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Hypo-allergenic dog food range

Designed to be kind to your dog's stomach

Why hypo-allergenic?

What determines whether a food is likely to trigger an allergy or not is only partly down to the individual dog's sensitivities and overall health. Firstly, it is often just a single protein in a food that acts as a trigger. And secondly, it has been shown that some food proteins are more likely to provoke an allergic reaction than others.

The most common allergens are wheat and in particular the wheat-protein gluten, dairy products, some meats, eggs and soya. It is not a coincidence that these common "offenders" are also common ingredients in dog food. It has been suggested that the prolonged exposure to an allergen may be associated with the development of an allergy in the susceptible dog.

Hypo-allergenic

The definition of the word hypoallergenic is "having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction". The ingredients in a hypo-allergenic dog food exclude common allergens such as wheat protein or soya, thereby minimising the risk of an allergic reaction.

Exclusion - how it works

Although blood tests are sometimes performed as a diagnostic aid there is no evidence that such tests are accurate to diagnose the delayed-onset food allergy. The only accurate way to find out if your dog has a food allergy is the food trial or exclusion diet. Before embarking on an exclusion diet, it is important that other conditions that cause very similar symptoms to food allergies have been ruled out by a vet.

The exclusion diet has two aims:

  1. To help identify the allergen, i.e. the substance that your dog has become allergic to, and
  2. to eliminate the allergen from the diet so your dog's immune and digestive system can recover and your dog becomes symptom-free again.
An exclusion diet consists of feeding your dog a novel food source of protein and carbohydrate for 12 weeks. The novel food source has to be truly new to your dog - otherwise his or her immune system may at some point in the past have already been "primed" for an attack against it. For example, to most dogs duck or turkey are foods they have not been fed before. As for carbohydrates, rice and barley can count as hypo-allergenic. When choosing a hypo-allergenic dog food beware of foods that contain more than one meat protein source and "hidden allergens" e.g. when the ingredient wheat is not listed individually but included under "cereals" on the label.

Exclusion means exclusion

It is crucial for the success of the exclusion trial that nothing else is fed to the dog. This means just the diet and water. Remember, this strict approach is only for a limited time and your dog will thank you for it when all those symptoms disappear!

Results

While some dogs may already show marked improvements after a few weeks, the majority of dogs need the entire 12 weeks on the exclusion diet to recover. After 12 weeks progress should be assessed. An allergy diary, keeping track of what has been fed and how symptoms have developed, can greatly help with this.

If the dog is symptom-free after the food trial, the suspected allergen can be fed to the dog for a few days as part of the so-called "provocative testing". If symptoms reoccur then the diagnosis of food allergy has been confirmed and the allergen successfully identified. A hypo-allergenic dog food that is complete and highly digestible to cater for the dog's sensitive stomach can of course be fed beyond the exclusion phase.

If symptoms haven't cleared up or markedly improved after the 12 week exclusion diet has ended but a food allergy is still strongly suspected then finding a different novel food source for a second exclusion phase could be attempted. In this scenario the dog may have been exposed to the protein of his or her exclusion diet before, possibly because the ingredient was "hidden" on the label. A change from e.g. turkey to duck or salmon may yield the desired results after another 12 weeks on an exclusion diet.

Exclusion diet model:

Illustration of the steps in an exclusion diet

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