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Dog food, allergies, etc.

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  • Dog food, allergies, etc.

    My dog is currently eating blue buffalo wilderness chicken. She's been on the wilderness chicken since June and for probably 6 or 7 months before that the blue buffalo chicken and rice. She loves the wilderness chicken. Over the last week and a half, she's started itching a bit more than normal, licking paws, etc. She gets her monthly frontline and I don't see anything on her (bugs, bites, etc). She hasn't chewed/scratched anything raw (can't even tell she's itchy looking at her--no spots, missing hair, marks, etc.).

    I know a lot of dogs have chicken allergies. Could she be developing this suddenly? She's been on chicken based food since I got her at 12 weeks (she's 16 months old now) and no problems until now. Or could she be reacting to external allergens?

    I'm hesitant to change her food because she's a picky eater. She likes her chicken and turkey and is OK with beef. I know blue wilderness also makes a salmon kibble, though she's not a fish fan. Dislikes lamb as well. I see there is a wilderness duck as well (she might be ok with that), but it has chicken meal...

    I also noticed the Blue Basics Turkey and Potato which is chicken free (not familiar with this food). But, we'd be moving away from grain free (not necessarily opposed to that) and she was a lot more enthusiastic about the grain free chicken vs the alternative. That said, she loves turkey.

    Any suggestions? Do I assume it's a food allergy right now? Or, do I wait it out? If you suspect food allergy, any recommendations that are comparable to blue wilderness in terms of taste and price?

    Sorry that was so long!

  • #2
    i would ask your vet but i have had 2 allergy dogs and it sounds like it./ CK is one of the biggest allergens. you don't pick the food by what the dog whats to eat. just pick the healthiest and the dog will eventually eat it. rEAD all ingredients and make sure there is no Chicken FAT in the ingredient list, even if it's a fish or other protein, some dog foods sneak the chicken fat into it.

    Comment


    • #3
      We have a dog who developed food allergies and after switching him to salmon-based kibble, the itchies have subsided. I know you mentioned your girl doesn't like salmon but maybe try another brand, of which there are many? We feed the Fromm Salmon ala Veg and all our dogs eat it up.

      Or maybe mix the salmon food with her chicken kibble (which you should do anyway) and then when you eventually wean her onto the salmon solely, it's not that big of a deal...kinda like sneaking it in there.

      Good luck!!
      "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham

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      • #4
        Allergies generally develop after being exposed to the allergen for a period of time. So, yes, it could be the chicken, even though the dog was fine with it until recently.
        You could try a grain free alternative protein source food like Taste of the Wild High Prairie formula, or Pacific stream formula, and see if the itching stops. Just try to switch gradually over a week or so period. You should notice a difference in a couple of weeks after that has been the sole food. Avoid chicken based treats.

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        • #5
          At this time of year? it's ragweed season/ fall pollen hell for allergy sufferers. All sorts of dogs will suddenly start itching/chewing this time of year (even if they didn't last year- it takes repeated exposures for allergy-prone dogs to develop full-blown allergies). So due to time of year I would guess it's environmental. You can try frequent baths, wiping the dog off after going outside, and OTC antihistamines (look up the dog dosages, different than human dosages) before messing around with food changes.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
            Allergies generally develop after being exposed to the allergen for a period of time. So, yes, it could be the chicken, even though the dog was fine with it until recently.
            You could try a grain free alternative protein source food like Taste of the Wild High Prairie formula, or Pacific stream formula, and see if the itching stops. Just try to switch gradually over a week or so period. You should notice a difference in a couple of weeks after that has been the sole food. Avoid chicken based treats.
            Unfortunately, 3rd ingredient of Wild High Prairie formula is chicken meal (I had planned to try it too)! I've tried the pacific stream before and over the course of the week she picked around the fish kibble. After a few days, she refused to eat with the kibble in the bowl. I've looked at so many dog foods and it's amazing how many have either chicken meal or chicken fat in them (including blue salmon).

            As for just finding the best kibble and eventually she'll eat it, that's hard. She's picky. She's a smaller dog and light. On the blue wilderness, she's finally at a good weight (not too thin). Of course, right? She's not food motivated either.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by wendy View Post
              At this time of year? it's ragweed season/ fall pollen hell for allergy sufferers. All sorts of dogs will suddenly start itching/chewing this time of year (even if they didn't last year- it takes repeated exposures for allergy-prone dogs to develop full-blown allergies). So due to time of year I would guess it's environmental. You can try frequent baths, wiping the dog off after going outside, and OTC antihistamines (look up the dog dosages, different than human dosages) before messing around with food changes.
              Good point. My mom's dog started itching again (seasonal issues with his ears) as have my landlords. She got a bath Sunday and seemed better for a couple of days. I'll check with my vet about antihistamines/recommendations/dosages, etc. I'd hate to change food if it is seasonal allergies as she's finally eating well -- it took a good year for her to eat this consistantly.

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              • #8
                If you suspect allergies, the best way to find out for sure is to get the vet to run a blood test for allergies. That way you'll know if it's environmental or something in the food.

