Food Allergies? The Novel Protein Approach

Hi All and welcome to the latest CDK9 Raw blog!

First off, we apologise for being a bit quiet recently... 2018 got off to a crazy busy start. So far we've welcomed a heap of new interstate pack members in Victoria, shared free raw food across New South Wales (cue: starting the Raw Revolution in Aus!), launched 3 new proteins AND our Raw Rewards Program...

And that's the stuff we've been able to share so far - so watch this space for the next big announcements!

In our blogs, we try to address questions or enquiries we get from you. Over the past few weeks, and in line with the launch of the food sensitive proteins, we've noticed quite a bit of interest in food allergies and the steps that can be taken to figure out what on earth is causing them!

So here's what you need to know.

Top 3 Causes of Allergic Reactions:

Golden Retriever itching allergies
  1. Environment: Environmental factors are the number 1 cause of allergic reactions in dogs. Airborne allergens such as dust and pollen are common culprits, as well as contact with (and ingestion of!) a variety of irritating flora. If your dog presents with allergic symptoms, the first thing to do is undertake a thorough examination of their environment. We previously published a handy guide to help you do just this! Be aware that airborne allergens can come from indoors as well as from your garden or local park.
  1. Fleas: The next thing to rule out is a flea infestation. Inspect your dog for fleas or their droppings, paying particular attention to the neck, ears, groin, abdomen and base of the tail. Make brushing with a flea comb a regular part of their beauty routine - however, they’ll usually let you know themselves! They may become restless and are scratching, licking and chewing at parts of their body more than usual. Excessive head-shaking and ear-scratching is also a sign.
  1. Food: Once you’ve ruled out environmental factors and fleas, the next thing to look at is diet. Although it’s only 3rd on the list, food allergies are a very real issue and have increased in prevalence - largely due to the poor quality of commercially manufactured dog food and the misinformation spread by its proponents.

A closer look at diet:

As you may have gathered by now, we're no fans of the ‘established’ pet food industry. They spend a lot of money marketing as 'balanced', but their products, particularly kibble, are completely biologically inappropriate for dogs. What's more, many of the 'nutrients' included are highly processed or synthetic - and really hard for dogs to absorb as a result!

It should be no surprise that it can result in an immunological response, often caused by:

  • A high percentage of nutritionally useless carbohydrates
  • Additives, preservatives, emulsifiers and ‘flavour enhancers’
  • Poor quality, rendered meats from dubious sources (4-D meats)
  • The presence of corn, wheat, rice, soy, eggs, milk, potato and beet (all identified as leading food allergens for dogs)

The allergic reaction is most often caused by exposure to one of the above, so our first piece of advice is to dump the kibble and feed raw. Many of our customers have done just this and noticed almost immediate results.

However, there is a possibility that your dog is or has become allergic to a particular protein source, in particular if they are continuously fed it, with little variety. Again, we’re laying some blame at the door of the petfood industry, with their perpetuation of the “never switch your dog’s food” myth - a claim rooted in cementing market share rather than any scientific evidence.

Variety of raw proteins for dogs

The Elimination Trial or Novel Protein Diet

If you’ve taken the above steps and seen no improvement in symptoms, then it’s likely your dog has developed an allergy to a protein source, especially if they’ve been fed the same one over an extended period of time. Chicken and beef are the top two offenders here. It shocks many pet parents to discover this, as they may have been feeding these proteins from puphood without issue. However, it’s important to realise that the onset of food allergies does not typically occur until the age of 3-4+ years.

Many people will turn to costly blood and skin tests in order to identify the allergen but there is no definitive way other than an elimination trial diet to identify the causes.

Here’s the lowdown:

  • Take a break from the usual food source. We recommend at least 8 weeks in order to clear out the allergens and allow for detoxification
  • Introduce a novel protein i.e. a protein that your dog has not eaten before. Our duck and lamb ranges are specifically designed for this purpose
  • Resist the temptation to treat them with other proteins (for example, beef jerky, etc.) as this will render the trial redundant. Keep the protein the same, like duck heads and lamb marrow bones

By the end of the 8 week period, many dog owners have seen such a dramatic improvement that they do not wish to return to feeding other proteins.This is fine, however, we recommend that you cycle through feeding at least 2, preferably 3, different protein sources. You don’t want your dog to develop an allergy to the new protein through over-exposure to it.

To continue with the elimination trial diet:

  • Slowly reintroduce the previously-fed proteins, one by one, and monitor for reactions
  • We recommend subsequent 2 week periods of reintroduction. If, during this period, the dog reacts to, say, chicken, it can be assumed as one of the allergens
  • Return the dog to the novel protein diet
  • After the symptoms clear up, beef could then be introduced for 2 weeks and so on until all the allergens can be identified

Please note that all of this is predicated on the fact that if you're really concerned for your dog's safety, then always seek vet advice.

If you do have any questions, we love talking all things dog and nutrition here - so drop us a message or comment below. Happy raw feeding!

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