What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet is often recommended as
a way of identifying food intolerances. It involves eliminating
certain food types or ingredients from the diet for 6-8 weeks
and then reintroducing them one at a time to see if the body
If a dog or cat is suffering from a dietary
intolerance an accurate dietary history should be taken previous
to trying an elimination diet. However, this is often impossible
as many pet food labels do not state specific named ingredients.
For example the ingredient ‘meat’ does not indicate
to the owner what species their pet has been eating. It could
be lamb, beef or even rabbit for instance.
It is recommended that an animal fed on an
elimination diet is fed on a novel protein and carbohydrate
source. This means that the animal is unlikely to have eaten
these particular ingredients before. Venison is an example
of a novel protein source.
All other foods, treats, table scraps and
tit-bits must be eliminated from the dog or cats diet.
Pets can be fed on home cooked elimination
diets such as fish and potato or chicken and rice or commercial
diets can be used. If using a commercial pet food it is important
to choose one with a single protein source (this means that
it only contains one meat source rather than several meat
ingredients). The ingredient list should be short with as
few ingredients as possible. All the ingredients in the list
should be named i.e. avoid diets which state they contain
‘cereals’ and ‘animal meat’.
If there are no improvements after 6-8 weeks
on an elimination diet then this could be for several reasons:
(1) The owner did not comply with the diet
and gave the dog/cat other foods and/or treats.
(2) The dog or cat managed to scavenge or find food from another
(3) The dog or cat is actually intolerant to one of the ingredients
in the elimination diet.
(4) The dog or cat is suffering from factors other than food
If there are improvements the owner can then
start to reintroduce other food items one at a time in order
to determine what the animal is reacting to. Experts recommend
that each new food must be introduced two weeks apart as some
ingredients may cause a delayed reaction.
If your dog or cat manages to eat something
other than the elimination diet (this includes some medications
which can contain ingredients the animal may be intolerant
to) then the dietary trial should be started again from the
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