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Major food allergies

April 25th, 2010, 12:07 PM
My 2-year old, 70-lb mixed breed (shelter dog, we've had him for 1 year) has major food allergies. First it was wheat, oats (grains), egg, chicken, turkey. Then he began reacting to beef. We've been feeding him pork and potatoes (cooked, homemade) and vegetables, and he just broke out again in bacterial and yeast skin infections. That might be because he likes to grab cat droppings (neighbors' cats, our yard), but none of that in 3 days -- so jury is still out on pork.
My other allergy dog was a vegetarian (as am I), it was the only food she could tolerate and would eat. Can't do that with this guy, his tummy won't tolerate all the fiber and carbs. Giving him a lot of "exotic" meat (stuff you can't easily get in smaller-town Iowa -- rabbit, venison, mutton or lamb) is worrisomely expensive. Spending more on the dog's food than ours is not an option. Raw is one option I have read about for allergy dogs, but I am extremely skeptical and have very little real info. for dogs with so many allergies. It's one thing to say, "raw meats are less allergenic" and another thing to hold your breath, feed your dog something he may be allergic to, and then maybe spend the next 10 days in the tub with him, spraying on skin medicine in between, cramming down the antihistamines and steroids if the rash and infections won't stop and he is scratching himself raw and feeling miserable.
Any ideas? This is a difficult situation, he seems to be developing allergy to different meats within a few months. I know lots of people very pro-raw food and that's super if it works for you. It would be super if it worked for us too, but right now what I really would like to know if anyone else has dealt with this sort of situation. Is it practical or even possible when you don't have easy or affordable access to less-than-ordinary meats?

Beg pardon, I did carry on. I am so frustrated and a little worried.

April 25th, 2010, 12:57 PM
I have been lucky so far to avoid the allergy bug with my pets. But I was wondering if you knew or could find some hunters for venison or someone who raised rabbits for food in your area. If you can they may be willing to make a deal with you for a good price. Hopefully you can find something that will help your pup. I can see you said you were a vegetarian. I suppose that maybe isn't a good option for you?
As for finding presents from kitties in your yard - could you explain your situation to your neighbours. Maybe they would be willing to keep their cats indoors (unlikely :wall:) or at least watch to keep them out of your yard. One thing you may want to try is to (don't laugh) pee in a cup and spread it in the areas the cats leave their droppings. Most cats don't like the smell of human urine and will avoid that area.

April 25th, 2010, 04:05 PM
I'm sorry you're having such a difficult go of it, WarrenIA! :( Have you had any tests done to rule out things like IBD or other auto-immune disease?

April 25th, 2010, 09:26 PM
Two of my shelties were very itchy dogs, scratching raw spots in their coats and a friend told me to put them on 3 oils. Cold pressed flaxseed oil, cold pressed safflower oil and I think the third was Evening Primrose. I don't use the last one, instead I included a fish oil capsule and Apple Cider vinegar. One dog had to go off rice and have potato instead, but no more itches now at all. Oh, that dog was bathed and given a couple of vinegar rinses, just white vinegar, and that cooled him down a bit and gave him a beautiful shiny coat.

April 25th, 2010, 11:36 PM
Welcome to, WarrenIA :).

I would have the same questions as Hazelrunpack. In addition, has your vet done a skin scraping yet (eg. is vet positive it's bacterial and yeast infections)? Has the vet ruled out any sort of mange? What meds exactly are you giving your dog? Has he been fully de-wormed since leaving the shelter (fecal samples tested)? Any signs of fleas?

If the poor boy is scratching himself raw, please don't rinse or apply vinegar to his's going to burn immensely.

April 26th, 2010, 06:47 AM
If the poor boy is scratching himself raw, please don't rinse or apply vinegar to his's going to burn immensely.

I thought that too when it was suggested, but no reaction from the dog, Mattie, at all. Strange, huh?

April 26th, 2010, 10:20 AM
Dog has been pretty thoroughly checked with vet and we have been through a bunch of different homemade diets, now stuck with "limited ingredient" kibble because I can't get deer meat (hunting season is over and it's illegal to sell what you kill. Farm-raised elk, deer, rabbit etc. all cost over $3 a pound, some much more than that). We have been through skin scrapings, fecal tests, thyroid tests, antibiotics, allergy tests, steroids, 3 different vets, 5 or 6 shampoos, have 2 skin medicines which work well. I am scraping the barrel here.

