Food hypersensitivities: Performing an elimination diet trial - DVM
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Food hypersensitivities: Performing an elimination diet trial
Take the time to find the right trial diet, and counsel clients on what not to feed


Diet trial monitoring

One can find variable recommendations regarding the length of time necessary to see improvement once a patient is placed on the hypoallergenic diet, with some recommending a 12-week diet trial. In my experience, it is rare for a food-allergic patient to not show measurable improvement within four to six weeks, so six weeks is our normal recommended length. Requiring clients and patients to struggle on for 12 weeks without seeing improvement in clinical signs can cause many owners to lose faith with the entire process, leading the owners to abandon the food trial and possibly seek out a different opinion. It may require more than six weeks for the maximum improvement to be seen, but at least the patient is improving during the process, which provides encouragement to continue the trial.

During the food trial, it is important to minimize the other causes of pruritus that will interfere with the ability of the client and veterinarian to determine the success or failure of the food trial. Zealous flea control in flea endemic areas is necessary. Monitoring for and treating secondary infections (pyoderma and Malassezia dermatitis) is also necessary. These infections are often the reason a food trial is being performed in the first place, so it is not uncommon to treat the patient with appropriate antimicrobial therapy potentially for the first half of the food trial. Further counseling is then needed to ensure the medications are not administered in a treat.

In Part 3 of this series, I will discuss common pitfalls to avoid when performing diet trials.

Dr. Lewis sees dermatology patients in California, Arizona, Nebraska, New Mexico and Washington. In 1991, he established Dermatology for Animals, PC.


1. Mueller R, Tsohalis J. Evaluation of serum allergen-specific IgE for the diagnosis of food adverse reactions in the dog. Vet Dermatol 1998;9:167-171.

2. Olivry T, Bizikova P. A systematic review of the evidence of reduced allergenicity and clinical benefit of food hydrolysates in dogs with cutaneous adverse food reactions. Vet Dermatol 2010;21(1):32-41.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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