Food hypersensitivity in dogs and cats: Elimination veterinary diet trial pitfalls - DVM
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Food hypersensitivity in dogs and cats: Elimination veterinary diet trial pitfalls
Diet trials are key to diagnosis, but common complications must be avoided.


Flavored medications

Flavored medications have become an increasingly common challenge to overcome when enforcing a food trial. Many flavored medications contain beef and pork protein. I have observed patients flare from their once-monthly flavored heartworm preventive. Glucosamine chondroitin is another potential allergen commonly administered.

When it's not just food

It is not uncommon for an atopic dog or cat to have multiple triggers for their disease, with both food and environmental allergens playing a role. A clinician trying to sort out these multiple triggers will also sometimes have to make compromises when developing a comprehensive treatment plan for the pruritic patient. Feeding a large dog such as a Labrador retriever a novel therapeutic diet long-term may leave nothing else in the budget for control of the environmental triggers.

In such cases, I will frequently recommend some of the over-the-counter fish-based diets in an attempt to find an over-the-counter food that will not trigger the food allergy and possibly provide some supportive care for the atopic dermatitis because of the omega-three fatty acids. This, of course, assumes the patient is not allergic to fish and that there are not other protein contaminants in the food but not listed on the label.

Client communication

In our practice, even though we use handouts to help educate clients on the principles of the food trial, we do not rely on the handouts alone. It requires time to properly educate a client on how to perform the food trial. We schedule a follow-up appointment with one of our office staff a few days after initiating the trial, and we schedule another follow-up four to six weeks after starting the trial so that progress, or lack thereof, can be assessed.

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


1. Raditic DM, Remillard RL, Tater KC. ELISA testing for common food antigens in four dry dog foods used in dietary elimination trials. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl) 2011;95(1):90-97.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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