Does your dog scratch a lot, nibble at their paws, have bad teeth and bad breath, small bumps, and lumps on the skin, bad wind, smelly anal gland, frequent problems eliminating from bowels or even worse have seizures and fits? What could they have in common?
Food allergy.  More and more frequently I am given dogs to care for with many of the above issues. And it breaks my heart.
I have just been caring for an 11-yr old poodle. He’d been with his elderly owner for 4 years and she fed him a dry dog food made by a large commercial company whose main product is confectionery. His ‘treats’ (replace that word with ‘poison’) were dental chews and others made by (insert popular dog food company) all containing cereals, sugars, and ingredients you’ll never have heard of. Easily available from most food shop shelves and inexpensive with very little of any food value – the colorants alone would make your hair stand on end – but worse was the sugar content. Most name brand cat food is also processed junk.
This sad little fellow (who I became hugely fond of), had 14 teeth removed and bit his paws. Had ears that were inflamed and red, clogged with foul-smelling wax, scratched his mouth and nose, and shook his head. He had lumps on his body – one of which his owner said had been biopsied with cancer, but she hadn’t dealt with it because of the cost. (He was not insured.)
I immediately changed his food. Bought fresh meat, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, plain kefir, cheese and a hypoallergenic kibble with a list of about 8 ingredients minimum 60% meat content as well as Fish4dogs kibble. Again simply fish and potato variety of proteins being important. This boy was having mainly home-cooked from here on.
I needed to discover though whether his body preferred feather, fur, fin or hide (poultry,duck, turkey/beef, lamb, buffalo or pork). The poops will tell you which is working well for your pet’s digestion as well as their own preference.
I also took him to the vets with his owner’s permission to ensure he didn’t need any of his remaining teeth removed. Their diagnosis was, fortunately – allergy and prescribed him Apoquel (allergy pill) twice a day.
Two weeks later, I handed back a different Poodle. Vibrant. No more attacking himself.  His breath was fragrant and he was playful, with better breathing and stamina …an ideal example of how feeding the correct foods can be the difference of a sentence of misery for your loved pet or a  joyful healthier life in the role of a wonderful companion.
Read ingredients on everything. No sugar, cereals, oats, pea protein, maize, sucrose, dextrose, colorants, preservatives. Keep the list of ingredients short as possible and try to home-cook their food. A constant diet of processed food leads to a miserable dog…and owner!

About The Author

Julia C Parsons, mother of two living in the UK, has come late to life as a dog person although she owned her own 3 dogs for 16 years. Having begun a new career as a successful home dog boarder 5 years ago to help cover the costs of her empty nest home, she realised how much misinformation there was generally about understanding dog behaviour, their food and nutritional needs as well as the many conflict of interests of the veterinary profession, that may be shortening and not enhancing a dog’s life. Feeling a strong, instinctive empathy with our four-legged friends, she wants to do what she can to be their voice and dispel the many myths surrounding our special companions. @theuksdogblogger

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