Four foods!

When I first started researching Silas’s food allergies, I came across the opinion that it took four proteins to make a sustainable diet for dogs with allergies. I’m not even entirely sure, at this remove, what the author really meant by that statement. At the time I took it to mean that with four proteins to choose among, your dog was less likely to develop over-exposure allergies. (The worst thing about having a dog with food allergies is that if you find one safe food and feed your dog that forever, chances are high that he will become allergic to or sensitive to that food.)

So, for a long time, four proteins has been really fixed in my mind as THE GOAL of the food allergy trials.

People, we are there. Our most recent food trial officially ended in the last week or so.

Silas can safely eat venison, turkey, pork, and some types of fish.


Pardon my outburst. If you’re keeping track, that means he’s allergic to chicken, beef, lamb, duck, and salmon.

So, what next? Enjoying ourselves. For a couple of reasons–most importantly Silas’s hit-and-miss appetite and the relative rarity of proteins we would be forced into–I think we’ll let it rest for a while. I’m planning to tinker a little bit with adding eggs and dairy, both of which he eats very well in incidental amounts, back into his actual meals. Eggs have some key nutrients for raw-fed dogs, and, selfishly, I have trouble getting through a big tub of yogurt on my own. I may, eventually, do another food trial or two, but I would like to leave myself some of the more “common” novel proteins just in case we need them.

It is so nice to take a step off the merry-go-round for a while.

12 thoughts on “Four foods!

  1. Moses and Alma are often used to finish off foods nearing their expiry when I know I can’t finish them but feel bad about wasting them. Eggs, yoghurt, cottage cheese, meat, freezer-burnt meat…

    Have you tried bison? It’s less common and definitely more expensive, but we occassional feed it and the dogs love it! Or rabbit, but that’s also pricey.


    1. I’m deliberately saving rabbit for future food emergencies. There are a few rabbit-based foods out there, making it one of the only novel proteins that I could easily (not cheaply!) use for a whole diet. I’m keeping the rare poultry for the same reason.

      Bison is on my maybe list. Silas used to eat a food with bison, which makes it less useful to save for later. It’s *really* expensive here, though. When my vast stockpile of the now-discontinued venison tripe runs out, I may try bison just for that reason. Silas loves canned tripe, and Tripett replaced venison with bison as their non-beef/lamb flavor.


  2. That’s really interesting. Do you mind sharing the source re: the four proteins? I’d like to dig into that more. With Cooper, we’re feeling very stuck with salmon and rabbit being the only two we feel comfortable giving him. We added in nutria treats – a seriously novel protein that you can’t find anywhere in the world but southern Louisiana – and he seems to be reacting to that with an increase in head tremors. We still have bison on the ok list, but it’s tough to find an affordable option, so it’s just not reasonable. Darn these allergies!


    1. I *think* it was in Lew Olsen’s book Raw and Natural Nutrition for dogs. I’ll have to look. It seems to be the common suggestion of my raw food store, where the staff are big fans of that book.

      I can’t remember if you guys feed raw or kibble–have you seen the PureVita bison kibble? Of course, while it is single protein, it has *a lot* of other ingredients that you’d have to check out.

      One of the things I keep in the back of my mind and hopefully never need are the Addiction dehydrated foods. They do Venison, Kangaroo, and Brushtail, alone and in combination. I don’t know how economical it would be for a bigger dog, though.

      Somewhere way back in my archives I have a list of “weird” proteins in canned food. If I ever actually used my tags, I could probably get right to it.

      At the end of the day, you just have to do what you have to do, no matter what would be “perfect.”


    2. I can totally second this whole “four foods” idea, as it’s something I learned in my nutrition classes. The idea behind it is that most canine allergies aren’t actually allergies (an autoimmune reaction) rather food intolerances. Therefore, over exposure to any one ingredient can cause a new reaction. Felix has been on a rotation diet for a 100 bazillion years for this reason. (I actually rotate more than four as the more you can introduce, the better. (As a side note, did you know organic quail is up to $11 per pound? Thanks Felix!)

      While proteins are a huge source, carbs can also be a headache, if you’re looking at kibbles, so when ever I could, I liked to have one white potato (which can be an “allergy”/intolerance irritant to a lot of dogs), a sweet potato, a pea etc, so I was covering my basis there as well.


      1. Oh, woof, that allergy/intolerance debate KILLS ME. I did mega research about it, and the answer boiled down to “every expert defines these terms slightly differently and dogs can have both, none, or either and there’s no concrete way to tell.” Which is why the veterinary allergy tests don’t seem to be reliable for food issues, even though they are for seasonal stuff.

        Jodi, do you feed carbs on your raw diet, or just in treats? (Feel free to carry this over to e-mail if you want–I know people get crazy.) We haven’t been, but I’ve been wondering about it. I feel like I can finally breathe and stop to look at the big diet picture for a while.


      2. I feed up to 20% veggies in my raw mix and that includes a very small amount of carbs (for example their is 2 g. of carb in a broccoli spear or 6 g. in a cup of chopped kale).

        I don’t use starches such as white potato, sweet potato, pea, or squash in my food mix (though the dogs do get these in treats and even then, infrequent, small amounts). With Felix’s allergies any consistent, high volume use of starches leads to a flare up of flaky white skin and the itchies. This post is about kibble, but the lessons on starch cross over to raw as well:

        I also have some concerns about the digestion/passing rate of starchy veggies and the digestion rate of the raw meat. The last thing I want is the meat juice staying in the gut long enough to turn and cause an illness. I know people who do it and who swear it’s fine, but I just…can. not. It grosses me out.

        At the end of the day, I’m an advocate of doing the best you can. It’s HARD when you have a dog with allergies and let’s face it, we all have BETTER WAYS we could spend a bazillion dollars a month than on raw food, pure meat treats, and nothing but the very best, all the time! If it’s possible to cut a corner or two and not send Silas into an allergic episode (and you into a shame spiral), I am never going to get judgey about it. I wish I could cut a corner or two.


  3. Excellent! We put Freighter on a bison based kibble. He wasn’t allergic to his fish based kibble per se, just he wasn’t digesting it as well as the other dogs did. Much better protein for him. He actually (finally) gained some weight.


    1. Yay for Freighter! Fish seems to be very touch and go for dogs. Silas did great (medically speaking) on a fish-based kibble for a while, but he hated the taste and lost a lot of weight.


  4. FOUR FOODS! You did it! It’s amazing! Hugs and jumping for everyone!!! As a fellow allergy dog enthusiast, I am SO EXCITED FOR YOU. All I’m saying is pheasant, ostrich and quali are expensive as hell. Save that crap for an emergency.


    1. For serious. Nothing Silas eats is cheap, but only venison is crazy. (At $10/lb, it’s cheaper to buy pre-made raw venison foods.)

      Pheasant seems to be the new “it food” for allergies, so maybe you’ll get a break. When we first started this, I was so mad because Stella and Chewy’s offered very few single protein foods. Now they have Venison, Rabbit, and they just put out Pheasant.


  5. I’ve got to try some of these foods as an alternative. I think next run I’ll shake it up and buy them something they haven’t had before, such as bison or venison. Nothing too exotic.

    But good for you, look at you go! You are making strides in many areas.


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