Hypoallergenic dog foods: are they only suitable for use as exclusion diets? | Vets & Clinics

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Hypoallergenic dog foods: are they only suitable for use as exclusion diets?

What if we keep the dog on a hypoallergenic diet? After all, the dog’s clinical signs are improving... Or should we try to convince the owner that hypoallergenic dog foods only form part of the diagnostic process? Are there any cases where these diets should be continued? Let’s have a look at the debate in this post.

Nutrition and illnesses

Suspected atopic dermatitis or adverse food reaction

After ruling out parasitosis and bacterial infections, we decided to change to an exclusion diet with a hypoallergenic dog food for 8 weeks, the aim being to rule out a food allergy or intolerance if the patient does not show a significant improvement.

However, the change in diet only brought about a partial improvement (over 50% reduction in pruritus) and doubts still remain. In this case, we need to conduct a challenge test and give the dog the same diet it was eating before. If the pruritus reappears, it confirms the diagnosis of an adverse food reaction, so it is appropriate for the dog to continue eating the hypoallergenic dog food.

If, on the other hand, the challenge test does not cause the pruritic dermatitis to reappear, and the clinical signs are compatible, we can establish a diagnosis of atopic dermatitis.

Why change diet if atopic dermatitis is confirmed?

While the clinical picture may improve with a hypoallergenic diet, it is advisable to switch to a specific diet that strengthens the cutaneous barrier and provides the correct nutrients needed to reduce inflammation such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and aloe vera. In addition, instead of using hydrolysed protein (hypoallergenic dog foods), we recommend feeding dogs a limited-antigen diet because they are more suitable in the long term.

We suggest you watch the short video where Dr. Lluís Ferrer explains what nutritional support treatment consists of in cases of pruritic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is not treated through diet alone, but it is an essential part of the support measures for managing the disease. Diet, frequent baths and parasite control should form the therapeutic mainstay, otherwise the drug therapy will be less effective.

Hypoallergenic dog foods: what do the guidelines say?

Atopic dogs suffer acute episodes of dermatitis when they are exposed to allergens in their diet. Therefore, the 2008 guidelines published by the International Task Force on Canine Atopic Dermatitis recommend giving atopic dogs new sources of protein that differ from those in their usual diets, such as trout, mink or kangaroo protein.

Of course, there are many other situations when a hypoallergenic dog food should also be used. The specific case of hypoallergenic dog foods for gastrointestinal disorders is discussed later in another post. We hope you found this article interesting!

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