Hypoallergenic dog food…
Recent dog food aisle musings made me question the meaning of ‘hypoallergenic’. What makes a dog food hypoallergenic? A certain ingredient? A group of ingredients? The type of processing? Or the whole package?
Let’s start with a definition…
http://www.hypoallergenic-dogfood.co.uk/ defines the word hypoallergenic as “having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction”.
Do hypoallergenic dog foods need to have certificates or a seal of approval?
No. There are no regulations or tests to make sure hypoallergenic dog foods meet a set of standards.
Is it a marketing term?
Yes!! And it’s confusing and misleading!
allaboutdogfood.com say this:
‘Hypoallergenic, a term apparently first coined by the James Wellbeloved marketing team, literally means low-allergy-causing and can be used to describe any food that doesn’t contain any ingredients that are commonly linked to allergies. Unfortunately, different manufacturers have different ideas of what constitutes an allergy-causing ingredient so the definition can vary from one brand to another. Maize, for example, is regarded as a hypoallergenic ingredient by some manufacturers while others avoid it like the plague.’
Easy decision making…
Just like with the breed specific foods, stamping a food with ‘hypoallergenic’ makes choosing foods easier but not necessarily correct.
Here’s a scenario: Mike’s dog, Ripley, scratches a lot and has red blotchy skin – he has an allergy to something or lots of things… Mike buys a hypoallergenic dog food because it says hypoallergenic on the front and he expects Ripley’s allergies to disappear.
The problem with following this strategy is:
1. Just like us, food allergies are specific to individual dogs. One dog may have an allergy to beef whilst another may be allergic to dairy.
2. Since different dogs are allergic to different ingredients, there can be no such thing as a food that is hypoallergenic for every single dog!
So, if Ripley’s allergies disappear it’ll be more out of luck than judgement.
What can Mike do?
Mike needs to find out find out which ingredients Ripley can and cannot tolerate, and choose a food accordingly. This is easier said than done and is best done with some help.
If your dog has allergies, especially severe allergies, I recommend that you take your dog to visit an holistic vet or canine nutritionalist so that they can work out which food(s) your dog is allergic to.
Or you could stick to commercial dog foods and try and work out it out for yourself but it may take quite a bit of trial and error to eliminate ingredients because commercial foods contain a lot of ingredients. My tips are:
1. Try a different type of food, if you’re feeding your dog a dry food, try moving her onto a commercial raw diet and see if that makes a difference.
2. Ignore all wording on the front of dog food. Go straight to the back of the packet and read the ingredients list.
3. Choose foods with protein as the first ingredient
4. Choose foods with a single protein
5. Ignore foods that contain dairy, yeast, wheat, corn, soy, white rice, beet pulp, additives and artificial flavours, colourants and preservatives – these are ingredients known to cause allergies
6. Choose foods with few ingredients to make it easier to identify the ingredient(s) your dog is allergic to
7. Try feeding a food that contains different ingredients form the one you’re currently feeding e.g. if you’ve been feeding a food containing chicken and brown rice, choose one with beef and sweet potato
8. If you’ve tried lots of different foods, try switching to one that contains an unusual protein – a ‘novel’ protein – such as bison, kangaroo or pheasant
9. Be strict with the treats that you’re feeding too, if you’re trying to eliminate chicken don’t feed treats containing chicken. It might be best to stop feeding any kind of treat until you’ve worked out what your dog is allergic to.
Again, an holistic vet or canine nutritionist will be able to help you speed up the process; it’ll help your dog feel better more quickly and it might work out cheaper than if you do it all by yourself.
The change I’d like to see…
For a human food to be allowed to say it’s organic it has to meet a standard. I would like to see certificates for claims like hypoallergenic and organic so that dog foods have to meet standards before manufactures are allowed to put the words on their packaging and websites.
Shop for products…
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