What are some ways that veterinarians diagnose food allergies in cats?

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Because food allergy symptoms are similar to those of other feline ailments, only your veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis. The veterinarian will check for signs of flea bites, skin diseases, gastrointestinal infections and intestinal parasites to eliminate other possible causes. Blood and intradermal skin tests may be necessary to rule out atopic and contact allergies.
To diagnose a food allergy, your veterinarian will perform:
• Food Trial Test
If the examination indicates food allergies, your cat will first be put on a special hypoallergenic diet in a food trial test, where she will remain exclusively on these rations and water for eight to twelve weeks. If the symptoms disappear, the diagnosis is confirmed. The cat can remain on the special diet or you may choose to try a challenge diet or a trial-and-error method to determine which foods it can eat without triggering the allergy symptoms.

• Challenge Diet
The second step is to identify the offending object(s). Dairy products, beef, fish, and cereal grains (wheat, barley, rye, corn) are the most common causes of cat food allergies. The hypoallergenic food trial excludes these, and the challenge diet narrows the field by reintroducing them one at a time. If your cat’s allergy symptoms don’t recur within about two weeks of adding an ingredient to its rations the ingredient is considered safe. Don’t feed your cat table scraps or treats during this period and don’t introduce more than one new food at a time. Avoid foods with additives and preservatives.
Note: Homemade Cat Food
Prescription or store-bought hypoallergenic cat foods can be expensive—or sometimes your cat may just not want to eat it. If that’s the case, you may decide to try your own recipes, but be sure they’re well balanced and please do this under the guidance of a vet. Chicken, duck, turkey, goose, venison, pork and eggs are usually well tolerated by cats. Rice, potatoes, peas and carrots are good carbohydrate and vegetable choices and can serve as filler. Add these ingredients one at a time, as in the challenge diet, and discontinue them if your cat’s allergy symptoms come back.

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