Need Help With Dog Food and Feeding Guidelines

Dog Food Advisor Forums Diet and Health Need Help With Dog Food and Feeding Guidelines

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  • #87714 Report Abuse
    Elizabeth A

    This is my first post so I’m hoping I’m posting in the correct area.

    I’m fostering a dog that’s about 26lbs and has severe skin issues. I was feeding him Nutro Ultra which I was feeding my other dogs. He didn’t seem to have too many problems or maybe he did I just didn’t notice at the time because he was dealing with a severe skin infection. I bought the Senior Small Breed food to give him a more tailored food a few days ago and immediately noticed more chewing and itching so I discontinued and today bought some Merrick Limited Ingredient Salmon + Sweet Potato (dry) and canned just to wet his food down a little.

    I’m going to try this food and see if he does better on (he is NOT picky and eats almost anything but all the foods he’s had have been salmon based so we stuck with the Salmon). Has anyone tried it and had good results with Merrick Limited Ingredients diets?

    I don’t know how much to feed him. He should be about 15-17 lbs, though some has said around 13 lbs. I’m just trying to get him below 20. Here’s the guidelines from the bag in the relevant ranges:
    IW Cals Feed (IW=Ideal Weight)
    10lbs 342 1 cup
    15lbs 464 1-1/3 cups
    20lbs 575 1-2/3 cups
    30lbs 780 2-1/4 cups

    I don’t want to starve him so do I feed him for the 20lb guide until he hits 20lbs and then go down from there? Or do I feed him for the end goal weight? He’s always looking for a snack, but I don’t want him to be too hungry or starving. Can someone help with what I should start to try and feed him?


    • This topic was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Elizabeth A.
    • This topic was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Elizabeth A.
    #87717 Report Abuse

    My 20 lb dog gets 1/2 cup (1/4 cup kibble and 1/4 cup topper) twice a day, I add water to the kibble as most dogs don’t drink enough.
    I would start with something like this and see how he does, weigh him once a week.
    Do not free feed. Pick up anything not eaten within 10 minutes, store in the fridg and offer at the next mealtime.
    The guidelines on the dog food packages are usually too much.
    Maybe 1/4 cup kibble as a snack once a day or a bite of something (maybe cooked lean chicken) usually as a reward after a long walk, I try to walk him 2-3 miles per day.
    My dog with environmental allergies does best on Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea kibble.

    Environmental allergies.
    excerpt below from:
    “Food Allergies are probably over-diagnosed in dogs (they account for, perhaps 5-10%). Hypoallergenic diets are occasionally, but not frequently, helpful in canine atopy cases but you should always give them a try. Food intolerances are more common – but considerably more likely to result in digestive disturbances and diarrhea than in itching problems”.

    Mail-in hair and saliva tests do not test for allergies and tend to be inaccurate. Food sensitivities fluctuate. Food allergies are rare.

    It sounds like environmental allergies, I went through this with my dog and did not have good results till I took her to a dermatologist. Wasted a year going back and forth to the regular vet. Tried all kinds of diets, nothing helped.
    She is stable now x 4 years, we see the specialist once a year. They can still have occasional flare-ups even with successful treatment, and it can take up to a year to see results, however I saw improvement right away .

    Consider making an appointment with a dermatologist:

    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.

    #87718 Report Abuse


    Atopic dermatitis is a hypersensitivity or over-reaction to a variety of commonplace and otherwise harmless substances in the environment such as plant pollens, house dust mites or mold spores. Most pets with atopic dermatitis either inhale or absorb their allergens through their skin. Allergy tests are used to identify what a pet is allergic to in their environment.

    There are two types of allergy tests, the intradermal allergy test and blood testing for allergies (serologic allergy testing). In an intradermal allergy test, the fur is clipped on one side of the chest and very small amounts of common allergens are injected into the skin. This test is very precise and is only performed by Veterinary Dermatology services. Because most pets with environmental allergies become exposed to their allergens through their skin, the intradermal allergy test may also best simulate a pet’s natural allergies. In a blood allergy test, a blood sample is obtained and submitted to a laboratory for testing.