                My brother's dog started itching, getting a red rash, and lost a bunch of hair due to all his scratching. The vet suspected he'd developed a food intolerance (the same food he'd been on since he was 5 months) and ran an allergy test. Ironically enough, he was eating food FOR allergies since the most allergies/intolerances are to chicken or beef and his was a fish based kibble (Orijen 6 fish). His results came back yesterday and sure enough, he's allergic to mixed fish and wheat. But at least now they know it's not environmental and a change of food and treats will clear it up.

                I highly recommend getting an allergy test/blood work done so you know what you're dealing with right from the start. No sense messing around with food until you know if it's the problem or not. If you don't want to do the blood work, you can try the elimination diet. Eliminate everything from the dog's diet (people food, treats, snacks, cookies, etc) and you can change to a dog food with nothing in it similar to what he's eating now. If you suspect chicken, try Orijen 6 fish or Regional Red or EVO red meat (for example) and feed only the kibble for 6-8 weeks and see if there's improvement. (As a side note, I have a bit of picky eater as well and both the EVO and regional red got him scarfing his food down!)

                The downside is that it commonly takes quite some time before seeing a difference and at this time of year, the 6-8 weeks might coincide with environmental allergies toning down as well. So you might think it's the food working after 6-8 weeks, but in reality it might be because the seasons have changed and it's no longer allergy season...then you might have to deal with this next fall all over again (assuming it's environmental and not food related).

                ETA: Other food options are Acana's new grain free line: Pacifica, Grasslands, and Ranchlands are all chicken-free but I've found (at least in my experience) that Acana doesn't always appeal to picky eaters.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would be more concerned about inhalant/ environmental allergies. As other have suggested, weeds esp. Ragweed has been super high the last couple of weeks! Your dog presents with classic signs of environmental allergies: right areas of pruritus, right age and right time of year.

                  PLEASE PLEASE do not have your vet run a blood test for food allergy! These tests are HIGHLY inaccurate! There is on company that clearly stated at the bottom of the results page that you have 60 % chance of false positives and a 40 % chance of false negatives. Too much $$ for crappy chances of accurate results. Depending on the company you use, the results for the blood test for inhalant allergies can just as poorly reliable. Intradermal allergy testing is considered the gold standard.

                  Darn it, I am off work and here I am writing here what I do all day long! I swear I have this exact conversation many many times in a day.

                  Good luck, Lisa

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                  • #10
                    The best thing to try is a minimal diet with a novel protein. There are many such out there. You want something that only has one protein source, one carb source and one fat source. I would first try for a month to 6 weeks (don't feed anything else, no treats, nothing) and if there is no sign of improvement then I would take out the grain and try a limited grain free diet and see if that works.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by idlemoon View Post
                      PLEASE PLEASE do not have your vet run a blood test for food allergy! These tests are HIGHLY inaccurate! There is on company that clearly stated at the bottom of the results page that you have 60 % chance of false positives and a 40 % chance of false negatives. Too much $$ for crappy chances of accurate results. Depending on the company you use, the results for the blood test for inhalant allergies can just as poorly reliable. Intradermal allergy testing is considered the gold standard.
                      That's exactly what my vet office said. So no allergy testing. Based on timing, vet suspects environmental allergies so we're going to play it by ear. If they get worse/continue, she'll go in for an appointment. They suggested no food changes right now because they suspect environmental allergens. We're going to try and control the itching now and if it's still there/gets worse as the allergens change, we'll examine food changes (so I do appreciate the food suggestions--I'll hang on to them for reference later).

                      For everyone who suggested limited diets/no treats/etc. for 4-6 weeks, unfortunately, that's NOT going to happen. I've been working on separation anxiety with my dog and part of our structured before I leave routine includes treats. My dog won't eat soup bones, but will eat dog biscuits (if they're the right ones--otherwise she saves them until I get home and stresses slightly more) and a stuffed kong IF it's stuffed properly. This is working and we're weaning off the prozac so I'm not messing with this at all (days I stray from our routine don't go nearly as well).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My sister's beagle has food allergies. After consulting with her vet, she's now on a duck diet and doing well on it. She also put her new beagle rescue who was underweight, but a horribly picky eater on it and he's gobbling it down.

                        "Taste of the Wild" makes a duck/quail dry food.
                        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

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                        • #13
                          pompeiii,

                          California Natural makes some treats that go along with their food. So for instance if you're trying your dog on the lamb & rice food, they also make a lamb & rice treat you can give. So then you're not introducing other variables into the experiment.

                          Or you can try feeding just the meat from the same source. There are a lot of treats that are 100% meat and nothing else. Or you could even use 95% canned meat or 100% canned meat as a treat although that would be less convenient.

                          Anyway hopefully it's just seasonable but keep in mind that you have options for the limited ingredient diet (BTW that means that the food itself has few ingredients in it) without botching it by giving treats.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, if you don't want to change up the food/allergy testing/elimination diet, that pretty much just leaves trying to control the itching and not actually trying to figure out what's causing it.

