So you’re feeding a venison diet – really?

April 18th, 2012 | Posted by Monica in dogs

You’re feeding an over-the-counter (OTC) venison diet…or are you? It turns out that some commercial diets labelled as containing venison as the only meat source, can include other things that may trigger an allergic response. “Three of the four over the counter (OTC) venison canine dry foods with no soy products named in the ingredient list were ELISA positive for soy; additionally, one OTC diet tested positive for beef protein with no beef products listed as an ingredient list. One OTC venison diet was not found to be positive for soy, poultry or beef proteins. However, none of the four OTC venison diets could be considered suitable for a diagnostic elimination trial as they all contained common pet food proteins, some of which were readily identifiable on the label and some that were only detected by ELISA.” This quote comes from a study that seems to have looked only at OTC diets, and I have to wonder if Rx diets fare differently. One would hope so, but can you ever really know?

Sensitive dogs can react to so many foods that trying to find the right thing can be an exercise in frustration. Add the unknowns like soy, beef and whatever else might be in a food that’s labelled as containing only one protein source, and you can go round and round. This is why I’ve been so adamant about home-prepared diets holding the number one spot for resolution of allergies. There’s no doubt that when you buy chicken, for example, you’re getting chicken, so if your dog reacts…it’s got to be to chicken! No doubts, no mystery meat. Venison has become more popular in commercial diets, and the fresh meat is expensive, so commercial foods may be tempting as an elimination diet for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities. If your dog is doing well on this kind of diet, more power to you. But if s/he isn’t, it could be that the ingredient list doesn’t show the reality of that food. And I have to wonder if this might be the case for any number of commercial diets. As it turns out, a simple commercial diet of just one protein and one carbohydrate may not be what it appears, but even simpler foods can fool you. A few years ago, there was a canned diet with a label that claimed it was all meat (venison, or rabbit, etc). That sure sounded like an ideal way of going about an elimination diet, but so many dogs reacted that it seemed like a mystery – until I found out that they contained beef plasma (not stated on the label) as well as the meat source that was stated on the label.

Bottom line: if your dog reacts to a commercial diet that contains everything but the kitchen sink, you’re highly unlikely to be able to decipher reactions, but feeding what seems to be a very simple commercial diet may not make things much clearer. Why not test the waters with fresh foods? Once you’ve ascertained which foods your dog tolerates, it becomes easier to look for a commercial diet that contains them (although, I’d urge you to stick to what’s been working if at all possible) and understand reactions if they occur.

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