What is a novel food diet for dogs?

Novel diets are those that do not contain the often-allergy producing foods like beef, chicken, dairy products, wheat, soy, eggs or corn. Rather, they contain an alternative food that includes a protein your dog has not been exposed to.

Examples of novel proteins include: duck, venison, buffalo/bison, kangaroo, and salmon. Sometimes you’ll even see things like whitefish, sweet potatoes or lentils.

The theory is that feeding your dog new ingredients is one of the keys to helping your dog overcome their food allergies; while lamb and rice used to be the “go to” food for canine problems, they lost most of their effectiveness over the years. Newer proteins have limited antigens and are broken down into such tiny pieces that they don’t stimulate the immune system.

This absolutely must be done under the guidance of a veterinarian and this is why:

• Home elimination tests can be inaccurate: Especially if your dog’s symptoms are severe, you MUST know the offending ingredient. If your dog’s condition isn’t improving and you’re feeding a diet with a couple of novel ingredients—but don’t eliminate all other potential sources of substances responsible for your pet’s symptoms (treats, flavored medication)–her condition won’t improve, but you won’t be able to determine which ingredient is causing the problem.

There can be another problem: Generally, an elimination diet includes few ingredients; however, if you try to administer this yourself, the diet could be unbalanced.

• Nutritional deficiencies: While there’s nothing wrong with home-cooked or raw food diets you must be sure there is the proper ratio of nutrients.
• Delayed medical treatment: You might think your dog has a food allergy, but it could actually be some things like mange, bacterial or yeast infections or even parasites. These need other medications—not food.

Again, discuss this thoroughly with your veterinarian so you can be assured of giving your pet the healthiest and safest alternative.

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