Elimination Diets For Dogs

Does your dog lick himself excessively or does he seem more lethargic than usual? A change in your dog's behavior could be a sign of food allergies.

Elimination diets for dogs are a good way to see if food might be the culprit.

Elimination Diet Steps




  1. Vets recommend first eliminating the four most common allergens: gluten (including wheat, barley, and rye), dairy, soy, and corn.

  2. If symptoms don't improve, the next food to eliminate would be rice.

    Are you wondering what food's left for your dog to eat if he still displays symptoms?

    Not to fret, potato is one of the safest carbohydrate choices for dogs. You should look for a protein-carbohydrate combo that includes potato, such as lamb-and-potato or duck-and-potato.

  3. If eliminating the 'Big 4' allergens didn't alleviate symptoms, beef and fish are the most common secondary food allergens in dogs. Avoid these and go for a protein such as lamb and duck instead.

  4. Lastly, if your dog is still exhibiting symptoms and you suspect food allergies, try eliminating artificial preservatives and colors.

Most brands of dry dog food are going to contain at least one of these allergens, so it's going to take some looking around to find a brand that works for you. Most major pet stores and vet's offices will carry at least one line of food that works well for the particular intolerance that your dog has.

For example, PetSmart carries:


For total elimination of grains, look for the dog food label to say 'Grain Free'. Sometimes, front labels will list a combination which doesn't include grain, but you should check the ingredient list on the back to see if a grain such as wheat or corn is included.

If convenience is an issue, most major grocery stores carry Purina One Lamb and Rice, which is wheat-free, but does contain corn and soy if your dog can tolerate those.

Don't forget that even when indulging your dog with treats and 'table scraps', the above allergens could be present. In fact most dog treats are primarily wheat-based and use artificial colors and flavors.

Look for treats that are grain-free and use a natural preservative such as vitamin E or rosemary extract.

Diet Tips


Keep a record of all food and medication given to your dog, as well as the symptoms your dog displays after consuming them. This will come in handy when identifying the specific food allergy, or taking with you to the vet's office.

Vets say that 2 - 4 weeks is an acceptable period to keep your dog on the diet; if no change in behavior occurs, then a food allergy isn't likely to be the cause. Your dog's normal diet, including foods previosly eaten, should be resumed. You should look at other possible non-food allergens as the cause of your dog's behavioral change.

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