At Barkin Bistro, we get asked this question a great deal. It’s a big subject, folks, and can take a long time.
How do I know if my dog has a sensitivity to certain foods?
If you think your pup has issues with certain foods, the only way to find out is to look into what you are feeding a little closer. Most people blame chicken as it is a popular protein to feed, but it is not always the offender, especially if organic. Check your food and ask your supplier where they source their chicken. If it is barn-reared, it is likely to have been fed grain, which many dogs have problems with for obvious reasons (they do not tolerate eating grain well). The same question goes for beef, duck, turkey, lamb, and any other protein you are feeding. Most healthy pups are fine eating barn-reared meats.
Are there tests I can do?
There are tests your vet can do, but they are not always conclusive and can be expensive. At Barkin Bistro, we would recommend that you feed single proteins for a few months and see the reaction your pup has to each different protein.
Does my dog have an allergy to food?
If you feed your pup a certain protein and he is itching and scratching within 24 hours, it is likely he has problems tolerating that particular food. That said, there could be a multitude of other problems in his body, not necessarily related to food, and this is where it may become more complicated. Having a consultation with your holistic vet or canine nutritionist may help to take the pain away more quickly, as they will ask you a whole heap of questions to find the best solution. This can sometimes be associated with certain medications, household cleaners, and stress, to mention a few. Link to ingenious-probiotics
Your pup, like you, can have food allergies and intolerances. This can occur when the immune system sees a certain food protein as an invader and therefore overreacts to the food.
The most common food allergies in dogs are beef, dairy, chicken and wheat. They can also be environmental, and your pup may have the following signs.
- Itchy skin
- Hot spots
- Ear infections
- Constant paw licking
- Hair loss
- Black skin where it should be pink
How do I do an elimination diet?
Just as it sounds, folks, you eliminate multiple proteins and just stick to one at a time. For instance, you could start with turkey, and if, after a few weeks of no problems, you choose another protein, such as duck, just add a teaspoon to his food. If there are no symptoms after a few days, it is likely that the new food you have introduced is OK and can be tolerated by your pup. If there is a reaction, stop and go back for at least a week and then choose a different protein, such as beef.
Test a new protein every 2-4 weeks. Most owners are happy if their pups have a good varied diet of approximately four different proteins, which should be enough to sustain good health. This can also include eggs and fish. If you try eggs, ensure they are organic and that fish comes from sustainable sources and does not include tuna, which is high in mercury.
Starting with a novel protein (something your pup has not eaten before) is a good way to start, and foods such as goat and hare are proteins not seen in many dog food diets.
This elimination diet should include any food you feed your pup, including all treats and titbits. We do often see treats being the culprit and not the food.
What proteins are the easiest for my dog to digest?
The easiest proteins for most dogs to digest are
Eggs digestibility is 100%, and chicken, beef and lamb muscle meat are 92% digestible. The organs of these animals, liver, kidney etc., are 90% digestible to most dogs.
Should I look at vegetables and fruits too?
100% ‘yes’ to this question! You may be asking why folks. Most fruit and vegetables are sprayed with chemicals that can affect not only you but the health of your pup too. Some of these chemicals can change healthy gut flora over time. Adding pre and probiotics to your pup’s diet, like BioFunction8, will help to heal the gut. As will bone broth – of which we stock a range. A healthy gut is imperative for good health in the body and the brain.
Keep a food diary for your dog.
A really important note here is to keep a food diary for your pup. This way, you will know exactly what the culprit was. For example, if your pup had a reaction to duck, it is likely that any part of that animal (heart, liver, kidney etc.) will cause the same problem.
Keeping a food diary is a quick and simple way of evaluating which foods are not working for your pup.
Don’t forget to add treats to your diary too, as these also count as food.
The conclusion here is to keep everything as simple as possible. Making small changes can help a great deal. Do consult with your holistic vet if you have concerns. A fresh raw diet that is balanced over time is the best food for your pup, just as it is for you.