How are food sensitivities managed?
Once an adverse food reaction has been confirmed, and an animal has returned to full health on a special elimination diet, it can be very tempting to simply continue to feed the pet this diet long-term. Assuming that the diet is nutritionally complete and balanced and the dog will happily eat it, this is perfectly acceptable.
But ideally, the specific ingredients which cause the animal to experience an adverse reaction should be identified. They way to do this is a sequential challenge diet in which single ingredients the animal has previously eaten (beef, dairy, chicken, lamb/mutton, wheat etc) are introduced to the elimination diet one by one for a week or two and any recurrence of the reaction is assessed. If no recurrence is noted, that protein can be included in the long-term diet; if the animal does react, that protein should be avoided.
Remember that dogs may be allergic to more than one ingredient, so it is important not to stop when the first ingredient is identified, but to continue for a range of ingredients, especially those which you would like to be able to feed your pet in the long-term. Between 35% to 60% of dogs are reported to be intolerant to more than one foodstuff, and dogs with one allergy are more likely to develop further allergies over time, so be sure to find a few foods that the dog can tolerate so as to provide options later, if any further allergies do develop.
The only effective way of managing genuine cases of food sensitivities is to avoid the foodstuffs that the dog reacts to. Long term feeding of commercially available limited ingredient or hydrolysed diets are the most practical option for the majority of pet owners. Tucker Time produces a number of different novel single meat protein, grainfree rolls for dogs, including Salmon, Crocodile and Kangaroo. These are complete and balanced and suitable for use as both an elimination diet and a long-term maintenance diet.
It is best to avoid foods which list “meat” or “meat meal” on their ingredient list, as you cannot be sure which meat this will be, and it may change from batch to batch. Opt for foods which list specific meats in the ingredient list that you know the dog is able to tolerate. As well as this, foods with shorter ingredient lists are preferable, as there will be less potential allergens in them.
A small word of warning though: prolonged feeding of a single protein source may increase the likelihood of developing an adverse reaction to that protein. It has been suggested that this occurs more commonly in cats than in dogs. If the animal is able to tolerate multiple commercially available limited ingredient diets (for example both the Tucker Time Crocodile and Salmon Single Meat Protein rolls), it may be advisable to rotate between these different foods, not only to provide your pet with some variety, but also to reduce the predisposition to developing an allergy to another ingredient.