Food Trail for Allergies
Food allergies can cause significant problems in your pet. Common clinical signs related to food allergies include one or more of the following: itchy skin, licking paws, skin infections, ear infections, poor coat quality, dandruff, anal gland impaction, intermittent runny stool, intermittent vomiting or anorexia, and excessive gas. The most common causes of food allergies are listed from most to least common: beef, chicken, dairy, soy, and grain. Although not as common as environmental allergies, food allergies are preventable and would be a relatively good cause for your pet’s clinical signs.
There are no blood tests that can determine if a dog has a food allergy. The blood tests that are offered have been debunked numerous times through well formulated clinical trials and scientific studies. The only way to rule out food allergies in your pet is through an elimination diet. As roughly ¾ of over the counter diets that claimed not to contain beef or chicken were found to have those protein present in the food, a prescription diet is necessary to confidently rule out food allergic disease. Rarely, multiple food trials are needed, which will be recommended if we have a high degree of suspicion for food allergies and your pet fails an initial food trial. Below are the instructions for your dogs food allergy trial along with some of the common pitfalls.
We will help select the proper food for your pet. This typically is either a prescription hydrolyzed diet or a novel protein diet. Often both canned and dry options are available for each diet.
- Please feed only the prescribed food. If emptying into a container, the container must be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water to prevent contamination of the new food. In addition, wash all bowls thoroughly and remove all edible treats from the house.
- Allow a 5-7 day transition period from current diet to new diet. Save a portion of the current diet for later challenge.
- Continue feeding the elimination diet for a minimum of 8 weeks – sometimes longer. If your pet has a food allergy, you should note a reduction in itchiness and/or gastrointestinal upset within the first 4 weeks, but complete remission can take a total of 8-12 weeks.
- Chewable medications often contain flavorings that can cause reactions in food allergic dogs. These include heartworm medication, flea/tick medications, NSAIDS, and any medication that comes in a capsule.
- Supplements including vitamins, neutroceuticals, and flavored probiotics
- Rawhides, pig ears, jerky treats, flavored chews/toys, dental products and toothpaste
- Complicating factors include concurrent parasites, bacterial infections, yeast infections, and other skin conditions. Please work with us to help eliminate these factors.
If necessary, you may use certain vegetables as treats including carrots and broccoli. Pills can be hidden in bananas if necessary. Finally, you can use non-edible treats (if cleaned) such as kongs stuffed with vegetables or the prescription elimination diet.