Food Allergy Diet: Doing it Wrong

Things were going so well. Silas not only loves pork, but it seems to agree with him. This has started a running joke around the house about how he will surely thrive on every meat I have ethical issues with. Perhaps veal, next? Chilean sea bass?


Anyway, he’s been eating pork for about a month. Duck, which he reacted badly to, only took about two weeks. We won’t be out of the woods until February, but it’s exciting. (A friend recently had the disastrous result of her dog becoming allergic to the only protein she could eat. Poor doggie is on a soy diet now. Food variety has taken on a new urgency.)

And then I made a mistake. Or, more precisely, a mistake that I made some months ago caught up to me, and almost ruined the whole thing.

One evening last week, I opened the refrigerator to get Silas his dinner and realized that I hadn’t defrosted anything. I looked around the pantry for some of his usual “Oops!” foods, and spotted a can of salmon. “It’s been a little while,” I thought. “I’ll let him have some of this.” He loves canned salmon, although I have to be really careful with how much salt it has.

The next morning he didn’t even make it outside before he threw up. It worried me, because it always does, but I tried not to panic. His salmon dinner had been a little light, and I had fed him a little early, so I wondered if maybe his stomach was just too empty.

Two or three days later, I gave him the other half of the salmon, and he did the exact same thing.

Meaning, I have been making a terrible mistake. Back in the fall I started giving him salmon oil, because it was highly recommended as a natural antihistamine. When ragweed season hit, and Silas started breaking out in hives, it was a miracle. It also didn’t seem to cause him any digestive trouble, so I bought some mercifully cheaper salmon training treats for him. Those didn’t seem to cause him any trouble, either.

I stupidly leapt to the conclusion that salmon was probably fine. I couldn’t, in my defense, do a full proper trial period with salmon because it is quite expensive. Canned salmon has too much salt, unless you pay a lot for it, and fresh salmon is too expensive for me, let alone the dog.

We took a few days off of pork just in case, but the whole thing was a big reminder: DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. One of the things I’ve had to learn is that fat is not protein. That is, his allergies seem to be to proteins, so fats even from the same animal don’t appear to bother him. This is why he can sometimes get away with a treat that has, say, chicken fat. It isn’t a difference that I have exploited much. Until now, that is. I tried to replace his salmon oil, and he has been itching up a storm. If I don’t give it back, he’s going to claw his skin off.

The frustrating thing is that if he hadn’t had such an incredibly precise correlation between the salmon and his reaction to it, I would have assumed it was the pork and quit feeding him a viable protein source.

In the meantime, we’ve gone back to the simplest version of his diet. The supplements he’s been getting all summer + turkey + pork. So far, so good.

3 thoughts on “Food Allergy Diet: Doing it Wrong

  1. So tricky! What a hard thing to manage. The few times Shiva’s intolerances to red meat became obvious were stressful enough and it certainly never made her this ill. You have some serious perseverance!


  2. I just started feeding pork to Elli. She usually does fine on red meat. But I vary the proteins daily. I’ve only ever seen her throw up if she hasn’t had a protein in a long time — similarish to your experience — and/or eats too fast.


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