What I would like to know is: has anyone reading this used a raw diet successfully in a severe, chronic allergy dog? Not just a few hot spots, but body-wide rashes and skin infections (including ear) as a result of food and any other allergy?

April 26th, 2010, 12:27 PM
So sorry for all that your going through. I never solved our mystery either. Food and common allergens where ruled out. Did a biopsy, parasite treatments, thyroid, shampoos, you. I did try raw for about 8 weeks. She didn't do well. I'm thinking that "auto immune" thing that I keep hearing about.

April 26th, 2010, 03:40 PM
Hi Warren,

I can relate to what your going through. My dog Furby has fairly severe allergies... I did an allergy panel on him a few weeks ago and he is allergic to three food allergens (beef - incl. bison, chicken, and rice), and about ten environmental allergens. Oi! :yell:

I switched to raw about 5-6 months ago and it has helped tremendously. Almost instantly, his chronic ear infections disappeared. Like you I have tried shampoos, sprays, vet food, steroids etc. with no luck.

I was feeding him mainly novel proteins (i.e. bison, rabbit, deer, duck etc), with a fair bit of luck. Now that I know for certain what he is allergic to I have cut out the bison and am sticking to what I know for a fact he is not allergic to: lamb, rabbit, turkey etc. based on the panel results.

Have you heard of the allergy med called Atopica? I have not used it, and would like to hear other's experiences with it (I have a thread posted right now hoping to get some feedback), but apparently it is supposed to work quite well, although I think it is fairly expensive. Might be worth talking about with your vet. It's not a steroid, which is a plus.

I am still working on combating Furby's environmental allergies. I know the lab I had the panel done at, will create specific injections for what he is allergic to that will desensitize him over time to what he is allergic to (like a vaccine for humans). It costs about $20/month. Have you looked into something like this for your pup?

Best of luck. Feel free to PM me if you have any more Q's. I have become quite the allergy know all with my pup haha!

April 26th, 2010, 08:23 PM
Thanks for the help. I'm not sure I can PM you, so I'll post here. We had an allergy test (ELISA blood test, although we do have access to more expensive skin testing) which came back only mildly positive for dust mites. I spoke with a neighbor who had a similar experience. The company who manufactures the tests is going to re-test during his worst season (late summer) for us hoping to get better results so we can give him allergy shots if possible. Dust mites can be controlled with cleaning and various products to render their "leavings" denatured. We talked about Atopica with his vet, but he's young and it's expensive and has some scary side effects. His worst problem seems to be foods, as far as I know.
We find some foods we can feed him, and then after a month or 2, he's breaking out in itch and rash and infection again, and tummy upsets.
First we used no meat for him, but it was too much fiber. Then we tried eggs -- allergic. Chicken and turkey -- allergic. No grains, even rice must be limited. He eats potatoes, but they don't completely agree with him. We've been giving him pork now. Allergic? Maybe. Or maybe it was the cat poop. I don't know how to stop the "allergic march" for him.

What kind of test did you have for your dog? Skin test, blood test (RAST or ELISA)? Was he having a lot of allergy symptoms when you had the test done? Kudos to you for going ahead with the shots. I hope they are successful!
Thanks WMS

April 27th, 2010, 09:31 AM
We did blood panel too with no found allergies, that is worse cause we have not resolved her itching issues at all. We tried Atopica, it could work well but she had the nausea and vomited all the time. Tried with anti nausea meds and it still made her sick. Very expensive but apparently works well. Raw food did not work with my dog either.

April 28th, 2010, 10:59 AM
My male dane Havoc has some pretty bad allergies...we have not done the allergies tests yet but when I finally settle on a vet that will not condemn me for feeding raw I plan on looking into it. We are pretty sure he is allergic to grass....yup thats right...grass...ugh!! We also know that he has food allergies...and were pretty sure that one of them was chicken just by what we fed and things we noticed. We ended up trying several different kibbles and some made things better and some made things worse but none made enough of a difference for us. We finally caved and put him on a vet kibble that our vet recommended to start a food trail with. Now I do have to say that things did get alot better...he stopped itching so much, redness all over his body was gone, no more crazy constant ear infections and no more red itchy paws. BUT it was an iams vet diet..yuck...and was costing me $89 every 2 weeks and that was just to feed Havoc (i have 3 dogs). So I started to look into the raw diet and spoke with alot of fellow dane owners from another board I belong to and changed his diet. He is now doing really well...he is getting itchy again but we are in spring coming onto summer so we expect that since everything is starting to bloom and he is on benadryl to help him with the grass allergy. We even tried him on raw chicken and did not get a reaction from him. Alot of raw feeders I spoke with said that they have heard cooking meats changes it and can cause allergies that raw meats don' we tried the chicken and no reaction at all. I was shocked but happy. :thumbs up
I do not want to put my boy on steroids due to how hard it is on their ex vet said "better to have them for a short time and happy than a long time and miserable" ugh I already have him for a short time...he is a great dane lady 7-10 years...can we try other things first!!
But anywho...I really love the raw diet and what it has done for Havoc and he seems happier and healthier than ever!!

