First, thanks in advance for any help.
My wife and I have been struggling to find a good food for our 3 year old lab. He has always been very sensitive to different foods, but in the past two years his allergies (itchy paws, runny eyes, ear infections, anal glands) really seemed to have gotten worse so we’ve tried several different food trials to attempt to find a food that worked for him.
We’ve already tried the following foods with no luck:
Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey & Potato
Wellness Core Whitefish
Wellness Complete Health Whitefish & Sweet Potato
Granted, with a few of these he got significantly worse and we did not finish a full 3-6 month trial, generally quitting after the first bag so I am not opposed to revisiting any food above as we did not know how to properly run a food trial at the time. He is an 85lbs lab, but has maintained a very healthy weight through all of this (he’s very tall).
He has been on the Wellness Complete Health Whitefish & Sweet Potato for about 3-4 months now, supplemented with probiotics and pure pumpkin as his stool was VERY loose.
I just had him in for a checkup at our vet, and they recommended trying out Hill’s Prescription Diet d/d Duck & Potato, or Royal Canin’s Veterinary Vegetarian diet. I am a little hesitant to go with either of these diets, cost set aside. Are there any other food’s you would recommend trying first? Or do you guys think one of the prescription diet is needed?
Again, any help is greatly appreciated!
What you describe sounds like environmental allergies which are more common than food allergies/intolerances. Environmental allergies tend to wax and wane, they get worse as the dog gets older.
I had excellent results after taking my dog to a dermatologist/specialist for skin testing. If the dog is really uncomfortable you may want to start there. I wasted a lot of time going back and forth to the regular vet, trying all kinds of different diets etc
Frequent bathing with Malaseb or GNC Antifungal shampoo for dogs does seem to help in conjunction with other treatments. Nutrisca salmon and chickpea kibble agrees with her the best.
If you go to the home/forums page here and use the search engine to look up allergies, you will find a ton of posts regarding pet owners going through the same thing.
Helpful article below:
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.
Red, environmental allergies definitely are much more common than food “allergies” but not necessarily more common than food intolerances or sensitivities. I have had over 30 dogs in my house and only one had an environmental allergy while MANY had food sensitivities and intolerances. In fact, four of the six currently in my home have a food sensitivity.
Edit — all of those symptoms you site can also been seen with food sensitivities and intolerances. In addition to those, they know that sensitivities and intolerances to a protein called a lectin can actually cause auto immune diseases as well. I had a food sensitivity that went undiagnosed for over 20 years until I found the right doctor – She is an MD and a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and treats holistically and with alternatives. My symptoms were as diverse as white matter brain lesions, temporary but complete vision loss, itching scalp (to the point I would make it bleed while sleeping), arthritic type pains, malnutrition due to villous atrophy (which led to iodine deficiency hypothyroid, b12 anemia and iron anemia as well as all the symptoms associated with those, and other, deficiencies). DON’T underestimate a food sensitivity or intolerance.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Shawna.
I am not a veterinarian. But, I do have a medical background. I am not here to get into a debate with anyone. I am simply sharing my opinion and what has worked and been helpful for my pets.
Hi Alex! Do you remember which food he seemed to do better on? All of the foods listed have potato listed except Zignature. Have you tried any red meat sources? Like bison, lamb or venison? Are there any ingredients that you know he can’t have? That would help a lot figuring out what food to try.
I don’t buy into the whole prescription diets thing. I don’t really see anything in them that you can’t find in non-prescription foods. You just need to know what is “special” about the food and find one that meets the special requirements.