    If a pet is diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, there are three methods of therapy. The first method of therapy involves removing the allergen from the pet’s environment. Unfortunately, this is not possible in most cases. The second method of therapy involves the use of anti-itch drugs such as anti-histamines or steroids (cortisone). Some of these anti-itch medications do not work in every pet. Other pets develop side-effects from taking certain anti-itch medications.

    The third method of therapy for atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies) is allergy injections. Other names for allergy injections include desensitization, hyposensitization, allergy vaccine, or allergen-specific immunotherapy. Immunotherapy involves a series of injections of diluted allergens. Over time, these injections make a pet less sensitive to their allergens and thus less allergic. Most pet owners are able to learn how to give the injections at home. When based on the results of intradermal allergy testing, immunotherapy helps manage the allergies in approximately 70-90% of pets. Most pets will respond to immunotherapy within 6-9 months, but some pets will require up to a year of immunotherapy injections before a full benefit can be noted.

    Allergy Diagnosis and Management
    Allergies are a common cause of skin and ear conditions in pets. Dogs and cats with allergies may scratch, chew, lick their paws, rub their face or have recurrent ear infections.

    Three types of allergies are common in dogs and cats: food allergies, flea allergy dermatitis and atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies). We offer:
    •Intradermal and serologic allergy testing for atopic dermatitis
    •On-site, custom immunotherapy formulation for the treatment of atopic dermatitis
    •Custom diet formulation for food allergies with the Angell Nutrition Specialty Service

    Above are excerpts from:

    PS:Have you checked the search engine here for “allergies” This topic comes up at least once a week if not more. The initial testing is expensive (dermatologist) but the maintenance isn’t that bad, I found the treatment AST (allergen-specific immunotherapy) to be effective.

    #87867 Report Abuse
    Elizabeth A

    Thank you for all the posts regarding the allergies. I will definitely look over the links and do some reading. The rescue had recommends feeding grain free for skin issues. Most of his skin issues have cleared up. He had a severe yeast infection and lost a lot of hair and was severely matted and had to be shaved down. His hair is growing back now and we’re giving him some fish oil supplements as well. He has been on occasion chewing or licking his feet/paws. I think that might be our grass and we’ve had another dog who was allergic to the grass and I can attest that it is very itchy for me to walk in it (I have grass allergies).

    Regarding the allergy testing. I don’t think the rescue is going to do that at this point unless it’s recommended by the vet. His allergies are not severe I would say (not like our late dog who had terrible allergies). We just notice a bit of paw chewing/licking.

    Also, we brought the Limited Ingredient back and got the Merrick Lil’ Plates for him since it was 5 stars and the other was 3.5. I started feeding him 5/8 twice a day plus a spoonful of can food just to mix it for him. The can food he’d need 1.25-1.5 cans a day if we fed him entirely canned food so I’m not too worried about the calories in one spoon or two.

    I’m just confused should I feed him to his ultimate goal weight of 15 lbs or should I feed him to 20lbs and when he reaches 20lbs feed him the 15lb guide? And thank you for pointing out the guides are too much on a lot of dog foods. We definitely noticed this with our other dog’s food (Nutro Ultra). We have one that’s overweight by about 1 – 1.5 lbs (small dog–12-13lbs) and we were feeding the guidelines too! I wish they would just put Calories/kcals on the serving size on the bag of food. It’s much easier for me to relate to and then I could find out exactly how many calories she should be eating.

    We’re trying to exercise our foster as much as possible but it’s a little hard with the heat here. Today’s heat index was about 110! He is so overweight and had a lot of breathing trouble (recovering from kennel cough) so we didn’t want to walk him too much. He does like to walk he just can’t go too far. We’ve gone down a few houses each way and he’s huffing and puffing when it’s over.

