FAQs – Pet Nutrition Topics
Why does CANIDAE offer a grain free diet?
Our customers asked for natural, holistic grain free pet foods. We responded by consulting with our nutritionists and veterinarians to develop four CANIDAE grain free formulas for dogs: CANIDAE Grain Free pureELEMENTS™, CANIDAE Grain Free pureSEA™, CANIDAE Grain Free pureSKY™, and CANIDAE Grain Free pureLAND™. These grain free diets are formulated for dogs that do not tolerate grain well, are prone to dietary allergic reactions, and require a higher level of meat protein in their diets.
Traditionally, CANIDAE has offset the abundance of meat protein in its foods by including nutritious grains or starches. For many dogs this provides an optimal blend of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Some dogs however can benefit from a further increase in meat protein and a complete absence of grains of any kind. In these grain free formulas, the carbohydrates are derived from sources like potatoes and peas instead of grains.
Our CANIDAE Grain Free pureELEMENTS diet is an optimal blend of multiple meat sources. With a protein level of 34% and fat at 18% you will need to make sure your dog can tolerate that high a level of protein and adjust the intake to your dog’s nutritional needs. Our CANIDAE Grain Free pureSEA diet yields a protein level of 40% with fat at 20%. Because Salmon yields such a high meat protein value and we utilize a low starch offset, this food is higher in protein than our other formulas. We feel as though very sensitive dogs, higher stress dogs, and underweight dogs will benefit from our CANIDAE Grain Free pureSEA formula.
CANIDAE also offers Grain Free pureLAND with fresh Bison and Lamb meal at 25% protein, and Grain Free pureSKY with fresh Duck and Turkey meal at 32% protein.
These grain-free foods may not be suitable for all dogs. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian before making a substantial change to your dog’s diet.
Do you offer products for older or overweight dogs and cats?
Yes. We offer our CANIDAE PLATINUM® lines specially formulated for a lower calorie, nutritious diet.
Is it safe to switch between pet food products/flavors?
It is safe to change flavors or products. However, remember to introduce a new product gradually over a 7-10 day period. Sudden changes in a pet’s diet can cause intestinal upsets, more so in dogs than in cats. Also, constant changes can create a finicky eater. Please see our dog food transitioning guidelines for information on how to best transition your pet to a new diet.
How much water should my dog or cat drink each day?
Your pet should always have fresh clean water available to drink as he/she pleases.
When switching pet food to a brand such as CANIDAE and loose stool occurs, is there reason for alarm?
No. It is not uncommon for pet owners to report their dogs have softer stool on CANIDAE foods after feeding other products. That is because all CANIDAE diets are designed to optimize gastrointestinal health through the deliberate selection of dietary fibers. These fibers, both soluble and insoluble, promote healthy fermentation in the large intestine (colon) which makes elimination easier. Stools may have a different odor (less offensive) and hold more water than before. The elevated water holding capacity of some fibers results in this softer stool. It is not a cause for alarm, but rather an indication that the food is working to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Occasionally dogs get diarrhea. Does this mean something is wrong with the food?
Although the food is the most tangible and easiest to blame, it usually is not the food that causes diarrhea. Sometimes, the introduction of a new diet can lead to vomiting (usually from over-eating), but seldom does a extruded food lead to sudden episodes of diarrhea. Sudden and dramatic bouts of diarrhea are almost always caused by the ingestion of pathogenic micro-organisms such as clostridium perfringens, salmonella, or e. coli. These organisms are found in the soil, on spoiled foods (garbage), or carried by other animals (e.g., rodents, birds, insects). If your pet has diarrhea, make sure it has access to plenty of fresh water to replace the lost moisture. If the diarrhea persists for more than a day, consult your veterinarian as it may be a sign of a pathogenic infection. If the stool contains blood, consult your veterinarian immediately.
What is the ideal healthy stool for a dog?
The nutritional ideal and the preference of pet owners may not be the same. From a nutritional perspective, stool should be regular (the same number of daily bowel movements), easily eliminated, consistent from beginning to end, and not accompanied by gassiness or mucus. Pet owners often prefer a stool that is small, dry and easy to handle. When formulating a super premium pet food, the goal is to find a middle-ground that does not compromise the health of the pet.
How does CANIDAE protect the gastrointestinal health of my dog?
CANIDAE pet foods are formulated with a careful selection of fiber containing ingredients. These include fruits, vegetables, rice bran, tomato pomace, dried peas, and inulin (from chicory root). These nutritious ingredients contribute insoluble fiber for bulk and water binding properties, and soluble fiber to promote beneficial fermentation in the colon. Selecting just the right combination of ingredients and fiber types aids in normal passage and elimination and keeps the delicate tissues of the digestive tract healthy.
