Five Tips for a Successful Food Elimination Trial

So your dog or cat must undergo a food elimination trial to help determine if they have food allergies. While this may seem like a difficult venture, following these five simple rules can help make the feeding trial more effective:

1. No Store-Bought Treats

This is the most difficult of the rules, but one of the most important! We love to give our pets treats, and so do our friends and family. Unfortunately, these treats could have some of the allergic triggers your veterinarian does not want your pet to have. As an alternative to the typical treat, you can use kibble from your pet’s feeding trial diet. Set aside around 10% of their daily food allotment to use as treats to train or bond with your pet. 

2. Don't Be Afraid to Say "No"

Rule number two goes hand in hand with rule number one. Food elimination trials only work if you stick to the plan laid out by your veterinarian. Make sure your neighbors, friends and family members know about the food elimination trial, and enforce the rules with them too. If they offer your pet a treat or flavored toy (like a rawhide bone), it’s okay to say “no” and offer them a veterinarian approved option instead.

3. Get Scientific

This tip might seem obvious, but it’s important to make sure everything you use to feed your pet is clean before starting them on their food elimination trial. Bowls, scales and even your hands can carry the slightest trace of an allergy trigger, so washing them will minimize contamination risk and ensure your pet’s food elimination trial runs smoothly. If you have more than one pet, consider buying separate scales, food scoops and bowls. That way, instead of washing each utensil between feedings, the pet on the food elimination trial can have his own special, uncontaminated tools. 

4. Watch Out for Heartworm and Flea and Tick Medicines, and Supplements

Heartworm and flea and tick medicines are an important part of any pet’s routine healthcare. However, certain flavored heartworm and flea and tick medicines can contain proteins that might trigger your pet’s allergy. Be sure to talk to your vet about what supplements and medications you are currently giving your pet and if alternatives are needed during the food elimination trial. 

5. Go the Distance

Most food elimination trials last up to 12 weeks. For best results, make sure that you stick with it for the duration. Oftentimes, a pet’s health improves much sooner than 12 weeks, and the owner will elect to put them back on their old diet. However, shortening the trial without your veterinarian’s approval may cause a flare-up of clinical signs and mask any diagnosis. Make sure you stick with the food trial for the recommended time! 

Visit Your Vet

Your vet is your best resource and ally to help you and your pet have a successful food elimination trial. If your vet recommends a food elimination trial, he or she will be able to answer your questions and provide other tips that will help your pet’s food elimination trial run smoothly.

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