    #87868 Report Abuse
    Elizabeth A

    Oh and we’re not free feeding. He eats all his food rather quickly and would eat and eat and eat if we left a bowl out all the time. He definitely eats his food within 10 minutes. Every. Last. Crumb. 🙂 We’ve also been giving him Zuke’s treats (they’re about 3 to 3.5 cals per treat). I know with his medicine he was on he got more treats like chicken and cheese, but that’s done now. He needed those so we could hide the medicine in it.

    Are Zuke’s 3 Calorie treat a low amount of calories for a treat? They’re about the only one I’ve seen who puts their Calories on the bag. If not, could you recommend some good, low-calorie treats? I bought some carrots for him, but I’m also asking for my other dogs, one of which is overweight and hates carrots

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Elizabeth A.
    #87870 Report Abuse

    Hi Elizabeth-

    Regarding the weight issue…26lbs to around 15 is a pretty big jump. I would start slow like you said and feed for 20lbs, then re-weigh him to see the progress. Once he hits 20lbs feed for 15. After that you simply would feed to maintain 15 lbs.

    Also I would suggest using this tool, as it takes activity level into account: /dog-feeding-tips/dog-food-calculator/

    I find it to be much more accurate than the bag, though both are still just a guideline.

    Yes, 3 calories is very low for a treat, however it makes a difference how many he’s getting daily. It is easy to assume that you can overfeed a 3 calorie treat and it won’t make much of a difference, but over time it does. Is there any particular reason they need treats? If not, I would eliminate them and reward with pets and praise. Both work just as well as a treat.

    #87881 Report Abuse

    Environmental allergies wax and wane. Maybe this is why the dog was given up?
    If the dog is suffering I would advocate for the dog, ask the vet to recommend to the shelter to have him seen by a specialist (as described in my previous posts). In my opinion, it will be cheaper in the long run. The best part is, the dog may feel and look better and therefore become adoptable.

    Why would he want to walk and move around if he is bothered by pruritus.
    You could try a dome dish to slow down his eating, the rescue may have one you could borrow.

    Above comment is in response to:
    “Regarding the allergy testing. I don’t think the rescue is going to do that at this point unless it’s recommended by the vet. His allergies are not severe I would say (not like our late dog who had terrible allergies). We just notice a bit of paw chewing/licking.”
    “He had a severe yeast infection and lost a lot of hair and was severely matted and had to be shaved down. His hair is growing back now and we’re giving him some fish oil supplements as well. He has been on occasion chewing or licking his feet/paws. I think that might be our grass and we’ve had another dog who was allergic to the grass and I can attest that it is very itchy for me to walk in it (I have grass allergies).”

    #87899 Report Abuse

    What I meant to say was, consider seeing a dermatologist if the skin condition you described has been going on for 1 year/4 seasons, has not responded to treatment by the veterinarian, shown significant periods of improvement, or is severe.
    Hope the dog is feeling better. It is very kind of you to take care of him. Best of luck

    #88542 Report Abuse
    Bonnie G

    Regarding Merrick Ltd Ingredient food – I have fed my 8 1/2 yr old boxer/lab Merrick since he came to us at 6 months of age. He had a very touchy digestive system when we got him & had to try several foods before we got one that agreed with his stomach. He eats Merrick dry chicken & sweet potato supplemented with Merrick 96% Grain Free canned. The vet just this week advised me to put him on a senior version. Hope this helps and good luck with your pup!

    #88543 Report Abuse
    Maria K

    I would stay away from Nutro Ultra. Nutrisca is always a great option. Merrick is a tough brand because not everything they produce is of a good quality. I would avoid their Limited Ingredient lines. Some of their 96% grain free canned formulas are okay. The Lil’ Plates are generally good and so is the Chicken & Sweet Potato dry food someone mentioned earlier.

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