Do all dogs and cats have a sensitivity to chicken?

No; all dogs and cats do not have a sensitivity to chicken. 

Let’s first clear up one point here. Many times companion pet parents and my veterinary colleagues will inadvertently use the word “allergy” in reference to a “sensitivity”. In my estimation, sensitivities (like intolerances) are 10-15 times more likely to cause an adverse response than a true allergic reaction, which would be from hypersensitivities along the lines of hives and anaphylactic shock. Sensitivities are typically expressed through constant scratching, chewing or skin irritation, and an intolerance is demonstrated more through the bowels with symptoms such as smelly gas formation, diarrhea and an urgent need to defecate. Intermittent constipation can also occur.

The only way to know if all dogs and cats are sensitive to chicken in any form including chicken fat – or any protein for that matter – is to test them with the NutriScan Food Sensitivity & Intolerance Test. NutriScan is a patented antibody-based test that measures food reactivities in saliva with both IgA and IgM antibodies. However, even if the results for chicken are non-reactive, pets with symptoms of food sensitivities should avoid chicken (and venison) in any form because they are designated as pro-inflammatory “hot” meats in Chinese medicine. 

In testing, sensitivity refers to the percentage of true positives that are correct. (Bear in mind that when we refer to the sensitivity of a diagnostic test, it is not the same as a pet’s sensitivity.) Specificity of a test signifies the percentage of true negatives that are correct. The NutriScan test assay has a sensitivity and specificity of 95.5% (range 93–99) and 70.7% (range 69–72%), respectively. IgE and IgD antibody serum-based testing for food has been found to offer no advantage for diagnosis in humans and animals when performing dietary trials because it had a sensitivity of only 14% and specificity of 87%. 

Yes; there are other marketed saliva, serum or hair tests available for companion pet parents to test their pet’s sensitivities. As a word of caution, these tests have not been proven in peer-reviewed scientific articles to be reliable nor are they clinically predictive of outcomes. The proven sensitivity and specificity of any diagnostic test matters. 

Now, let’s say you receive your NutriScan results and you could have sworn your companion pet had a true sensitivity or intolerance to a particular protein, but the results say otherwise. In fact, you eliminated chicken or another suspect food from your pet’s diet years ago. Sensitivities wane over time and NutriScan is measuring current sensitivities. However, they can come back quickly and forcefully, if a food is reintroduced. This is one reason why we recommend retesting every 18 months. 

Another scenario is that your companion pet never had a true sensitivity or intolerance to a particular protein but it was something else. What could it be? 

#1. Diet of the chicken, turkey, duck, cow, lamb, pig, etc. with respect to the food they ate. 

#2. Processing – commercial or home prepared (e,g. kibble, canned, raw, cooked)?

#3. Adulterated or contaminated pet food

#4. If kibble, storage mites

#5. Preservatives added after or during any stage of processing the meat?

#6. The absorbability (bioavailability) of the pet food?

Pet food is complex. This is why we advocate cooking for your companion pets. However, you need to work with a veterinary or animal nutritionist to make sure your pet is getting the right protein, carbohydrates and fats and enough but not too much vitamins and minerals.

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