Protein hydrolysates are foods that are prepared through a more or less intense degradation process of protein molecules which are thus broken down into smaller peptides or single proteins.
For this purpose, enzymes called proteases are used.The degree of hydrolysis that can be achieved depends on the type of protease that is used, but, usually, to obtain a high degree of hydrolysis, mixtures of proteolytic enzymes capable of performing a complementary action are used.
Protein hydrolysis increases the digestibility of food and reduces the allergenic potential of proteins. An excessive degree of hydrolysis, however, can negatively alter some characteristics of the food by introducing an unpleasant bitter taste and lowering the degree of emulsification of the product and therefore also its stability.
Protein hydrolysates can therefore have different characteristics depending on the manufacturing process with which they are produced. The effectiveness of a protein hydrolyzate could, however, be reduced by the possible presence of small fractions of intact proteins still capable of causing an antigenic response or by the need to add other ingredients to obtain a complete, balanced and palatable food.
The use of protein hydrolysates finds its application on all those forms of adverse reactions to food that have an immune basis (food allergy). However, it has not yet been established to what extent they can be useful in forms of food intolerance.
Clinical management of the privative diet
Whether it is a home or commercial hypoallergenic diet, it is advisable to change the diet gradually, over a few days, to avoid the development of intestinal disorders (vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence) and to accustom the animal ( especially cats) to new flavors.
In some cases of adverse food reactions, a significant improvement in clinical signs is possible even in 3-4 weeks of a privative diet, but it may be necessary to continue the diet for 6-10 weeks before obtaining appreciable results.
It is useful to check the animal every 3-4 weeks to assess the degree of itching still present and to treat the possible presence of secondary complications such as superficial pyoderma, malassezia dermatitis or seborrheic dermatitis.
If no clinical improvements have occurred after 10-12 weeks of a privative diet, then it is possible to exclude the hypothesis of an .A non-response may, however, occur due to an incorrect execution of the diet by the owner or the concomitant presence of different causes of itching (atopy, secondary infections, ectoparasitosis, etc.).
If, on the other hand, a partial but significant improvement (at least 50%) is noted, then one continues with the privative diet for another 2-4 weeks to confirm or definitively exclude the diagnosis of adverse food reaction.