Food Allergy In Dogs – How To Perform A Proper Food Elimination Trial On Your Pet.

Feeding dog biscuits

Food allergy In Dogs and Elimination trials. This is a big one for me and something I am incredibly passionate about getting right the first time!

Having worked in a Small Animal Dermatology clinic for 3 years, this is something I go over with owners almost on the daily.

Frankly, there is so much time-wasting information online. I want to break this down into, simple, easy steps, and with good sources of information.

So, let us talk about the what?, why?, and the How?, to perform a food elimination trial on your dog. Plus let’s bust a few myths along the way.

Spaniel laying

Think you have a dog with food allergy symptoms? or a cat with food allergy symptoms?

The What?

Well, what is a food elimination trial?

A food trial involves, placing your animal on a novel protein diet, for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Then challenging that diet to find a potential food allergy in your pet.

A food elimination trial, is considered the gold standard method, for diagnosing food allergies, in a dog or cat world wide.

Yes, there are other methods used, but if it where my dog, I would only use the gold standard method.

So to make this black and white, any other method used, will be less accurate than performing a food elimination trial. So in my eyes why waste time? Let’s do this right the first time.

!Myth Buster!

Did you know food allergy in dogs is more likely cause by a meat protein source! Shock! Not grains?! Grain allergies in dogs and cats especially, are considered ‘Rare’.

Feeding dog fruit

The Why??

Why would you need to consider Food allergy in your dog or a food elimination trial for your pet?

Also See My Itchy Dog Post:

And My Envioromantal Allergies In Dogs Post:

The simplest I can make this is, to determine if your pet has a food allergy of course.

If your pet has been suffering from ongoing, skin issues and/or gastrointestinal issues. Then “food allergies in my dog?” and
‘Should I start a food elimination diet trial?’
Needs to be high on your list of questions for your Vet, the next time you are in the clinic.

“You’re Vet should always be

involved when considering food

allergy in dogs and performing

and elimination trial”

orange tabby cat beside fawn short coated puppy 46024

!Myth Buster!

Did you know food allergy in dogs is actually less common?
Your dog is more likely to be allergic to an environmental allergen than their food?
This being said, ruling out food allergy in dogs, is a great way to start looking for the cause of skin issues.

Cats are the best pets

The How!

How can I perform a true food elimination trial on my pet?

Surprise! Talk with your vet!!!

What Is Considered A Novel Protein Diet?

A “novel” protein just means a “new” protein your pet hasn’t eaten before.
However, most non-veterinary recommended diets, contain multiple protein sources not even displayed in the ingredients.

So here in New Zealand (Where I live) It is considered we have no novel protein source.
So what do we do?? Well that’s where science-based therapeutic diets come into play.

We use what’s known as hydrolyzed diets. We typically use Royal Canins Annallergenic and Hypoallergenic therapeutic diets.
Annallergenic is considered gold standard In New Zealand for a food elimination trial. So I can’t recommend it more!

I have included a link to a more detailed video on the diet.

Anallergenic – How it’s made! Video:

Food Allergy in dogs

Now I could write a whole new post on this subject so, again talk with your vet about what’s right for the area/country you are from. As it does vary and you may have more options.

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Keep your pet strictly on the diet chosen.

I can’t emphasize this more! It is a waste of time starting a novel protein diet if you don’t 100%!!! commit to making sure your pet sticks to it alone!

Why? because if you give them something else and they flare. You won’t know what caused it! and you would have just wasted however long you have just spent on the novel diet.

I really really mean it, before you start the food trial make sure you are 200% committed. No bread treats, sausage from the BBQ, or cheese! These all contain potential allergens and will ruin the food trial!.
Even a lick from your fingers with animal fats on them is enough to ruin everything.

A food trial is temporary so just stick to it strictly so you can rule out what is or isn’t causing the issues with your pet. Once you know if/what they are allergic to, then their diet can vary again.

Food Allergy in dogs

What happens when the 6-8 weeks is up??

OOO now we get to my favourite part, the challenge!!

It is time to find out if your pet has a food allergy.

There are typically two ways to do this that I know of but again check with you’re vet and what they recommend.

1. A food holiday – this means giving your pet everything they haven’t had during the food trial and seeing if they have a reaction. It’s a very quick way to determine if food is their issue.

The downside of a food holiday challenge, is if they do react, you don’t know exactly what protein source caused it, as you have just given multiple. You then have to re- control the flare, and then move to…

2. Trial individual food allergens/Proteins gradually. To then determine what exactly caused the flare.

I recommend trialling individual meat protein sources first.
But I just like to be really thorough.

So to do this method, one by one you will challenge the diet, for example, alongside the novel protein diet, you can start to add some chicken, then if no reaction after 2 weeks. We would then trial beef and so on.

Again what you trial and in what order will depend on your area/country so please discuss this with your vet.

If your pet suddenly has a skin or gastro flare during a challenge then boom! An allergy is discovered and that protein source can now be avoided! Potentially solving your pet’s issue, it’s that simple! How cool is that!

If no allergen is found, then, unfortunately, food allergy has been ruled out and you will have to move onto the next possible cause for your pet’s issues.

Fun Fact
Ear disease/flares are considered skin disease they are under the ‘Skin Umbrella’ and are a common flare from food allergies

In Conclusion

If your pet has suffered from ongoing skin/gastro issues, talk to your vet about performing a food elimination trial.

Food elimination trials are used for diagnosing food allergies in pets.

They require a novel protein diet for 6-8 weeks

You Must then challenge the diet to confirm food allergy in your pet.

Remember to always involve your vet when considering a food elimination trial.

As always thanks for reading = )

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What is the most common food allergy in dogs?

Meat protein sources are considered the highest food allergens. The most common are Beef, Chicken, Pork, Dairy.

How can you tell if your dog is allergic to food?

There are many food allergy symptoms ranging from gastro flares, to skin rashes and even ear infections.
Performing a true food elimination trial is the gold standard way to tell if your dog has a food allergy.

What do you feed a dog with food allergies?

During a food trial you feed a “novel protien diet” like Royal Canines Anallergenic.
Once you know what your dog is allergic to you then just avoid those protein sources your dog is allergic to.

How long does it take for food allergies to go away in dogs?

Food allergies never really go away, they can however be managed.
It can take 3 weeks for a flare to settle and sometimes up to 8-12 weeks for symptoms to clear completely.

Does grain free dog food help with allergies?

Not unless your dog has a grain allergy, which is rare!
Your dog is more likely to be allergic to a meat protein source or even the environment than grains.
A novel protein diet must be used to determine if a dog has a food allergy.

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