The Hydrolyzed Protein Diet Explained 

The Hydrolyzed Protein Diet Explained 

In recent years, pet owners have become increasingly concerned about the quality and nutritional value of the food they feed their furry companions. One trend that has been gaining popularity is the use of hydrolyzed protein diets for dogs and cats. But what exactly is a hydrolyzed protein diet, and what are its overall effects on our four-legged friends, and is it right for your babies?

For animals with food sensitivities, often called allergies, this is a confounding and frustrating problem for you, and at the very least uncomfortable or even painful for your dog or cat. As you’ve tried to find a solution, you’ve probably tried various brands of kibble, canned, raw foods, cooked foods, adding a myriad of supplements including probiotics, fasting, feeding bone broth, trying novel foods et al. If the allergies translate to skin problems, you may have tried different shampoos, rinses, and all manner of suggestions from feeding apple cider vinegar to herbs and everything else you can think of.

Medication, like steroids from your vet, might have helped, but a few weeks later the problem returns. You’re exhausted, frustrated, and broke. Your baby is still not ok. A certain food might have seemed like the magic bullet for a while, but the immune system recognized it and wound-up with another episode of GI distress and/or skin problems. More meds might have been prescribed, the gut microflora might be in worse shape because of it. Not continuing the meds, some of which can be harsh, is likely to cause even greater inflammation. It’s a vicious cycle.

Some animals have an abnormal immune response (often genetic) to a dietary protein. This causes inflammation. The immune system reacts as if food is a foreign invader rather than a benign substance and this results in inflammation, causing the ‘allergic reaction’. Chronic inflammation leads to a severe response and some diseases. The longer this goes on the more dangerous the situation can become.

You may turn to a hydrolyzed diet. Hydrolysis is a process to break down proteins into such tiny pieces that the immune system doesn’t recognize them. Inflammation is reduced since it’s easy to digest, the gut barrier calms down and can begin to rebuild since there’s less digestive stress. In turn, nutrient absorption is improved along with gut health.

A hydrolyzed diet may give a fair to excellent result in about 8 weeks. BUT the ingredient list (corn starch, hydrolyzed chicken liver, powdered cellulose, etc) makes it a poor quality food overall. China is also a major producer of hydrolyzed protein exports. Then there are other issues like poor palatability, hypoosmotic diarrhea, and a reduced nutritional value, although persistent allergenicity is the most significant. These factors drive many owners to try a different diet.

As to the ingredient list, the body needs nutrients, not ingredients. Where those nutrients come from matters. It matters because it’ll affect how well the body can absorb and utilize them: natural or synthetic, nutrient density, and quality. Our instinct usually tells us that receiving nutrients from fresh foods is most beneficial, and it usually is. 

However, there is no benefit to fresh foods if they cause inflammation. The trick is designing a diet that is ideal for the animal. Sometimes the best way to do this is with hydrolyzed foods, but usually it’s with a whole, fresh, high-quality diet. This is what the body has naturally evolved to consume. Typically whole, fresh, natural food is the least inflammatory, most nutritious, and easily digested food with the fewest complications. 

Fetching Foods uses single protein meals which are very sensitivity friendly. Meaning, the chicken only uses chicken products: thigh, heart, liver. This is true for all of our foods. The exception ingredient is the whole, fresh egg. Egg isn’t usually an allergen when a sensitivity to chicken is present. If egg is a problem on its own, we can construct a Custom Meal that avoids sensitive ingredients. If egg or some other ingredient is a trigger, we have the ability to build a Custom Meal that avoids sensitive foods.

Contact us if you’d like a recommendation on where to start on a fresh diet.  Remember your vet should be the first best source of information.

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