Monday, April 1, 2024

Rabbit and Venison Game Meats Offer A Hypoallergenic Diet For Pets

pets eating hypoallergenic diet

Updated 4/1/24

Does your pet have itchy and inflamed skin, recurrent infections or digestive issues such as: vomiting, diarrhea and loose stools?

All can be signs of a food allergy from a repeat exposure to an allergen which causes the immune system to overreact. Often the offender is the protein source in the allergic food and your pet's immune system needs a break.  Changing your pet's diet to a low carbohydrate canned or raw frozen novel protein food can be very helpful.  (Dry food is high in carbohydrates and can still be problematic.)

So, what is a novel protein? It is simply a protein your pet has never consumed before.  The most common food allergens in cats are fish, poultry and grains--ingredients commonly found in most pet foods.   While some "hypoallergenic" pet foods may simply replace chicken with turkey or duck, what we have discovered (after years of treating pets with food allergies) is that it's best to switch food families in their entirety.  This is because the allergic reaction can include all protein sources within a particular family as they may be very similar in their molecular structure.  For example, many people believe that goat milk is fine for their pet even though their pet is allergic to cow milk.  The reality is that the two forms of milk are very close in structure just as chickens are very similar to ducks and it's best to play it safe and try a completely different food family. When it comes to food allergies, when in doubt, avoid the food temporarily and then at a later time, you can try to reintroduce and see how your pet responds.  

Two novel protein sources to consider that have worked well for many allergic pets are rabbit and venison.  Some pets that have allergies to beef and lamb may not fare as well with venison, so for severely allergic pets, rabbit may work best.  (Allergy testing is also available through your veterinarian which can help determine if your pet might be able to tolerate either of these.)

Benefits of Rabbit
  • A lean all-white meat protein that offers great nutrition.
  • Higher in protein than chicken, turkey, beef, duck and lamb and contains essential amino acids that help build lean muscles and boost immune system.
  • Low in saturated fats, but contains healthy fats which help provide a shiny coat and healthy joints
  • Contains Vitamin B12 which supports a healthy nervous system.

Benefits of Venison
  • Lower in fat than most other meat protein sources (such as beef and pork) and usually highly digestible
  • Good source of B vitamins, zinc, phosphorous and iron.
  • Can be used in homemade low-fat diets as it is more available in grocery stores.

Rabbit and venison can be found in all food forms, but for allergies, we recommend raw frozen and canned.  Several brands such as Instinct and Stella and Chewys have a freeze-dried version with the exact same ingredients as the raw frozen.  These work well crumbled into treats or as an initial introduction as you transition your pet's diet. 

There are also a few brands of rabbit and venison treats.  Remember though, a lot of dry foods and treats may contain venison or rabbit, but they are still loaded with starchy carbohydrates which won't give your pet the same great results as using a low carbohydrate raw frozen diet.

For more tips on feeding your pet a healthy diet click here.

Author Susan Davis
Original post 3/2/17
Updated 4/1/24