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Elimination diet: How to diagnose and treat food allergies

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    Monday, June 25, 2018, 9:23 AM - The constant licking, biting, and itching may seem never-ending. When you find your pet suffering from a skin irritation, it’s natural to wonder about the cause. Is it something in the environment that they have been exposed to? Or is it something they ate? Could it be both?

    Dr. Allison Wara, Veterinary Clinical Nutritionist, states that when it comes to food allergies, the most reliable method of diagnosing – and treating – the condition is with an elimination diet trial under the guidance of a veterinarian. Neither skin testing nor serologic testing are reliable diagnostic tests for food allergies and should be avoided.

    Before changing your pet’s diet, consult with your veterinarian. Your vet can help you determine what your dog could be hypersensitive to and can assist you in the selection of a diet that might be better tolerated by your pet.

    In some cases, however, our pets may not be reacting to a food or ingredient. Instead, it could be an environmental allergen, such as pollen, mold, or dust. Treatment of seasonal allergies requires a tailored plan designed by your veterinarian that could involve topical and/or oral medications, medicated baths, allergen-specific immunotherapy, and nutritional modifications. Many of these treatments work best in combination to provide relief.

    Diagnosing food allergies can be a long and tedious process, but if you stick with it, your pet will thank you.


    Hill et al. 2006. Survey of the prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment of dermatological conditions in small animals in general practice. Vet Rec. 2006. Apr 22;158(16):533-9.

    Mueller, R., and Olivry, T. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (4): can we diagnose adverse food reactions in dogs and cats with in vivo or in vitro tests? BMC Vet Res. 2017; 13(1):275.

    Canadian Academy of Veterinary Dermatology

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