Canine Diseases Linked to Grains in Dog Food (Part 1)

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Dog food grains. Canine allergies. Could they be related? Well, in a word, maybe.

Take bread mold. As unappetizing as it looks, bread mold can seem fairly harmless.

Yet mold and other contaminants sometimes found in cereal grains used to make dog food can cause serious illness — even death.

Surprisingly, cereal grains can be some of the most problematic ingredients in commercial dog food.

Grains Can Conceal Hidden Contaminants

After grains are harvested, they must be stored. And the longer the storage period, the greater the risk of contamination by one or more of these nasty pollutants…

  • Insects
  • Mites
  • Mold

What’s worse, many dog food companies are famous for using the cheapest grains they can find — rejects and by-products of the human food industry…

Cereal grain leftovers classified as “unfit for human consumption”.

And low quality ingredients like these can always be fertile breeding grounds for some of the nastiest contaminants in dog food.

How These Dangerous Contaminants
Can End Up in Your Dog’s Food

Insects — and their droppings — can be found in cheap, low-quality grains.1

The most common insect contaminants include…

  • Red flour beetles
  • Granary weevils
  • Rice weevils
  • Meal worms
  • Flat grain beetles
  • Indian meal moths
  • Saw-tooth grain beetles

Grain infestations are so common that damage done by insects after crops are harvested is sometimes greater than the damage done during the growing season itself2.

That’s how the carcasses of dead grain insects can so easily end up in commercial dog food.  These common dog food pollutants should be considered prime suspects in any attempt to prevent canine allergies.

Grain Mites Quickly Multiply Out of Control

So, what do you get when you mix a low-quality feed grain with plenty of moisture — and then store them together over time?

Mites. Grain mites. And lots of them.

This tiny eight-legged creature is a close relative of the dust mite, that infamous household pest that might just be one of the most common causes of allergies in the human population.

And can they ever multiply! One female mite alone can lay up to eight hundred eggs in as little as just nine days3.

Some of these juvenile mites morph into a stage known as the hypopus.  During that phase their bodies harden and the mites develop numerous small suckers on their underbellies.

These tiny arthropods then use their suckers to attach themselves to the bodies of grain weevils, beetles and other insects.

So, with a little help from their newly-found “friends” they quickly spread throughout an entire bin of feed grain.

Within days, the stored commodity can become completely infested with disease-causing grain mites.

A Likely Cause of Chronic Allergies

Atopic dermatitis can be an agonizing condition for dogs.  It can go completely undiagnosed for years. Yet it is remarkably common.Cheap Dog Food Cereal Grains Can Cause Atopic Dermatitis

The disease is a chronic and allergic skin reaction to specific pollutants (called allergens) found in a dog’s environment.

Symptoms can be so common it’s easy to overlook the everyday signs of the disease…

  • Chronic itching
  • Excessive licking or chewing of the paws, abdomen and groin
  • Deep pink, reddened or oozing ears
  • Balding areas (known as “alopecia”)
  • Black pigmentation of the skin around the groin (in later years)
  • Secondary yeast or bacterial infections (especially in the ears)

So, what are these “specific pollutants” that cause this miserable disease?

Well, it’s been known for years that atopic dermatitis can be caused by common household dust mites.  You know, the kind you find in your home’s carpeting.

The same kind of mites that cause allergies in humans.

So, could mite-contaminated dog food have anything to do with canine skin allergies?

You bet it could. And here’s proof…

Recent Research Points an Accusing Finger

A recent study of atopic dermatitis conducted at Wright State University has concluded, “storage mite sensitivity in dogs may be as important, if not more important, than dust mite sensitivity”.4

In other words, the consumption of grain storage mites and their carcasses must be considered an important cause of atopic dermatitis in dogs.

That finding clearly implicates grain-based dog food as a possible cause for this far-too-common condition.

In Part 2, I’ll cover a much more dangerous problem with the grains used to make dog food — deadly toxins.

Footnotes

  1. Extension Entomologists, North Central States, Federal Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  2. Peairs FB, “Insect Damage to Farm-Stored Grain”, Colorado State University Extension, Number 5.545
  3. “Flour or Grain Mites”, Entomological Notes, College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State University
  4. Arlian AG et al, Serum immunoglobulin E  against storage mites in dogs with atopic dermatitis, American Journal of Veterinary Research, 2003 January, 64 (1):32-6
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  • somebodysme

    Thanks, this is very helpful information and people may not consider these things! I’m going to try the corn starch idea! Never heard of it. Since I have gotten my allergy dog, the weeds in the lawn have taken over! Gotta do whatcha gotta do though! I just keep it cut short and no one really cares anyway if I have weeds! HA!

