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PET FOOD SPECIAL : That Old Lamb Magic

June 22, 1995|KATHIE JENKINS

If you've ever had a pet with allergies, you've probably had more than one person advise you to place your animal on a lamb-and-rice diet, often billed as the magical feed for pets with allergies. But if you think lamb and rice is going to stop the scratching, think again. Dr. David Dzanis, a veterinary nutritionist with the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, says at least 75% of all pet skin problem are due to fleas.

"People like to blame food," he says. "It's much easier to blame a company for your problem than admit it's something you're not doing right."

Veterinarians began recommending lamb and rice about 10 years ago because at the time very few dogs ever ate lamb. When a veterinarian suspected a food allergy in a dog, the vet would put the animal on lamb and rice. If the dog got better, chances were the pet was allergic to something. Then you'd test the animal on different foods--first beef, for example to see if the signs came back. Then corn. Then chicken. Eventually you'd find out what was causing the allergy.

"Now that practically every pet food company has a lamb-and-rice food on the market," says Dzanis, "it's worthless [as a control food]."

Dr. John Limehouse of Studio City agrees: "It's still considered a red meat and is no more beneficial than beef or pork." In fact, a New Zealand veterinarian attending a nutrition conference here recently laughed when he was told about the miracles of lamb and rice. "In New Zealand," he said, "that would be considered the worst thing for an allergic dog."

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