April 28th, 2010, 06:03 PM

The allergy test I had done was through a lab in Calgary. My vet took a serum sample (obtained from a blood sample 1-2 mLs), and sent it off to Calgary. They tested about 20 different foods (turkey, beef, chicken, rice, wheat, etc.) and about 60 different environmental allergens (they were broken down into weeds, trees, etc - they even tested for human/dog/cat/horse dander/hair :laughing: imagine if he was allergic to himself!).

It costs me approx. $200.

I have never heard of any bad side effects with Atopica... I'd be curious to hear what you have heard. I haven't decided if I will go with the injections or Atopica yet, but would love to hear what you know about it.

My dog chronically has terrible allergy symptoms. They aren't as bad as some I've heard, but the typical: itching, licking, scratching at his head etc. Around his armpits, paws, and genitals are very red from where he licks himself.

Did the allergy test you have done not test for food allergens as well? I'd be surprised if all he is allergic to is dust mites - sounds like he defiantly has food allergies.

I would look into getting an entire allergy panel done, both food and environmental. For me it has been a great help just knowing what foods I for sure need to avoid. The test I had done also rated it as HP (high positive) or LP (low positive), so I knew the severity of the allergy.

Good luck!

April 28th, 2010, 06:39 PM
This is an earlier thread re: Atopica which is worth a read.

April 28th, 2010, 08:28 PM
Since you seem to have completed a full range of tests, I am going to focus on the food aspect!

My 2-year old, 70-lb mixed breed (shelter dog, we've had him for 1 year) has major food allergies. First it was wheat, oats (grains), egg, chicken, turkey. Then he began reacting to beef. We've been feeding him pork and potatoes (cooked, homemade) and vegetables, and he just broke out again in bacterial and yeast skin infections. That might be because he likes to grab cat droppings (neighbors' cats, our yard), but none of that in 3 days -- so jury is still out on pork.

You list 4 protein sources here and 2 grains (plus the rice in a different post)... Did you try EACH of these separately or did they all happen to be in the same food? Have you always homecooked or did you feed commercial kibble? If you could list the brands that you have tried, that would be helpful...If you have tried numerous kibbles, are you sure that there were no other common ingredients, ie: flaxseed, beet pulp, poultry fat, rosemary, fish oil etc..... Sometimes, even if we are changing up the proteins, there are still other common ingredients that could be responsible for this type of inflammatory reaction.
Have all treats been eliminated?
Have you tried hydrolyzed protein diets?

Also, it would help to make sure that it is 100% food allergies... I had a friend who went through almost every food imaginable over 18 months until we finally clued in to what was really causing the allergic reaction... A glade plug-in!!!! I find that cedar dog beds are problamatic, as are household cleaners and bounce sheets. Her dog was on anti-inflammatories and had patchy hair loss - especially on her legs, shoulder and stomach.
Another friend figured out that it was the ear cleaner she used on her dog... Her dog would scratch her ear and then lick her paws and start getting interdigital cysts a day later!

First we used no meat for him, but it was too much fiber. Then we tried eggs -- allergic. Chicken and turkey -- allergic. No grains, even rice must be limited. He eats potatoes, but they don't completely agree with him. We've been giving him pork now. Allergic? Maybe.

Aside from scratching, hair loss and skin infections... Does he have any other reaction like gas or loose stools?

Perhaps you could try formulating a recipe that uses millet or quinoa as the base grain and then a novel protein source. I wouldn't worry too much about it being balance AT FIRST, I would just get him on something that works and then build from their until you can figure out what is causing the inflammatory reaction. It could be something as small as a preservative in the food or something completely unrelated to what you are doing (ie: neighbours slipping the dog treats through the fence!)

Or maybe it was the cat poop. I don't know how to stop the "allergic march" for him.

Scavenging can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when you are trying to do an elimination diet. My dog wears a basket muzzle when off-leash so he cannot ingest anything that he isn't suppose to.

