Hi all! Hoping someone out there can help me out.
My service dog has had extreme food and environmental allergies since 2017. Back then, the vet felt he could eat a non-prescription diet as long as we avoided the proteins that he was allergic to. For anyone that has done allergy tests at the vet, they’ll know a 300 for each allergen is severe. My boys tested anywhere from 300 to 2000+, mostly on the upper end of that scale. However, there were still enough types of food that he was not allergic to thankfully which meant I could just avoid what we knew he was allergic to and feed what we knew he wasn’t allergic to. I just had to carefully read labels if I gave him new treats and we kept to the same food formula.
I recently noticed changes in his symptoms to the environmental allergies during/after he was going outside, so we redid his allergy tests again since it’s been a long time. To my surprise (because I don’t see any obvious symptoms after I feed him any food/treats), we learned that he’s now allergic to so many types of food and environmental allergens that he’s practically allergic to himself! Some allergens go as high as 2800 — it’s dairy, some plant based foods/oils, and all proteins they can test for (they can’t test every type of food out there obviously), Amazingly, there are no issues with wheat, corn, etc.
Anyway, the vet initially suggested Ultamino from Royal Canin. Problem number one is that I’m bothered by the main protein is chicken by-product (aka junk) rather than chicken or chicken meal. This is a service dog that needs the best possible nutrition, and the service dog organization told us to stay away from anything listing byproducts on the label. It’s a bit shocking that a prescription diet could theoretically contain who knows what in it. I am also concerned why corn starch is listed as the first ingredient — and I see a similar trend of some weird ingredients being listed as the first ingredient when I looked at some other hydrolyzed brands like Science Diet. Doesn’t seem very nutritious to have weird things like corn starch as the first ingredient.
The second problem is the price. There’s no way I can afford these prescription options. My boy has been eating Science Diet Chicken and Barley formula for a very long time now. A 35 lbs bag is usually $55-$60 and lasts and 6-8 weeks. Ultamino, as an example, is only sold in 19 lbs for $99 each. That means I’d have to spend WAY more on Ultamino for the equivalent amount of pounds (ie, two 19 lbs bags for $200) than what I’m spending now on SD. I don’t mean to put a price on my priceless boy, but I sadly just don’t have that kind of money given my financial circumstances.
That being said, I’m looking for alternatives that may cost less and have the maximum nutrition value possible. The vet told me that any brand/formula I feel is suitable (he knows I’m knowledgeable about canine nutrition and labels) so long as it’s a hydrolyzed formula. I’d prefer a non-prescription option because I have more of a chance of being able to catch sales, apply coupon codes, and not have to constantly request refills — however, I am also open to less costly prescription options that are healthier without byproducts and weird ingredients than Ultamino. It also must be kibble to abide by rules set by the service dog school due to the way they are trained. He cannot eat wet food.
I would also like to understand why the diets I’ve looked at have weird ingredients as the first ingredient. I’m guess it has something to do with the hydrolyzing process, but why would the amount exceed the amount of protein and most of the actual food in the ingredients? It’s concerning to me, and I’d love more information about this if anyone has it.
There is an old topic that is closed to posts where a someone there recommended a specific formula from WholeHearted that is hydrolyzed and sold without a prescription. https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/nonprescription-hydrolyzed-protein-dog-food/
I am hoping there might be more options being that the above post is from 2018. This WholeHearted formula is a pea-based, grain-free formula that can lead to DCM in dogs. Being that my boy isn’t allergic to grains, I’d prefer a food option “with” grains that so I won’t have to start supplementing taurine and monitoring him for potential DCM issues.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and respond! I’m very passionate about my boy’s health and well-being. He’s perfectly healthy thankfully other than the allergies he developed shortly after I brought him home from service dog school at age 2.5. Any input would be deeply appreciated.
Topic: Dog has Severe Allergies
I am new to this forum but I really wanted to reach out to see if I could get some good advice. My 5 year old Golden has battled allergies since he was a pup. He also had puppy strangles so I do know if that had any long lasting effects or if the allergies are genetic.
I also used to think it was environmental because he use to do better in the winter. However, the past couple years its been basically year round. So I am thinking it could be food related. He has really dry skin around his eyes and muzzle while also licking his paws with some scratching. He does not have dandruff and no red marks around his stomach or anywhere else. The major areas are around his eyes and muzzle like I mentioned…does this give any indication if it might be food related or environmental?
I give him apoquel here n there but I worry very much about the long term use. Are there any natural allergy relief? I know I read some things about Callogen and Quercetin. Also thinking about putting him on a hydrolized diet but would rather try something else that has more nutritional value.
Any advice, comments or pointing me in the right direction would be much appreciated.
I have been through several types of food with my 1.5 year old Beagle. When he was a puppy we had him on Science Diet and then Fromm. He had urinary crystals and was placed on Royal Canin Urinary S/O. He had problems with scratching his face, chewing paws and ear infections. I chose not to use the Apoquel the vet suggested and asked if food could be changed. After neutering him at a year old with the vet’s approval, we took him off the urinary diet and put him on Victor grain inclusive Ocean Whitefish. The itching and ear infections stopped but he gained weight and had gastritis a couple times. He was placed on Science diet canned low fat gastrointestinal and had some paw chewing and face scratching so switched to Pro Plan Sensitive Salmon. The itching, paw chewing occurs when he goes outside sometimes but not nearly as bad as it was. However, he needs to lose weight. He is a 15 inch Beagle and 37 lbs. The vet only wants him to have a cup a day and said I could use green beans. They only like the Big 3 food companies so I am limited on recommendations. Of course he acts like he is starving all the time and has started some bad behaviors in an attempt to steal food. I am searching for a weight management food, but most have chicken. I am not sure if the allergies were to chicken, corn, wheat or soy…they possibly could be environmental also. I have read up on so many foods here and then read reviews with scary stories in the comments sections and just don’t know which way to go. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.
