far reaches of South Carolina. Jessie. Welcoming our newest family member, we were aware of the potential pitfalls in dog foods – peanut butter, pea protein, egg white – and the risks they could pose to our son. We were as diligent in reading dog food ingredients labels as we were in reading food labels on our son’s behalf. We wanted our pup to have the best nutrition so her diet was rich in omega 3’s, heavy on the salmon and fish oils.


She was 6-months old when the rashes and itching began. They were so bad that after a time her little tummy didn’t have a single hair left on it; she’d rubbed all the fur off through incessant licking. We thought it was environmental allergies, and gave her medication to manage the itching and bathed her with special shampoo. Many vet visits later, too many months later, we finally figured out that she was allergic to fish.


Today Jessie's on a limited ingredient diet of bison and sweet potatoes with pure flax oil, and the itching and rashes are long gone. We remain on guard, making sure her treats don’t contain any fish-related ingredients, or other allergens that could impact our son.


The irony was not lost on me. Not only do we have the child who’s allergic to multiple foods, but we also have the dog who’s food allergic. Sometimes life throws you curve balls...


The good news?


I can’t think of a family better equipped to manage a food allergy, child or child’s best friend.



"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."

—Marcus Aurelius

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About the Author: Gayle Rigione is CEO and Co-founder of Allergy Force, the food allergy app. She’s also an allergy mom. She’s lived the heart stopping moments when her son ate the wrong thing, second guessed reactions and spent the night in the ER. These experiences inspire her to create tools for people with food allergies that make life safer, easier. Whatever you do, do it with a full heart. Audentes Fortuna Iuvat


Photo Credit: Thank you to the Rigione family for use of the post image


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