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A novel protein is a protein source that your pet has not eaten before. For pets previously fed on processed diets (which often contain chicken, lamb, and beef products), a novel (or new) protein to your pet may include wallaby, venison, or rabbit.
Novel protein plans are helpful as many dogs and cats have problems digesting their food. Food allergy or intolerance can present as gut upsets (like vomiting or diarrhoea) but can also show up as skin problems (itchy rashes, hot spots, and even recurrent ear infections).
By trying something 'new' we remove what may be causing issues, we try to repair the gut if it's not functioning as it should, and replace with a species-appropriate raw diet. Here's a brief explanation of what is actually happening in your pet's digestive system.
The gastrointestinal tract (the stomach and gut) is designed to throughly absorb nutrients that have been totally digested and keep out any partially digested nutrients. Essentially, the gut lets nutrients in and tries to keep anything undigested out.
If partially digested nutrients (including proteins) pass through the gut wall, the body will recognise these nutrients as foreign invaders (allergens) and will mount an immune response. This leads to the release of histamine and the typical signs we see of itchy rashes and hot spots, and even vomiting and diarrhoea.
There are probably several reasons for this. Most commercial pet food contains biologically inappropriate ingredients including additives, preservatives, too many carbohydrates used as fillers, and poor quality proteins. Fillers (e.g. potato, grains, starches like rice, and fibres like caraganeen gum) help reduce the volume of meat that needs to be used, making a food cheaper to produce.
Your pet may be struggling to digest these foods, which are biologically inappropriate for a carnivore. This eventually leads to a condition called 'dysbiosis' or a more descriptive term, 'leaky gut'. This happens after a period of time, which is often why a pet appears healthy and fit on a particular diet and it's hard to believe the diet may be the problem.
At Raw Essentials, we take a slightly different approach to healing a leaky gut and putting together a novel protein plan. There are two parts to our approach:
We believe that cats and dogs are true carnivores based on their jaw structure and digestive physiology. In addition to switching the protein source, we eliminate grains and starches from your pet's diet and instigate a natural protocol to heal your pet's leaky gut.
We do not endorse conventional processed novel protein diets as they contain biologically inappropriate ingredients.
Our ultimate goal with novel protein plans is to heal and seal the gut, so your pet can fully digest a a wide range of appropriate raw foods.
Every pet needs an individual plan, and typically lasts for 4-6 weeks. The novel proteins selected should be ones that your pet has not eaten in the past. You can feed a variety of the following, along with green tripe.
What to avoid
Avoid feeding any food that we have not discussed as part of your feeding plan - even a corner of toast, or a mouthful of biscuits can be enough to cause a major setback.
Many treats contain cereals, preservatives, and other inappropriate ingredients. We have a selection of treats that can be fed on a novel protein plan. If treats are an important part of your pet's day, please ask us about these.
We're likely to implement a gut-support protocol. This may involve probiotics, fish oil, or other supplementation. In most cases this is a temporary measure to speed up the healing process. Once the gut is in good health, the diet will maintain it.
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