Hi there. I have a pit bull mix thats around a year and a half old. Shes recently started developing some terrible allergy issues. She gets these rashes all over her neck and armpits, gets really bad ear infections, and is constantly itchy and restless.
I was considering switching her to raw, but I just realistically can’t do it (shes a rescue with a ton of behavior issues so the cost for trainers/meds/behaviorist is outrageous). I dont make a lot of money, but I want her to be happy and healthy.
ANYWAYS. Shes on Taste of the Wild for her food. I use their salmon formula. Shes 55lbs.
Are there any suggestions for supplements, probiotics, or anything to add to her food that you think would help? I also would be down to switch her food brand, I just want to make sure its grain free.
Consider seeing a dermatologist for allergy testing (not a mail-in saliva test) for the most accurate results.
PS: In my experience, sprays and OTC stuff, supplements don’t work. You could try a grain-free, potato free food. An elimination diet under the guidance of a vet might help, however if the allergies are environmental, it won’t make much difference, if any.
I’ve had dogs that develop allergies to certain protein in food with similar symptoms. While checking in with your vet is a good idea, especially to take care of the ear infections, I don’t think you have to rush to a dermatologist unless there’s no improvement after doing an elimination diet and/or if you don’t see a change from the switch in food.
You need to make sure ALL treats are grain free as well and it’s best to feed everything using the same protein as the food. So you need to use fish based treats. Limited ingredient diets are good if you don’t get great improvement on the current food. I do use Kefir as a probiotic since it helps control yeast. Good luck!
I didn’t rush to a dermatologist either. I spent a year doing various elimination diets, trying various expensive foods, going back and forth to the regular vet and the emergency vet, prednisone, benadryl, fish oil (which I still give) blah, blah, blah. Oh, I forgot, yes, ear infections, prescription drops…
At one point I had 2 air purifiers and a dehumidifier going at the same time (both went to the Goodwill). Daily baths, special shampoos, etc.
My dog found relief after seeing the specialist. Yes, the initial testing is expensive, but the maintenance isn’t bad at all.
It is an option, and it worked for my dog.
PS: I tried raw too, it made my dog vomit uncontrollably. And the raw beef marrow bones resulted in a blockage that required emergency veterinary care.
Maybe something like The Honest Kitchen’s Minimalist Diets would help out. It’s a dehydrated food, so it doesn’t have all the starch/carbs that you find even in the best of kibbles. I actually like Brave more than their Zeal (I feed 50% dehydrated, and the other meal is kibble with canned) so next time fish is up for rotation, I’ll be trying that
Unfortunately, I was rushed to the dermatologist since my vet had run out of ideas when changing proteins did not help (I was feeding a mixture of canned and kibble). The dermatologist insisted she did not have food issues and that all her itching and problems were environmental. Long story short, between the specialist, tests, and shots it cost me a $1,000 (which was very hard on my limited income) as she continued to get worse. Four months later they decided she did have food issues and put her on prescription food which caused such a severe reaction that she had to go on steroids. After that episode, I decided to try dehydrated food since nothing else had helped. I started feeding Honest Kitchen Kindly which is a base mix and I add my own cooked protein along with probiotics. She started improving before I got 50% into the food transition. Dehydrated will be more expensive to feed a 55lb dog, but it may be worth trying for a few weeks.
BTW, I did do the mail in saliva test a couple of months ago and it came back that she is sensitive to carbohydrates, rather than proteins. This backed up why the prescription food caused such a severe reaction and why just changing proteins prior did not help either. I just wish my vet would have told me to do saliva test rather than sending me to the dermatologist.
Thanks for the input, guys!
I guess I’ll have to reconsider my stance on raw. I would like to find a balance between cheap/easy. Doing it from scratch just isn’t realistic for me timewise, and I can’t afford totally premade frozen meals. Her vet hasn’t pushed for testing yet, just because she is fairly certain its food related, and that we can get to the bottom of it through elimination, or (her suggestion) is to do raw. She said she doesn’t recommend it for every dog but shes known a lot of “itchy pit bulls” that really respond well to it.
In that case it sounds like having a veggie dehydrated base and adding raw meat (or cooked, I guess!) would be the easiest? Is Honest Kitchen the same as Dinovite? the dinovite seems cheaper?
I could probably spend $100 a month on food, MAYBE $200. Its hard to tell just because I’m so broke due to all of her vet issues lately (last month between her vet bill, her behaviorist, tests, anxiety meds, and training I spent over $1000 on her. And I don’t make that much money). But if it saved me money on vet bills it would be worth it.