Hi, Alex I feel like a broken down record cause I’m always recommending the “California Natural” limited ingredient kibble, Lamb & Rice…. Looks like you haven’t tried Lamb as a protein, the kibbles you have feed are either fish or duck with sweet potatoes & potatoes, give the “California Natural Lamb & Rice” a go…heaps better then starchy vet diets…..the California Natural Lamb & Rice has just 4 ingredients Lamb, Brown Rice, White Rice & Sunflower Oil…try a kibble with limited ingredients a novel protein & ingredients that you have not feed before…
Most grain free kibbles are more starchy with potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, tapioca, lentils, legumes etc……I found kibbles with just 1 protein & brown/white rice, work best for my itchy boy…stay away from peas, potatoes, tapioca, sweet potatoes, oats & see how he improves, its worth a go & remember less is best with itchy dogs…
also weekly baths, have you tried Malaseb Medicated Shampoo bath every 5-7 days & leave on the paws & skin for 5-10mins then rinse off… after 1 month on new food & weekly baths you will see a big improvement, use the new kibble as a treat as well no treats unless they have the same ingredients.. http://www.californianaturalpet.com/products/1181
Hi- Take a look at Wysong Epigen 90. It is a chicken based food, however it is completely starch free and is suppose to be excellent for dogs who might have a food intolerance. It seems like you have tried mainly fish based foods. If that is not working he might not be able to tolerate fish. You definitely need to try another protein in his diet. If he does not have a chicken allergy I would highly suggest the Wysong Epigen. The food is made by a vet but it is not a prescription, however he does make presciption dehyrated raw food.
They also have a vension forumla that contains “potato protein”. I will also let you know now that one of the ingredients is meat protein isolate. It is nothing to be concerned about and the meat is pork as stated on Dr. Wysong’s website.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Pitlove.
Hello all, I by no means am an expert in vet care or dog allergies/sensitivities, but I do have a similar problem going on with a lab of my own. He is a year and a half old and has had what seems to be food sensitivities. I started out by feeding him Blue Buffalo and since then his stool has been loose. I did research on the brand and found it to be not quite as good as they advertise it to be. That being said however if you are a fan then all the power to you and your dog, but I personally was not satisfied. I then spent hundreds of dollars at the vet trying to get his loose stool figured out and they pushed for Science Diet I/D sensitive stomach. While my dog was on that he seemed to be very itchy and get sores on his belly (they weren’t mites because they did a skin sample and found nothing). After getting fed up with the vet trying to push these really expensive foods at me I went to a local food store and really went into depth researching the different types that were recommended. I went with the Merrick Real Lamb and Sweet Potato and since the switch my pups stool has been significantly better. I know you said you have tried Merrick food before but just wanted to give you my insight on what helped because I was in a similar situation as yourself. Cheers
If I didn’t have my chocolate lab on Apoquel for her environmental allergies she wouldn’t have any paws or ears left. That drug has been a Godsend!
However, I can not find a dog food that doesn’t cause her to have soupy poopy! She was on Nutrisource grain free Lamb…but they started putting flax-seed in it and she is allergic to it. Also, potato, and soy. I have tried California Natral lamb and rice, and Vet’s Choice for sensitive stomachs. Both failed. I tried putting pumpkin in her food…no help. She gets pre and probiotics…no help. I am feeding her boiled chicken and rice, but need her to get more nutrition than she is getting and want her to be on the same dog food as my other lab. She also is a poop eater and this has gotten worse since all this problem. I don’t believe she has parasites (stools just tested before I switched food) and I just think it is food related. Any suggestions would be helpful Also, how long do you recommend trying a new food….how long to transition. Maybe I am going to fast?? Thank you.
Hi Karen, now your dog is eating Chicken & Rice are her poos firm or still cow paddies (sloppy)??
They are frim as long as I don’t give her anything else. If I try to mix dog food in with the chicken and rice (1/4 cup)…the cow pies start again.
Hi Karen, stop adding the food that’s making her poos slop, maybe she has an intolerance to lamb or another ingredient in the Nutrisource or she cant handle the higher fiber in the kibbles, you said pumkin didn’t work… pumkin is high in fiber ….
