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