But anyways, I live in the Bay Area (in Oakland), and I have no idea how much it realistically costs to feed your dog raw (if you use a dehydrated base like Honest Kitchen, OR do it from scratch). The prepackaged stuff is way too outrageous to even consider. Anyone have some base numbers?
Dinovite is just a supplement. I also feed THK base mix, as Cockaliermom mentioned, with fresh cooked meat I buy at the grocery store. It’s a less expensive option to raw. My dogs don’t have allergies to chicken, turkey, beef or pork, so I stock up on what’s on sale & crock pot cook several days worth.
Ugh! I just typed a long response that disappeared. Let’s try it again.
I’ll second Aquariangt’s recommendation for The Honest Kitchen.
I’ll also make a suggestion for raw. Answers. Answers is a fermented raw product. Straight Answers is meat, organ, and bone only. It’s made complete and balanced by adding Answers goat milk. Detailed Answers is complete and balanced. In addition to meat, organ, and bone, it includes veggies, eggs, Montmorillonite, decaffeinated green tea, and anchovy, and sardine oils. I estimate your 55 pound adult dog would eat about 10 ounces per day of Detailed Answers. A two pound carton sells for about $14 where I live. You’d need about 9.5 cartons per month for a total of 300 ounces monthly, which would cost you about $135 per month. My dogs eat less Answers than they do other raw foods, although both have around 60 kcals per ounce. Fermented foods are more nourishing.
For the record, my dogs are currently eating Answers, but they eat a wide variety of foods including, kibble, can, fresh whole foods and raw.
Also, I believe allergy tests are fairly unreliable and the gold standard for determining food intolerances is a well constructed elimination diet. That said, I was shocked at my saliva and hair test results from Glacier Peaks. The test was only $85, which for me was affordable. I had always thought my dog was fish intolerant, but the GP test results said otherwise. I’m happy to report that my dog just polished of a bag of Acana Pacifica, a fish based food, with zero issues whatsoever.
Ugh! DogFoodie, that happened to me the other day! Don’t you hate when that happens!!! Do you like Answers? I haven’t used it yet.
It’s so frustrating!
Yes, I do like Answers. Sam isn’t a big fan of raw, but he actually seems to like this. It’s also actually more affordable than other raws I’ve used as well. I’m feeding less of it then other raws. I’ve got some fermented fish stock thawing right now. I haven’t used that yet, but have used the goat milk and they both love that. Answers is coming out with fermented raw cow’s milk kefir this month!
Hi Brie- Always nice to meet a fellow pitbull owner and first let me just thank you for taking one in with some behavioral issues. They are often euthanized for being aggressive etc.
My male pitbull has some skin issues as well, his mimic seborrhea. He gets patches of oily flakey skin and when the skin falls off it takes his hair with it and the end result is a sore that heals and the cycle is repeated. My vet firmly believes that his skin problems are environment related with possibly a minor food component.
So far I’ve tried a lot of different foods and I’ve used different supplements etc. I haven’t gotten around to going to the dermatologist like my vet recommended, but I’ve seen a vast improvement in his skin condition with the addition of salmon oil to his food. A lot of his hair has grown back and the flakey patches have reduced in number. He eats Fromm Gold Large Breed Adult which is mainly duck and chicken based. He is intolerant to beef, but it seems hes just fine on chicken.
My suggestion is to find a food with a protein and a carb he has never had before (there is no reason not to use grains if he is not intolerant to them. I view all carbs as fillers, but thats just my opinion) and see if there is any improvement. True elimination diets are not always easy or fesiable to do for a lot of people and it also takes getting everyone that comes in contact with the dog on board and monitoring them like a hawk. They can not have ANYTHING but that food.
Pitbulls are more prone to skin issues and I see that your girl is mostly white, which is also a contributing factor. My pit comes from a very bad breeder, who bred these skin problems into the litter. I didn’t know any better about backyard breeders when we got him, but now I feel as if I did rescue him even though most would say I didn’t.
Getting different opinions from different vets is also a good idea. 3 out of 3 vets I saw confirmed my boy was reacting to something in the environment. It might be helpful to talk to more than one vet and see if there is a consensus about the food intolerance.
Best of luck, keep us updated!
Brie, the 7 lb box of Kindly on Chewy is $53.99. If you feed equal base mix and protein, the box would last about a month and I think it would be about 12 oz protein a day – 20 to 25 lbs a month. Hope that gives you a starting point. THK also has their new Marvel which is turkey grain free. It would be around $100 a month to feed.
