Food allergies or hypersensitivities are a common form of allergies for pets most often causing itchy skin or upset stomach. If your veterinarian suspects that your pet has food allergies he or she may recommend starting them a hypoallergenic diet.
Virtually any ingredient can cause an allergic reaction the most common though being a protein. The most common forms of hypoallergenic diets are those with either novel proteins ( protein sources that pets are not normally exposed to such as duck, fish, or kangaroo) or hydrolyzed protein ( protein is broken down into such small components it is less likely your pet will have a reaction to them).
The only way to confirm a food allergy is through an elimination diet. Your veterinarian will recommend feeding a hypoallergenic diet for a minimum of 8 weeks. Once the offending food substance has been identified, a diet not containing those particular substances can be chosen and fed long term.
Simply feeding a hypoallergenic (hypo) diet is not enough to rule out a food allergy, though. There are lots of other little do’s and don’t that will help make your pet’s food trial the most successful!
- Keep your pet’s food separate. It is important to make sure that your pets hypo food does not become contaminated with other food sources. If it is a food bin in which you keep your pet’s food, make sure it is thoroughly washed before pouring your pet’s new food in.
- Clean all dishes and food scoops frequently.
- Avoid feeding other treats. Introducing treats into a food trial makes it harder to determine the allergen source and negates the purpose of the hypo diet trial. It can be hard denying your pet a special treat, but they will thank you in the long run!
- Keep your pet from eating the other households pet’s food.
- Don’t leave food or garbage out, and make sure other food sources your pet could get into without you potentially knowing are secure.
- Make sure everyone is onboard. Make sure everyone in the household- including guests! – knows that your pet can only have his specific diet.
- BE PATIENT!! Elimination trials take time and a couple of months of patience and adhering to the strict diet will help provide long-term comfort for your pet!
Written by Mission Ridge Animal Hospital