Hello. I have been battling my Golden retrievers food allergies for 8 months now. He is 16 months. I am pretty certain it is food because his ears will smell very yeasty and he has reoccurring ear infections, they are almost always red and spotty, especially after he eats, and he is chewing his paws all the time. I have found sores in between his toes in addition to the redness. He also has had a hot spot three different times, and will present with the rash (pustules), but those are less frequent, so must be a specific food that causes those. He wakes me up often some nights whining and he is chewing his paws and rubbing his head on the floor.
He seems to be allergic to EVERYTHING. I have tried countless foods (always the best brands 4-5 stars), even tried raw veggie (black beans, green beans, and quinoa) to try to eliminate environmental. He was STARVING and knocked his sister’s bowl out of my hand eating her food and thus compromising the trial. I understand now that yeast is a big part of it, so should I do high protein/low carb? There is controversy on that subject. I know he is allergic to chicken and beef from early on, just judging by his reaction when I have given him those meats fresh. He became very lethargic, sleeping a lot, and he would get the pustules (you know, those big pimples). First on his stomach/groin, but they moved to below his ears. I do NOT keep him on a food for 8+ weeks if I see a reaction early, like a new outbreak or he is just acting more miserable than usual. I will take him off it rather than watch him suffer for 2-3 months. He has tried every protein except rabbit and perhaps a novelty fish or two. I have run out of foods to try and do not have the money for expensive testing that is unreliable. Unless, someone can give me advice on an exact test and a reasonable price they paid that worked well?? I am told it is just too unreliable, but tests may be my only option now. He seems to be getting worse every day. I do not want to put him on steroids or apoquel for the rest of his life. Goldens already have short life spans without adding possible liver failure to the list of cause of death. My local Pet Club has cut me off from returning food after I have returned 6 bags, so that has greatly added to my stress of not knowing what to do next. I struggle finding foods without certain ingredients (turkey meal, chicken meal, beef, egg/egg protein, potato, rice, etc.), low on carbs, 4/5 star, and a protein he MIGHT be okay to try (again) and under $65. I can’t seem to find LTI rabbit. I just bought Cal. Naturals Lentils and Venison only, and was hopeful, but I got home and checked and it is only 3 stars, AND like 70 bucks. No bueno. So, I will be returning that bag (I am going to Pet Food Depot now, until they too cut me off). Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I am considering the Honest Kitchen grain free base (no fruit or potatoes), but I have no idea what protein to add. Where does one buy the novelty proteins, like raw venison, and is not too pricey?Amy WMember
I spent a year going though that. In hindsight, I wish I would have proceeded more methodically. I would first accept that a nutritious diet can do wonders, but probably not cure what you are dealing with in and of itself. Get your dog comfortable. If that means meds, do it. Then you can begin investigating limited ingredient diets, prescription shampoos, allergy testing, etc. I found it would have been much cheaper and less stressful if I had just seen a vet dermatologist right away. Also, realize it may be months or longer until you get it straightened out. I understand wanting your dog to live a long time without meds, but you don’t want a miserable animal. Patience and a methodical plan will be your best chance to control allergies and costs. I wish there was a simpler way. So many dogs suffer with this problem! Good luck!
My dog has environmental allergies and receives allergen specific immunotherapy with good results. She sees a veterinary dermatologist once a year.
Also, you can use the search engine here to look up “allergies”
Hope this helps:
By Klaus Loft, DVM
Angell Dermatology Service
Anyone who suffers debilitating environmental allergies tied to changing seasons, pet dander or household dust mites knows first-hand the misery of a scratchy throat, itchy eyes or painful rashes.
Not everyone knows, however, that our pets can experience similar allergic reactions — and other very bothersome dermatological issues. But our pets need not suffer in silence. Modern veterinary science has evolved such that advanced, comprehensive treatments are now available to treat a range of skin conditions.
Top pet dermatological issues
Our four-legged friends suffer from some of the same skin issues as we do — and several that we do not. The most common conditions we see at Angell include:
•Parasites, such as mites, fleas and mange (scabies)
•Infectious diseases, such as Staphylococcal pyoderma (“Staph”) skin infections, yeast and fungal infections and skin fold infections
•Systemic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases
•Skin cancer, such as Squamous cell carcinoma, cutaneous lymphoma, Mast cell tumors
•Allergies, such as flea allergy dermatitis, adverse food reactions, environmental allergies, etc.
All of these conditions can become serious and, if untreated, dramatically reduce quality of life. But the tremendous strides made in veterinary innovation, however, is very good news for our pets. Specifically, the testing and treatments for allergies now rivals human healthcare in its sophistication, quality of care and long-term health outcomes.