My boy needs a low fiber diet 3% & under for fiber, so he was put on vet diet Eukanuba Intestinal the fiber is only 1.7% not the Iams intestinal the fiber is 4% & has different ingredients to the Eukanuba Intestinal… I have just started the vet diet “Royal Canine Gastro Intestinal Low Fat” the fat is 7% & the fiber is 1.7% & his poos are very firm, the firmest that I’ve ever had them, I give cooked meal for breakfast & kibble for dinner… I hate vet diets but I can not find a low fat & a low fiber kibble for him in Australia… Have you tried the California Natural Chicken & Rice it has just 5 ingredient maybe she’ll do better on the Chicken & Rice instead of the Lamb & Rice.. If the California Natural Chicken & Rice doesn’t make poos firm then you may have to try a vet diet with lower fiber 1.7% like the Royal Canine Gastro Intestinal Low Fat or the Eukanuba Intestinal & see if her poos firm up, if her poos do firm up you’ll know she does need a lower fiber diet & start cooking for her if you don’t want to feed a vet diet, I found this Low Residue Diet for dogs http://pets.thenest.com/make-own-low-residue-dog-food-12505.html
Susan….thanks for the link! Great site! I haven’t fed her nutrisource dog food for 6 weeks…..they started putting flax seed in it and she is allergic to it. California Natural has flax seed in it except for the lamb and rice one. I am beginning to think she has an intolerance to the lamb so I found a chicken based dog food without flax seed or potato (both allergies and hard to find!). So far, adding it to the cooked chicken and rice is working. I had not thought about a low residue diet so I appreciate your thoughts on this. Would certainly explain why the pumpkin made her worse. Thanks again!
Alex- we also have an itchy lab. We got her allergy tested with a blood test with a local lab that tests specifically for things in our area (desert southwest). Before we had her tested, I went through a bunch of different specialty dog foods (zignature salmon, blue buffalo, origins, etc) that were suggested by people in the store because “most dogs who are allergic will be able to eat these foods, yada yada yada”
Most off-the-shelf grain free dogs foods contain either rice or sweet potato. Many people say to feed a fish-based food. After the blood test we found out she is allergic to everything in the grain free foods, too – as well as all fish mixes!
I found a grain free, potato free food at our feed store called Pulsar by Horizon. It is grain, rice, and potato free, and I get the chicken version because she can eat that. It’s less expensive than most of the others but still more expensive than regular dog food.
I will say that while it has helped, she still suffers with environmental allergies. A cortizone shot from the vet helps when it’s itchy outside.
The blood test was around 300 dollars. we put it off due to the expense, but it’s so nice to be able to refer to that list and see oh yeah, that plant is blooming right now, that’s why she’s itchy, and you can have a better idea of how to help her.
For instance, with the suggestion above to do the lamb and rice diet, or even cooking your own, most recipes suggest rice. That wouldn’t have helped with us because our dog is allergic to rice.
Anyway, just letting you know our experience so that maybe you can avoid some pitfalls.
Good luck and hug your lab for me. 🙂
Labs are an active breed. Generally, these dogs are allergic or sensitive to some foods. Details of these foods are given below:
There are many factors you must keep in mind while choosing puppy food for your Lab. You can also check the sensitivity of your dog towards different foods. For this, you can give new food to your dog in small quantity and check its reaction. If dog showing some digestive problem such as diarrhea, constipation etc.; discontinue the food and try this procedure with another food item.
The environmental allergy article was quite helpful. In particularly the mites/scabies quotient. I hadn’t even considered that as a possible cause to my 8 mo. mixed breeds severe scratching and fur chewing lately.
He’s been on a rotational diet pretty much since we got him as a puppy, and he’s never been in such distress as he has been lately. There hasn’t been any crazy different protein change or unique ingredients, so I’m going to investigate this possibility as I contracted scabies thru my dealings with children in multiple day care centers.
Thank you posting as I never even would have thought of looking into it.
