Let's Talk About Allergies
My Dog Has Itchy Skin!
Itchy skin is one of the most common complaints of pet owners but the reasons for itchy skin can be numerous.
I think it is important to understand the difference between food allergies and food intolerance. A food intolerance will often cause a digestive 'upset' of some sort. A food allergy, on the other hand, causes an immune reaction when the offending substance is introduced.
Randy Wysong DVM writes: "Allergy is a breakdown in the immune system as a result of years of improper feeding and care. Anyone who is feeding singular diets day in and day out is inviting allergic disaster. Animals naturally crave and need variety just as humans do. Food allergy may in fact be a mechanism in the body to attempt to force us to eat different foods. Variety is not only the spice of life - it is fundamental to health."
Albert Townshend DVM writes: "Food allergy is rare; other causes of GI and/or dematologic sign are more common and some may also respond (for nonallergeric reasons) to dietary manipulation. There are two types of unpleasant reactions to food. The first is an immunologic reaction (a true food allergy). The second is a nonimmunologic reaction (what is termed a food intolerance). Food intolerance are much more common. Allergic reactions do occur to corn, however, depending on the research cited, corn is not thought to be a very common allergen. At least not as high on the list as soybeans, beef, wheat, eggs or dairy products. Even rice has been found to cause allergic reactions in a rare few animals."
Which Way To Turn
There is much myth and misinformation on the Internet regarding this topic of allergies and its relationship to food stuffs. The internet is a tool to quickly disseminate information to a large portion of the general population. And with this capability, there is truthful information circulated, as well as the "intentional" distribution of misinformation or propaganda used in new marketing techniques.
Sometimes these tactics are done to try and dissuade the public from the use of a competitors product or to gain momentum for a particular cause. In short, the internet is the new venue for propaganda and it is often difficult for the average user to sort out the truth from the myth. One example of propaganda is the myth that corn causes allergies in dogs.
First, corn is one of the best natural sources of coat and skin conditioners like Omega 6. It has an overall digestibility is 90% and carbohydrate digestibility is 99%. In the instance of Eagle Dog Foods use of whole corn, Eagle grinds whole corn fresh for their products and they do not use any genetically engineered corn. It is bought from local farmers and no pesticides are applied from the day the seed is planted until the corn is picked. High quality whole corn is an excellent carbohydrate that is "used" as a carbohydrate source, not counted as protein source and it is not listed first on the ingredient panel. The fact is, legitimate research shows whole corn, to be considered very low on the list of foods that cause allergic reactions.
Before jumping on the bandwagon against corn used as a carbohydrate in a diet, you need to understand there is one cause for allergic reactions and that is a problem with an immune system. But there are many triggers for an "allergic type" reaction, some include: Genetic predisposition for Inhalant Atopic Dermatitis, Contact Dermatitis, Vaccines reactions (Purdue Study- Vaccine Mediated Responses), Candida Albicans (see Systemic Yeast Infections), Flea bite or Insect bite Determatitis, Thyroid and/or Hormones and in rare cases, food allergies.
It is my experience working with many owners and breeders, that the majority of the times when they think the dog has a food allergy and they try a shift in diet, the dog drastically improves. Systemic Yeast infections are also responsible for similar reactions such as shedding, itchy skin, hotspots, redness between the toes, constant ear infections, yeast infections, urinary tract infections only to name a few.
In the majority of these cases, owners can remedy the situation simply by switching the diet (Blackwatch Feed Program, adding dietary enzymes (Nzymes) to the diet and eliminating environmental factors (detergents, Lysol sprays, carpet sprinkle products. lawn sprays. etc).
What are Dietary Enzymes?
Enzyme rich anti-oxidants are the "living" elements of foods that must be supplied to the body on a daily basis. Think of them as a "filtering" system for the body. If I am using a processed food, which I do, I have to make sure I put these back into my dog and my personal diet on a daily basis, otherwise I compromise the immune system and will "appear" to develop an allergic reaction to some food.
Therefore, a "response" is a bodies way of saying I am wearing out and I need "living" antioxidant enzymes in my body to help my immune system filter out the toxins that it processes every day.
If the immune system is boosted and at optimum level, then allergies often subside over time. For example I was plagued with hayfever my whole life, until I supplied my system with the proper things "living antioxidant enzymes missing in today's modern diets, this helped my body's defenses to be able to repair itself. I no longer have ANY hay fever after years of misery, in 3 months on dietary enzymes my body was cleansed and they brought me total relief.
A Word About Contact Allergies
Sometimes what appears to be a food allergy is actually a contact allergy. Some of the things that cause allergies are carpet products (sprinkle kind), like Carpet Fresh. I know of a breeder who spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out what was wrong with their show dog. They had this dog back and forth to Purdue with no results. Then one day I the owner and he told me of their problems with this dog and how his show career was over because of his skin problem. I knew he was on a very good diet so I figured something else was going on. So I asked the owner "do you use Carpet Fresh?".......he replied, "Oh yes, 2 -3 times a week, we have two males in the house". I said, "Well, sir more than likely that is your problem, you will need to have your carpets professionally cleaned to have the stuff remove and the dog will be fine." I ran into them weeks later and he was glad to report once they cleaned the carpets and bathed the dog, the skin the problem went away.
If you think you have to use something on your carpet just use baking soda. Tide detergent, as well as other detergents can be a very big problem if used on dog bedding. Just wash bedding in bleach no soap and NO softeners which can trigger respiratory reactions in young animals and children in particular
Any aerosol sprays, like air freshener and especially Lysol and other
kinds of disinfectants. Do not use them. Yard, flower, bug sprays
and sprayed fields in agricultural areas
all of these things
can cause serious contact allergy reactions. And lastly, swimming
pools with chemicals/chlorine can also be a serious problem for skin
Suggestion For Food or Contact Allergies
On The Inside:
On The Outside:
Skin condition: Mist or wipe the spots with a solution of Oxy-Drops (1 teaspoon + 1 cup distilled water). 2-3 times a day until the condition subsides. (877-816-6500). Never use Oxy-Drops full strength.
1. Text Book of Internal Medicine: by Ettinger and Feldman, 5th edition, Saunders & Co., 2000.