Less is More!
Is your dog suffering from a sensitive belly or skin irritations and allergies? Then this is all the information you'll need!
If your dog has a sensitive stomach or suffers from skin irritations and allergies, then it could be triggered by food. Putting your dog on an elimination diet is a sensible way to start identifying the cause, and limited ingredient dog foods with clear, honest ingredients will help you understand exactly what your dog is eating.
Here’s 5 simple tips to getting started on a limited ingredient diet and what to look out for:
1). Hypoallergenic dog food
Hypoallergenic is a term used to describe a diet which is low in allergens. The less ingredients, the less allergens will be present in the food, and it will be easier to spot a trend in reactions and identify ingredients that disagree with your dog.
Natural dog food is a great place to start searching for a good quality hypoallergenic diet, however make sure you check the back of pack ingredients to see exactly what the ingredients are and the quality of them. Some natural dog foods can contain an abundance of herbs and plant extracts, so start by going back to basics before introducing these.
True hypoallergenic recipes are based on a less is more principle.
2). Single source protein
It can be challenging to determine what your dog is reacting to, so start with the protein source. Meat is often the main ingredient in good quality dog foods, so looking for a single protein food and trialling your dog on this will help you monitor their allergies in relation to the meat type i.e. chicken.
Be careful to ensure that the meat variety stated on the front of the pack is the only one the recipe contains. Some pet foods will claim ‘with Salmon’ on the front but might contain other meats such as chicken. Did you know that to claim ‘with salmon’ (for example) on the front of the pack it only needs to contain 4% of that ingredient! Also watch out for meat meal or meat and animal derivatives – these are poor-quality proteins and often not all from the same source of protein!
By switching to a single source protein food, which is of human grade quality, you can ensure your dog is getting the best from the meat source in their diet. If after a few weeks their allergy continues or worsens, then switch exclusively to another protein source to see if this makes a difference.
Naturediet provide a choice of single source protein meals and our meat content is human grade and freshly prepared, it’s therefore as minimally processed as possible and will provide an excellent, natural source of protein for your dog.
3). Good grains
Grain has developed a bit of a bad reputation recently for being the cause of itchy skin, poor digestion and a host of other ailments in pets, but it’s often wheat-based ingredients which are the main culprits.
Avoiding wheat in your dogs’ diet is recommended and it can be found in nasty, cheap fillers and cereals used to bulk up a dog food recipe.
With the rise in popularity of grain free dog foods, good grains that provide a healthy carbohydrate source can now be considered a lesser quality ingredient, due to the bad reputation of wheat-based fillers. Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains supply iron, minerals and fibre to the diet as well as other beneficial nutrients.
Rice is a healthy carbohydrate and releases energy slowly, to help keep your dog fuller for longer. It’s gently digested and can be tolerated by most dogs. However, if you’re concerned your dog might be grain intolerant then be sure to cut out refined and milled grains, and any products containing wheat gluten.
We never use cereals or wheat-based fillers, are completely wheat gluten free and only use high-quality whole grain rice or potato as the source of carbohydrate in our natural dog foods.
4). Read the back of pack
Always check the back of pack to see exactly what’s in your dog’s dinner. High-quality named animal proteins should be the first ingredients listed. Avoid foods that use generic and un-named “meat” meal. To know exactly what your dog’s eating then the type of meat needs to be named, for example lamb or chicken. Fat should also come from a named source.
If you’ve been feeding a food that contains meat meal, of which 4% is chicken, and you suspect chicken is the cause of their allergy then keep in mind that there could be a variety of other protein sources in the food!
Clear, honest labelling is key to understanding the quality and quantity of the meat in your dog’s food. Naturediet believe that less is more, and all our foods are made to a simple recipe of high quality, real food ingredients. What you see on the back of the pack is exactly what’s in it!
5). Keep a diary
When placing your dog on an elimination diet, perhaps of a new food type, then be prepared to stick with this for a few weeks so you can monitor any change. Be strict in what you feed (keep it the same) and keep a food diary to help identify the causes of any irritations and tummy troubles. If a condition significant worsens then you might have found the cause but do be prepared for a transition period.
If you’re transitioning your dog over to a new food, then make sure you allow your dog the time to adjust to their new routine. It’s recommended that for the first week you split their meals 50/50, to enable their digestive system to adapt. It’s worth noting that it can be common for dogs to have a change in bowl movements during this period.
Stick to the same meal (providing it’s not causing any serious negative reactions) for 4-6 weeks and then introduce another. If feeding Naturediet then you’ll be able to identify any possible allergens with ease as our foods are all made to the same limited ingredient recipes – they’ll differ in meat source and our grain free ranges don’t contain rice.