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Doggy Diets: What Is a “Novel Protein”?

New dog food can help those doggone food sensitivities


Why is my dog having a reaction to a food they’ve eaten a zillion times?

It’s just a dog thing! Studies suggest that after eating the same type of food for a long period of time, dogs can develop sensitivities. Protein is essential to your buddy’s muscles, organs, nerves, skin and coat. But too much of the same kind of protein can sometimes cause persistent tummy trouble or itchy skin.

Out with the old & in with the new…food

“Novel” protein just means “new” protein your pet hasn’t eaten before. Beef, chicken, lamb and turkey are all common ingredients in dog cuisine. If you find that your pet has developed a reaction to one of theses ingredients, just swap it for a less-common protein source:

  • Duck
  • Bison
  • Rabbit
  • Salmon
  • Venison
  • Herring

These ingredients often come in dog foods labeled “limited-ingredient,” “grain-free,” “natural” or “for sensitive stomachs.” In fact, when you’re researching possible replacement foods, ingredient labels are your best friends. Just be sure to double-check that the new food doesn’t have any old proteins in it.

How to make the switch

Start slow to avoid tummy upset. To transition your dog to a different diet, replace a small amount of their old food with the new food at the usual mealtime. If your pup tolerates the new stuff well, keep replacing a little more of the old food with the new at each meal for seven days, until you’ve switched completely over to the new food.

It can take up to three months for a replacement diet to work its magic. Give it time and record your pooch’s progress!