Saturday, 16 November 2013

Food Allergies in Dogs, Cats – Remedies, Elimination, Diet, Recipe

In this article…
1.0 Dietary Remedies for Food Allergies
1.1 Processed Dry/Wet Prescription Diets – not recommended
2.0 Initial Clean-Up of the Diet

Step #1 – Remove all Grain and Grain Derivatives

Step #2 – Asses Whether You Need to Go to an Elimination Diet

3.0 The Elimination Diet Protocol and Recipe

3.1 Goal

3.2 Duration

3.3 Transition

3.4 The Nutraceutical and Alternative Medicine Element

3.5 The Elimination Diet
3.6 Understanding What Comprises a Novel Food

3.7 Recipe for Elimination Diet

3.8 Supplements for the Elimination Diet

4.0 The Post Elimination Diet

1.0  Dietary Remedies for Food Allergies

Processed Dry/Wet Hypoallergenic Prescription Diets – not recommended...

Don’t use an allopathic veterinarian prescribed processed prescription dry or wet allergenic food unless you have researched that product thoroughly to ensure that the product does not contain ingredients that put your dog’s or cat’s health in further jeopardy.  

 Sounds crazy right? 

Well, many allopathic veterinarian prescribed prescription food products contain substances that trigger allergies and cause further health complications. 

You can find an example of one of the most popular veterinarian prescribed allergenic dry food products here complete with a detailed explanation of why the product is not a healthy option for your dog or cat.

2.0 Initial Clean-Up of the Diet

Step #1 – Remove all Grain and Grain Derivatives from
                the Daily Diet (food and treats)

Grain is the number one trigger for allergies in dogs and cats so the first thing you need to do is eliminate all grain and grain derivatives from the diet (this includes food and treats). If you are not sure what food ingredients are grain derivatives you can read here, here and here.

At this time you can begin supportive supplementation measures provided in 3.4.1, 3.4.2 and 3.4.3 below or you can choose to see if simply removing grain from the diet is sufficient to resolve symptoms.

If after several weeks food allergy symptoms are still present then it is time to go to Step #2.

For those of you that are interested in removing all possible allergens from the diet up front, simply combine Step #1 and Step #2 – don’t wait to do #1 first and then #2 after several weeks time.

If you are already feeding your dog  or cat a diet that is free of grains, grain derivatives and all of the items listed under Step #2 then go directly to Step #3.

Step #2 – Remove These Allergy Triggers from the Daily
                Diet (food and treats)

  • Chemical-based preservatives;
  • Brewer’s yeast;
  • Egg by products;
  • Meat by products;
  • Poor source fats;
  • Sweeteners;
  • Synthetic additives and supplements;
  • Also…
    • Fruit that is high in sugar content – i.e. banana, pears;
    • Root vegetables that are high in sugar – carrots, sweet potato.
For detailed information on what to look for and avoid see section 4.0 of this article ‘Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments’

At this time you can begin supportive supplementation measures provided in 3.4.1, 3.4.2 and 3.4.3 below (if you did not do so in Step #1) or you can choose to see if simply removing the additional allergy triggers from the diet is sufficient to resolve symptoms.

If after 3 to 4 weeks food allergy symptoms are still present then it is time to go to Step #3, the elimination diet.

3.0 The Elimination Diet - Example Protocol and Recipe

3.1 Goal

3.2 Duration

3.2 Transition

3.4 The Nutraceutical and Alternative Medicine Element

3.5 The Elimination Diet
3.6 Novel Foods

3.7 Recipe

3.8 The Post Elimination Diet

3.1 Goal

The Elimination Diet is a very limited ingredient diet that is meant to be used on a temporary basis to:
  • Give the dog’s, cat’s system an opportunity to:
    • Detox and calm the body/immune system by providing an opportunity to:
      • Stop the build-up of toxins caused by the food allergy;
  • Support the Kidney and liver to eliminate the toxins;
    • Thereby helping to provide relief from the symptoms of the chronic allergic reaction.
  • Begin the process of discovery that will pinpoint the food stuff(s), ingredient(s) that your dog or cat is allergic to.

