dog_sheddingIn my last post we talked about anti-inflammatory diets and I mentioned that sometimes a food elimination diet is a good way to help address inflammation. Inflammation in the Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) is as common as shedding dogs and cats.

We are trained to think it’s normal for dogs and cats to shed; except for twice a year, they really shouldn’t. The shedding pet has inflammation – since 70% of the immune system is in the intestines (the GALT), it makes sense to look to the intestines when trying to reduce shedding. In addition to removing common dietary sources of inflammation, as discussed in the last post, food elimination diets can be useful in identifying problematic foods as well as giving the intestines (GALT) time to heal.

An elimination diet means removing all ingredients from the diet the pet has been exposed to in its life – as any of these ingredients could be stimulating the inflammation. This means lamb, chicken, beef, corn, wheat, oats, rice, fish, etc – everything that is commonly used in pet food. Interestingly, for some pets, there’s something in the vitamin/mineral mix of kibble that creates food sensitivities.

Regardless, it’s great to give the intestines a complete break from all common proteins and feed just raw fermented goat milk for 2-3 weeks.

(Side note: raw goat milk is the easiest of the commercial goat milks to digest. Fermentation not only adds healthy organisms to the intestines but also works to prevent growth of pathogenic organisms in the intestinal tract. When selecting a product – some contain turmeric – it’s good to know that turmeric dissolves plastic – be cautioned against buying products with turmeric which are packaged in plastic containers. Finally, pasteurization changes the healing quality of the proteins in the goat milk; the pasteurized product has less healing benefits than the raw products.)

After 2-3 weeks on the all raw fermented goat milk diet, select one protein and one vegetable the pet has never eaten before. Feed only that (with or without goat milk if you chose) for 2-3 weeks. See if shedding returns, or any of the other issues your pet may have experienced – like yeasty ears or itchy skin. Any of these signs means the food somehow disagrees with your pet’s immune system.

If you don’t notice any problems, every 2-3 weeks, change one food item and look for changes in your pet’s body. You will identify what causes reactions. For the times that you do see a return of signs of inflammation, return to the goat milk diet for 2 weeks to allow the GALT to calm down again.

Once you know what major ingredients are safe to feed – then it’s time to, one at a time, introduce supplements and other ingredients that finish balancing the diet following the above procedure.

Food elimination diets can be tricky and take quite a bit of time. Working with a holistic veterinarian can improve your success rate. Your goal is to achieve significant reduction in your pet’s shedding – as well as less yeasty skin, cleaner ears, better smell and less itchiness.

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