Friday, 20 January 2012

dogs eating a varied diet

We've prided ourselves for years on feeding Penny an 'interesting' and varied diet. Now I'm having second thoughts, because of something I've just read on Fully Vetted.

This is the problem. If a dog is suspected to have developed a food allergy, then you need to feed only a novel food for quite a length of time, in order to rule out all the foods the dog has ever eaten. We had exactly this problem when Penny developed skin problems last year. The skin specialist asked us to think of a food - an available one! - that she hadn't ever eaten. Kangaroo? She has that quite often. Duck? She's had it once or twice. Camel? She's even had that! And so on...

Fortunately, the specialist decided the problem most likely wasn't a food allergy. Since then we've been very careful about bothersome plants, like the ubiquitous and horrible Wandering Trad, and we wipe her 'private areas' after we come inside, with baby wipes. Worth the trouble, to keep her from licking herself raw!

The article, written by Dr Jennifer Coates, says that this problem of people giving their dogs all sorts of foods means that vets have to prescribe special dry foods. She says:
Veterinarians do still have the ability to prescribe limited antigen diets made from protein sources that have been hydrolyzed (i.e., broken down into such tiny pieces that they don’t stimulate the immune system). To avoid confusion, I’m starting to turn to these more than the novel ingredient foods that I have used in the past.
Now, at last, I understand why our vet had Penny on the seemingly boring special diet last year, before he sent us to see the skin specialist.


Tina & Teddy said...

Hi Parlance..Ive read through the years about the wide array of foods Penny eats…what are you going to begin feeding her now and will it be a quality canned or still raw diet but limited to only 1 anima typel? I've been trying to start Teddy on a 5 star canned food that uses only whole ingredients, but I keep varying the companies, and he does seem to scratch more than he used too... also, what are your thoughts on Pet Insurance?

Your input is appreciated...

parlance said...

Tina, we've come to the conclusion that Penny's skin itchiness isn't due to food, so in general we're not too careful about food these days. From what I read on that blog I mentioned, I gather that if we were to go down the limited-food track, we'd have to stick to one of those dry foods with the hydrolyzed protein, because in the past she's been exposed to so many different things. I think you're meant to eat only that for months, see if the itchiness goes away and then re-introduce one food at a time until you find the offending one. I think it sounds like Mission Impossible!

I think for us it's too late to not give a range of foods. Also, I think it's interesting for dogs to eat widely. So although I see what the vet meant, I still will buy whatever foods are on special in the supermarket, trying to stay with organic (and ethically raised) as far as possible.

A friend told me not to let Penny eat any beef, because it's so 'strong'. I'm not sure what she means. I must confess she does have beef at times.
Lately we've concluded that we will just use cortisone creams, very sparingly, and only intermittently, to keep things under control.