How Common Are Pet Food Allergies?
Many people think that their pets have allergies to their food, but science tells us that food allergies are much less likely to be causing your pet’s skin problems than other ailments. Did you know that food allergies are the least common type of allergy diagnosed in dogs and cats and make up only about 5% of ALL cases of skin disease seen by veterinarians? So, if 100 dogs came into the vet clinic with itchy skin, only 5 of those dogs would be itchy because of a food allergy.
My pet’s food changed and now he is itchy. Does he have a food allergy?
A common myth about food allergies is that they develop when the food is changed. This is the opposite of how an allergy develops. Food allergy takes time and many pets have been eating the offending food for years.
My puppy has itchy skin and is losing hair around his eyes and mouth. Is he allergic to his food?
The most likely cause of these symptoms is Demodectic mange. This can be diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian. However, about 1/3 of confirmed food allergy cases (in dogs) are in pups younger than one year of age. This tells us that these dogs have a genetic component to their allergy. Adult dogs with food allergies should not be bred, as they might pass the allergy on to their offspring.
My five year old dog has had one ear infection in the past two years and now he is sneezing occasionally. Does he have food allergies?
What does a food allergy look like? In cats, the symptoms are typically scabs and itching around the face and neck. Ear mites are a common ailment of kittens that will also cause itchy head and neck, so it is important to have your veterinarian do a thorough check of your cat’s ears. Dogs with food allergies are most itchy around their face, belly and feet. They also will have recurrent ear infections. These dogs are even more itchy than dogs with other types of allergies, often scratching or rubbing their skin to the point that it is raw and inflamed.
Every spring my dog starts scratching his ears and rubbing his body on the rugs. Does he have a food allergy?
Food allergies are not seasonal. The most common types of allergies are flea allergy and atopy (inhaled allergy). Spring is the time of year when both of these types of allergies tend to flare up. Keeping up with flea control is critical to protect pets from flea allergy dermatitis. Just because a diagnosis is made of flea allergy does not mean that the pet is infested with fleas. Flea allergy tends to be very strong and a dog or cat can become very itchy even after being bitten by a single flea.
Interesting fact: Dogs with flea allergies may have allergies to foods as well. If the fleas are completely controlled though, the food allergy symptoms may never appear. If the fleas are not controlled, the dog might show flea allergy dermatitis and evidence of food allergy together.
About Flea Allergies
This is the most common allergy in dogs and cats. As mentioned above, the bite of a single flea is enough to cause significant irritation and itching in these pets. The pattern of itchiness is typically the back of the neck and the base of the tail for both cats and dogs. If pets have a flea infestation, they will be itchy everywhere because of the fleas themselves and the reaction to the bites. A serum test or skin test will confirm a diagnosis of flea allergy. In many climates, year round flea prevention is necessary. In areas with hard freezes that last through the winter months, prevention may be stopped (get advice from your veterinarian) and started again when the thaw begins. It is easy to control flea allergy dermatitis, just use a veterinary recommended product to prevent fleas from biting your pet.
The second most common allergy, inhaled allergens of many different types will cause your pet to be very itchy. These are often seasonal, but can be year round (dust mites, food storage mites, carpet fiber). These are best diagnosed by serum or skin tests. They can be managed with allergy shots, just like people with seasonal allergies.
About Food Allergy
Serum and skin tests are not as effective for diagnosing food allergies as they are for the other types of allergies. The only true way to make a diagnosis (and confirm it) is with elimination diet and food challenge. The way this works is to feed the pet either a hypoallergenic diet (hydrolyzed protein, veterinary prescription formulas only) or a limited antigen diet (one protein and one carbohydrate) for a period of 8-10 weeks. Once the symptoms have resolved, the only way to test for the offending ingredient is to feed it. The symptoms may reappear as late as 2 weeks after the food is introduced. Once a pet is symptom free, pet owners are very unlikely to try and bring the symptoms back with a food challenge, so true food allergies are often not ever diagnosed for certain.
About Working With Your Veterinarian
It is very important to work closely with your veterinarian no matter what the cause of the skin problem or itchiness is. Veterinarians can help make the correct diagnosis and offer the most appropriate treatment to keep your pet comfortable and happy.
More Information About Allergies in Pets
- The Pet Health Library
- Canine allergic dermatitis: Pathogenesis, clinical signs, and diagnosis by Karen A. Moriello, DVM, DACVD
- If you need to find a veterinary dermatologist, use theAmerican College of Veterinary Dermatology’s finder tool