If your floof’s fluffs smell like rotten egg, or they’re always itchy with not a flea in sight, it may be a sign of a food allergy. Hydrolysed dog food can be given to your pup for a short period of time to reset their gut and help you determine what food they might be allergic to. However with misinformation on the internet, some pawrents are feeding their dogs hydrolysed dog food for too long, and sometimes when it’s not necessary. Today we’ll look into hydrolysed dog food and whether it really is the right option for your pooch.
What is Hydrolysed Dog Food?
Hydrolysed dog food is a specialty diet prescribed by veterinarians for dogs with food allergies or inflammatory bowel conditions. Most commonly, the proteins in dog food are the culprit for food allergies and can trigger inflammatory responses leading to digestive upsets and skin issues.
Hydrolysed dog food is made using a process known as hydrolysis, where long protein amino acid chains are broken down into smaller pieces. The idea behind this is that it is much more easily digested by pooches and because these proteins are now so small, they go undetected by the dog’s immune system, therefore not triggering an immune/allergic response. Following hydrolysis, food is usually sprayed with a flavour enhancer to improve palatability.
Why Hydrolysed Dog Food Might Be Prescribed For Your Dog
Your dog should only be eating hydrolysed dog food if they have been specially prescribed it by a veterinarian.
The most common reasons that your vet might prescribe your doggy hydrolysed dog food are:
Food allergies are quite rare in pets, affecting around 1-2% of all floofs. However, you’d probably be surprised to hear that the most common allergens for dogs and cats are beef, dairy, wheat, chicken and egg.
Food allergies occur when your pooch’s gut incorrectly labels certain foods as dangerous which causes the body to mount an immune response. Like you and I, an allergic reaction in dogs to food manifests itself with symptoms such as itching, rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive floofy farting.
Allergies can present at any doggy age but usually develop when they’re puppies. To diagnose the particular trigger for a food allergy, vets may prescribe a hydrolysed diet for your pooch. If you’ve ever heard of the FODMAP diet for hoomans, the idea behind a hydrolysed diet is similar. Your dog will eat only this food for a period of 6-12 weeks to reset their digestive system. After this time you can then start reintroducing foods to identify which ones your pooch is allergic to.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Often it can be hard to distinguish between a food allergy and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs. IBD is when your dog’s digestive tract is chronically inflamed. Symptoms are similar to food allergies and include chronic vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, flatulence, weight loss, and appetite changes.
IBD can only be diagnosed through biopsies and usually presents in middle-aged dogs. As this condition is chronic, dogs may be prescribed hydrolysed dog food for the rest of their lives, to reduce food reactions and help calm inflammation.
Drawbacks of Hydrolysed Dog Food
Through the process of hydrolysis, hydrolysed dog food becomes heavily processed. Proteins are broken down and many micronutrients are destroyed. This results in a much less nutritionally dense dog food.
This is why hydrolysed dog food is usually only intended to be fed to your dog short term, over a period of 6-12 weeks and rarely longer than that. It should only be given to your dog if it has been specifically prescribed by your veterinarian to identify food allergy triggers or IBD which is in reality very rare in our four-legged fluff balls.
In addition, due to the heavily processed nature of the proteins in hydrolysed dog food, it often has a bitter taste. Dogs hate bitter foods, as in the wild this would warn them of things they shouldn’t eat. Therefore hydrolysed dog foods are usually sprayed with artificial flavour enhancers, which when eaten regularly aren’t healthy for dogs.
Should My Dog Be Eating Hydrolysed Dog Food?
Your pooch should only eat hydrolysed dog food if they have been prescribed it by their vet and have a diagnosed inflammatory bowel condition or food allergy. Most of the time, digestive issues in dogs are down to them eating low-quality dog food or if they have a mild intolerance to some ingredients. Therefore in most cases, feeding your dog a high-quality natural dog food that is free from common allergens and artificial additives is enough to stop smelly farts and grumbling tummies.
Always look for something with a named high-quality meat source i.e. not animal or meat derivatives, and void of preservatives, flavours or colours to reduce digestive upsets. Processed grains are commonly a culprit of digestive upsets in floofs so try to steer clear of ingredients like rice flour or maize flour.
Instead, opt for something with whole grains and avoid those with an ingredients list that reads like a science experiment, you shouldn’t need a chemistry degree to know what’s in your pooch’s food!
As a bonus, top-tier pet food companies (hint Scrumbles) even add gut-friendly probiotics or prebiotics to their recipes which strengthen your dog’s natural digestive response, soothing upset tums and promoting pretty poops.
We’ve written an entire guide on how to read a dog food label in our Ultimutt Dog Food Guide, so give that a read and give yourself the skills to be able to decipher which dog food is the best for your pup.
Scrumbles Has The Answer!
If your pooch is letting rip a bit too often or they struggle with diarrhoea on the reg, why not make the switch to one of our pawesomely gut friendly dog foods?
You’ll never see any artificial additives or flavours in our pet food or added salt and sugar so you won’t have to worry about your pooch packing on the pounds.