3.2 Duration

The Elimination Diet should be strictly maintained for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks, up to 12 weeks (3 months) – no variations in diet during that time frame. This should provide ample time for your dog’s or cat’s system to completely detox. To aid in the detoxing process a nutraceutical should be added to the diet – see further below.  

3.3 Transition to the Elimination Diet

Don’t make the switch without doing a methodical transition, unless you are 100% certain that your dog or cat has a constitution that accepts change without adverse reaction (i.e. diarrhea).
Transition slowly by:
  • Substituting a small portion of the meal once a day with some of the Elimination Diet;
  • Over the period of a week to two weeks gradually substitute more of the existing food with the new Elimination diet food until the existing food is completely replaced by the Elimination Diet.
The 12 week countdown starts when the full switch to the Elimination Diet is completed.

3.4 The Nutraceutical and Alternative Medicine Element

3.4.1 Detox
It's very important to develop a detox support regimen that will suit your individual dog, cat. There are many supplemental foods, herbs and alternative medicines that help to support detox, generally the detox regimen should be comprised of multiple items that work together and are suited to the individual animal's requirements. Below an example of two of the many natural detox supporting substances...

3.4.2 Speed Resolution of Overall Symptoms of Food
  • Quercetin can be helpful.
  • Read the article for dosage, cautions and interactions.
3.5 The Elimination Diet

The elimination diet consists primarily of two ingredients:
  • A single source, novel animal protein type, and;
  • A single source plant-based nutrient rich, low carb, low sugar, high fiber squash or root veggie.

3.6 Understanding What Comprises a Novel Food

The term ‘novel’ means a food that you have not fed to your dog or cat before.
For example:

3.6.1 Animal Protein:
If you have had your dog or cat on a chicken-based diet:
  • You should switch to a mammalian based protein i.e. lamb, if you dog or cat has never had lamb, or to a novel mammalian protein – see the list below.
  • Dogs and cats that are allergic to chicken may also be allergic to other fowl, such as turkey, duck, etc.
  • If you have had your dog or cat on a beef-based diet:
    • You can try switching to a novel fowl or a novel mammalian protein;
  • Novel Fowl examples:
    • Duck;
    • Fish (if your dog/cat has never eaten fish before);
    • Emu;
    • Quail;
    • Ostrich;
    • Pheasant
  • Novel mammalian examples:
    • Alligator;
    • Beaver;
    • Bison;
    • Caribou;
    • Elk;
    • Goat;
    • Kangaroo;
    • Moose;
    • Rabbit;
    • Venison (deer).

3.6.2 Squash or Root Veggie
  • If your dog has always eaten a diet that included grain
    • Pumpkin (is a squash);
    • Rutabaga;
    • Turnip;
    • Squash.
  • If your dog or cat has eaten potato before then novel would be;
    • Pumpkin;
    • Rutabaga;
    • Turnip;
    • Squash.
  • If your dog has eaten Pumpkin or squash before then novel would be:
    • Rutabaga;
    • Turnip.

3.7 Recipe for Elimination Diet

  • If your dog or cat is accustomed to a high protein raw food diet use the same protein v.s. carbohydrate) ratio in the elimination diet;
  • If your dog is on a homemade cooked food diet  then use the percentage of protein to carbohydrates as noted below in the recipe;
  • If your dog is currently on a commercial processed dog food that primarily consists of fillers then you have to give your dog or cat more time to adjust to the percentage breakdown of protein v.s carbohydrate provided below. To do this make the recipe with a lower percentage of protein (say 35 to 40%, and a higher percentage of carbs, say 65 to 60% and slowly reverse the percentages to reflect those provided in the recipe below.

