If your vet has recommended that your pooch eat a diet consisting of rabbit and potato as the two main ingredients, it's probably due to a food allergy. Pups with a food allergy can't eat any of the same ingredients they've eaten before. Rabbit and potato are not used in most commercial canine diets, making them the ideal choice for treating such allergies in most pups.
A pooch suffering from itchy red skin, sores and hair loss may have an allergy to one or more of the ingredients he is currently eating. You'll see him chewing and licking at his skin, leading to open sores in some cases. He may also be experiencing gastrointestinal distress and vomiting. These allergies don't just develop overnight, but rather they develop over a long period of time, from months to years. Once your vet rules out other possible causes for your pup's itchy skin or tummy upset, she may recommend a special veterinary diet for him. Such diets include food that primarily contains rabbit and potato.
The only way to determine if a food allergy is to blame for your pup's symptoms is to switch him to a diet that contains only one type of protein and one carbohydrate that he's never eaten before in his life. Common ingredients in many commercial dog foods include corn, chicken, beef, eggs, wheat, rice, fish and dairy products, all of which could cause a food allergy. It's the protein component of these ingredients that your pup's immune system reacts to. This is the reason why rabbit and potato are preferred ingredients for your allergy-ridden pooch. They are only included in veterinary diets, not commercially available ones, and your pup wouldn't have been exposed to them previously.
Not only do canine veterinary diets contain unusual ingredients such as rabbit and potato, they don't contain many of the preservatives or food coloring that could also trigger an allergic reaction. Your vet will keep your pup on his new diet for 10 to 12 weeks, long enough to determine if his allergy symptoms disappear. If food allergies are to blame, symptoms usually start to resolve after six weeks on the new diet. At that point, your vet may recommend you to let your pup continue to eat the special veterinary diet or she may suggest adding in a single protein at a time. If an allergic reaction occurs two weeks after adding in an ingredient, that ingredient is an allergen to your pooch and you should avoid feeding any food containing it to him in the future.
While your pup is on his limited diet of food containing rabbit and potato, don't give him extra treats or table scraps that could contain ingredients to set off his food allergies, rendering his food trial useless. If your vet wants you to make a homemade diet for your pup containing rabbit meat and potatoes, consult with her about it. She can tell you exactly what supplemental vitamins and minerals you should add to it so that it meets your pup's nutritional needs. By chance, if your pup is allergic to either rabbit or potato, there are many veterinary diets on the market that contain unusual ingredients. Proteins like venison, moose, elk, kangaroo, goat or ostrich and carbohydrates like barley, oats, sweet potatoes and rutabagas may all be included in other types of hypoallergenic diets for your pooch, according to the American Animal Hospital Association.
- Dr. Al Plechner: Dog Food Allergies
- Dog Food Advisor: Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods
- Veterinary Partner: Food Allergy Trials in Dogs
- Modern Dog Magazine: Food Allergies 101
- Animal Allergy and Ear Clinic: Food Allergies in Cats and Dogs
- American Animal Hospital Association: Diagnosis & Treatment of Food Allergy in Dogs
- Cold River Veterinary Center: Food Intolerance (Food Allergies) in Dogs and Cats
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Food Allergies
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.