  • Jeannette

    I am VERY sure the itching is due to the carpet being “cleaned”. I have cockers and boy do they have allergies. Or so I thought. By process of elimination I figured it out. A little weird but when I have mine cleaned I ask for nothing but baking soda and vinegar. And no stinky spray after. The itching and biting of their feet completely stopped. I also use V & BS to wash their bedding and winter coats. Watch what you use on your floors and rugs. All cleaners leave a residue. And outside ditch the weed killer and lawn fertilizer. POISON to dogs. Use vinegar to kill weeds between bricks and walkways. Corn starch kills weeds in the lawn. But I would rather have a healthy dog than a golf course lawn

  • FRAUDS ITS NOT ORGANIC

    PAUL NEWMAN DOGFOOD IS DEADLY!!!! DEADLY!!!! KILLS A HEALTHY DOG ION MONTHS!!!!

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  • Pattyvaughn

    A huge number of dogs have vomitting/upset stomach issues from Trifexis and Comfortis.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    I’ve heard some people have to cut it in half and give 12 hours apart instead of a whole pill at once because of side effects.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Rabbit pellets have probiotics and digestive enzymes in them. That could be why your dogs want them. I personally don’t like Trifexis. It’s pretty harse on the system and I don’t like giving flea stuff except when it is actually needed. Even then I would rather it be as natural as possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aimee.harper3 Aimee Harper

    Wow- totally gross and probably the cause of two of my three labbie ladies’ allergies, scratching, biting, licking, infected ears, yeast on the belly, and so on. Both were foster labs I fostered then adopted. One is 13 and was a ‘one dog puppy mill’ according to the vet who examined her after she was brought into the rescue program. She also has other problems related to having one or two litters a year for most of her life-there’s more, but not about allergies… my 8 yr old chocolate lab was a stray, brought into the lab rescue program, adopted… then ended up running loose, hit by a car, and that’s when her mast cell tumors (cancer) were found. But the biting, licking and scratching, etc. got worse shortly before I adopted her, then seemed better, then became extremely severe and misery-making – after we switched from those nasty liquid flea/tick meds (provided by the charity free for the foster dogs) to the new combination product, Trifexis. All 3 of our dogs (the third is our lab/bull terrier mix, Trixie, who we’ve raised since she was 5 wks old) are on Trifexis now, all three like to ‘graze’ out in the yard and for some reason are crazy for june bugs and rabbit pellets (I don’t mean food!) Obviously this is NOT an ideal addition to their diet, but it is impossible to watch each one every second they’re outside, and I would go crazy trying! The vet said food allergies, and tried to sell me this ridiculously expensive food, but these dogs have been on the same food for several years now, and did not have problems before the switch to Trifexis, though they are miserable when the mold count gets really high… it’s so confusing and my doggies are so miserable, but we can’t afford to experiment with weird foods or multiple meds, etc. So – has anybody used Trifexis, and has anyone’s dog(s) had problems caused by it?

  • Cate

    Digestive Enzymes

  • Cate

    Food has been ruled out. He started scratching after she moved to a new apartment last year. She had the carpet shampooed last week. I looked at the Dr Becker site & thought the Enzyme booster might help.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Does your friend know what’s causing the dermatitis? Fleas, environmental allergies, food allergies? Depending on the cause (if it’s know) there may be some things your friend can do to mitigate the issue.

    Chamomile and tryptophan are typically used for anxiety issues and are known for their calming effect which is likely why they’re making your friend’s dog sleepy.

    If the dog is just in need of an immune boost there are many supplements that help boost the immune system – echinacea, medicinal mushrooms, colostrum, probiotics, astralagus, glutathione and beta-glucans, etc. These types of supplements can be purchased on their own or there are many combination supplements available that combine more than one of these immune-boosting ingredients. I would also recommend that your friend evaluate the dog’s diet – a healthy, species-appropriate diet is the foundation of a strong immune system.

  • Cate

    My friends Shih Tzu has just been diagnosed with Acute Dermatitis. The vet prescribed chamomile & tryptophan ($140) but it just makes him sleepy. Is there something to better to boost his immune system ?

