When food allergies are suspected, a dog or cat is often put on a diet consisting of either a single protein or a novel protein and carbohydrate. Single protein means for example either turkey or chicken only, not chicken & turkey. A novel protein is simply a brand new one that your dog or cat has never been exposed to. Lamb and rice foods were originally formulated to meet this need. The idea became so popular, however, and so many manufactures jumped on the lamb and rice bandwagon that most dogs and many cats have eaten lamb at some point in their life. The result is that lamb is no longer such a novel protein. Pet food manufacturers seeing the growing market for such novel and unique foods continue to produce allergy formulas or hypoallergenic foods with ever more exotic sources of protein. Venison, rabbit and duck are more common these day. But how about kangaroo, elk, bison, buffalo (aren’t bison and buffalo the same?) brushtail, quail, pheasant, llama or gator and more? You have to give them credit, the industry is quite creative when it comes to creating formulations available for our food sensitive companion animals. This makes providing variety in the diet a little easier, but be careful not to feed every protein available or you may run out of options should the need ever arise to put your companion on a restricted, novel protein diet.When searching for a novel protein food for your companion, read labels carefully. Many manufacturers name their canned foods and kibble suggesting a single or novel protein. However, a closer look at the label may reveal that secondary protein sources are being included as well. Manufacturers offering hypoallergenic food are plenty out there. Some specialize in dry or canned formulas designed specifically for the sensitive pet. Others offer hypoallergenic formulas by providing novel protein sources. These include venison, rabbit, duck, beaver, New Zealand brushtail, kangaroo, quail, tuna, buffalo to name a few. Without listing every name individually, visit our on-line store for plenty of more ideas and choices. Besides kibble or canned formulas, try food mixes from for example Sojos, Honest Kitchen, Dr. Harvey or Addiction. These are pre-mixed formulas combining all essential ingredients except in some cases a meat source. You simply add your own novel meat source according to your needs. And finally, the best route you can go is feeding raw. Even here are plenty of novel choices available to include venison, quail, pheasant, kangaroo, ostrich, even gator and llama are available. Again, visit our store for more info, enter the protein source of your choice into the search field for the easiest way to find out what’s available. Keep in mind, the same what I said for canned and dry food, applies to food mixes and raw, make sure to read the ingredient listing to avoid multiple protein sources and ingredients your pet may have a problem with.
To truly determine if the restricted diet is helping you may need to keep your dog or cat on this single protein diet for up to 12 weeks, however, progress is sometimes seen way earlier within 4 to 8 weeks. Once a food tolerance is established, however, find at least one and preferably two other protein sources that can also be tolerated for rotational feeding. A dog or cat that has developed an allergy to one protein is more susceptible to developing additional sensitivities, so rotation in their diet is important.When feeding a restricted diet to a food sensitive pet, don’t forget to read the labels on treats and supplements as well. As it is true for the food, just because your pet has a food sensitivity does not mean there are only a very limited number of options available. There are just as many options on treats as there are on food. And the same guidelines when making a selection apply.Some dogs and many cats may have grain allergies rather than, or in addition to protein allergies. The increase in the availability of grain free food makes feeding much less problematic than it was a few years ago. There is basically no more manufacturer left not offering some kind of a grain free formula. The downside to the influx of grain free foods seems to be the trend to include combinations of more uncommon or exotic meats in these formulas including buffalo, venison, duck and salmon in combinations with each other or with more common meats such as chicken, turkey beef or lamb. Should an animal on these diets become sensitive or allergic, the search for a novel protein becomes much more difficult.
A couple more things you want to keep in mind: Obviously apply all the pet food selection rules as you use the for “ordinary” food, i.e. make sure you read the labels, understand the ingredients, select the right ingredients, make sure you get a complete formula covering all nutrients required and so on.
Use common sense and take everything what’s being said and recommended to you with a grain of salt. Here I have a real life example. It happened a couple days ago that this owner of a Dachshund with food allergies called me looking for a food with a novel protein source. She was told by a friend that we would be the place to go to. To me, at first this was nothing new. After all, novel protein source pet food must be the most sought for answer I am being asked for every day. But this woman took me by surprise. For our conversation she had readily prepared a list of protein sources her dog is allergic to. Coming with compliments from her vet. When listening to the animals listed I got the feeling that her vet must have read the most horrific stories about his risk of being sued for making a wrong recommendation. It almost sounded as if he copied the index of an animal encyclopedia to make sure he got his grounds covered. And to be honest, all my options mentioned in my comment above went right out the window. I was speechless and did not know what to say. Except, that poor Dachshund is going to starve to death because according to his vet he cannot eat anything. However, I did come up with one option: New Zealand brushtail. That animal must not have been listed in the vet’s encyclopedia, it is relatively unknown in this country and he probably never heard of it. However I am sure by now it has made its way onto his list.
Now, I am not a vet, but as far as I have learned, food allergies develop over time. The reason for an animal to become allergic to a specific protein source is that the animal was fed the same food over a long period of time and it’s body started rejecting the specific source. That’s when you introduce a new or novel protein source. There may be certain relationships within certain protein sources, for example a pet may be sensitive to not just chicken, but poultry in general to include possibly for example turkey. But throughout my years in this rewarding business of successfully helping pet owners day in and day out I have never come across a case where a truly novel protein source would not take care of the problem. So therefore, in my opinion an animal which never has been fed kangaroo simply cannot be allergic to it. Is kangaroo for you too exotic of an example? Well, someone has yet to show me a dog allergic to a home grown American duck, I just never met one (unless of course he developed over years a sensitivity to duck because that was what he was fed all his life). You see what I am saying? There is no logic behind such recommendations as the one made by my customer’s vet. Obviously my customer now is devastated. Whom can she believe? And her dog is wondering: What am I going to eat now? There is no food for me in this world.
Finally, be patient. Results don’t show over night and it may require quite a while before improvements can be seen. Sometimes this can take up to 3 months.
Pet itching for relief? Leading cause Allergies Part 1 Introduction, Flea, atopic (inhalant) and contact allergies
Pet itching for relief? Leading cause Allergies Part 2 Food allergies, allergy testing and treatment
P.S. It just did bother me too much: Wikipedia says: “In American Western culture, the bison is commonly referred to as "buffalo"; however, this is a misnomer: though both bison and buffalo belong to the Bovidae family, the term "buffalo" properly applies only to the Asian water buffalo and African buffalo. The gaur, a large, thick-coated ox found in Asia, is also known as the "Indian bison", although it is in the genus Bos and thus not a true bison.”