I have to chime in here… I fear too many people get overly focused on food allergies and forget that we’re talking about an entire living organism. I don’t believe dogs just develop food allergies out of the blue. I believe they have some weakness in their health that allows food allergies to occur. Not to mention that we feed them food their body is not equipped to deal with.
Anyway, don’t forget to think about creating a healthy, holistic animal! There are so many things you can do to help itchy skin besides changing to a different protein kibble. You can read some of the articles on my blog for more ideas.
Glad Dr Tabitha posted!
Hi Brie. I found this really good organic dog food called Dogs for the Earth. They are starch and grain free and owned by a holistic vet whom is also an animal nutritionist. They are extremely nice and very knowledgable. My dog had reoccurring yeast infections and within a month of using this food along with a probiotic that i had to purchase seperately, i have seen no issues in over half a year. so happy. It can be a liitle expensive but they have good ideas of how you can stretch it out.
bill s: I don’t know if it’s just me but I find the website to be confusing….can you post a link to the ingredient list? I saw, I think, 21% protein on one of them; way too low IMO.
Thanks guys! Lots to think about. Its good to know that the swab test isn’t that expensive. Its definitely cheaper than having my vet do it! (they would charge the $60 office visit fee plus the lab fee, which they said was $100. So its good to know theres other options than going through my vet).
I’m going to try the “new protein” thing first. Just to see whats up. My local store has some uncommon protein food with limited ingredients. That should help me start narrowing things down. Shes on salmon now, and although thats an uncommon allergy you just never know!
I found Darwins pre-prepared raw food to actually be fairly cheap considering. If it comes to that.
And thanks, Pitlove! (for the comment about taking her in with issues). Shes stranger aggressive, but a complete love if she knows you and is comfortable. Shes scared of everything, pretty much. Most of my work is trying to come up with a routine she can follow when meeting someone new that lets her get comfortable. Strangers reaching for her is still bad news tho (although why you would reach for a strange dog without asking is beyond me! One guy kept petting her when she was growling, I almost was going to body slam him to get him away “its ok, she’ll back down” uh….no she wont, you might get bit and then I’ll have to deal with my dog having a bite history! ugh). With her skin and ears flaring up it makes it difficult for her to feel comfortable. She was extremely reactive and aggressive for a month, and I took her to the vet and thats when we discovered her terrible ear infection and skin infection. Now that thats treated and shes back to her “cautious, but generally friendly” state I’m doing everything I can to help prevent flare ups. But her skin still looks like its covered in dime-sized flattened domes all over. And I discovered the metal on her collar was causing her neck rash. I definitely got such a wonderful grab bag of issues when I adopted her, shes lucky I love her so darned much 😉
I just wanted to make sure that you understand that the saliva and hair tests are not allergy tests.
PS: Many dogs suffering with these issues end up at shelters or the pound, as people are unwilling, for a variety of reasons, usually financial, to take them to a dermatologist.
Best of luck.
Brie- Sounds like a good idea, let us know if switching proteins helps at all and keep us updated.
I’m sure that once her discomfort goes down she will probably be in better spirits about meeting people (hopefully). I also really can not imagine why some guy would continue petting her when she was growling! WOW! Some people are just dense as can be. In my opinion, while she is in “retraining” and “resocializing” I don’t think for one second that it would be rude to tell someone how to approach her and to back off if shes feeling uncomfortable. The reason I say you should be stern with people is because we all know the stigma pitbulls have. I deal with it, even though my boy is super friendly. I’ve even just mentioned to people that I own a pitbull and they go “is he aggressive?” Depending on where you live, you could face some serious consequences if she were to be provoked enough to bite someone. In parts of Texas, there are shelters like the Houston SPCA that euthanizes any and all pitbull and pit mixes before giving them a chance for adoption. And of course as you know they are banned in some counties and parishes in certain states still. My point being do not hesitate to put someone in their place who is aggravating her before she does.
As for her ears, make sure you are doing regular cleanings with an ear wash. My boy used to get yeast infections and regular ear washings after his bath has eliminated them completely. Also my dog gets the same dime sized domes you’re talking about. I believe its a skin condition called seborrhea, though it has not been diagnosed. I have some of the anti-fungal vet shampoo still, but when I’m out I’m going to give this shampoo a try.
have a look at it and see if it could work for your pup. And also look up seborrhea and see if that matches the discription of her problems. It sounds just like my boy and I think thats what he has.
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