After my dog has tormented herself for months with stomach pains because she suddenly did not tolerate her food anymore, she has become immediately healthy with our “homemade” exclusion diet. What a relief! Therefore I give you here the 10 most important tips how you can solve the food intolerance of your dog with an exclusion diet and how you build this up.
I wish your dog a speedy recovery and hope that I can help you with this article!
Tip 1: What exactly is an exclusion diet?
With an exclusion diet you try to “exclude” all those substances from your dog’s food – i.e. to avoid them that might cause allergic reactions such as gastrointestinal or skin problems.
You should always follow this exclusion diet for at least 4-6 weeks, preferably three months. You should feed your dog a protein source – preferably never fed before – as well as a vegetable variety. Usually this is a horse. Which food I am currently feeding I tell you in this article. >
Exotic types of meat such as springbok and ostrich are also possible.
Because an allergy in your dog will only exist against something that you have fed before. And if you exclude all this and change him to something new and his condition improves, you know for sure that he is allergic to something in his food.
Tip 2: How can I tell if my dog is allergic to his food?
The typical symptoms of a food allergy are itching in the area of the mouth or the whole body and that your dog scratches and licks itself accordingly. Skin and coat problems can also indicate that your dog is food intolerant.
In other dogs the allergy can be seen in vomiting or diarrhoea. Or even by a stomach mucosa inflammation with Pixie. If you suspect this allergy you should go to your vet first to rule out parasites or gastrointestinal influenza.
Tip 3: What can my dog be allergic to?
The pet food industry has changed like crazy in recent years. There used to be three brands of dog food and now there are so many dog food suppliers that even I have completely lost track.
Of course not all dog food brands are recommendable, because due to the demands of the dog owners that they want to feed the food as easy as possible and it is please forever durable, like crazy chemical additives are added to the food.
Artificial colours, flavour enhancers and stabilisers are used to ensure that the food is completely uniform. And all these substances are, of course, possible causes of allergies.
However, many dogs are actually allergic to the protein they contain – usually in the form of meat.
According to Smart Dog Lover the most common allergy triggers are:
- dairy products
- Grain or soy products
Tip 4: How exactly does the exclusion diet work?
As already mentioned above, you feed your dog only one protein and one carbohydrate source for the best three months on this exclusion diet. Of course, this also applies to all treats and chewing items you give your dog!
As protein you should feed a meat source that your dog has never eaten before. Here is often horse, or even goat, springbok, kangaroo or buffalo.
I have decided for horse, because I can continue to make dried meat and treats myself and because I am not dependent on the industry. A Ross slaughterhouse is easier to control than an alligator slaughterhouse. 😉
Tip 4: Which food should I not feed my dog?
During the exclusion diet you really shouldn’t feed any of your dog’s usual food at all. Also not just a little bit. Just as with people who are allergic to peanuts, for example, only a hint of peanuts is enough for the allergy to fully break out. And so that you can really be sure that your dog is allergic to his food, you have to hold out this time.
Tip 5: What do I pay attention to when on an exclusion diet?
Especially with the exclusion diet you should feed your dog a very high quality food, so that you are really sure that there is nothing in the food that does not belong there. This is of course easiest to achieve if you barft.
Important: When BARFing you also have to make sure that the food supplements you add do not contain any allergy triggers!
But even if you don’t barft, there are a lot of dog food brands that declare the contents of their cans completely open and you are so sure that you are feeding the right one.
On the subject of dog food declaration: If you read “meat and animal by-products” on the food label for example, this is a closed declaration and you do not know at all what is “hidden” in this food.
Tip 6: Which treats are allowed now?
As already mentioned above you have to make sure that there are no allergenic things in the treats that you give to your dog.
Here you also have to look at the ingredients and the declaration! The best thing to do is to simply buy 100% meat dried meat. Because many treats are mixed with cereals and other things that can trigger an allergy again.
Tip 7: Everyone must take part in the exclusion diet
It is sooo super important that you swear to really every person who comes in contact with your dog regularly and only now and then to stick to the exclusion diet! The most common mistake is that you yourself are super disciplined and take care of everything and then your child secretly, a girlfriend out of compassion or your dog sitter out of carelessness gives him a treat which again triggers a reaction. And you start all over again!
Or your dog snatches dog or cat food somewhere. Or feeds something on the street. 🙄 You really have to keep an eye on him at all times.
Remember that you tell EVERYONE that they can’t give him anything and explain to your children how important it is for your dog’s health that they don’t give him anything else!
Tip 8: You have to know exactly what is in the food.
Only if the food is declared open, you really know what’s in it. A closed declaration with ominous terms like “meat from” or “animal by-products” hides EVERYTHING in the feed. And you have no certainty that you are not feeding something allergy-inducing after all. So change over to a completely open declared food now at the latest!
Tip 9: how can I tell that the exclusion diet is successful?
Watch your dog closely and maybe even note the symptoms he showed before the exclusion diet. If he has any skin or coat changes, photograph them for comparison.
In the course of the exclusion diet all symptoms should disappear and the condition of your dog should really improve. If this is not the case, then at least you have the certainty that he has no food allergy and can exclude this in the search for a diagnosis.
Pixie’s condition has actually improved dramatically within the first 48 hours. I was so surprised but her pain, bloating belly and lack of appetite: everything was gone immediately!
Tip 10: How do I determine what my dog is really allergic to?
If your dog shows no more symptoms during the exclusion diet, you start with the so-called provocation phase.
This means that you include another type of meat – which he has eaten before – in the food plan again. Then you feed these two protein sources for a while and see if the allergy reappears.
If all is well, add another type of meat and see how your dog reacts. Also with the carbohydrates you can test bit by bit how your dog reacts to them.
But always one after the other and no new feedings at the same time, because otherwise you cannot determine again exactly to what your dog reacts or does not react.
You do this until you can feed your dog normally again or until you have found the cause for the allergy and simply leave it out in the future.
I hope that my tips have helped you and that you are now smarter about your dog’s exclusion diet. I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences with the diet: how your dog reacts to it and what diagnosis has been made so that you are now feeding the exclusion diet? Do you have any other tips you can pass on to all of us? Write everything down in the comments, I am happy about every single one of you!
Greetings and a speedy recovery for your dog