HOW TO HELP YOUR
DOG WITH FOOD ALLERGIES
Because every dog
is unique, it's sometimes very difficult to determine what causes
food-related allergies and what doesn't. Common pet food culprits
include wheat, corn and soy. Various proteins also create their share
of problems in certain dogs. I was shocked to learn that some dogs are
allergic to chicken, while I know from first-hand experience that my
Jack Russell Terrier Lucy used to be allergic to beef. Here's an
approach worth trying if your dog is exessively itching and scratching.
itching and scratching are the problems, that may simply be the lack of
Omega 3,6 and 9 fatty acids in your dog's diet that's making their skin
and coat dry. Winter indoor heating may also be exacerbating the
condition. Adding simple food additives to your dog's food may be the
key without switching diets. Supplements like Mrs.
Allen's Shed Stop, Flaxseed
Oil, Pet Botanics Skin & Coat supplement, Royal
from Ark Naturals or Health
Shine from Dr. Harvey's are all viable solutions for
supplementing your dog's diet with the needed Omegas that dog's and
cats need to lubricate their skin and coats.
compulsive foot licking, or chewing and biting other parts of the body,
are generally a sign that allergies are to blame.
Assuming it's food
allergies and not environmental, many vets and pet nutritionists
recommend substituting a protein source that your dog doesn't normally
eat. Lamb is often used for this purpose, because it's not as common a
dog food ingredient. Lamb, in and of itself, is not "non-allergic", but
it's less common than chicken and beef so it enables you to introduce
something new into your dog's diet, in effect, starting with a clean
Some vets sell
expensive "allergy free formulas" but there are ways to figure this out
on your own and a lot less expensively. Increasingly, pet owners who
have dogs with food allergies are feeding various pet food mixes like Dr.
Harvey's, Solid Gold Holistique Blendz or The
Honest Kitchen's FORCE formula, which is grain free, or Sojourner
Farms' new grain free Europa
Mixes, while a bit
more work, allow you to more closely control what your dog is eating by
beginning with a good "base" that contains the proper nutrients and
vitamins especially formulated for dogs. Then, you can experiment by
introducing your own protein sources (whether raw or cooked) and seeing
how your dog reacts over the next few days.
Honest Kitchen FORCE Formula is grain free but chicken-based, I
would stick to the Dr. Harveys or the Europa
which have no protein or grain sources. The
Solid Gold Holistique Blendz formula is also a good choice but that
already contains fish protein. Because fish-based protein is an
unlikely protein source for your dog to begin with, it's unlikely that
it will cause allergy problems now -- same theory with the lamb or any
other uncommon protein like venison or buffalo or rabbit. If later you
find that chicken is ok, I would give The
Honest Kitchen FORCE Formula a second look, too.
Beginning with one
of these neutral, grain-free formulas, try adding chicken for a week.
If that goes well, than your dog is probably ok with chicken. Then try
beef. Then lamb. Try, fish, too. If that goes well, than it was
probably one or more of the grains.
Now a picture is
starting to form. Your dog's allergies have improved with a grain free
diet that includes certain proteins.
As we mentioned
before, the point of introducing a different protein source to test
your dog's tolerance is because if your dog is suffering some type of
food-related reaction, common sense tells you it's something she's
already eating. Can't be having reactions to something she never had
Please note that
when switching a dog's food, do it gradually over 5 to 6 days. Begin a
4 to 1 ration, old to new food, than 3 to 2 on day 2, than half and
half on day 3, than 2 to 3 on day 4 and 1 to 4 on day 5. Day six,
you're switched over completely. Than the real allergy testing can
begin in earnest by sticking with the new protein source for a week and
than introducing a new one every week taking note of your dog's
reaction or, hopefully, lack of one.
As you've probably
figured out by now, there's no one answer or "Silver Bullet" that will
miraculously solve all your dog's allergy problems overnight. You have
to break the cycle by moving your dog to a neutral, grain-free food and
begin experimenting with different proteins. Once you find a protein or
combination of proteins that work, try slowly introducing grain
formulas back into the diet to see if there's a reaction or not. Using
this gradual, common sense method combined with a good quality dog food
should have your dog on the road to a happy, itch-free life.
Gene Sower is
the author of the ebook "The Dog Food Report: Do You Know What You're
Feeding Your Dog?"
Download your free copy here: http://www.lucythewonderdog.com/dogfoodreport.htm
Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.