Is your dog licking, itching or biting themself? Itchy, sensitive skin and allergies are one of the problems that seems to be really bothering lots of our pets and it can be caused by either an allergic reaction, dry skin or parasites.
The most common cause of itchy skin in dogs is allergies. The major categories are food allergies or environmental (grass, trees, pollen, dust) allergies. Whilst allergies can occur at any age, they are more common in dogs over the age of twelve months. Dogs who suffer with allergic reactions tend to bite their paws, scratch their ears and their groin - whilst dogs with a skin infection can be itchy anywhere. Itchy skin can be caused by a long list of allergens and finding the allergen that is triggering the problem can be irritating in itself. Allergy tests aren’t always conclusive and can cost a small fortune, so the best way to find out what is causing the problem is to remove as many potential allergens as possible from your dog’s diet and lifestyle - then slowly start to re-add them back one by one until you find the culprit.
The most common causes of skin conditions in dogs is sensitivity to food and many reasons dogs have itchy skin can be down to the food they are eating and the ingredients within them. Ingredients such as; wheat, beef, chicken, turkey and maize are the most common causes of allergies. The majority of skin allergies can be treated naturally with most allergies being controlled by improving the quality of your dog’s diet. Recognising intolerance to ingredients in the diet can be difficult for pet owners as recurring signs are often passed off as irritable bowel disease, ear infections, eczema, dermatitis, vomiting and diarrhoea bugs. If any of the above symptoms keep reoccurring, despite treatment at the vets, then the diet should be closely looked at.
Indicators your dog may have a food allergy:
• Red, Inflamed or Irritated Skin
• Bad Smell
• Hair Loss
• Extremely Dry Skin
• Small Bumps
We would always recommend in the first instance to change the diet to something that is completely different to what has been fed before. If you have always fed a grain-based diet, then we would recommend going grain free. Always use either a single protein source, or even a novel protein source, which is something your dog has never tried in the past. Our grain-free dog foods are made without any wheat, corn or grains, all of which are ingredients that can be linked with food allergies -which is why we use potato as a carbohydrate in our sensitive range.
Feeding our Salmon and Potato food from our sensitive range means that your dog is getting a healthy source of protein in their diet and can help your itchy dog, as dogs with food allergies can be allergic to the more common proteins such as; chicken, lamb, pork or beef. As fish is high in Omega 3 acids, this can decrease inflammation in the skin and increase skin hydration which helps to improve a dull, flaky coat as well as helping your dog fight off any sorts of skin infections and parasites. Omega 3 fats can also reduce your dog’s reaction to pollen and other environmental triggers.
Another of our products that we would recommend for dogs with allergies is the Venison and Rabbit from our 60/40 range, as this is a novel protein source. Essentially, novel protein refers to a protein source that your pet has never tried before. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an exotic meat such as kangaroo, just any meat that your dog has never consumed. The reason for switching your pet onto food that contains novel protein, is that having one type of food for a long time can often lead to your pet developing a food intolerance.
When transitioning your dog onto a new food you should do this over around seven days by substituting a small amount of the new for the old in their meal. Swap out more at each feeding and then by the end of the week you should be feeding entirely the new food. It can take around twelve weeks for the old food to get out of their system and for the new food to take effect. It is important that during this time you feed solely the new food and don’t feed any treats or titbits. Once you see an improvement in the symptoms, then you can add one treat at a time and if your dog reacts then stop that particular treat immediately, but you may keep adding additional ones, one at a time, until you find what your dog can tolerate.
Environmental allergies in dogs are usually seasonal. Dogs may get very itchy in the spring and Autumn, with fewer symptoms during winter or summer months.
It may be that your dog suffers from environmental allergies such as dust mites, storage mites and grass and tree pollen. It is worth keeping a diary to see if the problem is something that occurs at certain times of the year, as some dogs can suffer from hay fever type allergies, which are usually from around March to October. For dust mite allergies wooden or tiled flooring is better than carpeted floors and simple bedding such as vet bedding tends to work better than pillow type beds. Always use shampoos that are suitable for sensitive skin and unperfumed.
Whilst any breed can be prone to allergies, there are certain breeds that are more at risk of developing food or environmental allergies.
Breeds More at Risk:
• English Bulldog
• French Bulldog
• Bichon Frise
• English Bull Terrier
• Dogue de Bordeaux
• Cocker Spaniel
• German Shepherd
• Golden Retriever
• Labrador Retriever
• Coton de Tulaer
For more information on changing your pet's food, click here.