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Diet in canine dermatology part 2: management of cutaneous adverse food reactions

02 September 2022
13 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 7
Box 1. - Adapted from Mueller et al, 2016.


The second in this two part series on nutritional management of dermatological conditions in dogs focuses on the role of diet in cutaneous adverse food reactions (both food allergies and intolerances). It reviews the most common causes of food allergies, how to diagnose them via an elimination diet trial and potentially appropriate diets for the trial. It also explores the most common reasons for failure of a diet trial, the role of the veterinary nurse in providing support and education for caregivers, and a number of ‘top tips’ to increase the likelihood of success of the trial. Finally, longer-term management of patients diagnosed with an adverse food reaction is discussed.

Part 1 of this series focused on the role of nutrition to optimise skin health, particularly where skin or coat conditions are present. This second article will review the key nutritional considerations needed for dogs with cutaneous adverse food reactions, particularly the part that diet plays in the diagnosis and management of dogs with food allergies and intolerances. It will also explore the role of the veterinary nurse in optimising the likelihood of canine patients starting on an elimination diet trial, as well as how they can maximise the likelihood of successful adherence to the trial.

An adverse food reaction (AFR) describes an abnormal response as a result of ingestion of a food or food additive, with cutaneous adverse food reactions (CAFRs) — the main focus of this article — being those that result in dermatological signs. AFRs covers two key categories of reactions: food allergies and food intolerances. CAFRs are the third most common cause of canine allergic skin disease, after allergies from parasites and environmental allergies. They account for a much smaller proportion of cases of dermatological disease than flea bite hypersensitivity or atopic dermatitis; despite owner misconceptions that they are a frequent cause of skin conditions food allergies only actually account for around 1% of dermatological cases (Verlinden et al, 2006).

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