As our pets are exposed to an increasing amount of toxins such as poor quality diets, pesticides, herbicides, urban pollution, and over-vaccination, we are seeing an increase in all kinds of immune system problems in our pets. While we may not be able to control all of the factors, we can control our pet’s diet. Unfortunately the diet may be causing some of the problems too.
SEEMS LIKE A COMMOM PROBLEM, BUT ONLY ABOUT 10% OF PETS ARE EFFECTED
- Itchy Skin that doesn’t respond to steroids
- Recurrent Ear Infections
- Recurrent Yeast Infections
- Year-round symptoms
- Digestive problems, including excessive (more than 2/day) bowel movements
“ALLERGY” OR “INTOLERANCE” OR “SENSITIVITY”?
A food allergy is an immune system response where antibodies are sent out to fight off what it perceives as a threat. Some animals have damaged intestinal systems and can easily develop new allergies because proteins pass to the blood system and cause the immune system to feel threatened (this is known as “leaky gut”). A food intolerance is not related to this immune system response, but can show similar symptoms, plus many more (vomiting, diarrhea, joint inflammation, aggression).
COULD IT BE SOMETHING ELSE?
Many issues can cause similar symptoms: intestinal parasites, yeast, flea allergies, airborne allergies, contact allergies, chemical sensitivities, and more.
HOW TO FIND OUT WHAT FOOD YOUR PET IS ALLERGIC TO
Many vets suggest that the only true test is to eliminate the suspected ingredients for one to three months and see if symptoms subside, then reintroduce ingredients to “test” them.
HOW TO DO AN ELIMINATION DIET – FRESH IS BEST
The best way to know exactly what is going into your pet is to feed fresh food. Homemade cooked or raw diets are ideal for elimination diets. The key is being strict about limiting the variety of food. To do this diet properly you should feed only one protein and one carbohydrate, for at least one month – this includes treats! It is best to start this diet with a meat your pet hasn’t had before (which is why most packaged foods designed for an elimination diet use meats like venison, bison, fish, or duck). Be mindful of any supplements you are using, too.
Raw Food is probably the easiest. The basics of meat, bone, and organs in proper balance provide a great deal of nutrition. A small amount of vegetable can be added to round out the nutrition and fiber (sweet potato if you want to keep it simple). Some prepared raw food diets have a limited ingredient panel, such as Bravo or Stella & Chewys, but you can easily customize a diet using specific meats and vegetables. As with any limited ingredient diet, you need to either add supplements or begin rotating meats & other ingredients after one month to ensure proper nutrition.
Home cooked diets are a wonderful way to feed allergic pets. They can be very similar to raw food diets, or can be designed with the help of some good recipes. A couple of good starch choices: sweet potatoes & quinoa are generally easy to digest and highly nutritious.
Canned foods provide an easy and simple elimination diet option. Evangers offers both complete and supplemental options – some containing vitamins, some not, so you can choose the right option for your pet.
Dry foods are at the bottom of our list due to the high degree of processing. We do have a selection of dry foods from which to choose, depending on your pet’s feeding history. We always recommend supplementing limited ingredient dry foods with extra meat because they tend to have suboptimum protein amounts due to processing requirements.
DO YOU NEED TO DO A STRICT ELIMINATION DIET?
Maybe not. Many animals improve on a fresh food diet that is not heavily restricted. You may still want to start with a meat they don’t eat regularly, a few well chosen vegetables, and if desired a well chosen grain, and see how they do before going for a super-restricted menu.