I have a few friends who have gone through this type of severe allergic reaction.
One did well on hydrolyzed protein - although he never completely stopped scratching but the hair loss did resolve itself.
Another like you mention has to change his dogs food every 2 months, its like clockwork.... He has to buy a new grain free food each time but has been able to cycle through 5 of them. Most are kibble be he does switch to a dehydrated food as well.
A lady from my vet clinic actually had a severely yeasty dog - he was literally excreting pus from every possible point of exit... He went on a grain free lamb diet and with a round of antibiotics/inflammatories he was able to start his new food as healthy as possible. He hasn't had any other reaction so far, its been about 4 months!
Another dog, who was actually a surrended dog in a rescue had to be relocated to a different climate... They did focus on food allergies for months but eventually the tests revealed that is was a mostly environmental problem (because the dog had some food allergies, it was a difficult diagnosis!)

With regards to raw diets... I frankly don't think you have anything to lose... Sometimes the allergy can be to how PROCESSED the food is (ie kibble is heated at a high temp, extruded, no moisture and sprayed with fat for taste).... I wouldn't be opposed to raw, especially since it would eliminate all grains and most veggies/herbs/botanicals and the vitamin/mineral premixes that are in all kibbles.
If you are uncomfortable with raw, perhaps ZiwiPeak is one to try...Its air dried, so not a kibble - almost like a jery. It has a high organ content and is potato/grain free.
There's also a dehydrated food on the market by Artisan that uses lamb which might be one to look into... Its grain free and I am pretty sure there's no dairy!

Have you tried prebiotics? I have heard good things about florentero and prozyme (even with dogs who are allergic to soy/dairy).... They are especially important for dogs on any kind of meds or those with allergies as good gut bacteria is stripped away by stress, inflammation and of course meds!

Good luck, you'll have to let us know what works!

April 29th, 2010, 03:58 PM
Thanks for posting the thread MMM on Atopica.

There seem to be pretty mixed reviews by users though. Some say it worked wonders, others had alot of problems with the side effects. Every dog will react differently, so I suppose I won't know how Furby will react to it until I try it.

I talked to my vet yesterday about Atopica. She recommended it over the injections from the lab I had the allergy panel done at. Said it would cost around $2 a pill. So if I started him out on 1 a day and then eventually worked it down to a maintenance level, it may not be too expensive in the long run given that he is a small dog.

April 30th, 2010, 10:59 AM
The test that you had done tested both food and environmental and was aprox $200? What was it called? The vet that I was going to told me that the only way she could test was to knock Havoc out and actually do an allergy text like they would on a person and that was gonna be around $400. I would love to get one done that just involves taking blood.

April 30th, 2010, 09:58 PM

I do not have the info with me now, but it was done by BOA labs in Calgary. My vet (in Fort Mac) took a serum sample (from blood) and sent it to them. They took the sample from my pup when he was knocked out for dental work, but he didn't need to be, as the sample only had to be 1-2 mLs in quantity. Within a week or so, the lab faxed back the results to my vet who called me over the phone and we discussed possible treatment. She then mailed me the results and I was quite impressed... they tested for ALOT of different allergens, and also included a list of appropriate dry and canned foods that I could feed my pup given his food allergies (most was vet food - blah, but some was decent i.e. Evo, Orijen etc.)They tested approx 20 food allergens and about 60 environmental.

The lab was also very helpful - I called them afterwards for more information, questions, etc. and they were very happy to answer them and very honest about realistic expectations from the injections that they offer. The lab even paid to have the sample shipped from Fort Mac to Calgary.

Once I am back in Lethbridge on Monday I can post their address and phone # for you.

My vet did not charge me to take the serum sample (but I was already having dental work done on two dogs, LOL!). BOA labs quoted me $199.50 for the test, I gave them my credit card, and that's what they charged on it. Your vet may charge you to take the blood sample, but it really should not be that expensive as its quite quick.

BOA labs recommended avoiding foods containing allergens and for the enviro allergies doing initial treatment for $200 (series of frequent injections) and then go to a maintenance plan (for approx $20/month). Based on the allergy panel results, they create a specific injection with what your pup is allergic to to desensitize the dog over time to the enviro allergens, as they can't really be controlled (for example, my dog is allergic to most weeds and grasses, LOL!). The nice thing is, if you are comfortable doing the injections yourself, you can do them right at your home. They are honest with you though, and tell you it can take up to six months or longer before you will notice a huge improvement.