Clinical diets play an important role in the management of skin disease and can be a critical component of the treatment plan. However, selecting the right diet is key to achieving the best results, given that these diets are different in intended use and nutritional characteristics.
Hypoallergy diets are intended for the reduction of ingredient and nutrient intolerances in pets with adverse food reactions, whereas dermatology support diets are intended for the support of skin function in the case of dermatosis and excessive loss of hair1.
Looking at the prevalence of cutaneous disease, 94% of dermatoses are unrelated to food allergies (64% are attributed to non-allergic dermatosis such parasitic, mycotic and infectious dermatosis and a further 30% attributed to non-food related allergy such as flea bite allergy or atopy). Just 6% of cutaneous disease is estimated to result from adverse food reactions2.
However, in many practices the sales of hypoallergy or elimination diets can drastically outweigh those of dermatology support diets. Given that this is not in line with the prevalence of cutaneous disease, it could be concluded that significant numbers of dogs and cats are not being fed the most suitable diet.
Hypoallergy diets often contain lower levels of protein so are not always formulated to manage skin and coat disease, as protein is essential in the management of these cases. If you consider that protein represents around 95% of the hair structure in cats and dogs, and that 25 to 30% of daily protein intake is systemically used for skin and coat renewal requirements3, it is not logical to feed hypoallergy diets in many of these cases.
The minimum recommended protein intake for healthy dogs is 18%4, whereas the protein requirement for skin and coat recovery is between 25 and 30%3. The dry matter content of hypoallergy diets on the market varies with some as low as 15.5%.
In order to get the expected results from clinical diets in dermatology cases, it is essential to work up each individual case and select the appropriate diet accordingly. Why not look at the sales of hypoallergy vs dermatology support diets in your practice in line with the prevalence of cutaneous diseases?
1. EU Commission Directive 2008/38/EC
2. Olivry T, Mueller RS. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (3): prevalence of cutaneous adverse food reactions in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res. 2017; 13:51.
3. Roudebush P, Schoenherr WD. Skin and hair disorders. In: Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 2010; 637-643.
4. FEDIAF. Nutritional Guidelines for complete and complementary pet foods for cats and dogs 2014; 16-21.
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