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Pet Food Allergies? The Rules for a Pet Food Trial Have Changed

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Treats During a Pet Food Trial

Some pet owners feel they have to give their pets treats and, of course, the pets agree! If your pet is on a food trial, it should be fed only rabbit or potato, but there are some variations you can use.

  1. You can give a piece of  baked potato as a treat.   You should not cook potato in oil or with any other ingredients because that may cause allergic signs.
  2. You can buy fresh rabbit meat, cook it, and feed small pieces as a treat.  You should cook it in water, not with any other ingredients that may cause an allergic response.
  3. You can take some of the Royal Canin rabbit and potato canned food, cut it into pieces and bake it in an oven.  These make tasty, chewy treats.
  4. There is a new commercial treat, Potato Pleasers made by Serenegy, which contains only approved ingredients.

Food allergies are common in dogs and cats. In fact, forty per cent of all allergic dogs have a food allergy. It usually manifests as itchy skin, chronic vomiting, or diarrhea.  If you suspect that your pet may have a food allergy, you will need to investigate by performing a food trial.  There are no intradermal skin tests or blood tests that are valid for determining food allergies. There are three rules for a food trial:

1.) Pick a new food that is different from any food fed in the past.  This does not mean to just choose a different brand.  In the past, veterinarians instructed pet owners to check the fine print on the ingredient list on each food label in order to pick a new food that is totally different in ingredients.  Often the large label on the front of the bag mentions only two ingredients but in reality the food has many ingredients.

A recent research study showed that, unfortunately, in normal commercial foods there is a lot of cross contamination of ingredients in the manufacturing process.  For instance, a beef and wheat food may also contain chicken and rice because the pipeline was not cleaned out between their productions.  As a result, there are ingredients in the food that are not on the label.

Dermatologists and other specialists are now recommending Selected Protein PR food made by Royal Canin, containing rabbit and potato, as a trial food for two reasons.  It has been tested and shown not to have any cross contamination.  Also, rabbit is, genetically, the most remote from any other meat source.  Duck is similar to chicken, lamb is similar to beef; they may have common antigens that will cause an allergy.  Rabbit is the most unlike any other meat.

You should not choose a food just because it is labeled "food for the sensitive skin or stomach," as this is not a valid claim. If there is an ingredient in that food to which the pet is allergic, there will still be symptoms.

2.)  You should feed the new food for 12 weeks for dogs and 8 weeks in cats before you decide whether it works or not.

3.)  You cannot feed other foods while your pet is on the food trial. This includes treats, table scraps, chewable vitamins, meat flavored toothpastes or chewable heartworm preventative.  Discuss with your veterinarian an alternative to the chewable heartworm preventative while on the food trial.

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