January Ask the Vet
12.19.2011 | 02:56 pm
This month, Dr. Al answers your questions about food allergies for dogs and the importance of canned food for cats.
Q: My dog has had allergy testing and tested positive for foods with potato, egg & fish. What food would you suggest we try?
A: There are two forms of allergy tests available to veterinarians.
1. Skin Testing: Requires shaving the pet’s belly and injecting small samples of specific allergens under the skin to observe for adverse reactions. It is a very uncomfortable procedure and the reactions should be evaluated by a specialist who performs the procedure on a regular basis.
2. Blood Testing: Blood tests are done for both environmental and food allergies. They work well for those environmental allergies such as fleas, pollen dust mites, molds etc…
Blood testing for food allergies has been shown to provide less than ideal results. Many of the positive reactions are what are known as false positive and are not really allergic reactions.
Most specialists agree that the only true way to determine food allergies is to feed a diet containing only one unique protein, one that the dog has not been exposed to recently (food allergies are to the protein itself). Unless there is an immediate negative reaction, feed the new diet at least 6-8 weeks to allow time for all of the offending allergens to leave the body.
Holistic Select makes three recipes with a single protein. Holistic Select® Anchovy, Sardine and Salmon Meal, Holistic Select Duck Meal and Holistic Select Lamb Meal dry dog foods are all ideal hypoallergenic recipes and have proven successful for many dogs thought to be suffering from a food allergy.
In addition to just one protein source, these recipes also contain optimum levels of Omega three fatty acids which help the skin to recover from the effects of an allergic reaction.
Choose the one that contains the best protein for your pet (the one containing the protein your dog has not been fed recently). Transition slowly over seven to ten days so if there is a reaction, it will not be severe. Feed at least 6-8 weeks before deciding if the diet has helped the problem. Be sure not to feed any other proteins from snacks, treats and table food; even some flavored oral medications contain protein and should be avoided as well.
Q: I have heard some vets encourage an all canned food diet for cats, especially helpful for weight management. Do you believe this, and how do you wean your cats off dry food?
A: There are several reasons all canned food diets are becoming more popular with concerned pet parents.
One must keep in mind that cats are true or obligate carnivores. They do best when their energy comes from protein and fat as opposed to carbohydrates. Canned foods are traditionally lower in carbohydrates.
Like most canned foods, Holistic Select® canned cat food recipes are higher in protein and fat and lower in carbohydrates than traditional dry diets. Because protein requires more energy to metabolize than fat or carbohydrates, feeding the canned cat food recipes can help a cat lose weight, if fed in the proper amount.
Just as important as what you feed, is how much you feed. A pet can gain weight if fed too much of any diet. One must weigh the pet regularly and make sure you are only feeding enough to maintain a slightly lean body mass. If the cat is overweight to begin with, only feed enough to slowly lose the excess weight.
Another important benefit of canned foods is that they also encourage an increase in water consumption; an important factor in helping to prevent urinary problems.
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