Just like humans, our pets can have allergies, too. After a trip to the vet to rule out other underlying medical conditions, an elimination food trial can help you determine if your pet’s allergy is to food. The concept is to feed your dog or cat a “novel” protein, that is, one the pet has never eaten before. During the food trial, the food should have very few ingredients, and ideally, none that have been fed before. If your pet’s symptoms improve on the elimination diet, then you know the issue was a food allergy.
Feed your pet a novel protein along with a carbohydrate that has not previously been eaten. You can try rabbit, duck, lamb, venison or any protein your pet has not tried before. Novel carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, peas or brown rice. If you aren’t up for making your dog’s diet yourself, Natural Balance makes a variety of Limited Ingredient Diets, or your vet can provide a prescription food for allergies.
You should begin to see improvement in 2 to 3 weeks, and your pet should be on the elimination diet for 6 to 12 weeks. Be sure not to feed any treats, snacks or supplements during this period. If you see no improvement after the diet change, then you should assume a food allergy is not the culprit. If your pet has a good response to the dietary change, this confirms a dietary allergy. The next step you may choose to take is to identify the source of the allergy. This is done by re-introducing other ingredients into the diet, one at a time. Allow at least 2 weeks before introducing each new ingredient, and include the most common allergens such as chicken, beef, fish, eggs, corn and dairy.
Once you have completed the food trial and determined the source of the allergy, place your dog or cat on a complete and balanced diet that does not include the ingredient which caused the allergic response.