Unlike humans, dogs and cats cannot tell us about their dermatological health issues. So we as pet owners must look for the signs. The most common indicators that a pet is suffering from some kind of allergy involve frequent episodes of ear infections, red raised or open sores on the skin, constant licking or biting of paws or groin — sometimes causing wounds that will not go away.
Allergies present a particular challenge because there can be hundreds (even thousands) of potential allergens that impact pet health, from foods to pollen from grasses, weeds, trees, dust mites and more. Today’s specialty veterinary hospitals have access to the very latest diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of what’s ailing our pet. Among these tests is the Intra Dermal Test (IDT).
IDT is generally considered the gold standard of testing for identifying allergens that cause pets to suffer from chronic skin and/or ear diseases. IDT involves injections of a series of concentrated allergens into the skin to determine which of them generate allergic reactions in a given animal. The use of fluorescein — a chemical that illuminates the inflammation caused by the injected allergens in order to visualize the strength of individual reactions — is key to accurately diagnosing pet allergies, and is just one of the many ways veterinarians use new technologies to improve care and diagnostics.
The results of IDT (as well as a review of the pet’s medical history) can then inform comprehensive immunotherapy treatments to relieve suffering. Veterinary dermatologists rely on IDT to build customized treatment plans for patients called Allergen Specific Immuno Therapy or “ASIT” for short.
ASIT involves a series of injections specifically created for the allergic animal’s skin. These injections, of diluted allergens, are designed to make a pet less sensitive to their allergens over time. In most cases these injections must be continued for life to reduce symptoms, but they are highly effective. Seventy to 90 percent of pets experience a reduction in symptoms as a result of ASIT treatment. These treatments can be delivered even more easily via droplets under the tongue, perfect for pet owners who are squeamish about giving injections to their pet.
This treatment is very new to the North American field of medicine (both human and veterinary) and underscores just how far innovation in veterinary medicine has come.
When it’s time to see the vet
Many pet owners are understandably concerned about taking their animals to the veterinarian because the cost (to say nothing of the fear some animals experience when going do the doctor) may outweigh any perceived reduction in suffering. To help pet owners know when it’s time to bring Fido to the doctor I’ve compiled my “Top Ten” list of dermatological symptoms that should never be ignored:
•Intense itching of the skin (head shaking, running the face into the carpet, furniture, etc.)
•Biting at the skin that creates red, raw crusting areas of the skin
•Multiple ear infections (head shaking, odor from ears, scratching at the ears with hind legs)
•Paw licking or chewing and frequent infections of the skin in the webbed skin of the paws
•Staining of the fur of the paws and nails on multiple feet
•Reoccurring skin infections in the groin, under the shoulders, perianal areas (on or under the tail)
•Greasy scaling skin and/or fur with odorous skin
•Hair loss, or thinning of the fur
•Dark pigmentation of the skin that is chronically infected
•Sudden depigmentation of skin
Allergies and other dermatological issues can be as frustrating for pet owners and their veterinarians as they can be for pets. I encourage any pet owner whose animal is experiencing any of these symptoms to consult with their veterinarian.
Kristen, I have a Golden who will be 12 in January. We went for about a year battling similar issues to yours – tho not as bad. She was itchy, itchy, ITCHY. The first thing I did that made a HUGE difference was that I made – the first TRUE step in the right direction – was that I switched to VeRUS dog food. When I contact them, I had a great conversation with their VP about the issues we were facing and how to tackle them. She (Krystle) recommended their Opticoat formula which uses a wild-caught fish, doesn’t have gluten, and has complex carbs so the blood sugar doesn’t go up & doesn’t feed the yeast. All of the VeRUS formulas use organic or free range meats. The Opticoat didn’t have a nasty smell – it smells like fresh-caught fish all the way to the bottom of the bag. They also have a nifty freeze-dried live probiotic. (Pretty sure I messed up the order there, but if you go to their website, you can read all about it.) VeRUS will send you free samples & Krystle will email you if you contact them.
Second thing I did was to dust my Golden with FOOD GRADE DE powder to kill the invisible little buggers that were part of her itching problem. I’m still on the first cupful of the DE powder & I’ve been using it for like 6 months. It’s cheap & works really fast.
Third was a product called DERMagic – shampoo, conditioner, lotion.
We now have a beautiful, perfect, non-itchy, non-stinky, non-yeasty Golden who acts HALF her age. She runs, she’s enthusiastic, and she smells really good. And she can’t wait to eat. She loves her food.
VeRUS easily falls into your price range. You can order it & get it delivered on schedule if you go to PetFLow.com. If you’re interested in the protein-to-fat-to-carb ratios, the VeRUS website has all the nutritional info you’ll need (but don’t forget about asking for the free samples).
BTW – VeRUS is only 4 Star here but they have never had a recall in almost 30 years. They are a small company out of the northeast (Maryland, I think). Small company, really nice & helpful people.InkedMarieMember
I have a yeasty dog & after years of going back and forth, the only thing that worked was a raw diet, one with no produce.