3.7.1 Elimination Food Recipe

Daily meals consist of…
  • 50% to 60% novel animal protein;
  • 40% to 50% novel squash or root veggie;
  • If your dog is raw fed maintain the 80-10-10 ratio (muscle meat - organ meat - bone) and either forego the i.e. squash/pumpkin or just add a small amount (1 to 2 tsp or tbs depending on your dog's weight) to each meal.
  • If your dog is accustomed to eating raw use:
    • Raw novel protein, and:
    • Steamed, frozen mashed or finely chopped/diced novel carbohydrate;
  • If your dog is accustomed to processed food or homemade cooked food then use:
    • Cooked novel protein (cook using a low heat – not high heat to avoid the formation of carcinogens) and; 
    • Use steamed, mashed novel carbohydrate.
3.7.2 Cautions:
  • If your dog or cat is suffering from other medical conditions you may have to make further adjustments /considerations – for example:
    • For kidney or bladder stones you may have to adjust the type of protein or carbohydrate to suit the treatment required for the type of crystal or stone being dealt with – for more on bladder and kidney stone dietary requirements you can read here.
    • For pancreatitis make sure you go with a low fat meat.
  • Make sure that you check the dietary requirements/constraints for the condition being dealt with.

3.7.3 Supplements for the Elimination Diet

Probiotic Supplement:
  • Should have at least 12 strains of bacteria and 20 to 50 billion microbes per serving;
  • If the supplement does not require refrigeration don’t buy it as the microbes that give the supplement its probiotic properties are dead and therefore non-viable;
  • You can use a human grade probiotic supplement or one sold for dog and cats;
  • Read this article to understand why a probiotic is required;
  • Read this article for additional information on how to choose a good probiotic. 

Digestive Enzyme:
  • Such as bromelain;
  • Ensure that the product contains NO fillers, sweeteners or other unnecessary additives;
  • You can use a human grade or one sold for dog and cats;
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for dosage.

3.8 The Post Elimination Diet

At the end of the 12 week period if your dog’s, cat’s symptoms have receded or even better are completely gone then you can start slowly adding other food stuffs back into his/her diet one at a time leaving days in between adding another item so that you can pinpoint the exact item that is causing the reaction if symptoms start to reoccur.

If you want to continue to feed a processed food diet select it with care – most contain undesirable, health compromising ingredients of one kind or other.  Make sure you know how to select a better product - don't assume you know - must people, even those that think they know - do not! Go to my index page, scroll down the page until you reach 
3.1 – Dog and Cat Food
3.1.1 Dry and Wet Dog and Cat Food (processed commercial food)
- read the articles in that section.

If you want to switch to a nutritious homemade cooked and fresh food diet you can start be using this grain-free homemade food recipe and make sure you follow substitutions to suit your dogs, cat’s allergy triggers.

Supplementation with omega-3 Fatty acids is very important for maintenance of good health.

Turmeric and organic coconut oil have many health benefits including anti-allergenic properties – both are safe for most dogs and cats – read the articles for detail on benefits, dosage, selecting a good product, cautions and interactions.

For additional information on causes and symptoms of food allergies you can read here.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld


  1. Hi there! What a great lot of information! I am only confused on one part. I am trying to figure out the amount of protein versus carbs. My dog is currently on the Acana Pacifica formula so I am going to use the 60% protein and 40% carb ratio but is that by weight? And do I weigh it when it is in the raw form before I cook it, or weigh it after it is all cooked? Or alternatively, do I use volume and not weight? Lol. I hope I'm making sense. For instance, last night, I cooked ground elk and used 6 ounces of it to 4 ounces of cooked mashed squash but it sure seems like a lot of meat compared to squash and now I'm worried I did it wrong.. I am wondering if I should have weighed it out in the raw form or measured it by volume. Could you clarify for me? Thank you so much:)

    1. Acana is a high carb product, so you should have adjusted your ratio to be at least 50%:50% first week but if your dog has not experienced diarrhea, I would not worry about ratio difference. Measuring by ounces is fine. If you need additional assistance you can use my consultation service.

  2. Karen, great web site! I just have two questions. First, should the oils in the meat in this diet be balanced? Or is it ok to add just an Omega 3/6 supplement during this time? And should there be any vitamins added or vitamin rich food included, so that a vitamin deficiency doesn't arise during the 3 month period? Thank you again for these wonderful gems of information you have provided and for bringing everything together in such a comprehensive manner.

    1. You can purchase consolation time if you require further support.


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats