This is why it’s not a good idea to feed a single protein to your dog
If you’ve seen your dog experience repeated ear infections, skin issues, itching or facial swelling, you can be sure that your dog is suffering from food allergies. And more often than not, the culprit is the single protein that you are feeding.
Pets have been known to develop allergies to a few foods or ingredients that get consumed for a long stretch. It is usually the protein component in those foods that triggers allergic reactions in pets. Now the catch is that dogs require protein on a daily basis, making protein allergies fairly common in dogs of all breeds. If the pet’s immune system gets sensitized to some food items that contain proteins, the result is an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of protein allergies
We touched upon some issues at the beginning of the article. You can be sure that your dog has a food allergy if he suffers from one or more of these symptoms regularly:
- Facial swelling
- Increased bowel movement
- Hot spots
- Ear infections
Detecting the allergy trigger
We’ve already stated that the food allergy is most certainly caused by a protein. The most common food allergies are related to grain but there are many instances when the dog can develop allergies to specific proteins as well. But since proteins are present in almost all dog food products, such as eggs, beef, chicken, fish, lamb, corn, soy, and dairy products, how does one identify the root cause of the protein allergy?
You will need to take your dog to the vet to eliminate any other conditions, like mange, atopy or other skin infections. If there are no such issues, you can assume the allergy is food-related.
Dogs and cats are not born with a pre-condition that makes them allergic to specific proteins; the condition usually develops over time if the pet is fed the same ingredients over and over. Feeding a dog chicken all his life may lead his body to be unable to break down the proteins within. The body then begins to think of the chicken as the enemy and sends defensive antibodies to fight against it. This leads to the symptoms that we all know as allergic reactions.
Is there any way that you prevent these allergies from appearing?
The easiest way to take control of your dog’s protein allergies is to feed a rotational diet, quite similar to our own. We eat different foods every day and get a different set of nutrients throughout the week. This keeps us healthy and also prevents boredom from setting in.
The same holds true of pets. If we give them a varied diet other than a single protein day in and day out, they receive a wide variety of nutrients over the course of time. But most importantly, by switching proteins regularly
, you can keep allergies at bay and your dog can continue to benefit from all the various foods available for him. Switching foods also keep dogs healthy, which means fewer trips to the vet and lower medical bills.
Making the switch from single protein to multi-protein
Over the years dog food companies have made pet parents believe that it is not a good idea to switch foods because it can cause various health issues such as diarrhea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues. The truth couldn’t be any further from this. Food companies want loyal customers and by filling pet parents with these fears, they ensure that you stick with their brand for the next 12-15 years.
Reality is that these minor G.I. issues that may
occur when you switch foods are nothing when you compare them to the major issues that your dog will suffer from if he becomes intolerant to the same diet day in and day out.
Most modern vets will recommend switching your pet’s food at least a few times every year. You might need to transition your dog over a few weeks before making the complete switch if the dog has a sensitive stomach. Even better would be to feed a rotational diet, where you change proteins regularly, thus not giving your dog a chance to get used to any specific food protein. This way you will not only help prevent allergies from starting, but this will make mealtime quite interesting for your pet.
Perhaps your dog has already developed an allergy to a certain food that you have been feeding for a long time. Now when you switch to a different food that produces no reaction in your dog, don’t stick to it. In fact, you should always be looking for the next protein to feed your dog.
Since chicken and beef are most commonly used to feed dogs, lamb is good hypoallergenic food. However, don’t feed lamb for a long time as it is just as likely for your dog to develop a lamb allergy.
What is a ‘novel’ protein?
If you have read up on dog food allergies, you might have come across the term ‘novel’ protein. You might wonder what it is. It is nothing but a new or novel protein that your dog’s body has never been exposed to. Chicken, beef, and lamb are the most commonly used meats to feed dogs. Novel proteins for dogs
eating these ingredients would include venison, rabbit, duck, etc. Since the pet’s body has never been exposed to these ingredients, the chances of an allergy are hugely minimized. If you are also feeding carbs to your dog, you should consider switching to a novel carbohydrate when working on eliminating allergic reactions. If your dog has been getting rice and chicken, you could consider moving him to duck and potato.
It is important to switch proteins when feeding your dogs. Not just to create variety and eliminate boredom, but also to take care of any existing and potential allergic reactions. A diet filled with a wide variety of proteins is directly related to a happy and healthy pet.