Dietary Elimination Trials & ‘That Feather Diet’

dietary elimination trials dogs

This article is sponsored content brought to you by Royal Canin.

Written by Dr. Mina Hamilton, Scientific Services Veterinarian Manager, Royal Canin ANZ

An adverse food reaction is an abnormal immune response to a food ingredient or additive and can be differentiated further as a food intolerance (non-immunological) or a food allergy (immunological). While any food antigen has the potential to be allergenic, the most important food allergens are generally water-soluble glycoproteins with a molecular size between 10-70 kilodaltons (kDa). These are typically associated with meat-based ingredients in the food being consumed. 

While there may be aspects of the signalment and history that may raise suspicion of cutaneous adverse food reaction as a cause for pruritis, clinical signs of food allergies can be indistinguishable from environmental allergies, and so differentiating between the two is a necessary step relying on the successful completion of a dietary elimination trial. One of the most significant challenges of a dietary elimination trial is ensuring the pet owner remains compliant over the 6-to-12-week period. In addition to the advice we can provide to support pet owners through this diagnostic process, providing a dietary option to feed their pet through the trial that matches their expectations and capabilities is essential. 

Commercial hydrolysed protein diets make an excellent choice for a dietary elimination trial. From the pet owner’s perspective, they are both practical to feed and are nutritionally complete and balanced; commercial hydrolysed diets are suitable for the length of the diet trial and, if required, can be fed to the pet long term. Royal Canin has two specifically formulated hydrolysed diet options available to support a dietary elimination trial—Anallergenic and Hypoallergenic.  

The size of the protein in the diet is important. With a reduction in protein size, there is a reduction in the likelihood of an allergic response when fed to the pet, so the aim is provide the smallest molecular weight protein possible. Historically, hydrolysed diet options have typically had a protein size of between 10-15kDa. Anallergenic is considered our gold standard for dietary elimination trials as it is formulated with extensively hydrolysed proteins, with a molecular weight of 6kDa or less. In fact, approximately 95% of the protein is less than 1kDa, with 88% of the total protein in Anallergenic comprised of free amino acids! 

dietary elimination trials dogs

The protein source in Anallergenic is also unique—enzymatically extracted protein from poultry feathers. The choice of feather protein is intentional, as this specific science extrapolated from the pharmaceutical industry, enables the very small molecular size of the protein. The use of feathers also aligns with Royal Canin’s focus on sustainable ingredient sourcing, utilising an existing by-product of the human food industry. 

Anallergenic is also manufactured on its own designated production line to avoid cross-contamination with other dietary proteins. To ensure its purity, it is subjected to strict quality control processes, including laboratory testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This highly innovative diet took over a decade to formulate and is approaching its tenth anniversary since its launch worldwide. 

Anallergenic is a remarkable diet, specifically formulated for dietary elimination trials in cats and dogs, and for the ongoing nutritional support of pets with severe dietary allergies. Hypoallergenic is also formulated for dietary elimination trials, with the Hypoallergenic dry diet also being suitable for the growth period of puppies.  V

For further information on these diets, please visit our Royal Canin Veterinary Portal:

Craig J M: Food intolerance in dogs and cats. J Small Anim Pract 2019 Vol 60 (2)

Veenhof E Z, Knol E F, Willemse T: Immune responses in dogs with cutaneous adverse food reactions. Vet Q 2012 Vol 32 (2)

Royal Canin internal data on Anallergenic


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