Topic: Upset Stomach Drooling
So for years now my dog has had issues with excessive drooling. I’ve never been able to pinpoint what causes it. Medical tests all come back normal. But the drooling never last for more that an hour or two so by the time the vet sees him he can only offer suggestions.
The last time he noticed what he called signs of allergies: inflammation around his nose and mouth, head shaking and ear debris, watery eyes, paw and leg licking. He said that dogs can drool excessively when they have an upset stomach. Or if they come in contact with something in the environment that they’re allergic to.
So he basically told me to give him 5 benedryl twice a day to prevent symptoms.
Which I kind of thought was nuts because the drooling wasn’t happening all the time. So he told me to do it for 5 days, then give him a dose whenever symptoms presented.
Benedryl does work, unfortunately it takes a while to kick in.
But what triggers the episodes? How long does it take from exposure to symptoms?
It didn’t occur to me or my vet, but someone in a dog wellness FB group suggested keeping a journal of when these drooling attacks occur. That way I can write down when he last ate, what he ate, did he go outside prior, did he do anything unusual before the drooling started while it is still fresh in my mind.
He had a drooling episode today. The last one was a week ago while I was away. That day neither of my dogs ate much of anything (which happens sometimes when I go away). Thinking about possible food issues, all this past week I had given both dogs cooked ground beef. No incident. I ran out last night. This morning, I probably made the mistake of putting in a few crumbles of sausage that I had leftover. To make matters worse, when I ate eggs, sausage and cheese for breakfast about 60-90 minutes later, I gave the dogs the small remainder that I hadn’t finished.
Within 20 or so minutes the drooling began.
I’m kicking myself because I’ve been really good with the no table scraps treats.
The vet had said that because it doesn’t happen every day and only 1 or 2 a week (sometimes even less) that it’s probably something he’s eating. That the environmental sensitivities can be a totally separate issue and that dogs can develop really sensitive stomachs as they get older. He suggested either a sensitive stomach dry food or limited ingredient food to make digestion easier. He also suggested staying away from bird proteins as bully breeds are known to be sensitive to fowl proteins.
Topic: Nulo Limited Ingredients
My American Bulldog mix has allergies to chicken, which I’ve heard is common with bully breeds. I rotated many different foods for the past 9 years that I’ve had him, in the hopes that I’d one day find the formula that wouldn’t trigger an attack.
So many non chicken protein formula’s have chicken or chicken meal as the 3rd or 4th ingredient. I guess it’s an inexpensive protein to add to formulas.
I’ve tried lamb, beef, pork, turkey… after a few weeks more often than not allergy symptoms appear. It’s harder to try a new food in the spring and winter because he also has environmental allergies, so it’s hard to figure out what triggers him.
So far, fish seems to be the safest protein. He used to eat Blue Buffalo with no issue when he was younger but the vet recommended stopping it because he was gaining too much weight on it (even after I cut back on the feeding amounts).
I went to Petsmart two weeks ago in search of a limited ingredient food. The previous bag that we tried was Zignature, but reviews here along with neither of my two dogs wanting to eat it (I literally had to put a small bit of shredded cheese on the food to make it appealing) turned me off that brand. I was looking at Nulo’s formulas when an associate wearing a Nulo shirt approached me (of course). She said they have a Salmon based limited ingredient formula. I read the label: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, yellow peas, chickpeas, canola oil, died sweet potatoes… didn’t see any chicken, beef, pork, turkey and gave it a shot.
The bag is almost gone. Both dogs are actually eating it. Stool is ok. I haven’t noticed any excessive drooling that indicated a possible upset stomach. No uptick in eating grass (sometimes they just like to graze). It seems like so far, so good.
However, there were some concerns in reviews that I read. I heard that peas and pea protein are also common allergens. Nulo has two product lines: Freestyle and Medal. Petsmart exclusively sells the Medal series and Freestyle is found online. I asked the rep in the store what the difference was and she said it was name only. The formulas were the same. However, when I went to order from Chewy yesterday (usually cheaper than Petsmart), their Freestyle was almost $20 more than the Medal at Petsmart. It made no sense. I contacted Nulo on their FB page and this was their response:
Thanks for reaching out to us here at Nulo. We appreciate the opportunity to help!
Our FreeStyle Limited+ and MedalSeries L.I.D. recipes are formulated using only one animal protein source and do not include the fruits and vegetables found in our other recipes. The difference between our FreeStyle Limited+ and MedalSeries L.I.D. recipes is simply the inclusion or exclusion of peas – our FreeStyle Limited+ recipes do not include peas or pea fiber.
Is the exclusion of Peas worth the $20 difference? Are fruits and vegetables usually the cause of allergies that they would be omitted in the Limited formulas?
Topic: Benedryl Dosage
My 10 year old American Bulldog mix has food and environmental allergies. Paw licking, face rubbing, excessive drooling…it’s worse in the Spring and Fall but sometimes changes in diet can trigger a few days long reaction. The vet told me to give him 5 1mg Benedryl twice daily when he shows symptoms and if he’s drooling excessively to give him a Pepcid twice daily.
10 Benedryl pills a day seems crazy. I know my dog is large at 120 pounds, but an adult human is only supposed to take 1-2 pills daily. Do dogs process the drug differently? Two pills twice daily has always ceased the licking and rubbing. I’m afraid to give him 5 at a time.
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