  • aimee

    Hi Melissaandcrew,

    I understand where you are coming from. Over the years though I have significantly changed my thinking in regards to aggression, not only between dogs but also between dogs and humans.

    I no longer think of aggression in terms of dominance or pack structure.

    I see dominance as a description of a relationship in a particular context vs a personality trait. So for me there is no such thing as a “dominant” dog.

    I also don’t embrace the idea of “alpha” especially as the literature is removing that term from wolf field studies and field studies of feral canines have not found that hierarchlial relationships exist. If hierarchial relationships don’t exist between dogs then it doesn’t make sense to me to think they would exist between two differnt species : dogs and humans

    This article may explain better how I view things http://www.pawsoflife.org/Library/Behavior/Bradshaw_2009.pdf For the short version you may want to start reading at the section titled “interactions between dogs and owners.”

    In my own little household of three if you dropped food Brooke will always secure the resource. So I would say a relationship exits in that context. Jack and Chloe defer to Brooke. If Brooke isn’t present Jack would secure the resource. Chloe typically runs away from dropped food if either Brooke or Jack are present.

     Brooke though shows very little guarding behavior, once she has the resource she shares. Jack slithers on his belly head sideways on the ground and Brooke will let him share.

    But if Chloe or Jack have possession of something they will charge Brooke if she comes near.  Chloe .. my little girl that runs away from an unclaimed resource is my most active defender of a resource once she has it in her possession. Neither Jack nor Brooke will approach her if she has food or a chew.

    I think diet may influence behavior but it may be specific to the dog 

     

  • Toxed2loss

    O.k. This is in reference to aggression issues. I was watching a YouTube video of an interview with

    Dr. Blaylock, neurosurgeon, about vaccine toxins, and how they distrupt brain/emotional function. A third of the way he brings in excitotoxins (MSG & Aspartatame) and the synergistic effects that they have with vaccine adjuvants and often manifest in aggression. Just in case anyone’s interested…

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=jCNDc_a-a8Q

  • Jkmcgowan

    Thank you!

  • Toxed2loss

    If you conclude that his car sickness could be from fumes, you might want to get an activated charcoal (coconut, not fossil fuel) air purifier for the car. Car interiors are extremely toxic, with all the decomposing polyvinyl chloride, plastics and synthetic carpets. :-} You guys will feel better, too.

  • Jkmcgowan

    Thank you doggonfedup! 

    We will give this a try.

  • Jkmcgowan

    Thank you Shawna! 

    When Murphy came to us he would breath very fast while sleeping/resting. He tired quickly when exercising. I made videos of the breathing so our Vet could see. Sometimes his breaths per minute (bpm) were over 100. He would range between 45-75 bpm most of the time. We were concerned and took him to our Vet. We had x-rays taken, an EKG, and complete blood work as well as stool & urine tests. They found he had kennel cough, hook worms, tape worms, and Giardia. They dewormed him and put him on Doxycycline for 30 days.The other anomaly found was his heart beat during the EKG would go from 110 to 60. Our Vet referred us to NCSU Animal Hospital in Raleigh, NC for more extensive testing. Murphy was there 3 days. They did a CT Scan, other x-rays, drew joint fluids from his knees, biopsied his lymph nodes, which were a little swollen, another EKG, and  complete blood work, including a special screen which tested for all flea, tick, and other parasite caused diseases (this screen took almost 4 weeks for complete results).They found no problems other than his heart rate was 60 bpm but would jump to 110 bpm when someone walked by the table he was on. They were not concerned with this.The put him on doxycycline for 30 days while the blood screening was being run. During this time we observed that his fast breathing episodes seemed to diminish. Based on this, they continued Doxycycline for another 30 days. This ended the first week in September. His breathing has now returned to normal (12 bpm- 25 bpm). We think we are past the fast breathing phenomenon.Joanne & I are retired and Murphy spends almost all of his time with us so we do observe him more closely than most people would. We tried very hard for the first 30 days we had him to make sure that he did not take over any areas in the house and followed all the guidelines they gave us to keep this from happening. We did occasionally put him in his crate (where he sleeps each night) and leave him while we go out for a while so that he did not develop separation anxiety. After that we pretty much let him go anywhere in the house on his own and he spent most of his time with one of us, cuddling and getting rubs. During this time we were also teaching him about toys and fetching. He originally had no interest in toys and did not fetch when we threw balls. He would just sit and watch. We thought he never had toys to play with. He now plays with his toys very gently and has just start biting down hard enough to make them squeak. He does not chew or tear apart his toys. He chews down very gently.We adopted Murphy from Carolina Poodle Rescue near Spartansburg, SC (about a 10 hour drive from us). They rescued Murphy from an animal control Shelter in Charlotte, NC.. He had been picked up as a stray. CPR had him 3 weeks before we adopted him from them. He had just been neutered the day before we picked him up. They and our Vet estimated his age at 2-4 years.  Just thought I would put this background out there so you have as complete a history for Murphy as we do. Here is a link to Murphy’s album on FB if you are interested in seeing photos of him.https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3163769424531.2136133.1574224680&type=3