Susan, thank you for the info. Interesting. I have DE, but my boy doesn’t really itch his body, just his ears for the most part. There have been times that they both (my younger golden too) seemed to scratch more than normal, but not too much, and I would chalk it up to whatever food they were on at the time or maybe a flea? They both seem good now. The paw chewing and smell from the ears and ear infections seem to be yeast (at least the smell is very telling of yeast, anyway) related so I think I should go in that direction and I will give them a call. Is their food available at the online retailers? I will look it up 🙂
Amy W, thanks for the tips. I wonder if there is anything I can give him to get his system calm again for the short term and then try to regroup.
InkedAMrie, No produce? So, no veggies or fruit?InkedMarieMember
Kristen: he has occasional fruit (berries mainly) but no veggies. My holistic vet thinks the veggies may be his trigger. He get grinds (meat/bone/organ/tripe) plus eggs 2-3x weekly, salmon oil 2-3x weekly and condition specific supplements.
PS: it’s the dog in my avatar: Boone, my almost 11yr old pbgv.
- This reply was modified 3 years ago by InkedMarie.
I spent about a year and a half doing what you are doing right now, with my pitbull. I was switching foods constantly, looking for the lowest carb foods, no potatoes for a while, no grains, high protein. It did absolutely nothing to help him because I had been given very wrong information about why and how yeast forms.
Yeast naturally grows on the dogs skin and when their immune system is healthy, the body regulates the yeast and keeps it under control. The opposite happens when the immune system is weakened, often times because of allergies, but other reasons as well. Though many people will continue to perpetuate the myth that carbs “feed” yeast because they break down into glucose, this is untrue and therefore simply limiting carbs without having an understanding of what is causing the immune system to be suppressed is pointless.
If you believe food is an issue, you will need to conduct a proper elimination diet, which it sounds like you may have attempted at one point though I don’t know what food you used to attempt it. When doing one properly, you will either need to homecook one novel protein and one novel carb for 2 months straight or use the veterinary theraputic diets whos proteins have been hydrolyzed. Hydrolyzation of the proteins breaks them down into their component amino acids making the immune system unable to detect them, thus not causing an immune system response. During this time they of course can not have anything but that diet. No treats, no flavored meds, nothing. An elimination diet is the golden standard for diagnosing food allergies. Those who have told you allergy tests for food allergies are unreliable were correct, they are. Often times yielding false negatives and false positives.
I personally chose the veterinary theraputic diet to do my pitbulls elimination diet (Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein) and he greatly improved, thus telling me food was a component to his allergy issues. He is now eating a fish based, grain inclusive food with almost 50% carbs and is yeast free during the winter months. Unfortunetly when June hits in the south here he does get a little worse again leading me to suspect environmental allergies on top of the food issues. But for that I bathe twice a week in Malaseb shampoo to kill the yeast. I’ve been successful with this regime for 8 months now.
“I wonder if there is anything I can give him to get his system calm again for the short term and then try to regroup”.
This is why the veterinarian will often prescribe steroids (for short periods of time) and other medications. To stop the suffering and prevent infection, until the condition can be diagnosed by a dermatologist and the correct treatment started.
VeRUS can be purchased on line. I order it from PetFlow & get the automatic delivery. I powder my girl’s ears when she gets itchy with the idea that it’ll attack ear mites. You can also put a little (a couple of drops) or olive oil in your dog’s ears to smother ear mites. I tried spraying a vinegar mixture on Emma’s paws, tail area, & ‘arm pits’ when she was seriously yeasty, but she would just lick it off & give me dirty looks. The DERMagic has helped a bunch.
I would not use over the counter meds or apply anything topically to irritated skin unless a veterinarian that has examined the dog advises you to do so. That goes for supplements too.
Many allergens are airborne and are present all year round.
BTW: Environmental allergies get worse with age, not better.
Pitluve, I think both is true about the yeast. At least that is what I have read coming from Vet sources. Combine that with all the reviews I have read where dogs have improved greatly or completely on low-glycemic foods, such as Nutrisca or Zignature. But, I have definitely made a mental note to look into hydrolyzed proteins in the past and I think I did not endup going that route because I could not find much and/or price, but I will for sure be trying it in the near future. I know my dog will have that yeasty smell, but then there are times when he doesn’t but still has the ear issues, ie, scratching, inflammation, throw a rash in there and I don’t think it is JUST yeast. So I do need to determine what other ingredients for certain that he can’t handle. A journal would be helpful, I am just awful at keeping records. I did just order Nutrisca Salmon and chickpea. If it doesn’t work I can add salmon to the list…or chickpeas, or well, who knows! Next will be the hydrolyzed protein. Thank you for your advice!
