Elimination diets are typically used to identify the types of food substances that a person or animal may be intolerant of; all suspected foods are removed from the diet and reintroduced one at a time.
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There are several ways to conduct an elimination diet or a feeding trial to figure out what it is your pet is allergic to. Here’s a sample template that The Honest Kitchen recommends:
Start with an extremely simplified diet first, then gradually add other ingredients one at a time. The Honest Kitchen advises a diet of 50% cooked ground turkey and 50% cooked mashed sweet potatoes. You should notice some reduction in itching and/or diarrhea.
If itching and/or diarrhea persist, replace ground turkey with cooked ground beef or bison. If conditions are improving, replace some of the sweet potatoes with kale, parsley or other greens.
If itching and/or diarrhea persist, replaced beef with cooked white fish, such as cod or haddock, and replace sweet potatoes with green vegetables such as pulped celery, broccoli, or kale. If conditions improve, replace sweet potatoes and greens with a small amount of chopped banana, pureed melon or other soft fruits, to a maximum of about 5% of the total diet.
Week Four and Beyond
If itching and/or diarrhea persist, consider laboratory based allergy testing to help accurately pinpoint what foods your pet can and cannot tolerate. If conditions improve, you may continue adding one or two new ingredients every couple of days, and continue observing for any reactions.
If your pet has an adverse reaction or recurrence of previously improved symptoms at this point, it probably indicates that one of the new ingredients that have been introduced is something your pet cannot tolerate. Remove all new ingredients for that week and try something different.
Things to Note
Before you embark on an elimination diet for your pet, ensure that his or her itchy skin and other problems are not caused by environmental factors such as dust or detergents. If even after going through the elimination diet, the problems still persist, you should consider environmental factors in your home or places that your pet frequents.
In chronic cases, you will have to scrutinise every food item that your pet ingests. This includes snacks and treats. If your pet attends daycare, be sure to check with his or her handlers to find out exactly what he is fed during his stay.
Laboratory-based allergy testing can be costly but many pet owners do eventually find out the cause of their pet’s food sensitivities.
Image Credit: Patrick Haney, Itchy Neck, CC (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)