Exclusion diets for cats and dogs explained


Many people come to Natures Menu because their dog or cat has experienced allergies while being fed a conventional pet food diet.


Dietary sensitivities can be associated with any ingredient, but most commonly they are caused by a protein and/or grain intolerance.


Symptoms of a food sensitivity or allergy can manifest in a number of ways, such as:


  • Itchy, irritated skin
  • Poor coat condition
  • Excessive moulting/hair loss
  • Nibbling/licking of the feet and/or toes
  • Redness or ‘pink staining’ of the feet or other areas of the body
  • Ear infections
  • Tear staining/runny eyes
  • Periodic or persistent diarrhoea/loose stools
  • Periodic vomiting or digestive upset


So, when you visit your vet with a pet presenting any of the above symptoms, they may well suggest that you try an exclusion diet in order to root out the offending ingredient, eliminate it from your pet’s diet and get them back on the road to recovery.


This can be achieved through numerous routes, but one method is to feed a grain free food containing a single meat protein source which your pet has ideally never been exposed to. If numerous diets have been tried within a short period of time, usually no exposure to the chosen meat/protein source within the last month should suffice. This is called an ‘elimination diet’ meaning all possible allergens are excluded for a period of time, allowing the animal’s body to recover and return to optimum health.


An elimination diet should be fed solely for 4-6 weeks, meaning no access to other foods, treats (unless specified for use in an elimination diet) or human food should be permitted, as this could introduce allergens back into the diet rendering the elimination period unsuccessful. If symptoms subside within this time, other single source meat proteins can be introduced one at a time (i.e. weekly) to assess if a reaction is noticeable.


If symptoms should return during introduction, immediate withdrawal of that protein is necessary and a possible allergen has been identified. Please note, there may be more than one allergen an animal is sensitive to; always ensure a detailed diary is kept to enable you to identify which protein was introduced when and if a reaction was noted. 


*Please note that this article is purely for information only – always keep your veterinarian up to date with any food changes you decide to make to your pets diet.  Your veterinarian can provide a wealth of information regarding exclusion diets and how to go about it.


Natures Menu offer a range of complete and balanced cat and dog foods that can be appropriate for pets with allergies:

1)Grain, gluten free, single source, novel protein options

Raw Complete & Balanced:


Ambient Complete & Balanced:


2) Grain and gluten free, novel protein options:

Raw Complete & Balanced:


If the sensitivity is suspected to be from a grain or gluten source only, the following options are available to trial for the elimination period:


3) Grain and gluten free options:

Raw Complete & Balanced:


Complete & Balanced Cans & Pouches:

 dogs, allergies, cats, sensitivity, exclusion diet, grain free, raw feeding


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Natures Menu

posted on 05/10/2016
Hello Jenny, How did Yogi get on? Our vets usually recommend the Country Hunter Rabbit or Venison as a good place to start they are single protein and grain free, and usually they are proteins they haven't had much exposure to before. If you need any help don't hesitate to give us a call.

Joanna Nixon

posted on 30/09/2016
We have had a rescue westie for 6 months now, we had digestion problems from dot one with him, dry food even the sensitive type gave him very smelly wind and horrible smelling soft unformed poo's and a lot of it. The fantastic news is we put him on natures menu 4 months ago and haven't looked back since. He loves all flavours but the country hunter venison is a firm favorite. We tell every dog owner we know about raw feeding . It's the best, our dog is full of life and he has no skin issues his weight is also good. thank you .

jenny brown

posted on 08/09/2016
Yogi who is sponsored by Natures Menu has got an allergy of some sort. The vet says he has got Malazesia which is a yeast infection. We are trying the above but as yet have not struck lucky.
We are now trying beef. I have just ordered the just beef mince, the fruit and veg nuggets and the beef single protein pouches.
Do you have any other ideas - he has had it for more than a year now.
many thanks


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