When it comes to Malassezia yeast which is the yeast that lives on the skin of the dog, different from Candida yeast which lives in the gut, the scientific literature tells us that it is not a carb loving yeast. It is a fat loving yeast. However not dietary fats, oils on the skin kinds of fat.
Yeast is always secondary to immune suppression. Unfortunetly anecdotal evidence is not very reliable and not scientifically accurate. It also can not replace what the literature tells us is the physiology of yeast and how it truly is caused. Hence why my dog can still eat a moderately high carb food with no issue.
Also, the hydrolyzed diets are available through the vet only. You may also want to consider that these issues could have nothing to do with food.
That’s great info on the different types of yeast, and likely why the products from Dermagic work, since they are shampoos and lotions.
I’m convinced my golden ended up with her yeast because of moldy food when I was feeding 4Health.
I know the itchiness in my dogs was a series of factors, not just one thing, therefore, it took more than one thing to stop the scratching!crazy4catsMember
I’ve never heard of moldy food causing yeast. It could certainly cause a dog to get sick though.
I don’t remember where I read it but when I did it was like a light came on. And that food was so nasty that is stunk up my truck for more than a week – and the opened bag was in there for less than a day! Even if the moldy stuff simply made her sick enough to compromise her immune system, it was a significant factor in the overall result.
You’re welcome for the info. That is why I’m so pleased with the results from using the Malaseb shampoo. It’s 2% Chlorhexidine and 2% Miconazole. If you don’t know Chlorhexidine is one of the best antiseptics on the market and one of the most gentle and Miconazole is an excellent antifungal agent which kills the yeast on the skin. It’s been very helpful with controlling my pitbulls yeast during the summer. It’s also wonderful at keeping his skin and coat super soft and no dander.SusanMember
Hi, are you 100% sure its not Environment allergies as well??
My boy has both, he has seasonal allergies worse in the summer months, fine in the winter months as long as he doesn’t eat any foods he’s sensitive too, then he starts to smell real yeasty & itches… When they’re sensitive to certain food they start to itch & smell real yeasty…
Summer is about to start in Australia & I always rotate Patches kibbles Winter he eats limited ingredient kibble, Lamb as the protein & Summer a Fish kibble you, need too increase the Omega 3 in his diet & always read the Omega 3 & 6 on kibble packet or look on their internet page or email the kibble company & ask what is the omega 3 & 6 % Please.
There’s a lot of kibbles that are tooo high in omega 6 & too low in omega 3 causing skin problems, omega 3 should be around 1/2 of what the omega 6 says..
I’m starting to introduce “Holistic Select” Salmon, Anchovy & Sardine Adult/Puppy grain free formula, it’s only 32% carbs or look at “Earthborn Holistic” Coastal Catch it’s 29% carbs & the omega 3 & 6 is balanced properly in both these kibbles.
Raw is the best as it has no carbs, I feed Patch 1 meal cooked, lean pork mince made into rissoles & add sweet potato, this way he’s not eating heaps of dry kibble.
Baths, make sure your bathing weekly too wash off any allergens & pollens & yeast on the skin Malaseb relieves their itch making them heaps more comfortable…
Have you seen a Dermatologist ? & tested to see if ur dog isn’t allergic to dust mites or other allergens around the house.??Amy WMember
Sorry- I haven’t watched the forum for awhile. The Apoquel (I know it’s a little pricey), it did get things under control enough for me to get into a dermatologist (it took months to get in, so if you are considering it, make the call early.)
Keeping my dog on medication was not something I wanted to do long term. The Apoquel felt like a better choice than prednisolone. She is now doing immunotherapy drops through the dermatologist. This is not medication, but specific antigens your dog is allergic to with the goal of making him less allergic, or in some cases, not allergic. It is now starting to show signs (4 months later) and it will be ongoing. We are able to lessen the Apoquel now. I am happy with the result. Bathing my dog with prescription shampoo twice a week, and using ear cleaner and a weekly drop (from my dermatologist) also helped ALOT.
Good luck. It’s a long haul and you have to be patient. Get professional guidance, go slow to rule things out. You are doing a great job. I know you want this figured out “yesterday”:) I just want to help you have realistic expectations. I’m praying for ya!
Hi, Amy W
I see that we are on the same page. Unfortunately, many folks can’t or don’t want to hear us.
They think there is some magical food or supplement that will solve this serious issue. Not even clear if the dog has been diagnosed by a veterinarian?
I am very pleased with the treatment my dog received from a veterinary dermatologist, of course the initial testing is expensive, the maintenance, not so bad. And, if the dog responds to treatment, it’s wonderful!
I reread the OP’s post. I see no mention of a diagnosis or what a veterinarian that has examined the dog has advised? That might be a good place to start (imo).
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