Allergies can cause skin disease and intestinal signs though can be difficult to diagnose and manage.
It is important to decide about the best treatment for each animal and this will vary depending on the cause of the problem, whether it is seasonal or not and whether it is possible to avoid the allergen.
The allergies can be to food, fleas, contact allergies or airborne allergens such as pollen or house dust mites.
To investigate these allergies it is best to rule out parasites, bacterial infection, food allergies and contact allergies first before we can diagnosis atopy/enviromental allergies.
To perform an exclusion diet you can follow these suggestions:-

Why start an exclusion diet?
An exclusion diet or elimination diet is used to investigate skin or gastrointestinal disease, which may be caused by allergy to a component of the diet.

What to feed?
An ideal exclusion diet should be balanced and nutritionally complete and should not contain any ingredients which have been fed previously. The protein and carbohydrate source are particularly important. The most common dietary allergens in dogs are beef, chicken, eggs, corn (maize), wheat, soy and milk. A novel/different protein source might be duck, turkey, fish, venison, pork or rabbit depending on what your dog has been fed before. Protein needs to make up 25% of the diet. Novel carbohydrate sources include rice, pulses or potato. It is possible to prepare a homemade diet for your dog although this is a big commitment and for large dogs can be very expensive.
Commercial foods are also available; these either use novel protein and carbohydrate sources or are hydrolysed (in effect pre-digested that make them non-allergenic).

Our recommended diets include: -
* Purina Proplan Canine HA (Hypoallergenic).
* Hills Canine Z/D.
* Royal Canin Veterinary Diet, Hypoallergenic.
* Royal Canin Canine Veterinary Sensitivity.
* Eukanuba Veterinary Diet Dermatosis Fish and Potato.
* Wafcol Salmon and Potato.
* Burns Sensitive Pork and Potato.

How long to feed the exclusion diet for?
A minimum of six weeks but ideally 8 weeks of exclusively feeding the recommended diet is required. If the symptoms are resolved or reduced in this time, a re-challenge is then made to complete the diagnosis i.e. return to feeding your dog’s original diet, if it is a true allergy, the disease signs would be expected to return within 10 days.

* No treats
* No rawhide, pig’s ears etc.
* No human titbits.
* Switch to the new diet over a 6-day period – 25% new food on day 1 & 2, 50% on day 3 & 4, 75% on day 5 & 6 then 100% new food from day 7.
* Clean all bowls and dog food bins after removing the old food.
* Prevent scavenging on walks or in the garden, even if this requires wearing a basket muzzle.

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