Allergies in dogs have become an all too common disease. While they can become allergic to just about anything, just like us, there are a few things you can do to help your pet avoid food allergies.
Ian Billingshurst, veterinary author of “Give Your Dog A Bone” advises “balance, over time, through variety.”
It is important to remember that whether it is a Chihuahua or an Irish Wolfhound, ALL dogs still have the same teeth and digestive systems as wolves. Dogs are carnivores! The vast majority of your diet should be meat and bone. Let me repeat all of this to a fact that is often ignored … Dogs are carnivores! They need meat! While they WILL EAT just about anything, the scientific term for this is “obligate omnivore,” which simply means that if they can’t get the meat and bone they prefer and should be eating, they will eat all they can to survive. However, surviving just isn’t a great plan. You could survive on cakes and sweets, but you don’t have to be a dietitian to know it’s not a good idea. I repeat, dogs are carnivores. They need meat. They too, like us, need variety.
It’s a common fallacy, often perpetuated by veterinarians, who are usually taught nutrition in college by a representative from Purina or Hill’s, the makers of the scientific diet, that you must find a food and keep it throughout the dog’s life. . INCORRECT !!! If you want to CAUSE an allergy, expose the body to something over and over again until the immune system finally yells “ENOUGH”, in the form of an allergy.
While you should gradually introduce a new food, over a week or so, it is important to constantly change your protein source. There are currently hundreds of food brands with premium ingredients. If this bag was chicken-based, make the next fish, the next lamb, etc. There are also sources of protein that are things that we would not find in the grocery store, such as venison, rabbit, duck, etc. Like the wolf, the dog should get something different on a regular basis.
The quality of the food is also essential. Like the old dog food commercial used to say “meat costs more than cereal.” If the food says chicken, then that should be the FIRST ingredient on the list. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order of concentration, you will never see a pack of wolves grazing in a corn or wheat field. While some dogs do well with these added fillers, they will never be as healthy as if their food was based on meat, poultry, or fish. You will notice that many of the premium foods even boast that they do NOT contain grains. Soy and wheat should also be avoided, as they are common allergens for dogs. If the ingredient says “meat”, it can be any source of “meat”, including road kill. Yes, you read that right. Ingredients for “meat” and “animals” usually come from processing plants. They can be any animal in any degree of decomposition or disease. Any food with these words should be avoided. If it says chicken, it has to be chicken. The government doesn’t care what we feed our dogs, just that the labels are honest.
Spend the extra money on high-quality dog food with real meat, fish, or poultry as the FIRST ingredient. Rotate the protein source on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to feed healthy table scraps … no cooked bones, skin, or fat please, just what’s left on your plate. Don’t be afraid to feed eggs, canned fish, and yogurt. Just remember that when you add something extra to your meal, decrease the amount of kibble so you don’t overfeed.
If your pet already has allergies, instead of continuous injections of prednisone and itch medications, which only treat the symptoms, not the actual problem, try a food allergy diet. Select a completely unique protein source food. Something they have never tried before, like venison, duck or salmon. It will take at least two months to get all the other stuff out of your system and for this to have any value.
It is CRITICAL that they do not ingest anything other than THIS food and water. If they eat even a small corner of your toast and they happen to have a wheat allergy, you’ll be back where you started for another two months. If after two months with this food, you see improvement in your skin and itching, you have your answer. If not, try another protein source. It takes time and commitment, but you’ll spend far less money on quality food than you do at the vet to consistently treat symptoms, and you’ll be rewarded with a healthier, happier part of your family.