  • doggonefedup

    Jkmcgowan,
    Motion sickness can be eased be stimulating the skin. I don’t recommend letting him stick his head out the window because among other things his eyes can get wind burn, but, petting or massaging the dog mostly on the head and face but also along the body will actually help with the motion sickness. When the eyes see the motion the body needs to “feel” that motion like the air moving about the body. It’s worked for me in the past.
     

  • Jkmcgowan

    Betsy, the pills haven’t worked with Murphy. We have also given him a Pepsid to try to calm his stomach. No luck.

  • Jkmcgowan

    Thanks Toxed2loss! Good thought!

  • Jkmcgowan

    Thank you Marie! We will try Gingersnaps!

  • Jkmcgowan

    Thanks Melissa! The funny thing is he loves the car. If we have a car door open doing something and he is outside he will jump into the car on his own. When we are going for a ride he jumps right in the car. He will ride with his head out the window for quite a while when we are on the beach and when we are going slow on the hard road or he will sit and look either out the front or the side window. He does not seem to be anxious(fearful) of the car at all. After a while he will start salivating and will then throw up. Sometimes it will take longer than others. We have to drive about 2 miles to pick up our mail from a community box. We have been taking Murphy with us on the short ride to see if that will help with the problem. A couple of times he did not throw up while riding. After we got home & we were out of the car for a few minutes he then threw up. The last three times he was fine and did not throw up at all. I’m hoping that over time he will get better but would like to help him on the longer rides now, when we have to take him to the vet or for some reason we cannot leave him at home in his crate. Joanne & I are both retired so we have the time to work with him any way that is needed.

  • aimee

    Hi Shawna,

    I had to pull the original study… been a long time since I read it : ) I’m assuming you are only looking at the abstract.    

    From the study “Low protein diets, in conjunction with high carbohydrate content, may induce their effect by changing the plasma ratio of the amino acid l-tryptophan (Trp) to other large neutral amino acids (LNAA), thus affecting competition between Trp and LNAA for a common blood-brain barrier transport mechanism……..low protein diets result in a higher Trp/LNAA ratio thus enhancing Trp transfer to the brain.”

    All of the test diets exceeded AAFCO profile for Tryptophan. The protein sources were dried egg and poultry meal. Corn contributed some protein as well.

    But this study was “sloppy” on many levels IMHO.
    For example, the dogs were separated into three groups of 11 based on diagnosis. From the results section: “Significant changes in behavior were not detected within any of the 3 groups for any of the dietary treatments.” Hmmm ….behavior no change and no change in measured plasma Trp and serotonin levels either.

    But the authors instead of stopping there (which is what I think they should have done)  pooled the data from all 33 dogs and then looked for significance.

    For territorial aggression the behavior scale ranged  from 1-10. The owner’s scored the behavior and the criteria weren’t defined.   So as readers for all we know one persons “5″ could be another persons “3″

    For territorial aggression LP 3.68, LP + Trp 3.17, HP 3.47 and HP + Trp 3.33.

    Statistical significance was found between LP and LP + Trp in a numerical sense but do we really think from a behavior sense there was any sig difference ??? 

    In the “dominence ” aggression group  Lp was 1.12. LP + Trp 1.29, HP 1.84 and Hp + trp 1.04. The scale was 1-10.

    I have to say I  don’t see any of these diets as having any meaningful  change on behavior.

    Could supplementing Trp alter levels  of serotonin in the brain by changing the Trp/LNAA favoring Trp transport… I think you’d have to supplement a lot…. and even then ???  Just My 2 cents

  • Toxed2loss

    Gas fumes, exhaust and especially diesel make me sick. I wondered if it would make a difference if the cab air recirc is on. He’ll get fewer fumes that way, if they’re in traffic. Just a thought…