Oversensitivity or allergy can manifest as breathing problems, skin symptoms (e.g. itching) or problems with digestion. The reaction can be caused by a substance that is breathed, e.g. pollen or domestic dust. It can also be caused by on object that the pet touches (collar, food bowl, toys, bed, carpets etc.). The animal may also be oversensitive to food.
The frequency of food allergies in dogs and cats is unknown. However, it is known that meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and food additives can cause oversensitivity reactions to cats and dogs. Because most commercial foods contain these products, changing the food does not usually help. To diagnose an allergy, the animal is fed a diet food with as little elements as possible in it, and if possible, a type of food that the animal has never eaten before. This way, the possible source of allergy can be detected.
During the test diet period, the animal is fed home food. You should choose a food that the animal has never eaten before. The content of the diet is therefore determined by the individual feeding history of the pet. The recipe below can be used for dogs who have not previously eaten rice, chicken or lamb. If the animal has eaten chicken or lamb, choose another source of protein. If the animal has eaten rice, choose another carbohydrate, e.g. boiled mashed potato, millet or buckwheat (choose one that the animal has not eaten).
The diet is started by not giving any food to the animal for 24 hours. Then feed the necessary amount of home food to the animal. Remember that this diet food should be the only food the animal gets, as even a small amount of other food or vitamins can ruin the test completely. The food should be fed to the animal for at least 6 weeks in order to make the test reliable. If it is a case of an allergy, the symptoms should disappear during the test diet.
There are several commercial diet foods available, but some animals may be allergic to those, too. Examples of diet foods are Waltham Sensitivity Control or Hypoallergenic, Specific Allergy Management, Trovet venison-potato/duck-potato/rabbit-rice and Hill’s Z/D. All of these products can be ordered from our clinic.
If You wish to feed home-cooked food to the dog, we suggest that You contact a nutritionist (Kulkurinputtiikki, tel. 044 0126 021, www.kulkurinputtiikki.com), who can help You plan a diet for Your dog.
If the symptoms disappear during the test diet, move on to the so-called challenge phase to indicate what allergy/allergies the pet has. After the test period (6 weeks) start adding one foodstuff per week to the diet. If the symptoms return, return back to the test phase. In the future, the foodstuff that causes symptoms can be avoided. If the testing has started with home food, You can switch to commercial allergy food. If the animal is diagnosed with a food allergy, it should avoid the foodstuff in question for the rest of its life.
If there is no improvement during test phase, it is likely that the cause of the symptoms is something else than food (e.g. infection, parasites or other type of allergy).