I had many of the same problems first couldn’t have grain then found out mine was allergic to chicken almost all food chicken or not has some chicken in it went from yeasty ears to itchy feet then yeasty skin with hair loss loose stool didn’t think things was ever going to get better many vet visits changing food most you mentioned some problems would get worse finally started him on petco brand probiotics & enzymes tablets & vitamins big thing I switched his food to Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea he’s like a brand new dog no itching yeast is gone hair is almost completely back …. it’s alittle pricy but so was all the vet visits
I wish you luck
Did you check Chewy.com for prices? They carry Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea. I find them to be reasonable in comparison to other places.
I love Chewy I buy almost everything for my dogs from them great prices and I usually have my order within 24 hrs
Hi, our lab has terrible environmental and food allergies. She had diarrhea, itching, scratching biting, etc. We had to do an elimination diet. try one thing for x amt. of weeks and then another until she improved. Natural Balance Duck/potato she could eat but I didn’t care for the ingredients. We found she was allergic to chicken (very common), turkey, beef, eggs, etc. We had her on Canidae Lamb/rice and it was also good, but now we switched to Blue Basics Lamb/potato and that’s working also. These are expensive so if you need the middle of the line food and price tag, Taste of the Wild Lamb is good also. We also found out thru a blood test, that our dog is allergic to grasses, mulberry trees, etc. So, bec of such bad env. allergies, we have her on a prescription med. We’ve tried holistic. Also on fish oil caps.
Have you read all the posts here? Has the dog been to a dermatologist? That would be my next move.
“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”.
I have an approx. 5 1/2 yr old Lab which I rescued and have suffered right along side of him since day one with allergies, it kills me to see my baby so miserable! I have tried every food known for “sensitive stomach” “allergies” ” gluten free” etc I have taken him to the vet and begged them to do an allergy test multiple times only to have my vet tell me it’s a waste of money and not accurate he was on 2 benadryl a day and it didn’t help. Anyway I will spare you EVERYTHING we tried and get to the point… I had wonderful people open a store called pawtopia across the road from where I lived in Oklahoma and I decided to drop in to check them out one day, I got to talking to the husband and wife that ran it and told them of all my problems with rocky and they said have you tried kangaroo? I looked at them like they were nuts and said no, they talked me into trying “Zignature kangaroo formula” food and some whole 100% pumpkin (2 tbs a week) and within a week my rocky was improving, no more hair falling out when I pet him, no more digging at his butt (eww gross I know) no more bright red snout, no more gas, no more itching, red watery eyes!!! My baby was starting to feel great and it showed more and more everyday. I’m still to this day not sure what all he’s allergic to but I have determined he cannot do chicken, turkey, gluten, salmon etc but I found something that he can have and decided to leave well enough alone. I hope this helps someone somewhere out there because I know I was going out of my mind trying to find something for my lab son whom I love dearly and hated seeing him so miserable, I tried every expensive dog food you can name and even tried making everything homemade and nothing has worked like the zignature kangaroo formula along with pumpkin for little treats. Good luck and hope this helps someone!
That is wonderful. I’ll look for that food. Not sure I’ve heard of it here in Nevada or California. Beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, seem to be big culprits. Our eats lamb and rice by Blue Buffalo. Thank you for the info.
Glad you found something that works for your dog. I just wanted to make a note that your vet saved you a lot of money by advising against blood testing for food allergies. It IS in fact very inreliable.
If you ever find that the Kangaroo diet is not working, the golden standard of testing for food allergies is a proper elimination diet with either a homecooked diet with a novel protein and carb (one of each only) or a presciption veterinary diet in which the protein has been hydrolyzed. Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein would be the best one to use as it outpreformed Science Diet in effectiveness when feed trialed. They can eat that food and only that food for 2-3 months, no treats, table food, nothing. It’s tough to do but so worth it! We did that for our pitbull who has food sensitivities.
Hope your lab has continued success with Zignature!
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