Mira Mar Vet, your local vet in Albany

Problems with protein?

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Latest Monthly Newsletters, Pet Care

In any pet with recurrent skin irritation or gut upset symptoms, the possibility of an underlying food allergy should be considered.

Read on for the ins and outs of food allergies in pets.

Causes of food allergies

Food allergies occur when pets develop an allergic response to particular protein/s. This can happen after many years eating the same diet!  It may not necessarily be caused by a recent dietary change as many owners expect.

In dogs, the most common protein-related food allergies are to beef, dairy, chicken, wheat, and lamb.  In cats, the most common are beef, chicken, and fish.

Diagnosis of food allergies

If a potential protein problem (or food allergy) is suspected, the most reliable means of diagnosis is via a hypoallergenic dietary trial.  This is also known as an elimination diet trial.

This involves feeding the pet a strict, limited ingredient diet for a set period (usually 8-12 weeks). This may be done through:

  • A home-cooked or commercial novel protein diet, containing only a single protein type that the pet has NEVER eaten before (plus a bland carbohydrate such as potato)
  • A commercial hydrolysed protein diet, where the contained protein has been chemically altered so that the pet’s body is unlikely to be triggered by it

During this process, the pet shouldn’t be fed any other treats, snacks, or flavoured medications.

A food allergy is diagnosed if the pet has a positive response to the hypoallergenic diet, and then a relapse of their symptoms within two weeks of being “rechallenged” with their regular food.

Treatment of food allergies

Once a food allergy is confirmed in a pet, our vets can advise on suitable long-term dietary options which are nutritionally complete and balanced.

It’s important to bear in mind that pets can suffer from more than one type of allergy at once, and that recurrent skin or gut problems can also have non-allergic causes.  It’s best to seek guidance from our vets if your pet is suffering from similar symptoms.  We’ll get your pet’s protein problem under control!