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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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Can A Raw Diet Help My Pet’s Allergies?

If you’ve seen success stories about pets with inflamed, itchy skin, hair loss, and chronic ear infections that found relief from a raw diet, you might be wondering if it could be a good option for your cat or dog. While most pets can benefit from more fresh food in their diet, you will need to take a targeted approach to see an improvement in allergy symptoms.

How Raw Diets Can Help With Allergies
When it comes to food intolerances, the most common triggers for cats and dogs are protein sources. Chicken, beef, fish, and eggs, as well as dairy, are all common allergens found in pet foods. It’s less common, though possible, for pets to have an intolerance to grains such as corn, wheat, or rice. Also, keep in mind that pets can also be allergic to starches found in grain-free foods like peas, potatoes, and lentils. What’s more, pets can be allergic to synthetic vitamins, artificial colors, preservatives, and seasonings found in their food.
With a homemade diet, you can control every ingredient that your pet consumes. Commercial raw diets may also make it easier to avoid certain ingredients because they are typically low in or free of starches and free of artificial preservatives.
A raw diet - or any diet, for that matter - can be boosted with holistic supplements and beneficial ingredients that can help relieve allergy symptoms. For example, if your pet has dry, itchy skin, you might add a source of omega-3 fatty acids like sardines, salmon, or tuna, or a supplement like Super Pure Omega-3 Liquid. You can also try Yucca Intensive to help relieve itching.

How Raw Diets Can Help With Allergies
As you formulate a raw diet for your pet, whether you create homemade recipes with the help of a holistic veterinary nutritionist, use a complete, balanced raw food, or use Honest Kitchen base mix, you’ll need to make sure your pet’s new food is free of allergy-triggering ingredients.
There are two ways to identify allergy triggers in your pet. You can feed an elimination diet containing only novel ingredients until your pet no longer shows symptoms. After 4-8 weeks you’d start to add in familiar ingredients, one at a time, until you determine your pet’s triggers through the process of elimination. An elimination diet is difficult to stick to, and can take months to help you find answers, but it’s ultimately the most reliable way to determine allergies - when done correctly.
You can also use an allergy test to determine what foods your pet needs to avoid. You can opt for a blood test from your veterinarian or you can try an at-home hair test through 5Strands. While allergy tests do not test for every possible allergens, and they’re known to set off false positives, they can still be incredibly helpful in identifying foods to avoid.
Keep in mind that pets can also suffer from environmental allergies. Fleas, fabrics, carpets, cleaning solutions, household chemicals, pesticides, pollen, plants, and dust can also make your pet feel unwell. Take note of whether your pet has symptoms year-round, if they have isolated inflammation on points of contact - like their belly, if they always lie on your wool blanket - or if their symptoms worsen when they’re outside.
Some symptoms that seem to indicate allergies are not a byproduct of allergies at all. That’s why it’s so important to work with your veterinarian to rule out any other underlying illnesses and ensure your pet’s new diet plan will meet their individual needs.