Itching, scratching, chewing, loss of hair, red, inflamed skin; ear infections; dry, flaking skin – these can all be signs of skin problems for dogs. In some cases, the problem is fairly easy to diagnose if your dog has fleas/ticks, for example. Products such as Frontline or Revolution can help keep fleas at bay. These treatments can allow your dog's skin to heal and it should return to normal in a couple of weeks once the fleas are eradicated.
However, there are more serious cases where some dogs develop an allergy towards elements in their food or natural environment. Some dogs also have inhalant allergies. They can have skin problems such as itching and chewing on their skin because they have an allergic reaction to some kind of pollen or allergen that they inhale. These type of allergies are usually harder to combat as it will be difficult to determine the source of the allergen.
Food allergies are not nearly as common as most dog lovers think, but they do occur. They account for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of allergies seen in dogs. So, if your dog is showing the symptoms of an allergy, it might not always be a food allergy. It's a good idea to have your veterinarian check your dog and see if there are other problems causing the reaction before coming to a conclusion. Once other possibilities are ruled out, it will be easier to determine if it's a food allergy.
Food allergies and sensitivities
Dogs with food allergic reactions will portray the same symptoms as other allergies such as itching, scratching, chewing, and loss of hair. However, we do note that some dogs can also have food sensitivities. It is best to understand that food sensitivities are not the same as allergies and they produce different symptoms.
With food sensitivities, your dog may vomit, have an upset stomach, or have diarrhoea. Your dog probably will not itch or scratch and it may not affect his skin and coat. Food sensitivities are more likely to affect your dog's gastrointestinal system. For example, lactose intolerance can affect many dogs due to an increase in milk pasteurisation. Although this is not always true, we have had cases where some dogs have shown tolerance towards pasteurized milk and dairy products. Generally, studies have shown that a dogs' digestive gut lack the enzyme to digest lactose (lactase). This makes them sensitive to dairy products and can lead to a bad bout of diarrhea and other stomach issues. In some severe cases, even a tiny amount of lactose can create a whole strain of problems for your dog. However, you can find alternatives such as this - The Honest Kitchen Pro Bloom, a Goat Milk alternative.
"According to the Journal of American Medicine, “Goat milk is the most complete food known.” It contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, and fatty acids. In fact, the body can digest goat’s milk in 20 minutes. Having fat molecules one-fifth the size of those in cow’s milk makes it easily digestible and tolerable even for dogs with digestive issues." - Dog Naturally Magazine
Choosing the best dog food
If your dog has a food allergy you can work with your veterinarian to identify the exact allergen(s) that are triggering your dog's allergic reactions. This is usually done with a food trial. A food trial typically lasts 12 weeks and consists of feeding your dog a food that consists of one protein and one carbohydrate. No other foods or treats are permitted during this time. Depending on the results, your vet will provide you with a plan of action. Food trials can sometimes take a while to succeed but they will eventually work. You can use options such as limited ingredient diets or hydrolyzed protein foods for the trials. Prescription diets can be very expensive but they are usually made under more exacting conditions than other pet foods.
In some other cases, you may prefer the trial and error method. If you have a good idea of what kind of food might be the cause your dog's problems, this method may work for you. It's usually best to choose foods with fewer ingredients, especially if they have less common protein sources. Some people prefer grain free dog food or even a single protein freeze dried diet for their trials. The benefits of doing this will help you understand your dog better. It will ensure that you are better aware of the do and don'ts for their diets. Look below for our small selection of the different food types.
Single Ingredient Raw:
However, if you plan to use the trial and error method it's important to keep track of the ingredients in the dog foods that you feed your dog. If he has a reaction to a certain food, you should note the reaction and the ingredients in the food. If you do this with each food you try, you may be able to isolate the ingredients which cause your dog problems and learn to avoid them. Be sure to note even minor ingredients such as botanicals and fermentation products that can lead to issues. Any ingredient in a dog food could be the source of your dog's problems! It might not be the main protein or carbohydrate in the food. Remember to always consult your veterinarian if you are unsure of your dog's condition. Some allergic reactions can be life threatening!!
Dry, itchy skin
If your dog has a constant itchy skin, this could be due to the high heat and humidity of our local Singapore weather. The high humidity can cause our dogs to develop rashes and hotspots that can become unbearable and uncomfortable. To combat this problem, we prefer to use shampoos and conditioners that help to soothe your dog's skin and coat. Look below for some of our picks:
ABSOLUTE PLUS COLLOIDAL SILVER - Antiseptic spray that helps promote healing and kills harmful bacteria.
At the same time, you may also choose to add some supplements to aid in healing and recovery. Hoki Fish oil and salmon oil are good choices for these as they are high in omega-3 fatty acid which is very good for promoting good skin and coat. In recent years, many other naturals supplement have become available for our pets. One such other brands - Cranimals. Cranimals is a full range of Organic Cranberry extract that have been developed for both dogs and cats. To combat skin problems, you can choose from Cranimals D-Tox or Gold formula that are high in Anti-oxidant and Micro-Algae (Omega-3). These properties aid your dog's immune system in fighting off bad bacteria, the natural way.
For the most part, choosing the best food for a dog with skin problems depends on identifying the cause of your dog's problem. If your dog does have a food allergy or sensitivity, you will need to avoid foods that he can't eat and choose foods that he can eat. Look for good quality foods with novel proteins. Try to avoid foods that have a million ingredients – the more ingredients a food has, the more likely something might disagree with your dog. And don't be afraid to work with your veterinarian for advice.