                            To provide relief for your dog, you can try bathing frequently with a good quality shampoo (only bad shampoos like Hartz further dry out the skin, contrary to the old wives't tale). Earthbath has a few skin conditioning/allergenic ones or you can try Micro-tek which works really well for skin issues.

                            In addition to bathing, you can give some benadryl daily to your dog. Dosage depends on how much he weights. While it's probably not good to give it to him for extended periods of time, if you think it is seasonal/environmental allergies then you should only have to give it to him for a few weeks or so. Check with your vet if you've never given benadryl before, though.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Think about mange as a cause of itching. We treated our retriever for allergies (?corn) with some improvement, but not full improvement. After ivermectin treatment for mange, the itching stopped. Apparently several of the dogs in the neighborhood began itching about the same time. Someone contacted a wildlife rehabber who treated several mangy foxes in the neighborhood. After they were treated and the dogs were treated, the itching stopped. We've kept our dog on Taste of the Wild Lamb dog food in case the corn allergy was part of her itching.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by OTV View Post
                                Well, if you don't want to change up the food/allergy testing/elimination diet, that pretty much just leaves trying to control the itching and not actually trying to figure out what's causing it.
                                The vet really suspects environmental allergies which is why I'm going to hold off on food changes for the time being. I'm not against changing food/a limited ingredient diet even though I'm sure it sound like I am. It's more that by the time I slowly transition to a new food that she'll actually eat (without spending too much $$ on bags of trial food) and the itching stops, we won't know if it's seasonal allergens or a food allergy. If we can keep her comfortable through ragweed season and she's still itching, food changes will happen (I was all set to change food now until the vet discouraged that).

                                She's at my boyfriend's until the morning and got a bath before leaving my place yesterday evening (she loves the farm and rolling in horse poop and the pasture way too much) and not only is she grass stain/poop stain free, but she's barely itched at all. I'll keep up with the baths as they seem to help. I've got some decent shampoo and I know my mom has some for skin issues that I'll pick up this weekend.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ive worked with a vet dermatologist (specialist, not just one who has a special interest in derm), and the two most important things I learned:

                                  1.) Derm is gross
                                  2.) 90% of "Food Allergies" are not food realted.

                                  He ALL THE TIME got referrals for dogs with food allergies that were itching, had puffyeyes, reverse sneezing, raw spots and irritated skin. The majority of the RDVM diagnosed food allergies were actual environmental factors (grass, ragweed etc) or parasites (demodex, fleas, mange, fungus etc).

                                  However, I know that dogs CAN have food allergies. But grain allergy,chicken allergy, beef etc. is not as common as sometimes diagnosed. Most real food allergies show GI signs, before skin itchiness.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
                                    Ive worked with a vet dermatologist (specialist, not just one who has a special interest in derm), and the two most important things I learned:

                                    1.) Derm is gross
                                    2.) 90% of "Food Allergies" are not food realted.

                                    He ALL THE TIME got referrals for dogs with food allergies that were itching, had puffyeyes, reverse sneezing, raw spots and irritated skin. The majority of the RDVM diagnosed food allergies were actual environmental factors (grass, ragweed etc) or parasites (demodex, fleas, mange, fungus etc).

                                    However, I know that dogs CAN have food allergies. But grain allergy,chicken allergy, beef etc. is not as common as sometimes diagnosed. Most real food allergies show GI signs, before skin itchiness.
                                    That's interesting! So if after switching a dog's food and they show tremendous improvement, ie: only minimal licking (which I think is mostly boredom), was able to be weaned off atopica, and no more red spots, would you assume it was food allergies? He has been on TOTW Pacific Stream for about 6 months now and I'm really pleased with the results. His eyes also used to tear so bad it looked like he was bleeding from his eyes. This has since gone away.
                                    Originally posted by JSwan
                                    Prove it....Otherwise, you're just coming off as a whackjob.
                                    Founding member of the "Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine" Clique

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                                    • #19
                                      Your dog could have a mild food allergy and pollen allergies from this time of year are just pushing him over the top. Food is the easiest thing to start fixing...how about one of the limited ingredient foods? There are prescription as well as others. I've seen venison and potato, rabbit and potato, etc.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Tap2Tango View Post
                                        That's interesting! So if after switching a dog's food and they show tremendous improvement, ie: only minimal licking (which I think is mostly boredom), was able to be weaned off atopica, and no more red spots, would you assume it was food allergies? He has been on TOTW Pacific Stream for about 6 months now and I'm really pleased with the results. His eyes also used to tear so bad it looked like he was bleeding from his eyes. This has since gone away.
                                        I would think so! A lot of allergens are environmental, but just because its often overdiagnosed doesnt mean dogs dont have food allergies! I would be suprised if your dog was really allergic that the ONLY signs he had was itchy skin and runny eyes with no GI signs, - but absolutley, it is possible! I say if he does well on that food,why not keep him on it!

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