Studies Debunk Veterinary Prescribed and Single Protein Dry Dog Food Diets

Studies Debunk Veterinary Prescribed and Single Protein Dry Dog Food Diets as a Route to Determining Adverse Food Reactions in Dogs…

A recent study in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition examined 12 limited-antigen diets for dogs from 5 separate manufacturers (11 novel protein diets and 1 hydrolysed protein diet) for potential contamination with proteins not listed on the label. The authors discovered that 10 of the 12 foods were contaminated with one or more potentially allergenic proteins or fats not listed on their labels.

R. Ricci, A. Granato, M. Vascellari, M. Boscarato, C. Palagiano, I. Andrighetto, M. Diez & F. Mutinelli, Identification of undeclared sources of animal origin in canine dry foods used in dietary elimination trials. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 97 (2013) 32–38, DOI: 10.1111 (Full Article)

A U.S. study in 2011 tested four single protein diets (venison) to see whether they were contaminated with common allergens including soy, poultry and beef, that were not declared on the label. All samples tested were contaminated with allergens not declared on the label, instantly making them unsuitable for food allergy elimination diets.

D. M. Raditic, R. L. Remillard and K. C. Tater, ELISA testing for common food antigens in four dry dog foods used in dietary elimination trials. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 95 (2011), 90–97, DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2010.01016.x  (Full Article)

It was Probably Just the Fish oil…

The authors all conclude that the use of a non-commercial novel-protein diet should be considered when determining adverse food reaction in dogs. They go one to note that the dog may only have been benefiting from the added omega 3 in these diet.

For more on the benefits of adding omega 3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet, certainly those dogs exhibiting problem skin conditions, you won’t do better than the article by Watson in 1987. They documented very significant benefits of high dose fish oil for dogs with a variety of skin and gut conditions.

Watson, T. D. G. (1998). Diet and skin disease in dogs and cats. Journal of Nutrition, 128(12): 2783S–2789S.

I strongly advise giving cod liver oil (or better still krill oil, which does not require any metabolic steps before absorption) to an itchy dog. Ideally chose a bottle that does not contain added vitamin A or D as too much of these can cause their own issues for your dog (as they are stored by the liver).

Why Fresh dog Food is the Only way to Solve Recurring Skin or Gut Conditions in Dogs…

No dog should be eating dry food, but most certainly not those with recurring skin and gut conditions. If your dog is suffering one of these conditions something is causing it. The first place you should look in a pet fed dry food or treats from a pet store or vets is their food as it is one thing that is constantly going in to your dog. It makes sense.

When you buy a dry food product with a hundred ingredients in it (and they’re just the ones they’re obliged to list!), with ingredients from different factories etc, too many variables are introduced, greatly muddying the water, as we see with the studies above of the “single protein” diets sold by vets.

What’s more the meat portion of these amazing hydrolysed single protein diets often consist of chicken feathers, as this article highlights in Forbes Magazine. You’d laugh if it wasn’t so horrible.

You can’t trust any manufacturer. Why would you? You should only trust what you can see. Hence you’ll see below that whole fresh meats or single meat fresh minces are recommended.

Second of off all no cooked meat and certainly no cooked dry food products should be used because cooked meat is often part of the problem. Commercial dry foods are cooked using high-heat processes. High heat changes the molecular structure of protein (think over cooking that bi of steak), making it harder to digest. The body’s not so keen on this stuff and studies show this heat processing makes pet food more allergenic.

9355-turkey-minceHow to Run an Elimination Diet Properly…

The only way you can solve, once and for all, your dog’s problems is to find out what is causing his problems. You need to more them to a single protein diet that you can trust, ideally using a protein they mightn’t have had before. Examples include tuna (in brine, pour off) and green beans (for fibre). Or just turkey mince and green beans. Or just lamb. Or venison. Or duck.

At an absolute push, should you not be comfortable with fresh food just yet, then the next but less ideal option as it is cooked and manufactured, is the tins of Wilderness dog food in Maxizoo which come in goat, boar, kangaroo etc.

You find a meat they can eat safely, where their issues evaporate. This is called your safe or base diet. From here you build up on your menu, adding one new ingredient every week until you make a list of stuff that works and doesn’t work.

More on conducting an elimination diet in dogs properly here.


For more on food allergies in dogs here’s a handy 10 minute guide to allergies in dogs. It can be broken into 3 points:

  • Get them off all the “products” (dry food, pet store treats, parasite chemicals, boosters etc). Give their systems a day off from all the garbage.
  • Feed a simple, hypoallergenic raw dog food.
  • Add one cod liver oil tablet per 10kg of dog until symptoms evaporate.


Dr. Conor Brady

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.